One more game, and fantasy football owners will have to shift their attentions to which point guard they are going to use in their fantasy hoops leagues and which starting pitcher they will rank No. 47 on their fantasy baseball cheat sheets.
Fantasy playoff football owners who think the Green Bay Packers will defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV probably have stacked their fantasy squads with members of the green and gold. A Packers victory could mean a fantasy league victory for them.
Brett Favre may not be too keen on watching his former team win a Super Bowl without him, but fantasy owners of Aaron Rodgers, James Starks, and Greg Jennings certainly would not mind seeing a 48-21 Packer rout.
So which Packers will post gargantuan fantasy numbers during the Super Bowl? And which Packers will barely dent Pittsburgh’s “steel curtain”? Here's what I think.
Most fantasy football magazines pegged Rodgers to be the best quarterback to own and one of the best players overall to have on a roster. While concussions, cold weather, Tom Brady’s arm, and Michael Vick’s comeback prevented Rodgers from living up to his lofty fantasy projections, he was still a top five fantasy QB.
Rodgers has had a weird dynamic going in the playoffs where he is scintillating in first halves and pedestrian in second halves, as has been the entire Packers offense. The funny thing is that the Steelers’ defense has had a similar one-half amazing, one-half mediocre pattern in the postseason, just that Pittsburgh’s strong defensive halves were the second half of the Baltimore game and the first half of the New York Jets game.
Prediction – When Rodgers has time to throw and optimum weather conditions, he is more accurate than a sniper on a SWAT team. And on paper, the Pittsburgh secondary appears overmatched against Green Bay’s receivers. The Steelers’ blitzes will cause several incompletions, but not enough that Rodgers has an awful fantasy night.
Look for 271 passing yards, 37 rushing yards, and two touchdowns, not to mention a real championship for Rodgers to put around his waist the first time he celebrates a touchdown next season.
Ryan Grant owners in dynasty leagues have been watching the value of their guy plummet like Dallas’ chances of hosting another Super Bowl. That is because rookie sixth-round draft pick Starks has emerged as a future top tailback during the playoffs, rushing for 263 yards in Green Bay’s three playoff wins.
Starks has never faced a run defense like Pittsburgh’s, though. This is like a kid thinking he has mastered poker because he won a couple bucks from his friends in home games, only to be cleaned out by Phil Ivey in a Las Vegas casino. The Steelers had the best run defense in the NFL this season and arguably the best in the history of the league. Starks has a better chance of performing with the Black Eyed Peas at halftime than running for 100 yards.
Prediction – The rookie runner continually dashes into steel wall after steel wall until his cheese head is turned into shredded mozzarella. The NFL is not that easy after all, kid! Starks rushes 15 times for 42 yards.
I think Jennings is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL and fantasy football, even after all the times the Packers are on national TV and all the highlights Jennings is a part of. Only fantasy football owners and opposing cornerbacks give this guy his due.
There is no Darrelle Revis or Charles Woodson in the Steelers secondary. Pittsburgh’s cornerbacks are below-average across the board. They would look a lot worse on a weekly basis if it weren’t for the ferocious pass rush the Steelers have that makes it easier for the defensive backs since they do not have to cover receivers as long.
Prediction – Pittsburgh corner Ike Taylor harasses Jennings verbally and physically, but falls down once or twice and gets beat several other times. Jennings has a monster day and finally gets the mainstream press other flashier, louder receivers receive.
Look for 125 receiving yards and a touchdown.
This season was the first time in seven years that Driver did not break the 1,000-yard barrier. His 51 receptions and 565 receiving yards were his lowest totals since 2001. The deadly combo of old age and battered body did Driver in, and he comes limping into the Super Bowl with a sore quad, although he is expected to play.
Prediction – While Hines Ward is the one who says he will retire if the Steelers win, Driver is the ancient receiver who steals the headlines—and possibly retires—after catching a half-dozen balls for 55 yards, including a couple key third-down and fourth-quarter grabs. His stats will not be overly exciting to fantasy owners, but they will be better than Ward’s.
Crosby had an off-year by his previous standards, setting career lows in points (112) and field goals (22). He was far from Mr. Automatic, that’s for sure, missing six kicks and connecting on 78.6 percent of his FG attempts overall, the second-lowest percentage of his four-year career.
But Crosby’s low point total was not entirely his fault. A kicker cannot score without field goal opportunities, and Crosby only attempted 28 field goals, also a career-low. You would think a high-powered offense like Green Bay’s would help a kicker’s fantasy value, but that was not the case, since Rodgers and his band of cheesy receivers capped their drives with touchdowns and did not stall often in the red zone.
Prediction – Crosby benefits from not having to kick in blizzard conditions and whipping winds and connects on every kick he attempts. He may even pull an Adam Vinateiri and win the game in the closing seconds.
Look for only one field goal and three extra points, though, as the Packers’ offense once again fails to fail around the end zone and does not offer Crosby multiple field goal tries.