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Fantasy Football: Postseason draft preparation

01.01.15 at 11:23 am ET
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Pat Riley used to say that nothing really happens in a NBA playoff series until a team loses on their home court. To me, NFL playoff leagues are similar. In NFL playoff pools, things don’€™t really get interesting until there’€™s an upset. Once that happens, or if that happens, all bets are off. When things play out as expected in the real games, the fantasy teams that draw high draft positions will usually be the winners. However, an upset or two can change everything. If you drew a late draft position, this is your potential saving grace, but you need to locate that low-seeded team that has the ability to make a run.

In this article I will look at two primary things. First, I’€™ll break down the 12 playoff teams and how far I see them going. This is my take, but if your’s differs, you should adjust the rankings accordingly. Second, I’€™ll break the top 75 players down into tiers. If you are in a hurry and are in need of full rankings and cheat sheets, go to Rotobahn and download ours for free. You can be ready to draft in about 60 seconds.

When preparing for a playoff draft, you need to answer a few essential questions. Because unlike regular-season drafts, you have the added element of players getting knocked out when they lose. The outcomes of the games themselves play a huge role in the outcome of your league, because when your player advances you get another game and the potential for more after that. This makes certain bits of player information crucial this week. For example, consider the massive impact of the Ndamukong Suh non-suspension. Suh’€™s presence in this week’€™s game has a huge impact on the value of Cowboys players and Lions players. If the suspension had been upheld, the Lions are almost a certain loser at Dallas. With Suh on the field, I give them a 30 or 40 percent shot at winning. The Cowboys go from an almost certain two-game team to a somewhat probable two-game team. That’€™s big. Players who are one-and-done are team killers, especially if you select them with a premium pick. Understanding this, you’€™ll want to answer the following questions. Your board depends on them.

Are there any teams that can realistically play four times, and who are they?

The only way this happens is if a team playing in the Wildcard round makes the Super Bowl. Look at this week’€™s matchups. Do you see any of these teams making runs at the big game? In the NFC, is there a team playing this weekend that could win at Seattle? In the AFC, is there a team playing this weekend that could win at New England? My answer to both is no, so I can’€™t see any teams playing more than three games. Remember, teams that have a bye max out at three games played. Only Wildcard teams can get that fourth game. This has made juggernauts out of teams like Arizona in 2008 and the Ravens in 2012 — the Giants did it in 2007 and 2011, so there’€™s plenty of precedence for it happening.

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Darrelle Revis on playoffs: ‘We’ve been working so hard and we’ve earned it’

01.01.15 at 10:00 am ET
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Darrelle Revis will be playing in his fourth career postseason this month. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis will be playing in his third career postseason this month. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — This is why the Patriots went out and got Darrelle Revis this past offseason.

New England went out and signed the star free agent cornerback to help get them to the Super Bowl, as after making the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons, including the Super Bowl twice and another five AFC Championship games, the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl in almost 10 years.

“I think this was definitely a goal,” Revis said Wednesday of making the playoffs. “I mean looking at the history of our organization we’€™re definitely in the playoffs every year. Yeah, this was definitely a goal.”

Revis had a solid season in New England, as he was named to his sixth Pro Bowl and game-after-game took away the opposing team’s leading receiver.

With the Patriots earning a first-round bye, as the AFC’s overall No. 1 seed, the team scrimmaged each other on Wednesday as a way to keep things competitive with there not being an actual game to play. Revis liked the idea.

“I think it was beneficial because it was very competitive,” Revis said. “I think you’€™ve got to give credit to the coaches for seeing that, especially on the bye week. It’€™s really an off week where we’€™re not playing, so I think we did a great job of just being competitive and having that competitive spirit and just trying to work on the things that we’€™ve talked about that we need to work on in the past.”

The upcoming postseason will be Revis’ third of his career, making it to two AFC Championship games with the Jets. Even though it is his third postseason, he knows how hard it is to get to and isn’t taking it for granted.

“It’€™s great man. You hear a lot of stories of friends that have played in the league and you talk to guys who have playoff experience and guys who never, who’€™ve played 12-13 years, and have never even touched the playoffs,” said Revis. “It’€™s great man. This is my third stab at it –€“ at the playoffs. It’€™s just something great. We’€™ve been working so hard and we’€™ve earned it. We’€™ve earned it throughout the regular season. Now it’€™s a new season and football starts all over again.”

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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

12.31.14 at 9:07 pm ET
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Shane Vereen led the Patriots in offensive touches for the 2014 regular season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Shane Vereen led the Patriots in offensive touches for the 2014 regular season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Every week over the course of the season, we’ve list the Patriots’€™ “offensive touches,” a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for the 2014 regular season:

RB Shane Vereen: 148 (96 carries, 52 catches) 4 negative catches, 7 negative runs
WR Julian Edelman: 102 (10 carries, 92 catches)
RB Stevan Ridley: 98 (94 carries, 4 catches), 8 negative runs
RB Jonas Gray: 91 (90 carries, 1 catch), 3 negative runs
TE Rob Gronkowski: 82 (82 catches), 1 negative catch
WR Brandon LaFell: 76 (2 carries, 74 catches)
RB LeGarrette Blount: 64 (60 carries, 4 catches), 9 negative runs
QB Tom Brady: 36 (36 carries), 21 sacks, 11 kneeldowns
RB Brandon Bolden: 30 (29 carries, 1 catch), 4 negative runs
TE Tim Wright: 27 (1 carry, 26 catches), 6 negative rush
WR Danny Amendola: 27 (27 catches), 1 negative catch
RB James White: 14 (9 carries, 5 catches)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 10 (10 carries) 5 sacks, 6 kneeldowns
FB James Develin: 7 (1 carry, 6 catches)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 (6 catches)
WR Brian Tyms: 5 (5 catches)
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 (3 catches)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 3 (3 catches)

Notes: The Patriots had a season-high eight negative plays from scrimmage on Sunday against the Bills –€” three sacks of Garoppolo and one of Brady. In addition, there were two negative runs from Blount, one negative run from Bolden and one negative reception by Vereen. … On the season, New England ran 1,073 plays from scrimmage, and 65 of them went for negative yardage (6 percent), not including kneeldowns. … Against the Bills, the Patriots ran 62 plays, with 29 of them in shotgun (47 percent). … In addition, the game-book lists them as having run two plays in no huddle (3 percent). … On the season, the Patriots ran 74 of their 1,073 plays out of no-huddle (7 percent) and 415 snaps in shotgun (39 percent). … By way of comparison, over the course of the 2013 regular season, the Patriots were in shotgun for 42 percent of their offensive snaps and they ran no-huddle on 11 percent of their snaps.

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Doug Marrone opts out of contract as Bills coach, Jets on radar?

12.31.14 at 7:13 pm ET
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Even though both the Jets and the Bills aren’t in the playoffs, that doesn’t mean they aren’t making headlines this week.

On Monday coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik were fired, and late Wednesday it was announced Bills coach Doug Marrone has opted out of his contract and is now free to coach any other team.

“Doug Marrone informed me late today that he has decided to exercise the option clause in his contract and relinquish his responsibilities as our head coach,” Bills owner Terry Pegula said in a statement. “We are disappointed that Coach Marrone will no longer be an important part of our organization. We thank him for all of his hard work and leadership during his tenure and wish him and his family the best with the next chapter in their lives. We will now begin the important process of conducting a thorough search for a new head coach as we continue to strive to reach our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing a championship to Buffalo for our fans.”

Marrone might be staying in the AFC East, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted: New York Jets become favorites to land former Bills HC Doug Marrone, who is from the Bronx.

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A New Year’s message from Tom Brady

12.31.14 at 7:07 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — who had a pretty good finish to 2014 — delivered a New Year’s message via Facebook on Wednesday, complete with a wish for 2015.

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Patriots sign 3 players to reserve/future contracts

12.31.14 at 5:29 pm ET
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The Patriots have signed three players to reserve/future contracts, per the NFL transaction wire. The three players are: defensive tackle Antonio Johnson out of Mississippi State, linebacker Rufus Johnson out of Tarleton State and running back Dion Lewis out of Pittsburgh.

Johnson, a defensive tackle out of Mississippi State, was drafted in the fifth-round of the 2007 draft and has spent time with the Titans and Colts. He tore his ACL and was forced to miss his entire rookie season.

Johnson, a linebacker out of Tarleton State, was a sixth-round pick by the Saints in 2013. New Orleans released Johnson before the start of this season. He’s the fourth player out of Tarelton State — a Division II school in Texas — to ever be drafted in the NFL.

Lewis was drafted by the Eagles in the fifth-round of the 2011 draft. He’s also spent time with the Browns and Colts — most recently the Colts, as he was released Sept. 16 of this season.

It’s worth noting Jordan Devey and Jonas Gray were both reserve/future contract signings last year.

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Tom Brady reflects on Super Bowl wins: ‘To do what we accomplished in a short period of time was amazing’

12.31.14 at 3:29 pm ET
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It's been nearly 10 years since Tom Brady and the Patriots last won a Super Bowl. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

It’s been nearly 10 years since Tom Brady and the Patriots last won a Super Bowl. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It’s been almost 10 years since Tom Brady and the Patriots last won a Super Bowl, and when he did — Feb. 6, 2005 — it was his third title in four years. Brady was just 27 years old at time time, and all he really knew about the NFL was winning.

Now, almost 10 years later, he has a better appreciation of just how special those Patriots teams were and how tough it is to win in the league.

“I think when you’€™re young, there is no perspective,” Brady said Wednesday. “Now that I have a little perspective on it, yeah, it’€™s hard to do. To do what we accomplished in a short period of time was amazing. But we’€™ve had a pretty good run for a while now. We’€™ve won a lot of games. We’€™ve come up short a few times in some big ones, but we’€™re lucky to be in those games, too. I think it’€™s a great accomplishment.”

The Patriots finished the year 12-4 and have earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC, thus earning a first-round bye — the 10th time in franchise history, which is also the most in the NFL.

The Patriots averaged 29.2 points per game, the fourth-most in the league, and had a stingy defense — led by the new additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner — which held opponents to 19.6 points per game, the eighth-fewest in the league.

Brady and the Patriots certainly are made aware that they haven’t won a Super Bowl in almost 10 years, and the quarterback knows the postseason is all about making the most of opportunities.

“We’€™ve got a great football team, so we’€™ll see,” Brady said. “We’€™ve got to go out there and earn it. Nobody is going to give it to us. You’€™ve got to play your biggest at the biggest moments against the best teams in the toughest conditions. You’€™ve got to see what you’€™re made of. That’€™s what this tournament all shakes out. It shakes out which team has played the best over the course of this season and put themselves in the good position this season to play your best in the postseason.

“We’€™ve had a couple of good days of practice to prepare for it. We’€™ve talked a lot about the things that we need to do better, the things that we needed to be at our best. And then whenever we figure out who we play, then you really hone in on the opponent and go after it.”

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