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SALT LAKE CITY — The fantasy playoffs are underway, and we've got a couple clashes of titans in the KSL Fantasy semifinals beginning this week.
Last week we covered some simple tips to maximize your chances in the fantasy postseason, and each of our four remaining competitors should be sure to follow along. Our playoff format is two weeks per matchup; the semi-finals are weeks 14 and 15, and finals weeks 16 and 17. Before we get to the big matchups, a quick look at the four teams who didn't make the cut — the dreaded loser's bracket.
Sean Walker (Out with a Broken Jawbone): Karma exists in the world! Sean was the only member of the league to auto-draft at the start of the season, drawing the ire of your friendly commissioner, and he finished with a league-worst 4-9 record after the karmic gods spat in his face.
Greg Wrubell (Scary Moment): Injuries and inconsistency doomed Greg nearly from the start. His first two picks, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant, either struggled with week-to-week performances or missed significant time.
Ben Dowsett (Easy Now, Don't Forsett): Again, if your top two picks in an eight-team league go haywire, it's tough to win. Eddie Lacy and Jeremy Hill both let me down on the year, and it was too large a hole to climb out of.
Jeremiah Jensen (Dez Nuts): Jeremiah had the roughest luck in the league — he finished just 11 points behind Andy Larsen's squad for the final playoff spot, with the same record. Every point counts.
Rob has led the pack most of the year, scoring the most points in the league and "allowing" the fewest against for an overall discrepancy of over 300 points. He faces a Lucky Skittles team I dubbed the "dark horse" title contender in our check-in a few weeks back.
Both teams have changed a bit since then, though. Jackson took a hit when Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was hurt against the Broncos but he was able to pick up Gronk's backup, Scott Chandler. He should be set either way as Gronk is questionable to play Sunday night. Meanwhile, he's stacked everywhere else: a tough choice between Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning at QB, Brandon Marshall and Martavis Bryant at wideout, and a plethora of top backs. Shoot, Chris Ivory — the fifth-ranked running back in the league to this point by fantasy points — is sitting on his bench as of this writing, and perhaps justifiably so.
Andy has also dealt with his share of injury misfortune, as has virtually everyone this season. He lost quarterback Andrew Luck a few weeks back, though he could get him back for week 15 over backup Tyrod Taylor. He's also down to namesake back Marshawn Lynch and Broncos tailback CJ Anderson but he has Lynch's backup in Thomas Rawls plus superstar rookie Todd Gurley to shore up his backs. Andy has several fantastic week 14 matchups for a few of his top guys, and if he can keep things close or even be ahead going into week 15, he could get one or both of Luck and Lynch back into the fold and make a push for the title.
Our second semi pits two owners whose teams were separated by just over a point for weekly average scoring during the regular season, and could be just as tight an affair over their two-week matchup — ESPN projections have them separated by just four.
Nathan's is the only playoff team to score points already for the week, with back David Johnson giving him 12 in Thursday night's Arizona-Minnesota game. He's ridden top overall fantasy scorer Tom Brady all year long and will do the same when it counts, also relying on receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and tight end Tyler Eifert (back from an injury last week), both top-five options at their positions. As of this writing, he seemed primed to take something of a risk by starting New England's LeGarrette Blount in his flex spot — Blount's weekly usage can vary wildly under coach Bill Belichick, and Nathan is rolling the dice with him over a couple of safer options on his bench.
Josh's strength all season has been his pass-catchers. Wide receivers Antonio Brown and AJ Green are first and seventh, respectively, for season-long scoring at the position, and tight end Greg Olsen trails only Gronkowski at his. Josh's special teams have also been elite, with top overall kicker Stephen Gostkowski and the second-ranked Panthers defense locked in as every-week starts.
This matchup will come down to which owners' strengths shows through the most clearly. Brady had a couple of off weeks, by his standards, before a bounce-back last week, and the possible return of multiple injured players this week could be a big boost for his value and Nathan's chances. Meanwhile, Brown and Green's teams face each other — Josh could get huge value from both his wideouts if a shootout ensues, though the last time Pittsburgh and Cincinnati met in week eight, it was a tight 16-10 finish.
Let's get it started! Be sure to follow along as the playoffs run their course — the league and all team rosters are open to public viewing at their corresponding links above.