Saturday Divisional Storylines

Intro

I love writing these storyline pieces. Now that we’ve hit the playoffs, I want to cover all the games, bringing you at least something to think about when you watch the playoffs. Even though playoffs don’t count for our fantasy teams, playoff performances can have massive effects on future dynasty value.

This piece will give you something specific to look for in each contest, which I hope helps you enjoy the games even more. We all play fantasy football to enhance our enjoyment of football, and I’m trying to add to that sense of happiness here. Fun is the most essential part of this hobby for all of us, including me.

I’ve listed the home team first for each game to keep things organized. I’ll cover the two Saturday games here and then the Sunday game in a follow-up article. I won’t waste any more time, so let’s jump straight in!

Packers vs. Rams

Packers

The Packers enter this game coming off a bye week. Therefore, they have a completely healthy complement of offensive weapons, with no players listed on the final injury report. At this point, we know that Aaron Rodgers is a stud quarterback. The Packers will remain in win-now mode as long as Rodgers remains their starting quarterback, which will run through at least 2021. However, the Packers also drafted Jordan Love in the first round, who will eventually take over the starting job.

The Packers already have Davante Adams signed through 2021, although he needs a contract extension. Most dynasty owners assume that the Packers will either sign a significant free-agent receiver or draft one in the first two rounds. The Packers need a secondary receiver to complement Adams and tight end Robert Tonyan.

But, the big question remains the running back situation. The Packers drafted AJ Dillon in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Dillon has a long-term role on this team, and he will see significant carries in 2021. The Packers have two talented running backs heading into free agency: Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. I’m curious how they split the work between all three players with their season on the line. It’ll help me decipher their offseason intentions.

Rams

Last week, the Rams defeated the Seahawks 30-20 despite dealing with a mess at the quarterback position. John Wolford started the game, but he left with a neck/concussion injury. Jared Goff stepped in, despite having a broken thumb. Neither Goff nor Wolford played exceptionally well, though. The Rams won because of their defense and running game, led by Cam Akers.

Goff is off the final injury report this week while Wolford is out. Therefore, Goff will make the start, even if he’s not 100% healthy. Cooper Kupp also has a knee injury, and he missed practice all week. Without Kupp, I expect the Rams to lean heavily on the run, which should mean a heavy dose of Akers.

Akers dominated touches in Weeks 17 and the Wild Card round, taking 21 and 28 carries in the two contests. While Darrell Henderson missed both games with a high-ankle sprain, he still won’t return this week. Akers will have another showcase spot to raise his dynasty value. Right now, I still rank Akers as my dynasty RB13, just behind Derrick Henry, Miles Sanders, and Josh Jacobs. However, that ranking will begin to look silly if Akers has another massive performance this week.

Bills vs. Ravens

Bills

The Bills are a stacked team. They may have squeaked by the Colts in the Wild Card round, but I believe the Bills’ offense is one of the strongest personnel groups in the entire NFL. They have all of their weapons available for this game, outside of running back Zack Moss.

To cover for Moss, the Bills signed veteran Devonta Freeman, who played for the Giants this season. However, I’m not particularly interested in Freeman. I’m more curious about what Devin Singletary will do without Moss in the lineup. Singletary has somewhat lost the starting job to Moss during the 2020 season, although neither player particularly produced for fantasy football purposes. If Singletary shows out this week, he could recapture some of his lost dynasty value.

Ravens

Most dynasty owners accept a few basic facts about the Ravens. They see Lamar Jackson as a stud fantasy passer with some limitations as a passer. Also, they believe that J.K. Dobbins is a solid dynasty running back with Gus Edwards as a nice backup and Mark Ingram as utterly worthless. Mark Andrews is the primary weapon in the receiving game, and he’s the only premium receiving option on this offense.

However, there’s one massive question mark on the Ravens’ team, and it’s Marquise Brown. Brown has a lot of uncertainty moving forward. Through the first 10 games, Brown totaled 32 receptions on 59 targets for 431 yards and two touchdowns. Over the final six games, Brown significantly improved with 26 catches on 41 targets for 338 yards and a whopping six touchdowns. Then, in last week’s Wild Card game, Brown starred, catching seven of nine targets for 109 yards.

I think it’s clear that the Ravens need to add another receiver to complement Brown during the offseason. We’ve seen little to nothing from 2019 and 2020 third-rounders Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay, and Dez Bryant offered virtually zero as a veteran signing. Willie Snead was the Ravens’ actual WR2 in 2020, which is not acceptable for a modern NFL offense. 

Brown needs to prove if he’s a number one receiver or better served as a secondary receiver. I believe that the Ravens need to acquire a dominant alpha receiver to relegate Brown to that WR2 role. However, if Brown continues to play well during the playoffs, the Ravens may feel that they only need to add a depth option, protecting Brown’s long-term value.

Thanks for reading this article. You can find me on Twitter at @DFF_Karp. I love to interact with anyone in the community, so reach out at any time! I take fantasy questions and help with all formats, so keep sending those questions my way.

Previous Storyline Articles: Week 6 Early Games, Week 6 Late Games, Week 7 Thursday Night, Week 7 Early Games, Week 7 Late Games, Week 8 Thursday Night, Week 8 Early Games, Week 8 Late Games, Week 9 Thursday Night, Week 9 Early Games, Week 9 Late Games, Week 10 Thursday Night, Week 10 Early Games, Week 10 Late Games, Week 11 Thursday Night, Week 11 Early Games, Week 11 Late Games, Thanksgiving Day, Week 13, Week 14, Week 15, Week 16, Week 17, Saturday Wild Card, Sunday Wild Card

jkarp

Columbia SPS Sports Management graduate.

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