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Playoff Fantasy Football - AFC

I hope everybody had a great New Year's holiday.  I spent time with family, including a mandated reduction in the amount of time I spend in front of the computer.  I then spent some time with a bad stomach bug including a mandated reduction in eating.  Ugh.

If you're like me, you're now playing Playoff Fantasy Football.  There are free games available at both ESPN and Sportsline and both games have pretty much the same rules: pick the players (using a salary cap system) that will score the most points throughout the playoffs.  Simple, right?  

Not exactly.  The game is complicated by the fact that you don't know how many games each team will play.  If a wild card team makes it to the Super Bowl, you had one extra game from their team.  If they lose their first game, then you've lost that player.  The goal is to find cheaper players on wild card teams that can take their team all the way to Phoenix.  

With that in mind, here's my review of the AFC teams

Pittsburgh - The Steelers looked like they could be the wild card to beat this year with a fast start to the season, but ended up losing three of their last four games.  In fact, the Steelers only won three games against teams that finished with a winning record, and two of those games were against Cleveland (the other was against Seattle).  If the Chargers win (as expected), then a win by the Steelers matches them up with the Patriots in the next round so the Steelers' longevity is an issue.   QB Ben Roethlisberger isn't flying under anybody's radar anymore, but WR Santonio Holmes can still be a cheap WR choice.  RB Najeh Davenport should also be cheap and should be valuable for as many games as the Steelers play.  I'd stay away from the Steelers Defense, they've given up at least 24 points in each of their past four games - including 24 to the (gulp) Rams.

San Diego - Despite a slow start, the Chargers were the opposite of the Steelers, finishing strong with six straight wins. A win by the Chargers guarantees them a game against the Colts in the divisional playoffs and with a win over the Colts (a 23-21 victory in week 11) already under their belt there's no reason to think the Chargers couldn't do it again.  RB LaDanian Tomlinson is the guy to build your team around, and TE Antonio Gates is also a franchise player if you can afford him.  Stay away from the WRs and QB Philip Rivers.  The Chargers Defense is an underrated unit

Jacksonville - They've been called the last, best hope to beat the Patriots.  While that's hyperbole, this is a very good team.  The Jags have wins this season over four different playoff teams and a favorable matchup against the Steelers, who they beat 29-22 less than a month ago.  A win over the Steelers and a Chargers win puts the Jaguars against the Patriots which isn't preferable, but they wouldn't get blown out in that game.  QB David Garrard is a good, reasonably-priced choice and both Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor are good RB options depending on how they're priced.  Marcedes Lewis is a sleeper at tight end, and the Jaguars Defense is a solid squad that could be had cheaply.

Tennessee - There's not much to say about the Titans, the #6 team that just squeaked into the playoffs.  Even if the Titans get past the Chargers they would next face the Patriots, a matchup that definitely doesn't favor Tennessee.  If you're going to use any Titans, keep in mind that you're likely only getting them for one game.  Despite the hype, stay away from QB Vince Young who simply won't do enough to warrant a place on your team no matter how cheaply he's priced.  RB Len Dale White won't be worth starting for one game either.  If you want to load up your team with a few expensive guys and need a cheap player to round out your squad, consider the Titans Defense -  which has performed well all season - and K Rob Bironas