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Conference Championships NFL Matchups Analysis (Sunday) - Start/Sit

What's up RotoBallers. Below you will find our Conference Championships matchups & fantasy football start/sit analysis for the NFL playoffs. Ben Ruppert breaks down the Championship round matchups to help you prepare your lineups to win this week.

Each week of the NFL season, we will be breaking down individual matchups and providing you with some fantasy football advice and lineup recommendations based on matchups that we love, matchups that we hate, and some high-risk/high-reward players, as well. It’s essential to analyze the weekly NFL match-ups to find lineup sleepers and gems, while also avoiding those players who may turn out to be busts.

Editor's Note: New users that sign up on FantasyAces, make a $20 deposit, and enter any game will receive BOTH our full season NFL and NBA Premium Passes for free, a $119.99 value. Just email with your new FantasyAces username - and boom, that's it! We will email you with your Premium Passes.


Packers @ Falcons - Sunday 1/22 @ 3:05 PM ET

Matchups We Love

Devonta Freeman (RB, ATL)

In their two playoff games so far, opposing running backs have rushed for an average 4.8 YPC against the Packers defense. Freeman and Tevin Coleman continued to operate in a split backfield last week against Seattle, with Coleman actually out-rushing Freeman on less attempts (11 carries, 57 yards versus 14 carries for 45 yards). However, Freeman made up the difference by catching four passes for 80 yards, compared to three receptions for 22 yards for Coleman. Both players were able to find the end zone last week as well. No matter how you slice these two players up, they are both extremely effective backs in the Atlanta backfield, evidenced by their 24 combined touchdowns during the regular season. If the Packers continue to struggle to contain the run, both backs would be in line for a great game. Freeman gets the nod as the better fantasy play due to his higher number of touches.

Julio Jones (WR, ATL)

There are no concerns from the Falcons about Jones’ toe injury, meaning he will be ready to roll for the NFC Championship game against the Packers. Last week playing in limited action he was able to pull down six of his team-leading eight targets for 67 yards, including an early second quarter TD that evened the score in the game. Green Bay’s secondary has been putrid this season; they allowed the most receiving yards and the third most receiving touchdowns in the league during the regular season. Last week Dez Bryant was able to dominate this defense for 132 yards and two TD on nine receptions. If the toe injury doesn’t slow down Jones, then his ceiling in this game is monstrous.

Randall Cobb (WR, GB)

Cobb is one of the few remaining healthy targets left for Aaron Rodgers. Jordy Nelson missed last week’s game with multiple injuries, and now Davante Adams has popped up on the injury report with a high ankle sprain; much like the injury he tried to play through last season when he was a very ineffective WR. Cobb exploded in the Wild Card round for three touchdowns, and did well last week against Dallas catching seven passes for 62 yards. Atlanta only allowed one less receiving TD than Green Bay during the regular season, and allowed the fifth most receiving yards in the league. Working from the slot last week, Doug Baldwin was able to go for 80 yards and a TD against this Falcons defense. Hopefully both Adams and Nelson will be healthy enough to play this week, but either way Cobb makes for a solid fantasy start this week given the matchup.

Matchups We Hate

Ty Montgomery (RB/WR, GB)

The Green Bay rushing attack hasn’t been much of a factor all season long, given the carousel of players who have taken hand-offs from Rodgers. Montgomery has been the most effective back they’ve had all year, and he started the year as a WR (though admittedly, Montgomery has always seen himself as more of a RB than a WR). Last week he only received 11 carries, but was able to rush for 47 yards and two touchdowns. With how effectively this offense passes the ball rushing attempts are going to be hard to come by, especially with Montgomery, Christine Michael, and Aaron Ripkowski all getting looks. Atlanta limited Thomas Rawls last week to only 3.1 YPC, one week after he ripped Detroit for 161 yards and a TD (6.0 YPC). During the season Atlanta was far more susceptible to the pass compared to the run; they allowed the eighth fewest rushing yards to opposing RB, yet allowed the most receiving yards in the league to RB this season. If TyMont is going to have an effective game, it’ll be in the receiving game and not the running game.

Notable Players

Taylor Gabriel (WR, ATL)

Gabriel led all wide receivers in receiving yards last week for Atlanta, hauling in 4-of-6 targets for 71 yards in the win over Seattle. The Falcons biggest deep threat outside of Jones finished the regular season averaging 16.5 YPR, seventh in the league among WR with at least 30 receptions. If the Packers want to commit extra attention to Jones while he is on the field, then Gabriel will have even better odds to catch a few deep balls against a porous secondary. The Packers have given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing WR who line up on the right side of the field, where Gabriel plays about half of his total snaps. Though he has seen a dip in his production since the return of Mohamed Sanu, he offers the biggest upside at WR on the team behind Julio.

Jared Cook (TE, GB)

Cook played a huge role in last week’s win over the Cowboys, making the potential catch of year along the sidelines on third and 20 late in the game. He ended the game with six receptions on a team leading 11 targets for 103 yards and a TD. With Nelson and Adams both hobbled heading into Sunday, Cook could be in line for another high-usage game. Both times during the regular season Cook went over 80 yards receiving, he put up a dud in the next game. However, with everything on the line and options thinning, we could see Cook have back-to-back 100 yard games for the first time all season.


Steelers @ Patriots - Sunday 1/22 @ 6:40 PM ET

Matchups We Love

Le’Veon Bell (RB, PIT)

Putting it lightly, the postseason run Bell has had so far has been absolutely insane. In two games he has rushed 59 times for 337 yards and two touchdowns, which average’s out to 29.5 rushes for 168.5 yards and a TD per game. It is the best start to a postseason career in NFL history, and only the fourth time in NFL history someone has had back-to-back 150-yard playoff rushing performances. He is on pace to break the all-time postseason rushing mark of 610 yards, set by John Riggins. Though the Patriots only allowed 3.9 YPC during the regular season, and held Lamar Miller to that same number last week, don’t expect anything to change this week for Bell. It will be nearly impossible for the Patriots to slow an elite talent like Bell, especially with how well he has been running of late.

Antonio Brown (WR, PIT)

Though not as crazy as Le’Veon Bell, Brown has been having an excellent postseason so far as well. Through two games, Brown is averaging 5.5 receptions for 116 yards and a TD per game. He and Bell are carrying the Steelers offense; the duo has combined to gain 75% of the team’s total yards through these first two games. How this offense was unable to score a TD last week is beyond me. Even if Big Ben Roethlisberger struggles on the road, we haven’t seen it affect Brown yet. He moves around the formation too much to be stuck facing one cornerback all game, so while he may face Malcolm Butler for most of the game, he will get plenty of opportunities against their lesser skilled CB. He is a sure-fire WR1 heading into championship Sunday.

Julian Edelman (WR, NE)

Since the Patriots Week 9 bye, Julian Edelman has been on quite the roll. He only has one game with less than six receptions and two games with less than 10 targets. Over that span he has averaged seven receptions on 12 targets for 98 yards per game. He is peaking at just the right time for New England; in the past two games, he has averaged eight receptions on 13 targets for 144 yards. Pittsburgh was burned by Jarvis Landry in the Wild Card game, and though they looked better against Kansas City, their passing attack pales in comparison to the Patriots. They will need to throw to keep up with the high-octane Steelers offense, so expect nothing less from Edelman in this one.

Matchups We Hate

Martellus Bennett (TE, NE)

The loss of Gronk opened the door for Bennett to gain the most, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. Though he did have three touchdowns over the final four weeks of the regular season, he only averaged three receptions for 39 yards per game over that span. In last week’s tilt with the Texans, he caught only one of his four targets for four yards. Travis Kelce led the team in receiving against the Steelers last week, but unless he sees a sudden spike in targets don’t expect much of anything from the big TE.

Notable Players

Dion Lewis (RB, NE)

Not only did Lewis return a kickoff 98 yards to the house last week, he finished second on the team in targets, catching 2-of-7 passes for 23 yards and a TD. He also ran 13 times for 41 yards with another TD. He out-touched LeGarrette Blount 15-to-8, and though he did also fumble twice (losing only one), it didn’t seem to affect his usage in the game. Blount was limited to clock-killing work, while Lewis was let loose in a nearly full-time role. He even punched in goal-line TD over Blount with the Pats in hurry-up mode on offense. The fumbles are a bit concerning, but expect Lewis to hold onto the starting spot over Blount this week as well.

Check out RotoBaller's famous fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!

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