Top fantasy takeaways from the Divisional Round

Jeff Ratcliffe looks at what lessons fantasy players could learn from the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

| 4 months ago
(Ronald Martinez, Getty Images)

(Ronald Martinez, Getty Images)

Top fantasy takeaways from the Divisional Round

The Divisional Round lived up to the hype. Sure, the Saturday games weren’t particularly close, but both Sunday contests came right down to the end. We now have just four teams remaining and three games to go on the 2016 NFL slate.  As you digest all of what just transpired, here are five stats to know from the last 48 hours of football.

1. Julian Edelman continues to be a target monster.

He led all receivers in the Divisional Round with 13 targets, catching eight for 137 yards. That’s back-to-back 100-yard performances from Edelman, which is especially impressive considering he only had one on the season before last week. It’s no secret that Tom Brady likes to throw Edelman the ball, but he’s seeing even more work following Rob Gronkowski’s season-ending injury. Since Week 11, Edelman averages 11.6 targets per game. That’s a big increase from the 7.3 targets per game he was seeing before Gronk got hurt. Expect Edelman to continue to see heavy volume against the Steelers in the AFC Championship.

2. Packers running back touches: Ty Montgomery, 17; Christine Michael, 0

After splitting carries between the duo in the Wild Card Round, the Packers used Montgomery in a nearly every-down role on Sunday. He played 51-of-66 offensive snaps, while Michael was on the field for just four snaps. Michael’s fumbled kickoff return certainly didn’t help his cause, but he’s clearly out of the picture for the NFC Championship. Montgomery didn’t put up gaudy numbers, with 47 yards on 11 carries and an additional six catches for 34 yards, but he ended up as the No. 1 fantasy running back for the week thanks to his two rushing scores. He’ll be an ideal DFS option this upcoming week in a plus matchup against the Falcons.

3. Ezekiel Elliott finishes strong.

at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Despite a negative game script with the Cowboys playing from behind all game, Elliott still managed 124 yards on 21 carries. It was his eighth 100-yard game of the season and his 16th game with 80-or-more yards on the ground. Including the playoffs, Elliott wraps up 2016 with an average of 5.1 yards per carry. He also produced an impressive 3.0 yards after contact per attempt. Elliott currently sits third in our early 2017 rankings.

4. Don’t forget about Paul Richardson heading into 2017.

Following his breakout playoff performance, it’s going to be hard not to remember Richardson. He made acrobatic catches on the regular and finished the playoffs with 131 yards and a score on seven catches. The Seahawks have the makings of a dynamic duo on the outside with Tyler Lockett along with Richardson next season, with Doug Baldwin one of the best slot receivers in the game. That being said, it’s important to not overvalue either Lockett or Richardson. Seattle struggled on the ground this season, but the Seahawks remain a conservative offense. That ultimately limits the fantasy upside of their receiver corps.

5. Jared Cook went off.

All of the attention has been on Cook’s impressive sideline catch of Aaron Rodgers’ even more impressive throw that set up the game-winning field goal. But Cook’s entire performance is noteworthy. He topped 100 yards for the second time this season, catching 6-of-11 targets in addition to finding the end zone. Cook led all tight ends for the week with four deep-ball targets over 20 yards downfield, which is especially impressive considering he saw just 10 in the regular season. Cook’s seam-splitting ability bodes well going forward, but it’s important to keep in mind that he’s been far from consistent during his career. Cook remains a volatile DFS option for the Conference Championship Round.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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