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Fantasy Insights from Wild Card Saturday

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Both Saturday games played out about as expected. In the first one, between Cincinnati and Houston, the team with the better running statistics won the game and posted solid fantasy numbers. In the nightcap, the shootout between Detroit and New Orleans, the Saints' balanced offense was unstoppable while the Lions "bend-AND-break" defense along with the lack of a running game put quarterback Matthew Stafford in a situation where he couldn't pull out another come-from-behind miracle.

Cincinnati at Houston

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton played like the rookie he is. He was particularly vulnerable when the Texans sent a heavy pass rush.

Cedric Benson was a no-show. When the Bengals needed him the most, he rushed seven times for 14 yards. He did score from one-yard out in the first quarter to help salvage some value for fantasy owners.

A.J. Green saw 12 targets, but wasn't a factor after halftime and his totals (5-47-0) were a disappointment to fantasy owners.

Outside of any player from the Saturday night playoff game, Foster's statistics could be the best of the weekend. He ran for 153 yards and two scores and caught three passes for 29 yards to accumulate 34 fantasy points.

Andre Johnson seemed to be healthy and racked up a solid 90 yards and a score, but something was missing. It might just have been rust from his long injury- related layoff. The Texans will need him to step it up next week when they face a Ravens team that isn't so yielding on the ground.

An average day from T.J. Yates, but he'll be expected to produce more next week if Houston is to advance.

Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones were non-factors in the passing game and have little-to-no value next week.

Detroit at New Orleans

The one-dimensional Lions offense needs to improve their running game if they wish to progress further in next year's playoffs. Kevin Smith's six carries for 21 yards was not enough of a threat to keep the Saints defensive line from ignoring the run game. Either Jahvid Best or Mikel Leshoure must be a factor. Both will likely be undervalued on Draft Day.

Calvin Johnson produced 44 fantasy points against double and triple coverage as Matthew Stafford was not afraid to throw him the ball in a crowd.

Titus Young, on the other hand, has yet to learn how to go after the ball like "Megatron." We saw a perfect example of that in the fourth quarter in his lame effort when Stafford threw a long ball up for grabs and Young failed to catch it or prevent Jabari Greer from intercepting it. If/when he learns that lesson the Lions pass offense will be impossible to stop.

Brandon Pettigrew was under-utilized.

The Saints have three solid running back options, but only one is fantasy- worthy - Darren Sproles. And the diminutive back is equally as valuable in PPR leagues. Next week against the 49ers and their No.1 rush defense, Sproles will still get his yards while Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory will disappear from the fantasy radar.

There are no words to accurately describe how well Drew Brees is playing right now (33-for-43 for 466 yards and three touchdowns). Other-worldly, record- breaking and dynamic come close, but still fall short. He'll find it a much tougher go next week in San Francisco...he may only be excellent-to-very good.

Four receivers cracked double-digits fantasy points led by Robert Meachem's four-catch, 111-yard day, one-touchdown effort worth 25 points. Marques Colston (17 pts), Jimmy Graham (14) and Devery Henderson (14) were the other three. Lower your expectations for next week and focus your attention solely on Colston and Graham.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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