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Here are some thoughts as we compiled our finalists.
* Quarterbacks. Tom Brady has 29 touchdowns, four interceptions and is tied for the league lead with seven 300-yard games. So much for missing Rob Gronkowski. Peyton Manning was an uncertainty after missing all of 2011 with a neck injury. He also has seven 300-yard games and had a midseason run of five consecutive games with three touchdown passes. Robert Griffin III provided better value for where he was drafted, but Aaron Rodgers has 29 TD passes and had a 6-week midseason run where he averaged better than three scores. Drew Brees was tough to leave out of the top three. He leads the league in passing yards and touchdowns, but his seven interceptions and one TD pass over the last 2 weeks was the difference.
* Running backs. Adrian Peterson had major knee surgery and hadn't played in the preseason, so he was considered high risk/high reward. He easily leads the league with 1,600 rushing yards and his 38 receptions are five away from a career high. Arian Foster leads the league with 14 rushing touchdowns, but he's only had 84 rushing yards in the last 2 crucial weeks and hasn't had that 140-yard, three-touchdown monster game . . . yet. Marshawn Lynch edged out Doug Martin largely because he has had seven 100-yard games compared to Martin's four and has been on a roll recently with touchdowns in five of his last six.
* Wide receivers. True story here. Retired sports writer Bernard Fernandez had the fourth pick in our draft and was criticized - by his wife! - for taking Calvin Johnson instead of Brees. Bob Cooney, our Sixers beat writer, took Brees at No. 5. This week in our playoff semifinals, Bernard beat Bob, as Johnson basically cancelled out Brees, but Bernard's quarterback (Cam Newton) went nuts with three total touchdowns and 116 rushing yards. Brandon Marshall has five more catches and four more touchdowns than Megatron. The third finalist could be among Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green or Dez Bryant. After a slow start, Andre Johnson had a resurgence and has been as hot as anyone. Except he has only scored three times, so he didn't make the finalists cut. We went with Green, who leads the league with 10 touchdown receptions.
* The worst. Injuries were considered when compiling the list of finalists for the various "worst" categories. But an injury didn't totally absolve a player. For instance, Darren McFadden got hurt, but he didn't do much when he was healthy.
Position watch *
Quarterbacks: Eli Manning has won four in a row against the Falcons and has six touchdown passes and one pick in his last two against Atlanta, including last year's wild-card drubbing . . . If the Washington football team treats Robert Griffin III like the Washington baseball team treated Stephen Strasburg, Griffin owners are in trouble. As it is, RGIII's status likely will come down to Sunday, but it appears that he should be able to go. Be sure to have a Plan B ready, though.
* Running backs: The Ravens are expected to run more no-huddle offense under no offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. This should mean more work for Ray Rice, who's on pace for his fewest rushing attempts since 2009 . . . Denver's Knowshon Moreno has 72 carries over the last three games, including 32 for 119 yards last week. He's still averaging just 3.6 yards per attempt, so don't consider him an RB1 just yet.
* Wide receivers: Dez Bryant's five-game touchdown streak is in jeopardy. Bryant (broken finger) did some light work at Thursday's practice and is looking like a game-day decision . . . Miami's Brian Hartline is 75 yards away from 1,000 for the season. He has scored one touchdown all year and gone over 50 yards just once in his last four games, however.
Ed Barkowitz, whose good friend and colleague Bob Cooney was knocked out in the semifinals last week, has been writing about fantasy football in the Daily News since 2001. Send email to FantasyFootball@phillynews.com.