Playoff Fantasy Football Rankings and Strategy

A look at playoff fantasy football rankings and strategy

Before we begin the rankings, the most important strategy tip is to take strong positions on a group of 1-2 teams on each side of the bracket. Spreading your top 10 picks out on 6-7 teams is a losing strategy. At the end of your playoff fantasy draft, you want to see two or three potential matchups in the Super Bowl that should equal a high chance of winning for you. You might not be able to pick the exact teams that you want, but it is important to roll with the flow of the draft. If you wanted Mahomes, but had to settle for Brees, then you are going to favor Saints over Chiefs for the rest of your draft. Much more than a typical fantasy draft, your early picks should dictate the mid and late parts of your draft.

A Note on Playoff Picks

Take a stand on the outcome of the playoff brackets with your picks. Some of these calls are 52/48 and the way they break can greatly affect projecting the next round in the bracket, but relying on small margins to make selections is the essence of what we do in fantasy football.

Wild Card picks in order of confidence

Baltimore over Los Angeles Chargers - The Ravens so thoroughly frustrated Philip Rivers in the first matchup and the monotone but effective Ravens running game has been so stubbornly effective that it’s difficult to picture this matchup being that different. If the Chargers can make the adjustments to pull off the road win, they can run the table, but this is a brutal opening draw.

Chicago over Philadelphia - The Nick Foles story is compelling and the Eagles have beaten two playoff teams (Rams and Houston) with Foles at quarterback, including one on the “road” in Los Angeles, but there’s a reason this team’s back was against the wall and they needed help from the Bears to get to the playoffs. If the Eagles do pull off the road upset, they will revisit the site of the site of a 48-7 beatdown that looked like the effective end of their season in New Orleans, so they are probably capped at two games.

Seattle over Dallas - These teams have similar blueprints and are likely to steer this into a close-knit low-scoring battle. In a game with that kind of script, give me the quarterback who has been there, done that in high pressure situations. The difference between Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott is the decisive edge here, with the overall team/organization recent playoff experience edge baked into that.

Indianapolis over Houston - This has the look of a high-scoring quarterback duel. Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins can put the Texans on their backs, but the Colts somewhat comfortably won in Houston just a month ago, and even though a Frank Reich miscalculation led to the Colts losing the first matchup in overtime, Reich is the more likely head coach to enhance his team’s chances to win instead of being an obstacle to victory.

Divisional picks in order of confidence

Baltimore over New England - The Ravens are going to be a tough out whether they play the Patriots or Chiefs in the divisional round, although if the Colts win and allow them to avoid the Chiefs, it probably increases their chances of going to the AFC title game. Baltimore has a strong history against Bill Belichick in the playoffs.

New Orleans over Seattle - This could be a very dramatic game considering Russell Wilson’s playoff history, but the Seahawks defense isn’t what it used to be and the Saints will be rested and playing in front of a rabid home crowd. If this is Dallas, expect Sean Payton to have some adjustments up his sleeve to avoid a repeat of the 13-10 Week 13 loss in Arlington. Philadelphia feels like the easiest divisional opponent for New Orleans in the event that they upset the Bears.

Kansas City over Indianapolis - We all remember the epic Colts comeback against the Chiefs in 2013, but this time around the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes II. Divining Kansas City’s range of outcomes gets more complicated if the Texans dismiss Andrew Luck and the Chiefs have to face the Ravens after Baltimore all but beat them in Week 14. If the Chargers can win in Baltimore, they have the experience of winning in Kansas City and will come in brimming with confidence. The Chiefs have some one and done possibilities in their future and should be rooting for the Colts in Houston.

Chicago over Los Angeles Rams - Perhaps it’s too simplistic to rely on Week 14 result, but the Rams seemed to have no answer for the Bears stifling defense. Mitchell Trubisky wasn’t at his best in that game and the Rams were also eminently beatable against the Eagles in Week 15. If the Eagles upset the Bears and the Rams draw the Cowboys or Seahawks, the task gets easier, but not by a huge amount. They edged the Seahawks twice in high-scoring regular season games, but the teams match up evenly, and if the Cowboys can beat the Seahawks, then they’ll have a legitimate shot to win in Los Angeles.

Conference Championship picks in order of confidence

Baltimore over Kansas City - It’s easy to go back and forth on this one. The Ravens have found a recipe that no opponent has solved yet, but the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes II, who pulled a rabbit out of a hat to win the first matchup in Week 14. Picking an Andy Reid team in a tight January game just doesn’t feel right.

New Orleans over Chicago - Chicago’s defense against Brees and company in the Superdome will make for an intriguing matchup, but the Superdome and playoff experience edge is probably too much for Mitchell Trubisky and Matt Nagy to overcome.

Tiered Team Ranking By Range of Outcomes/Fantasy Offensive Potential

1. New Orleans - The road to the Super Bowl goes through the Superdome

2. Baltimore - The Ravens new blueprint is an excellent recipe for January wins
3. Kansas City - The Chiefs have the most exciting offense, but the aura of invincibility has faded and teams like Oakland and Arizona have played them surprisingly close in the second half of the season.

4. Chicago - The Bears are the second most likely team to play four games, but their offense is low wattage lately.
5. New England - The Brady/Belichick perennial Super Bowl era is coming to close, right? Belichick cackles somewhere knowing that we are thinking this.
6. Los Angeles Rams - The Rams have a high ceiling offense, but the last month has raised doubts. They feel like the most likely one and done team with a bye.
7. Indianapolis - The Colts can go far with a risk tolerant head coach and quarterback with the ability to put the team on his back, but TY Hilton is less than 100% and the defense is vulnerable.
8. Seattle - The Seahawks have it in them to play four games, but all four away from home (Sorry Eagles fans) is a tall order.
9. Houston - It’s exciting to consider the beginning of the Watson playoff era, but not so invigorating to consider another chapter in the O’Brien playoff chronicles. Three or four games is very possible.

10. Dallas - The Cowboys offense is unlikely to light up the scoreboard against playoff defenses.
11. Los Angeles Chargers - Drawing the Ravens in the wild card round is a cruel turn for a 12-win team.
12. Philadelphia - Nick Foles is a folk hero, but going into Chicago and winning is asking too much with a mediocre defense.

A Note on Positional Strategy

Quarterback is deep, but taking the one from the team you believe is most likely to go to the Super Bowl is still a tried and true first round strategy

Running back is actually as deep as wide receiver within the top 15. Consider premium wide receivers and running backs in a similar value tier.

Tight end has the steepest dropoff within the top five, consider Kelce with your first round pick

Quarterback

1. Drew Brees. NO
2. Patrick Mahomes II, KC
3. Lamar Jackson, BAL
4. Andrew Luck, IND
5. Russell Wilson, SEA
6. Mitchell Trubisky, CHI
7. Deshaun Watson, HOU
8. Jared Goff, LAR
9. Tom Brady, NE
10. Dak Prescott, DAL
11. Philip Rivers, LAC
12. Nick Foles, PHI
13. Taysom Hill, NO
14. Joe Flacco, BAL
15. Chase Daniel, CHI

Running Back

1. Alvin Kamara, NO
2. Todd Gurley, LAR **Monitor Status**
3. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
4. Damien Williams, KC **Monitor Ware Status**
5. Mark Ingram II, NO
6. Melvin Gordon III, LAC **Monitor Status**
7. Chris Carson, SEA
8. Jordan Howard, CHI
9. James White, NE
10. Gus Edwards, BAL
11. Kenneth Dixon, BAL
12. Tarik Cohen, CHI
13. Marlon Mack, IND
14. Sony Michel, NE
15. Spencer Ware, KC **Monitor Status**
16. CJ Anderson, LAR **Monitor Gurley Status**
17. Nyheim Hines, IND
18. Rex Burkhead, NE
19. Lamar Miller, HOU
20. Austin Ekeler, LAC **Monitor Gordon Status**
21. Rashaad Penny, SEA
22. Mike Davis, SEA
23. Charcandrick West, KC **Monitor Ware Status**
24. Ty Montgomery, BAL
25. Darrel Williams, KC **Monitor Ware Status**
26. Darren Sproles, PHI
27. Wendell Smallwood, PHI
28. Josh Adams, PHI
29. Justin Jackson, LAC **Monitor Gordon Status**
30. Rod Smith, DAL
31. James Develin, NE
32. Zach Line, NO
33. Anthony Sherman, KC
34. Alfred Blue, HOU
35. Jordan Wilkins, IND
36. John Kelly, LAR **Monitor Gurley Status**
37. Dwayne Washington, NO
38. D’Onta Foreman, HOU
39. Taquan Mizzell, CHI
40. Javorius Allen, BAL
41. Jamize Olawale, DAL
42. JD McKissic, SEA
43. Justin Davis, LAR **Monitor Gurley Status**
44. Benny Cunningham, CHI
45. Darius Jackson, DAL

Wide Receiver

1. Michael Thomas, NO
2. Tyreek Hill, KC
3. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU
4. TY Hilton, IND **Monitor Status**
5. Julian Edelman, NE
6. Ted Ginn Jr, NO
7. Robert Woods, LAR
8. Brandin Cooks, LAR
9. Doug Baldwin, SEA
10. Tyler Lockett, SEA
11. Amari Cooper, DAL
12. Allen Robinson, CHI **Monitor Status**
13. Keenan Allen, LAC
14. Josh Reynolds, LAR
15. Sammy Watkins, KC **Monitor Status**
16. Chris Hogan, NE
17. Dontrelle Inman, IND
18. Chester Rogers, IND
19. Taylor Gabriel, CHI
20. Demarcus Robinson, KC **Monitor Watkins Status**
21. Chris Conley, KC **Monitor Watkins Status**
22. John Brown, BAL
23. Michael Crabtree, BAL
24. Willie Snead IV, BAL
25. Keke Coutee, HOU **Monitor Status**
26. Tre’Quan Smith, NO
27. Mike Williams, LAC
28. Cole Beasley, DAL
29. Michael Gallup, DAL
30. David Moore, SEA
31. Nelson Agholor, PHI
32. Golden Tate, PHI
33. Cordarrelle Patterson, NE **Monitor Status**
34. DeAndre Carter, HOU **Monitor Coutee Status**
35. Vyncint Smith, HOU
36. Keith Kirkwood, NO
37. Phillip Dorsett, NE
38. Jaron Brown, SEA
39. Kelvin Benjamin, KC
40. Tyrell Williams, LAC
41. Zach Pascal, IND
42. Anthony Miller, CHI **Monitor Status**
43. Chris Moore, BAL
44. Ryan Grant, IND
45. Allen Hurns, DAL
46. Tavon Austin, DAL
47. Travis Benjamin, LAC
48. Austin Carr, NO
49. Josh Bellamy, CHI
50. Javon Wims, CHI

Tight End

1. Travis Kelce, KC
2. Eric Ebron, IND
3. Zach Ertz, PHI
4. Rob Gronkowski, NE
5. Mark Andrews, BAL
6. Trey Burton, CHI
7. Gerald Everett, LAR
8. Blake Jarwin, DAL
9. Ben Watson, NO
10. Demetrius Harris, KC
11. Nick Vannett, SEA
12. Dallas Goedert, PHI
13. Antonio Gates, LAC
14. Mo Alie-Cox, IND
15. Hunter Henry, LAC **Monitor Status**
16. Tyler Higbee, LAR
17. Ryan Griffin, HOU
18. Jordan Thomas, HOU
19. Jordan Akins, HOU
20. Ed Dickson, BAL
21. Adam Shaheen, CHI
22. Josh Hill, NO
23. Dan Arnold, NO
24. Hayden Hurst, BAL
25. Nick Boyle, BAL
26. Maxx Williams, BAL
27. Dalton Schultz, DAL

Kicker

1. Wil Lutz, NO
2. Justin Tucker, BAL
3. Harrison Butker, KC
4. Cody Parkey, CHI
5. Stephen Gostkowski, NE
6. Greg Zuerlein, LAR
7. Adam Vinatieri, IND
8. Sebastian Janikowski, SEA
9. Ka’imi Fairbairn, HOU
10. Brett Maher, DAL
11. Michael Badgley, LAC
12. Jake Elliott, PHI

D/ST

1. New Orleans
2. Baltimore
3. Chicago
4. Kansas City
5. Los Angeles Rams
6. New England
7. Indianapolis
8. Seattle
9. Houston
10. Dallas
11. Los Angeles Chargers
12. Philadelphia

Overall Top 50

1. Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
2. Michael Thomas, WR, NO
3. Drew Brees, QB, NO
4. Travis Kelce, TE, KC
5. Patrick Mahomes II, QB, KC
6. Tyreek Hill, WR, KC
7. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU
8. Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
9. Todd Gurley, RB, LAR
10. TY Hilton, WR, IND
11. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL
12. Damien Williams, RB, KC
13. Mark Ingram II, RB, NO
14. Melvin Gordon III, RB, LAC
15. Chris Carson, RB, SEA
16. Andrew Luck, QB, IND
17. Russell Wilson, QB, SEA
18. Julian Edelman, WR, NE
19. Eric Ebron, TE, IND
20. Mitchell Trubisky, QB, CHI
21. Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU
22. Zach Ertz, TE, PHI
23. Jordan Howard, RB, CHI
24. James White, RB, NE
25. Gus Edwards, RB, BAL
26. Kenneth Dixon, RB, BAL
27. Ted Ginn Jr, WR, NO
28. Robert Woods, WR, LAR
29. Brandin Cooks, WR, LAR
30. Jared Goff, QB, LAR
31. Tom Brady, QB, NE
32. Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA
33. Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
34. Tarik Cohen, RB, CHI
35. Marlon Mack, RB, IND
36. Allen Robinson, WR, CHI
37. Sony Michel, RB, NE
38. Amari Cooper, WR, DAL
39. Keenan Allen, WR, LAC
40. Mark Andrews, TE, BAL
41. Trey Burton, TE, CHI
42. New Orleans D/ST
43. Wil Lutz, K, NO
44. Josh Reynolds, WR, LAR
45. Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
46. Baltimore D/ST
47. Justin Tucker, K, BAL
48. Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
49. Philip Rivers, QB, LAC
50. Nick Foles, QB, PHI