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2017-18 Playoff Fantasy Football Rankings and Strategy

A refresher on playoff fantasy football strategy and a run down of the positional and overall rankings for drafts

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 Lewis, but had to settle for Bell then you are going to favor Steelers over Patriots 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 my Picks

Wild Card picks in order of confidence:

Jacksonville over Buffalo - A banged up LeSean McCoy spells doom for Buffalo in their return to playoffs

Kansas City over Tennessee - The Titans have only looked like a playoff team when they were playing Seattle and Jacksonville this year. Kansas City has been much better at home as of late.

LA Rams over Atlanta - The Rams offense is peaking and the Atlanta offense isn’t productive enough to keep up with them

New Orleans over Carolina - It’s tough to pull off a three-game sweep of a division opponent, but the Saints pair of decisive wins over the Panthers reflect their advantages on both sides of the ball.

Divisional picks in order of confidence:


Minnesota over LA Rams - The Vikings owned them in a matchup at the same venue earlier this year. The Vikings are the most balanced team in the playoffs.

New Orleans over Philadelphia - Nick Foles has turned this offense into a feeble passing unit when they aren’t facing the Giants, and the Saints have an offense that can play cold weather football. This, like the next two matchups, is very close to a coinflip.

New England over Kansas City - The Chiefs were able to thwart the Patriots offense and befuddle their defense at every turn in the first matchup, but Belichick will certainly change his approach this time around.

Pittsburgh over Jacksonville - The Steelers got spanked by the Jaguars at home in the first matchup this year, but they should rely more on Le'Veon Bell this time around, and the Jaguars are new to playoff intensity.

Conference Championship picks in order of confidence:


New England over Pittsburgh - PIT vs NE playoff history

New Orleans over Minnesota - Brees vs Keenum

Tiered Team Ranking By Range of Outcomes

1. New England - Hard to see them losing at Foxboro, but they should have two tough outs as long as the AFC home teams win on wild card weekend 

2. New Orleans - Playing on wild card weekend, but with the most balanced offensive Saints team we’ve seen in the Brees era, and they have a huge quarterback experience edge over the top three NFC seeds.
3. Minnesota - Can Case Keenum really lead a team to a Super Bowl? The supporting cast is there for it.

4. Pittsburgh - They would have to avenge an embarrassing in-season loss to Jacksonville and numerous playoff losses to New England, but they have the horses to do it and outplayed New England in the Week 15 loss. A second Kansas City win over New England in the divisional round would be huge.
5. LA Rams - A balanced offense and Wade Phillips defense is a good combination, if they just didn’t have to go back to Minnesota.
6. Jacksonville - This is a defense that can take over a game, but you’re also trusting Blake Bortles.
7. Kansas City - They have beaten New England soundly this year and should cruise in the wild card round, but Pittsburgh is their nemesis
8. Philadelphia - They would be #2 on this list if they hadn’t lost Wentz. It’s hard to have confidence in Nick Foles, and this isn’t a defense that can take over a game against a good offense.

9. Atlanta - They are a playoff-tested team, but the Falcons have few advantages to leverage against better NFC playoff teams.
10. Carolina - This team has “found a way to win” on special teams and defense and well-timed Cam Newton scoringfests, but none those will come easy against superior NFC playoff teams.
11. Tennessee - A sputtering offense and vulnerable pass defense will likely spell a first-round exit
12. Buffalo - Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd made this happen. They won’t be of any help in Jacksonville.

A Note on Your Instincts

Of course, you should adjust these rankings based on your beliefs of the outcome of the playoffs. The art of balancing individual expected fantasy value per game and expected number of games is not well understood and you should rely on your own instincts when it comes to questions about weighing potential one-off studs against mid-level players with a good shot at a Super Bowl berth.

A Note on Positional Strategy

A wide open NFC bracket makes it easier to get a quarterback with a good chance to start in the divisional round and wait at the position. Running back is top heavy and falls off quickly after the top 10-12, make that position a focus of two of your first 3-4 picks. Wide receiver is level with the biggest two names battling injuries or a tough draw. Tight end is 6-7 for expected producers for at least one week, but not worth an early investment after Gronk and Kelce are gone. Jacksonville defense and a kicker that goes to the Super Bowl could be pivotal point advantages this year.

Quarterback

1. Tom Brady, NE
2. Drew Brees, NO
3. Case Keenum, MIN
4. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
5. Jared Goff, LAR
6. Alex Smith, KC
7. Blake Bortles, JAX
8. Nick Foles, PHI
9. Cam Newton, CAR
10. Matt Ryan, ATL
11. Marcus Mariota, TEN
12. Tyrod Taylor, BUF
13. Sam Bradford, MIN
14. Teddy Bridgewater, MIN
15. Brian Hoyer, NE
16. Patrick Mahomes, KC

Running Back

1. Todd Gurley, LAR
2. Alvin Kamara, NO
3. Mark Ingram II, NO
4. Le'Veon Bell, PIT

5. Dion Lewis, NE
6. Kareem Hunt, KC
7. Leonard Fournette, JAX
8. Latavius Murray, MIN

9. Rex Burkhead, NE **Monitor Status**
10. Devonta Freeman, ATL
11. Jerick McKinnon, MIN
12. Jay Ajayi, PHI
13. Christian McCaffrey, CAR
14. Derrick Henry, TEN
15. LeSean McCoy, BUF **Monitor Status**
16. James White, NE **Monitor Status**
17. Tevin Coleman, ATL
18. Corey Clement, PHI
19. LeGarrette Blount, PHI
20. Mike Tolbert, BUF **Monitor McCoy Status**
21. Mike Gillislee, NE **Monitor Status**
22. TJ Yeldon, JAX
23. Demarco Murray, TEN **Monitor Status**
24. Jonathan Stewart, CAR **Monitor Status**
25. Malcolm Brown, LAR
26. Charcandrick West, KC
27. Stevan Ridley, PIT
28. Chris Ivory, JAX
29. Zach Line, NO
30. Anthony Sherman, KC
31. James Develin, NE
32. Brandon Bolden, NE
33. Corey Grant, JAX
34. Kenjon Barner, PHI
35. Wendell Smallwood, PHI
36. Anthony Sherman, KC
37. Roosevelt Nix, PIT
38. CJ Ham, MIN
39. Trey Edmunds, NO
40. Jonathan Williams, NO
41. Lance Dunbar, LAR
42. Cameron Artis-Payne, CAR
43. Fozzy Whittaker, CAR
44. CJ Spiller, KC
45. Terron Ward, ATL
46. Fitzgerald Toussaint, PIT

Wide Receiver

1. Brandin Cooks, NE
2. Michael Thomas, NO
3. Tyreek Hill, KC
4. Adam Thielen, MIN
5. Antonio Brown, PIT **Monitor Status**
6. Julio Jones, ATL
7. Stefon Diggs, MIN
8. Chris Hogan, NE
9. Robert Woods, LAR
10. Ted Ginn Jr, NO
11. Cooper Kupp, LAR
12. Alshon Jeffery, PHI
13. Danny Amendola, NE
14. Juju Smith-Schuster, PIT
15. Sammy Watkins, LAR
16. Martavis Bryant, PIT
17. Nelson Agholor, PHI
18. Mohamed Sanu, ATL
19. Keelan Cole, JAX
20. Allen Hurns, JAX
21. Kenny Britt, NE
22. Phillip Dorsett, NE
23. Devin Funchess, CAR
24. Rishard Matthews, TEN
25. Albert Wilson, KC
26. Eli Rogers, PIT
27. Jarius Wright, MIN
28. Tavon Austin, LAR
29. Brandon Coleman, NO
30. Willie Snead IV, NO
31. Tommylee Lewis, NO
32. Torrey Smith, PHI
33. Michael Floyd, MIN
34. Laquon Treadwell, MIN
35. Dede Westbrook, JAX
36. Kelvin Benjamin, BUF
37. Eric Decker, TEN
38. Corey Davis, TEN
39. Marqise Lee, JAX **Monitor Status**
40. Josh Reynolds, LAR
41. Mack Hollins, PHI
42. Deonte Thompson, BUF
43. Zay Jones, BUF
44. Brenton Berson, CAR
45. Jaydon Mickens, JAX
46. Kaelan Clay, CAR
47. Justin Hardy, ATL
48. Demarcus Robinson, KC
49. Justin Hunter, PIT
50. Jehu Chesson, KC
51. Taywan Taylor, TEN

Tight End

1. Rob Gronkowski, NE
2. Travis Kelce, KC
3. Zach Ertz, PHI
4. Kyle Rudolph, MIN
5. Delanie Walker, TEN
6. Charles Clay, BUF
7. Greg Olsen, CAR
8. Vance McDonald, PIT
9. Jesse James, PIT
10. Trey Burton, PHI
11. Marcedes Lewis, JAX
12. Josh Hill, NO
13. Tyler Higbee, LAR
14. Gerald Everett, LAR
15. Austin Hooper, ATL
16. Dwayne Allen, NE
17. Jacob Hollister, NE
18. Brent Celek, PHI
19. Demetrius Harris, KC
20. David Morgan, MIN
21. James O’Shaughnessy, JAX

Kicker

1. Stephen Gostkowski, NE
2. Will Lutz, NO
3. Kai Forbath, MIN
4. Chris Boswell, PIT
5. Josh Lambo, JAX
6. Harrison Butker, KC
7. Jake Elliott, PHI
8. Sam Ficken, LAR
9. Matt Bryant, ATL
10. Graham Gano, CAR
11. Ryan Succop, TEN
12. Steven Hauschka, BUF

D/ST

1. Jacksonville
2. New England
3. Minnesota
4. New Orleans
5. Pittsburgh
6. Kansas City
7. Los Angeles Rams
8. Philadelphia
9. Carolina
10. Atlanta
11. Tennessee
12. Buffalo

Overall Top 50

1. Rob Gronkowski, QB, NE
2. Tom Brady, QB, NE
3. Todd Gurley, RB, LAR
4. Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
5. Mark Ingram II, RB, NO
6. Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT
7. Drew Brees, QB, NO
8. Travis Kelce, TE, KC
9. Brandin Cooks, WR, NE

10. Dion Lewis, RB, NE
11. Kareem Hunt, RB, KC
12. Leonard Fournette, RB, JAX
13. Michael Thomas, WR, NO
14. Tyreek Hill, WR, KC
15. Adam Thielen, WR, MIN
16. Antonio Brown, WR, PIT
17. Julio Jones, WR, ATL
18. Latavius Murray, RB, MIN

19. Rex Burkhead, RB, NE
20. Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN
21. Case Keenum, QB, MIN
22. Chris Hogan, WR, NE
23. Robert Woods, WR, LAR
24. Ted Ginn Jr, WR, NO
25. Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR
26. Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL
27. Zach Ertz, TE, PHI
28. Jacksonville D/ST
29. Alshon Jeffery, WR, PHI
30. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT
31. Jared Goff, QB, LAR
32. Alex Smith, QB, KC
33. Jerick McKinnon, RB, MIN
34. Stephen Gostkowski, K, NE
35. Jay Ajayi, RB, PHI
36. Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
37. Danny Amendola, WR, NE
38. Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT
39. Sammy Watkins, WR, LAR
40. Martavis Bryant, WR, PIT
41. Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
42. LeSean McCoy, RB, BUF
43. Kyle Rudolph, TE, MIN
43. Blake Bortles, QB, JAX
44. Nick Foles, QB, PHI
45. Cam Newton, QB, CAR
46. Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
47. James White, RB, NE
48. Delanie Walker, TE, TEN
49. Charles Clay, TE, BUF
50. Nelson Agholor, WR, PHI