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Building the Perfect FFPC Playoff Challenge Lineup

An exercise in piecing together the ideal FFPC playoff challenge lineup

The fantasy football regular season is over, but opportunities to test your predictive acumen against others abound in the playoffs. In addition to traditional playoff fantasy football and DFS, the FFPC is offering a playoff challenge that requires only a little time and $200 upfront, but lots of entertainment and a big payoff on the tail end.

The simplicity of the rules is the beauty of the contest:

* Each team will consist of ten (10) NFL players in a FFPC starting roster format: 1-QB, 2-RB, 2-WR, 1-TE, 2-Flex, 1-K, 1-D (Flex can be RB, WR or TE)
* Each team will choose ten (10) players from any of the 12 NFL playoff teams but ONLY ONE PLAYER PER TEAM

Note that FFPC scoring means that tight ends will get 1.5 points per reception and carry a premium.

So the task here is to find a configuration of the most valuable players from each team. Ideally we can create lineup where there are no better options from each player's team and no better options at each position, but of course without the luxury of doubling up on players from one team. We'll also have to leave two teams completely unrepresented. I'll touch on my thought process of why this player from this team, and why this people out of his peers at his position. Let's get to it.

Quarterback

Drew Brees, NO - Brees hasn’t been his normal elite self in fantasy leagues, but he’s still more than serviceable. He has the best chance of playing four games of any quarterback, and at least three of those games will be indoors or in Southern California.

Other New Orleans Considerations: Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram II, RB (First, which one should we pick? Second, this playoff bracket is thick is outstanding running back options), Michael Thomas, WR (We’ll get a portion of his production via Brees, and it’s a bigger payoff to get a four-game quarterback than a four-game wide receiver)

Other QB Considerations: Tom Brady (Brady isn’t the best NE choice because of the steep dropoff from Gronkowski to the tight end pool, and his production has slowed down as of late), Case Keenum (Can he lead a team to the Super Bowl?), Ben Roethlisberger (Set to face a team he threw five interceptions against in the divisional round and has never beaten the Patriots in the playoffs)

Running Back

Le'Veon Bell, PIT, Todd Gurley, LAR - The gold standard in running back production. Both have the potential in just one game to outproduce any other running back that plays fewer than three games, and really any other running back that isn’t a Saints back for the entire playoffs. If the Rams or Steelers make a run, having their feature back in your lineup will be crucial.

Other Pittsburgh Considerations: Ben Roethlisberger, QB (See above), Antonio Brown, WR (Might have been the pick if we knew he was healthy)

Other Los Angeles Rams Considerations: Jared Goff, QB (How will he perform in his trip to the postseason?), Robert Woods, WR (Not as clearly the #1 receiver as he was before his shoulder injury)

Other RB Considerations: Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram II, NO (See above), Leonard Fournette, JAX (Jacksonville defense offers more bang for your buck compared to peers), Dion Lewis, NE (Return of Rex Burkhead to practice shaves edge off of his upside), Kareem Hunt, KC (TE premium gives Travis Kelce the edge to be the choice from the Chiefs, wild card opponent Tennessee better vs. run than pass)

Wide Receiver

Julio Jones, ATL, Adam Thielen, MIN - We have to take two players from teams that we project to lose in the wild card round. Jones makes a ton of sense as the only healthy elite wide receiver in the playoffs and one that could have one of his patented double digit, 200-yard-plus games in an attempt to keep up with the Rams offense. Thielen is more a process of elimination pick from a team that has a reasonable chance to go to the Super Bowl. He’s not hot coming into the playoffs, but is still the best option in the Minnesota passing game

Other Atlanta Considerations: Devonta Freeman (the running back crop is too strong to go to Freeman when the Falcons have gone back to a committee after Tevin Coleman returned from a concussion.

Other Minnesota Considerations: Case Keenum (See above), Latavius Murray (In a running back heavy playoff team pool, Murray isn’t one of the more exciting options), Kyle Rudolph (FFPC format emphasizes tight end, but he’s clearly not 100%)

Other WR Considerations: Antonio Brown, PIT (See above), Alshon Jeffery, PHI (He and Nick Foles haven’t exactly had the best connection), Brandin Cooks, NE (Not as much of a weekly mainstay in the Patriots offense as Gronkowski), Tyreek Hill, KC (Very tough to leave off, but Kelce offers more upside in FFPC format)

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski, NE - He was dominant down the stretch, averaging well over 25 points a game until he was blanked in Week 17, which conveniently left him at 69 receptions for the season. If the Patriots go to the Super Bowl, he could be the highest scoring player in this format, and at a position that is the toughest to get big points out of among the offensive skill players.

Other NE Considerations: Tom Brady, QB, Dion Lewis, RB, Brandin Cooks, WR (See above)

Other TE Considerations: Travis Kelce, KC (Not as likely to play 3 or more games), Zach Ertz, PHI (possible one and done and depending on Nick Foles)

FLEX

Travis Kelce, TE, KC, Zach Ertz, TE, PHI - Kelce is an easy call here and if Kansas City plays New England and pulls off another upset in Foxboro, we’ll still have the high 1.5 TE PPR weekly ceiling in our lineup. Ertz is a little tougher as a possible one and done player, but Foles had the best connection with him of any Eagles pass catcher, and he has the potential to put up a 20-30 point total per game.

Other Kansas City Considerations: Tyreek Hill, WR, Kareem Hunt, RB (see above), Alex Smith, QB (Could end up being the right quarterback pick in hindsight if he can go into Foxboro and win, and solve the Steelers or Jaguars)

Other Philadelphia Considerations: Alshon Jeffery, WR (see above)

Other Flex Considerations: LeSean McCoy, RB, BUF (Maybe if he was healthy and we gave the Bills a fighting chance to win), Derrick Henry, RB, TEN (Too difficult to see Tennessee winning in Kansas City), Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR (Maybe if we thought Carolina had a good chance to win in New Orleans), Leonard Fournette, RB, JAX (see above)

Kicker

Ryan Succop, TEN - At this point we are down to Jacksonville and three teams we predict to lose in the wild card round. We aren’t taking Jacksonville because we want their defense. Of the three remaining kickers, Succop has the highest number of field goal attempts (a league-leading 42), and is the most likely to get locked up in a low-scoring battle against the painfully conservative at times Chiefs.

Other Tennessee Considerations: Derrick Henry, RB (see above)

Other K Considerations: Graham Gano, CAR (has hit 29-of-30 attempts, but Carolina will need touchdowns against the Saints), Steven Hauschka, BUF (it’s not a stretch to see the Bills getting shut out at Jacksonville)

D/ST

Jacksonville - Maybe the easiest pick in this entire exercise. Facing the Bills with a hobbled or no LeSean McCoy should be a turnover and sack fest as long as the Jaguars offense is competent.

Other Jacksonville Considerations: Leonard Fournette, RB (see above)

Other D/ST Considerations: None