It's hard to believe we finally have our Super Bowl LVI matchup, and it's even more difficult to believe it's the Bengals vs. the Rams. Both teams were the No. 4 seed in each conference, meaning this will be the lowest-seeded Super Bowl matchup in history. Still, we should get a great game on February 13 at SoFi Stadium.
When the Rams signed Matthew Stafford last offseason, they were considered one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, especially following midseason acquisitions of Odell Beckham and Von Miller. The Rams appeared in Super Bowl LIII following the 2018 season, but they lost that game 13-3 to the Patriots. Sean McVay is still looking for his first championship, as is Stafford.
No one expected the Bengals to get here. They become just the fifth team to advance to the Super Bowl the season after finishing in last place in its division since 2000, and the first to do so since the Eagles in 2017. The Bengals also had 75-1 odds in the preseason to win the AFC championship, the largest for a conference champion over the past 20 years.
The 2021 Bengals have won more playoff games (three) than the 2019 Bengals won the entire season (two). And Cincinnati last played in the championship game following the 1988 season for Super Bowl XXIII, losing 20-16 to the 49ers.
It will be fun to talk about the Rams and Bengals players over the next two weeks leading into Super Bowl LVI. But before we do that, let's look back at the amazing playoffs we just watched and pick some Fantasy winners and losers from the eliminated teams heading into the 2022 season.
With several players still having some uncertainties -- the Buccaneers with Tom Brady's potential retirement and the Packers with Aaron Rodgers' future -- we'll save those teams for a discussion at a later date. For now, let's focus on the guys we should be excited about -- and ones we might want to avoid -- based on the 2021 postseason that just took place.
Now that the 49ers and Chiefs have been eliminated from the 2021 postseason, how do both teams stack up from a Fantasy Football perspective moving forward? The FFT team dove into that on the latest:
Trey Lance, QB, 49ers
We don't know what the 49ers plan is for Jimmy Garoppolo, who played through thumb and shoulder injuries in the postseason and is reportedly going to need surgery. Most likely, he will be starting for a different team in 2022, clearing the way for Lance to be San Francisco's quarterback. Lance appeared in three games as a rookie this past season where he attempted at least 18 passes, and he scored at least 22 Fantasy points in two of them. He ran for at least 31 yards in all three outings, and he has the upside to be a top-10 Fantasy quarterback with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk on his side. If he's the starter as expected then Lance should be drafted with a mid-round pick as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in all leagues.
Devin Singletary, RB, Bills
Singletary started to look like a Fantasy winner in the regular season from Week 14 on. He had five games in a row with at least 14 PPR points, including two games with at least 23 PPR points and three outings with at least 19 carries. That carried over to the playoffs with two quality performances against New England and Kansas City, scoring at least 14 PPR points in each outing, and he should be the featured running back in Buffalo in 2022. We'll see what happens with Brian Daboll leaving as the Bills offensive coordinator to coach the Giants and if anything changes in Buffalo, but Singletary is worth drafting as a quality No. 2 running back in Round 4 in all leagues.
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Eagles
We'll see what the Eagles backfield looks like after free agency and the NFL Draft, but Jordan Howard (UFA) and Boston Scott (RFA) could both be gone. If Gainwell is No. 2 on the depth chart behind Miles Sanders then he's a sleeper to consider with a late-round pick in all leagues. He had a strong showing against Tampa Bay in the playoffs with five catches for 49 yards and a touchdown on five targets. And in Week 18 against Dallas, he proved he can handle a big workload with 12 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, along with four catches for 9 yards on seven targets. Sanders struggled to stay healthy in 2021, and Gainwell could be a prominent handcuff with lottery-ticket upside given how much Philadelphia ran the football under Nick Sirianni this past season.
A.J. Brown, WR, Titans
Brown was awesome against the Bengals in the divisional round with five catches for 142 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. He just needs to stay healthy, and he could easily be a top-five Fantasy receiver in all leagues. He's going to get drafted in Round 2, but he needs to stay on the field after missing five games in 2021 and three games in 2020, including parts of others. Julio Jones is slated to return to the Titans in 2022, and we'll see what happens with the rest of Tennessee's receiving corps. But Brown is the No. 1 option and has elite Fantasy potential if he can stay healthy for close to 17 games, which would finally lead to his full breakout season in his fourth year in the NFL.
Gabriel Davis, WR, Bills
Davis was the biggest Fantasy winner in the playoffs following his performance against the Chiefs in the divisional round. He had eight catches for 201 yards and four touchdowns on 10 targets in the best game of the postseason and announced to the world he's ready for a breakout campaign in 2022, which will be his third year in the NFL. He was already building toward that after taking over as the No. 2 receiver in Buffalo behind Stefon Diggs, and he scored a touchdown in five of his final seven games, including the playoffs. Davis will likely be drafted in Round 5 or 6 in the majority of leagues in 2022.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals
Murray was miserable against the Rams in the wild-card round with 137 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions, and he only ran for 6 yards. He closed the regular season with three games of 18 Fantasy points or less in his final five outings, and he really struggled without DeAndre Hopkins (knee) on the field. Now, Hopkins will return in 2022, hopefully at 100 percent. But this Cardinals offense could look dramatically different with Christian Kirk, A.J. Green, Zach Ertz, James Conner and Chase Edmonds all headed to free agency. We'll see what the Cardinals do at wide receiver, tight end and running back, but Murray is still worth drafting as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in all leagues. And you might get him at a bargain after his struggles at the end of this past season. He still has top-five upside in all leagues, and hopefully he can be more consistent with his production in 2022.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans
The Titans had a great season in 2021, finishing as the No. 1 seed in the AFC before losing in the divisional round to the Bengals. But it wasn't a great year for Tannehill in terms of his individual production, and he was miserable against Cincinnati with 220 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, along with just 12 rushing yards. He also had just five games during the season with at least 20 Fantasy points and averaged 17.1 points during the year. Now, he had to deal with injuries to Brown, Jones and Derrick Henry, along with guys missing time on the offensive line. But Tannehill entered 2021 as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback and was a bust, and he'll be just a No. 2 quarterback in all leagues heading into 2022.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs
Edwards-Helaire ran well in the playoffs with six carries for 36 yards against the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game, as well as seven carries for 60 yards in the divisional round against Buffalo. He also added two catches for 13 yards on four targets combined in both games. He was expected to have a minimal role against the Bills since he missed the previous three games with a collarbone injury, but it was frustrating to watch him play behind Jerick McKinnon against Cincinnati. We keep waiting for Edwards-Helaire to prove he should be the lead running back for the Chiefs in all facets of the running and passing game, but that might never happen. Keep an eye on what Kansas City does this offseason at running back, and Edwards-Helaire still has plenty of potential heading into his third year. But instead of drafting him in Round 2 of most Fantasy leagues like what happened in 2021, he will now be selected in Round 5 in 2022.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
Following Dallas' wild-card loss against San Francisco, Elliott said he played through a torn PCL in his knee during the season. Hopefully, that's the reason he struggled toward the end of the year, and he managed just 12 carries for 31 yards against the 49ers, along with one catch for no yards on four targets. Elliott, if healthy, can still be a No. 1 Fantasy running back, and he started 2021 with at least 17 PPR points in five of his first six games, including four outings with at least 113 total yards. He managed four games with at least 16 PPR points in his final 12 outings, including the playoffs, but most of his quality production during that stretch was touchdown related, as he didn't top 80 total yards until Week 18. Tony Pollard could be headed for a bigger role in 2022, and the earliest Elliott should be drafted is Round 3 in most leagues.
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Cowboys
Former Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman wasn't pleased with Lamb's role in the playoff loss against the 49ers when he finished with one catch for 21 yards on five targets. Aikman said of Lamb during a radio interview, "the game is not that difficult. If I've got a great player at wide receiver and a corner is playing him in single coverage, throw him the ball. He's going to win most of the time." It felt like the Cowboys forgot about Lamb down the stretch when he had five targets or less in his final four games in a row, including the playoffs. He also failed to score a touchdown after Week 10. Hopefully, Dak Prescott and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore listen to Aikman and feed Lamb more often in 2022. His value should be lower going into the season, but the upside is still amazing. I'm still planning to target Lamb in Round 3 in all leagues, and he still has breakout potential entering his third year in the NFL.