Fantasy Football: Alshon Jeffery, Eagles highlight championship round winners and losers
Jamey Eisenberg gives you the winners and losers from the championship round, with an eye on the 2018 Fantasy Football season.
Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl, which is no surprise. This is the eighth time Brady and Belichick have competed for a championship, and they have won the title five times.
But the Eagles making it to Super Bowl LII is somewhat of a shocker. Despite losing starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who was an MVP candidate, to a torn ACL in Week 14, Philadelphia was the best team in the NFC.
And now the Patriots and Eagles will meet in Minnesota on Feb. 4 to determine the best team in the NFL for this season. This is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, which the Patriots won 24-21. Can the same thing happen again this year?
Once that game ends, the 2018 season will officially begin -- for Fantasy owners at least. Like us, you likely never stop thinking about the next season, and we've been tracking the players during the postseason with an eye on the 2018 campaign.
You can see our winners and losers from theand from the . And now it's time to pick the winners and losers from the AFC and NFC Championship Games.
Just to let you know, the first look at our 2018 rankings will be on display soon, and we will start doing mock drafts for next season as early as February. I'll also have my first round of sleepers, breakouts and busts for next season in February as well.
It's never too early to start planning for your Draft Day. And the sooner you start doing your homework the better off you'll be when it comes to making your Fantasy Super Bowl in 2018.
Brady didn't have a good finish to the regular season, and he closed the year with five games in a row scoring less than 20 Fantasy points. But he turned it on the playoffs with 31 Fantasy points against the Titans in the divisional round, and scored 23 points against the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. Brady finished the 2017 season as the No. 2 Fantasy quarterback behind Russell Wilson, and he will likely be drafted next year as the No. 3 passer behind Aaron Rodgers and Wilson. Even though he will be 41 and have a new offensive coordinator with Josh McDaniels gone to the Colts, Brady should still have elite weapons in Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman, who should be healthy coming off last year's torn ACL. Along with Danny Amendola and the running backs out of the backfield, there is a lot to still like about Brady as a Fantasy quarterback. Until he proves otherwise, Brady should be a top-flight Fantasy option on Draft Day in all leagues.
Ertz finished the season as the No. 3 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues, and he will likely be drafted as the third player at his position in 2018 behind Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce. His Average Draft Position will likely be at the end of Round 3, and he should be able to build off his breakout campaign from this past year when he had 74 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns on 110 targets. And Ertz didn't really fall off when Nick Foles took over for Wentz. In four full games with Foles, including the playoffs, Ertz has at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league in three of them. He scored at least eight points in 11 games during the season in 2017. Ertz has become an elite Fantasy tight end, and his performance in the playoffs has only solidified that for his value heading into 2018.
Jeffery got off to a slow start in his first season with the Eagles this year, but he closed the season strong, including his playoff performance against the Vikings. Jeffery had double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in seven of his final 10 full games, including the playoffs. And two of the games where he failed to reach that total came with Foles under center. Now, he was touchdown dependent since he had no games with 100 receiving yards in 2017, but Fantasy owners realize that Jeffery is a quality No. 2 receiver, who is paired with a quarterback on the rise in Wentz. Jeffery will be drafted by Round 4 in the majority of leagues, and hopefully he'll produce in 16 games as he did at the end of the 2017 season.
Keenum is a free agent this offseason, and where he plays in 2018 will ultimately determine his Fantasy value. He should be a starter for a NFL team after coming into this season as a backup to Sam Bradford. But Keenum had a great year in leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game, and he just fell apart at the wrong time. He actually closed the season with four games in a row scoring fewer than 20 Fantasy points, including the playoffs, after he scored at least 19 points in seven games in a row. If he returns to Minnesota then consider Keenum a solid No. 2 Fantasy quarterback, and he's worth drafting with a late-round pick in the majority of leagues. There's not really a scenario where Keenum will be considered a No. 1 quarterback on Draft Day, but he could prove once again to be a valuable commodity off the waiver wire like he was this season.
Murray was more than serviceable for the Vikings and Fantasy owners as the replacement option for the injured Dalvin Cook (torn ACL) this year. Cook was lost for the season in Week 4, and Murray scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league in eight of his final 12 games, including the playoffs. Murray's role in 2018 is up in the air because Cook should return for the start of training camp, but Jerick McKinnon is a free agent. It would appear that Murray would be the handcuff for Cook, but Murray is an expensive backup at $5.15 million for 2018. If he returns to the Vikings as the No. 2 running back, Murray is worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues. But if McKinnon also returns and Cook is healthy, you should likely avoid Murray. And if he goes to a new team, Murray's Fantasy value will be re-evaluated once he lands in his new destination.
Thielen had a breakout campaign in 2017 with 91 catches for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns on 143 targets, and he was the No. 14 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues. But he struggled to close the season, and that could leave a bad taste for Fantasy owners heading into 2018. Including the playoffs, Thielen went five games in a row with seven Fantasy points or less in standard leagues. He actually scored double digits in Fantasy points just once in his final eight games, including the playoffs. We'll see who the quarterback and offensive coordinator is in Minnesota since Pat Shurmur is gone to the Giants, but Thielen should continue to post quality stats in 2018. But he might not be better than Stefon Diggs, who was the No. 17 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues, and Thielen could be overvalued heading into next season. I view him as a low-end No. 2 Fantasy receiver at best on Draft Day, and he should not be drafted before Round 6 in standard leagues and Round 5 in PPR.
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