Postseason Fantasy Football: Updated Playoff Challenge rankings, DFS plays for Championship Round
Jamey Eisenberg updates his rankings for any playoff challenge format, as well as DFS plays you can use for the championship round.
I hope we're not set up for a letdown Sunday because the AFC and NFC Championship Games should be a lot of fun. You should expect a lot of offense, which is great for Fantasy rosters in any playoff challenge, as well as DFS lineups.
The AFC Championship Game features the Patriots at Chiefs (Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET, available on fuboTV), and the NFC Championship Game is the Rams at Saints (Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET, available on fuboTV). These are the top four scoring offenses in the NFL from the regular season — Kansas City was No. 1, the Rams were No. 2, New Orleans at No. 3 and New England at No. 4 — and both games are rematches.
The Patriots beat the Chiefs 43-40 in New England in Week 6, and there were plenty of stars then. Patrick Mahomes was the No. 2 Fantasy quarterback that week, while Tom Brady was No. 12. Kareem Hunt was the No. 4 running back in non-PPR leagues, and Sony Michel was No. 6. And Tyreek Hill was the No. 1 receiver in non-PPR leagues, with Julian Edelman coming in at No. 19.
In Week 9, the Saints beat the Rams 45-35 in New Orleans in another great game for Fantasy. Drew Brees was the No. 1 quarterback that week, and Jared Goff was No. 3. Alvin Kamara was the No. 2 running back in non-PPR leagues, and Todd Gurley was No. 13. And Michael Thomas was the No. 1 receiver in non-PPR leagues, Brandin Cooks was at No. 6 and Cooper Kupp was at No. 8. Benjamin Watson was also the No. 6 tight end in non-PPR leagues.
Hopefully, we get that type of offensive production this time around. Even Patriots coach Bill Belichick is fired up.
"Love to play in a championship game," Belichick said Wednesday. "Schedule it wherever you want. We'll be there."
OK, so maybe he's not overflowing with excitement, but that's just how Belichick is, at least in public. But you should be giddy, because this should be fun.
Here are my updated rankings for any NFL playoff challenge. Our rankings are for PPR and based on what players I believe will advance the farthest to accumulate the most total points.
For what it's worth, I predicted a Patriots-Saints meeting in Super Bowl LIII before the season, so I'll stand by that now. But I'm fine with any matchup we get given what all four of these teams have done this season, as well as the playoffs.
I'm just hoping that this weekend lives up to the billing, setting the stage for a standout Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3.
- Drew Brees
- Patrick Mahomes
- Tom Brady
- Jared Goff
- Brees passed for 346 yards and four touchdowns against the Rams in Week 9, and his 38 Fantasy points in that outing was tied for his second-best total of the season (he scored 45 points at Atlanta in Week 3 and had 38 points against Philadelphia in Week 11). He just had 22 Fantasy points against the Eagles in the divisional round and has now scored at least 21 Fantasy points in seven of eight games at home. The Rams also have allowed two quarterbacks in a row to score at least 24 Fantasy points with Nick Mullens in Week 17 and Dak Prescott in the divisional round reaching that total.
- Mahomes had 352 passing yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions against the Patriots in Week 6, good for 34 Fantasy points. He only has two games this season where he's failed to score at least 21 Fantasy points, in Week 5 against Jacksonville and in the divisional round against the Colts. New England just allowed Philip Rivers to score 31 Fantasy points in the divisional round, but he's the only quarterback to top 17 Fantasy points in the past four games against the Patriots.
- Brady is playing in his eighth-straight AFC Championship Game, and he's fared well in this round. In his past five AFC Championship Games, he's averaging 297.4 passing yards per game with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He played two of those on the road, both at Denver (2013 and 2015), and he had 587 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions over that span. Brady scored 23 Fantasy points against the Chiefs in Week 6 with 340 passing yards and one touchdown, as well as a rushing score. Kansas City has allowed five quarterbacks to score at least 21 Fantasy points in the past seven games.
- Goff had his best game on the road this season at New Orleans in Week 9 when he scored 34 Fantasy points behind 391 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He's coming off one of his worst games of the season in the divisional round against the Cowboys with just eight Fantasy points, and he's averaging just 15.5 Fantasy points on the road this year. The Saints have allowed two of their past three opposing quarterbacks to score at least 29 Fantasy points.
- Alvin Kamara
- Sony Michel
- Damien Williams
- Todd Gurley
- James White
- C.J. Anderson
- Mark Ingram
- Rex Burkhead
- Darrel Williams
- James Develin
- Kamara was a star against the Rams in Week 9 with 19 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns, as well as four catches for 34 yards and a touchdown on five targets. He also had 14 PPR points against the Eagles in the divisional round, and he's scored at least 14 PPR points in five games in a row now. Ingram, however, has scored single digits in PPR in five of his past seven games. And against the Rams in Week 9, Ingram was limited to nine carries for 33 yards, as well as one catch for 3 yards on two targets, with a fumble. The Rams have allowed a running back to score or gain at least 100 total yards in five games in a row.
- Michel dominated the Chargers in the divisional round with 24 carries for 129 yards and three touchdowns, along with one catch for 9 yards, which was good for 31 PPR points. He also had 24 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs in Week 6, and Kansas City is third in most Fantasy points allowed to running backs. The matchup should benefit White also, as he had 13 PPR points against the Chiefs in Week 6 with six carries for 39 yards, as well as five catches for 53 yards on seven targets. White just had 15 catches for 97 yards on 17 targets against the Chargers.
- Williams was the catalyst on offense for the Chiefs in the divisional round against the Colts with 25 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown, as well as five catches for 25 yards on six targets. This was his best game since taking over for Hunt, though he has either a touchdown or 100 total yards in five games in a row, including the playoffs. Hunt was fantastic against the Patriots in Week 6 with 10 carries for 80 yards, along with five catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, and hopefully Williams can replicate that kind of production.
- The Rams leaned on Gurley and Anderson in the divisional round against the Cowboys for 39 carries for 238 yards and three touchdowns, and I'm sure they would love to do the same thing against the Saints, especially with New Orleans defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (Achilles) out. In Week 9 against the Saints, Gurley had 13 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown, as well as six catches for 11 yards on seven targets. I expect Gurley to play better than Anderson this week, but New Orleans has allowed just two touchdowns to opposing running backs in the past five games.
- Michael Thomas
- Tyreek Hill
- Julian Edelman
- Brandin Cooks
- Robert Woods
- Sammy Watkins
- Phillip Dorsett
- Ted Ginn
- Josh Reynolds
- Chris Hogan
- Tre'Quan Smith
- Keith Kirkwood
- Cordarrelle Patterson
- Chris Conley
- Demarcus Robinson
- Thomas is averaging 25.8 PPR points in eight home games with Brees this season (Brees sat out Week 17 against Carolina to rest for the playoffs). Thomas just scored 35 PPR points against the Eagles in the divisional round was he finished with 12 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown on 16 targets, and he had 12 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown on 15 targets against the Rams in Week 9. Ginn (three catches for 44 yards on seven targets), Smith (one catch for 15 yards on one target) and Kirkwood (two catches for 8 yards and a touchdown on two targets) didn't post overwhelming stats against the Eagles. Smith scored against the Rams in Week 9 with two catches for 23 yards on three targets, but Ginn was out with a knee injury, while Kirkwood was on the practice squad.
- One of Hill's best games this season came against the Patriots in Week 6 when he had seven catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns on 12 targets. In two career games against New England, he has 14 catches for 275 yards and four touchdowns. And Hill just had eight catches for 72 yards on 13 targets against the Colts in the divisional round, and he scored on a 36-yard touchdown run. Watkins returned after missing the final five games of the regular season with a foot injury against the Colts, and he had six catches for 62 yards on eight targets. He only had two catches for 18 yards against the Patriots in Week 6.
- Edelman is coming off a strong game against the Chargers with nine catches for 151 yards on 13 targets. In Week 6 against the Chiefs, Edelman had four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, and he's either scored a touchdown or had at least 90 receiving yards in 10 of 13 games this year, including the playoffs. Dorsett also played well against the Chargers with four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown on five targets. He now has six games this season with at least five targets, and he's scored at least 14 PPR points in four of them.
- In the first game against the Saints in Week 9, the Rams got at least 12 PPR points from their three main receivers in Cooks (23 points), Kupp (19 points) and Woods (12 points). Kupp is out with a torn ACL, but Cooks would love another solid outing against the team that drafted him in 2014. He had six catches for 114 yards and a touchdown on eight targets in the first game at New Orleans, while Woods had five catches for 71 yards on nine targets.
- In the first meeting with New England in Week 6, Kelce had five catches for 61 yards on nine targets, and he has 18 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown in three career meetings with the Patriots. He just had seven catches for 108 yards on 10 targets against the Colts in the divisional round, and he's averaging 15.3 PPR points in nine games at home this season.
- This could be Gronkowski's last game in the NFL if he decides to retire after this season. Hopefully, he goes out with a bang. He only had one catch for 25 yards on one target against the Chargers in the divisional round, and he's scored five PPR points or less in five of his past six games, including the playoffs. He did have three catches for 97 yards on four targets against the Chiefs in Week 6.
- Higbee had two catches for 30 yards on four targets against the Cowboys in the divisional round, while Everett did not get a target. In Week 9 against the Saints, the duo combined for five catches for 88 yards on nine targets, with Everett the more productive of the two (three catches for 48 yards on five targets).
- With Watson (illness) out against the Rams, Hill will see an uptick in playing time, and he just had three catches for 7 yards on three targets against the Eagles in the divisional round. Watson had three catches for 62 yards and a touchdown on four targets against the Rams in Week 9. Maybe we could see Hill have similar success this week.
- QB: Patrick Mahomes $9,000
- RB: Alvin Kamara $8,100
- RB: Damien Williams $7,200
- WR: Tyreek Hill $8,400
- WR: Brandin Cooks $6,900
- WR: Phillip Dorsett $5,500
- TE: Rob Gronkowski $5,600
- FLEX: Ted Ginn $5,300
- DEF: Patriots $4,000
I'm playing several different lineups this weekend on each site, but this roster will lean toward the Chiefs with Mahomes, Williams and Hill. Hopefully, Mahomes and Hill repeat their performance from the first meeting with the Patriots in Week 6, while Williams does what he did against the Colts last week.
I also like Cooks with the revenge game factor, while Dorsett has been a solid contributor when he's had at least five targets. Tight end is weak after Kelce, so hopefully Gronkowski gets a few more targets this week compared to the one he had against the Chargers. And I like Kamara a lot in his matchup with the Rams. Ginn is just a flier since he's playing at home and is cheap.
- QB: Drew Brees $5,900
- RB: Alvin Kamara $6,500
- RB: Damien Williams $6,400
- WR: Michael Thomas $8,200
- WR: Julian Edelman $6,600
- WR: Brandin Cooks $5,300
- TE: Gerald Everett $2,700
- FLEX: James White $5,400
- DEF: Saints $2,700
This lineup will lean toward the Saints with Brees, Kamara and Thomas, and it would be awesome if they repeated their performance against the Rams in Week 9 in the rematch. I'm also going with Williams and Cooks here based on upside.
Edelman has been consistent this season and, as we know, rises to the occasion in the playoffs. He's now second all-time in NFL postseason history with 98 receptions, and only Jerry Rice (151) has more. White also should be heavily involved, and I like him as a flex in this lineup.
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