Postseason Fantasy Football: Updated Playoff Challenge rankings, DFS plays for Divisional Round

We're on to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, and there are four exciting games this weekend. In the AFC, it's the Colts at Chiefs and Chargers at Patriots, and the NFC features Eagles at Saints and Cowboys at Rams.

It would not be a surprise if any of those teams reached Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. And that's the fun of ranking players for any NFL playoff challenge -- it's a wide-open field.

As I said with the first story on NFL playoff challenges prior to wild-card weekend, our rankings are PPR and based on what players I believe will advance the farthest to accumulate the most total points. There are several versions of NFL playoff challenges that many of you participate in, so unfortunately we can't cover every scoring system. But hopefully this is a good guide.

Last week, I was wrong on the Chargers, Cowboys and Eagles in the wild-card round, and now it's time to adjust. This week, I expect the Chiefs, Patriots, Saints and Rams to win, but nothing would shock me in these games.

The Colts are hot, winning 10 of their past 11 games, and could upset the Chiefs, who lost two of their past three games to end the regular season. Philip Rivers is 0-7 in his career against Tom Brady, but the Chargers are 9-0 outside of Los Angeles since their one "road" loss was against the crosstown Rams in Week 3, as well as a "home" victory against the Titans in London in Week 7.

The Saints beat the Eagles 48-7 at home in Week 11 with Carson Wentz under center, but Nick Foles is 4-0 since Wentz (back) went down prior to Week 15 and 4-0 in the postseason going back to last year's Super Bowl run. And while the Rams are 7-1 at home this season, the Cowboys are 8-1 in their past nine games.

For these rankings, I expect the Saints and Patriots to reach Super Bowl LIII, but I also could see the Chiefs getting there as well. If you want some options for just this week alone, especially for DFS purposes, you can see my lineups for FanDuel and DraftKings below.

Quarterback

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Drew Brees NO • QB • 9
2018 stats
YDS3,992
TD32
INT5
RUSH YDS22
RUSH TD4
  1. Drew Brees
  2. Patrick Mahomes 
  3. Tom Brady 
  4. Andrew Luck 
  5. Jared Goff 
  6. Dak Prescott 
  7. Nick Foles
  8. Philip Rivers 
  • Brees hasn't scored more than 19 Fantasy points since Week 12, a span of four games since he sat out Week 17 to rest, but he has played well at home this season. He averaged 30.5 Fantasy points at home this year in seven games, and the only time he failed to score at least 21 points in New Orleans was in Week 16 against Pittsburgh. Brees had 38 Fantasy points against the Eagles in Week 11.
  • Mahomes is only the second quarterback in NFL history with at least 5,000 passing yards and 50 touchdowns in the same season, joining Peyton Manning in 2013. He went one game this year with fewer than 21 Fantasy points, which was Week 5 against Jacksonville, and he averaged 26.1 Fantasy points at Arrowhead Stadium in 2018. Nine quarterbacks scored at least 20 Fantasy points against the Colts this season, including Deshaun Watson last week.
  • In Brady's past 11 playoff games going back to the 2014 season, he is averaging 345.6 passing yards per game with 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He is 9-2 over that span with two Super Bowl victories (XLIX and LI) and one Super Bowl loss (LII). Brady also averaged 22.6 Fantasy points at home this season, and he has 1,035 passing yards, seven touchdowns and one interception in his past three games against the Chargers at home.
  • Luck just had 222 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception, as well as eight carries for 29 yards in the wild-card round at Houston. He scored 20 Fantasy points for the 13th time this season, and the Chiefs finished the year No. 6 in Fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks at 22.5 points per game.
  • Goff averaged 29.6 Fantasy points per game at home this season, and he failed to score at least 20 points just once in Los Angeles, which was Week 15 when he had 10 against the Eagles. And the Cowboys have allowed two quarterbacks in a row to score 22 points in Eli Manning and Russell Wilson. 
  • Prescott just scored 21 Fantasy points against the Seahawks with 226 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception, along with six carries for 29 yards and a touchdown. He's now played 10 games with Amari Cooper, including the playoffs, and he's averaging 21.5 Fantasy points a game over that span. The Rams gave up 25 Fantasy points against Nick Mullens in their last game in Week 17.
  • Foles is averaging 24.7 Fantasy points in his past three games overall, and he has 1,237 passing yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions in his past four playoff games going back to last season. The Saints have allowed three of their past four opposing quarterbacks to score at least 22 Fantasy points.
  • Rivers has scored 14 Fantasy points or less in four of his past five games heading into this matchup with the Patriots, including nine points at Baltimore in the wild-card round. But he faced the Ravens twice over that span. In his first seven road games this year, Rivers averaged 22.1 Fantasy points per game. The Patriots have allowed just one quarterback to score more than 17 Fantasy points in their past six games. 

Running back

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Alvin Kamara NO • RB • 41
2018 stats
ATT194
YDS883
TD14
YPC4.5
REC81
REC YDS709
REC TD4
  1. Alvin Kamara
  2. Todd Gurley 
  3. Ezekiel Elliott 
  4. Damien Williams 
  5. James White 
  6. Sony Michel 
  7. Marlon Mack 
  8. Mark Ingram 
  9. Melvin Gordon 
  10. Darren Sproles 
  11. Austin Ekeler 
  12. Wendell Smallwood 
  13. Nyheim Hines 
  14. Josh Adams 
  15. Rex Burkhead 
  16. C.J. Anderson 
  17. Darrel Williams 
  18. Rod Smith 
  19. Spencer Ware 
  20. James Develin
  • Kamara and Ingram both did well against the Eagles in Week 11. Ingram had one of his best games of the season with 16 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns, and Kamara added 13 carries for 71 yards, as well as one catch for 37 yards and a touchdown. They each scored at least 17 PPR points. And Kamara failed to score at least 14 PPR points just twice this season, although both games came at home (Week 5 against Washington and Week 12 against Atlanta). Ingram, however, has scored double digits in PPR just twice in his past six games, and his high over that span was 12 points in Week 14 at Tampa Bay. 
  • Gurley is expected to be fine after missing the final two games of the regular season with a knee injury, but C.J. Anderson would be a solid replacement option if Gurley is out. Anderson had 43 carries for 299 yards and two touchdowns, along with four catches for 17 yards while Gurley was out. The Cowboys shut down the Seattle rushing attack in the wild-card round, but Dallas allowed five touchdowns to running backs in the final three games of the regular season, including Mack (139 rushing yards in Week 15) and Saquon Barkley (109 yards in Week 17) going off on the ground.
  • Elliott had 26 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown, along with four catches for 32 yards on five targets against Seattle last week. He is averaging 24.7 PPR points in his past nine games since the Cowboys got Cooper prior to Week 9, and that weekly average would be No. 2 for the season behind only Gurley (25.7). The Rams have allowed a running back to score or gain at least 100 rushing yards in four games in a row, with five touchdowns allowed to running backs over that span.
  • Williams has scored a touchdown in four games in a row coming into this matchup against the Colts, and he has two games with more than 120 total yards over that span. The Colts have allowed a running back to either score or gain at least 100 total yards in four of their past five games.
  • White has been a star at home this season, with at least 13 PPR points in all eight games. He's averaging 19.4 PPR points at Foxboro in 2018 with 51 carries for 229 yards and four touchdowns, as well as 46 catches for 452 yards and four touchdowns. Michel has also played well at home this year, scoring at least 17 PPR points in four of six games in New England. The Chargers have allowed a running back to score or gain at least 100 total yards in five of their past six games.
  • Mack just had his best game of the season against the Texans with 24 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown, along with two catches for 6 yards on three targets. He now has a touchdown in five games in a row, and he has at least 119 rushing yards in three of his past four outings. The Chiefs have allowed a running back to score or gain at least 100 total yards in five games in a row and are third in the NFL in most Fantasy points allowed to running backs, trailing only the Cardinals and Bengals.
  • Gordon is expected to be fine after dealing with injuries to both knees and his ankle since Week 12. Despite rushing for fewer than 50 yards in three games in a row, he has a touchdown in two games over that span, and he had 14 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots in Week 8 last season. 
  • Adams had seven carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, as well as three catches for 19 yards against the Saints in Week 11.  But he was a non-factor last week against the Bears with one carry for 2 yards despite having at least 11 carries in each of his past three outings. Sproles led the Eagles in touches at Chicago with 13 carries for 21 yards, and he caught two of three targets for 13 yards.  

Wide receiver

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Michael Thomas NO • WR • 13
2018 stats
TAR147
REC125
YDS1,405
TD9
  1. Michael Thomas
  2. Tyreek Hill 
  3. Julian Edelman 
  4. T.Y. Hilton 
  5. Robert Woods 
  6. Amari Cooper 
  7. Brandin Cooks 
  8. Alshon Jeffery 
  9. Keenan Allen 
  10. Dontrelle Inman 
  11. Josh Reynolds 
  12. Ted Ginn 
  13. Sammy Watkins 
  14. Chris Hogan 
  15. Golden Tate 
  16. Michael Gallup 
  17. Mike Williams 
  18. Phillip Dorsett 
  19. Cole Beasley 
  20. Chester Rogers 
  21. Nelson Agholor  
  22. Cordarrelle Patterson 
  23. Demarcus Robinson 
  24. Tyrell Williams 
  25. Tre'Quan Smith 
  26. Chris Conley 
  27. Keith Kirkwood 
  28. Travis Benjamin 
  29. Ryan Grant 
  30. Tavon Austin
  • Thomas had four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown on four targets against the Eagles in Week 11, and he averaged 24.4 PPR points in seven home games with Brees. Ginn didn't play in that game, but Smith had 10 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. The Eagles allow the fourth-most Fantasy points to opposing receivers for the season.
  • The Chiefs are expected to get Watkins (foot) back for this game after he's been out since Week 11. But this game should be all about Hill, who has been on fire at home of late. He's averaging 22.3 Fantasy points per game in his past four at Arrowhead Stadium, including three games with at least 21 points.
  • Edelman has either a touchdown or at least 90 receiving yards in six of his past seven games, and he only has one game this season with fewer than 12 PPR points, which was Week 13 against Minnesota when he scored just eight points. In New England's last game against the Jets in Week 17, three receivers scored at least 12 PPR points, including Edelman (19 points), Dorsett (15 points) and Hogan (12 points).
  • Hilton comes into this matchup with the Chiefs on a seven-game streak where he's failed to score a touchdown. However, he does have at least 85 receiving yards in five of those outings. Inman, on the other hand, has scored a touchdown in three games in a row after he had four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown on four targets against the Texans. The Chiefs have allowed five receivers to score at least 13 PPR points in their past three games.
  • Woods has at least 13 PPR points in six of his past seven outings overall. And he averaged 16.1 PPR points at home this season, scoring at least 12 points in seven of eight games. Cooks broke out of a four-game mini-slump where he scored 11 PPR points or less in each outing prior to Week 17 with 23 PPR points against the 49ers in the final game of the year. Cooks averaged 18.9 PPR points at home this year and scored at least 16 points six times.
  • Cooper continues to prove that he only needs at least eight targets to be successful. In 10 games since coming to Dallas in a trade from Oakland, including the playoffs, Cooper had seven games with at least eight targets, and he scored at least 13 PPR points in six of them, including against Seattle when he had seven catches for 106 yards on nine targets. The only game where he failed to score at least 13 PPR points was Week 17 at the Giants when he had five catches for 31 yards on 11 targets. And Gallup, who had two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown on six targets against Seattle, heads into the divisional round against the Rams with two touchdowns in his past three games.
  • Jeffery has at least 11 PPR points in each of the past four games with Foles under center, scoring a touchdown or gaining at least 82 receiving yards in each outing over that span. He had six catches for 82 yards on nine targets against Chicago last week, but he had four catches for 33 yards on five targets at New Orleans in Week 11. Tate had five catches for 48 yards on eight targets against the Saints, but he just had five catches for 46 yards and a touchdown on eight targets against the Bears. The Saints ended the regular season allowing the second-most Fantasy points to opposing receivers.
  • Allen has scored just 27 PPR points combined in his past three games coming into this matchup with the Patriots, but two of those games were against the Ravens. Prior to Week 15 at Kansas City, when he left early in the game due to a hip injury, he had scored at least 17 PPR points in six games in a row, including three road outings over that span. And Mike Williams has scored at least 17 PPR points in two of his past three road games.

Tight end

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Travis Kelce KC • TE • 87
2018 stats
TAR150
REC103
YDS1,336
TD10
  1. Travis Kelce
  2. Eric Ebron 
  3. Rob Gronkowski 
  4. Zach Ertz 
  5. Gerald Everett 
  6. Blake Jarwin 
  7. Benjamin Watson 
  8. Dallas Goedert 
  9. Hunter Henry 
  10. Tyler Higbee 
  11. Antonio Gates 
  12. Mo Alie-Cox
  • Kelce averaged 15.1 PPR points at home this season, and he's scored double digits in PPR in every game since Week 1. He's facing a Colts defense this week that has allowed three tight ends to score at least nine PPR points in their past three games. Indianapolis was also No. 7 in most Fantasy points allowed to tight ends this year.
  • The Chiefs allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, and Ebron just had three catches for 26 yards and a touchdown on six targets against the Texans last week. Since Week 9, eight tight ends have scored at least nine PPR points against Kansas City.
  • Gronkowski has obviously had a down season, and he comes into the divisional round against the Chargers having scored more than five PPR points just once in his past five games. But in his past eight playoff games going back to the 2014 season, Gronkowski has 47 catches for 649 yards and nine touchdowns.
  • Ertz had a rough game against the Saints in Week 11 with two catches for 15 yards on three targets, and he has 10 PPR points or less in three of four starts with Foles. Ertz also had five catches for 52 yards on seven targets against the Bears last week, and he lost a touchdown to Goedert, who finished with two catches for 20 yards and the score on four targets. Ertz could be a risky Fantasy option against the Saints, who are No. 7 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to tight ends this season.
  • The Chargers activated Henry (ACL) on Monday, and we'll see how he does in his first game action since 2017. He could be on a snap count, and Gates will still get plenty of playing time. But the Patriots are among the league leaders in touchdowns allowed to tight ends with eight, and Henry could be a red-zone option for Rivers this week.

Kicker

  1. Wil Lutz 
  2. Stephen Gostkowski 
  3. Harrison Butker 
  4. Greg Zuerlein 
  5. Adam Vinatieri 
  6. Michael Badgley 
  7. Brett Maher 
  8. Jake Elliott

DST

  1. Saints 
  2. Rams 
  3. Patriots 
  4. Colts 
  5. Chiefs 
  6. Chargers 
  7. Cowboys 
  8. Eagles

FanDuel Lineup

  • QB: Nick Foles $7,400 
  • RB: Ezekiel Elliott $8,700 
  • RB: Sony Michel $6,600 
  • WR: Michael Thomas $8,400 
  • WR: Robert Woods $7,500 
  • WR: Ted Ginn $4,500 
  • TE: Eric Ebron $6,600 
  • FLEX: Damien Williams $6,100 
  • DEF: Cowboys $4,200

I'm hoping Foles plays well with the Eagles likely chasing points, and I'm trusting Ebron with his favorable matchup against the Chiefs. Elliott should continue to be dominant for the Cowboys, and I like Michel a lot against the Chargers at home.

Thomas is a great play at home, and I expect Ginn to be a nice sleeper at this price, especially given what Tre'Quan Smith did against the Eagles in Week 11 when Ginn was out (10 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets). Woods also been great at home and is among the most consistent receivers in the NFL with his production.

Williams is amazing value for the flex spot or as an option at running back, and I don't think there's a defense to trust this week, so I went cheap with the Cowboys. If Foles plays well this week, then I like the upside for this lineup on FanDuel.

DraftKings Lineup

  • QB: Patrick Mahomes $7,000 
  • RB: Marlon Mack $5,800 
  • RB: Damien Williams $5,100 
  • WR: Tyreek Hill $7,400 
  • WR: Julian Edelman $6,300 
  • WR: Ted Ginn $4,400 
  • TE: Travis Kelce $7,000 
  • FLEX: James White $4,900 
  • DEF: Eagles $2,000

I decided to stack the Chiefs here with Mahomes, Williams, Hill and Kelce. The Chiefs average 33.6 points per game at home, and I expect this game to be a shootout with the Colts. I'm also going with Mack since he's on fire right now, and the Colts offensive line has been dominant of late.

Edelman and White should be stars in the passing game for the Patriots, and I'll take my chances with Ginn again in this lineup as a sleeper. I'm punting on defense here again with the Eagles, and I like the potential of this lineup a lot.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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