Just when you thought you were out of the fantasy football season, we’re going to pull you back in. It’s time for the NFL playoffs, which means another month of fantasy before the offseason.
Fantasy leagues during the NFL playoffs are not a new idea, but they have been increasing in popularity over the last few years. At only a quarter of the length of the regular season, these leagues are a great way for those who are jonesing to get one more fix of fantasy or a chance for redemption to rid that bad aftertaste of a losing season.
There are a variety of formats you can use in the NFL playoffs, but the three most common are salary cap, one-and-done, and traditional draft. Regardless of which your league uses, the idea remains the same – pick the players who are going to score the most points.
In draft-style leagues, this is a much easier task in the regular season. Barring any injuries or suspensions, all players play the same amount of games. But in the playoffs, as teams are eliminated, you lose their players. The key here is to draft not just quality players, but quality players on teams that have the best chance to play multiple games and hopefully advance to the Super Bowl.
To determine which teams you think will advance, I suggest drawing up a bracket and make your picks just as you would for the NCAA tournament. When mapping out your picks, remember that Vegas is your friend. Here are the current odds to win the Super Bowl:
|New England Patriots||2/1|
|New Orleans Saints||10/1|
|Los Angeles Rams||10/1|
|Kansas City Chiefs||16/1|
Two things should be quite obvious right away – 1) The Patriots are the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl with Minnesota just edging the Steelers as the second choice, and 2) The Titans and Bills are massive longshots. From there, however, the picture gets very cloudy. You have a lot of teams jumbled up between 10/1 and 25/1.
It can be difficult to use the Super Bowl odds to our advantage here, but we can use the odds to win the AFC and NFC to help us out. Here’s the AFC:
|New England Patriots||10/13|
|Kansas City Chiefs||8/1|
Again, the Patriots are the favorite, with the second-seed Steelers as the clear second choice. From there, the Chiefs and Jags are reasonable long shots, but the Titans and Bills aren’t getting any love from the odds makers. It’s tough to advocate picking players from either of these two teams in traditional draft formats since there’s a strong chance you only get one game from them.
In the NFC, the odds are little bit more challenging.
|New Orleans Saints||5/1|
|Los Angeles Rams||5/1|
The No. 1 seed Eagles and No. 2 seed Vikings were installed as the two favorites, though in reverse order. At the other end of the spectrum, the Panthers are the biggest underdogs. Given the odds, the Saints and Rams are the best bets to give you at least two games and both have the potential to deliver four games of fantasy production. Getting four games from your players is one of the biggest factors in winning fantasy playoff leagues.
With all of this information, you can now draw out your playoff brackets. Of course, the Vegas odds are typically very chalky, but you don’t need to follow them 100 percent of the time. Remember, it’s your draft, so draw up the brackets based on who you think will win.
Now that you’re armed with your playoff predictions, you need to start evaluating players at each position. Remember, we want good players on teams that we envision playing multiple games. To help you in the process, be sure to check out our playoff projections along with our weekly playoff rankings. Use this information along with your playoff brackets to construct a draft board just like you would for a regular season league.
But remember, unlike a regular season league, you’d don’t want the best players. You want good players who are likely to play the most games. Likewise, a late-round quarterback approach is suboptimal in playoff leagues. You don’t want to end up with Marcus Mariota and Tyrod Taylor. Instead, try to prioritize quarterbacks early. Last year, Matt Ryan was the No. 1 scoring in playoff fantasy football. Expect Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees to go early followed quickly by Jared Goff and maybe even Case Keenum, and Alex Smith.
After quarterbacks, it’s essentially a tossup between the other three skill positions in terms of value. Last year, Julio Jones finished as the top non-quarterback scorer with Julian Edelman, Randall Cobb, Chris Hogan, Antonio Brown, and Devonta Freeman right behind him. Wide receivers and running backs in terms of value. Ideally, you should look to get some form of receiver stack for your quarterbacks. It isn’t always possible, but it’s a great way to double-dip on yardage and touchdown points.
Check back later in the week, as we’ll have a mock draft, weekly rankings, and detailed game previews for the Wild Card Round. But to get you started on your draft board, here are my top 60 overall rankings for the playoffs (injury situations to monitor are indicated with an asterisk):
|33||Ted Ginn Jr.||NO||WR||3|