News & Analysis

The Bracket: Which division sits at the top of the fantasy charts?

Oct 29, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) celebrates after a touchdown with running back Alvin Kamara (41) during the first half of a game against the Chicago Bears at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

We set the stage for our own March Bracket to figure out which NFL division could create the best fantasy roster. Check out the primer here, and see the results of the first round here.

It’s on the Final Four before the championship stage is set.

I created a formula based on fantasy PPG from 2017 (or 2016 if the player was injured in 2017) and early 2018 ranks to give each player a “score.” We’ll now pit the teams head-to-head for the tournament to see which fantasy team comes out on top.

A few players are pending free agents, but they were considered a part of their 2017 team for this exercise.

Round 2 matchups

NFC Championship Round: NFC East vs. NFC South
NFC East
Ertz and Co.
vs. NFC South
Ain’t No-la ‘Back Girl
QB Carson Wentz QB Cam Newton
RB1 Ezekiel Elliott RB1 Alvin Kamara
RB2 Jay Ajayi RB2 Mark Ingram
WR1 Odell Beckham Jr. WR1 Michael Thomas
WR2 Alshon Jeffery WR2 Julio Jones
TE Zach Ertz TE Greg Olsen
FLEX Dez Bryant FLEX Mike Evans
K Jake Elliott K Matt Bryant
D/ST Eagles D/ST Saints

Quarterbacks: Carson Wentz vs. Cam Newton
Advantage: Wentz by +2.43 points.
Newton has a much longer history of success, but Wentz’ 2017 season was so good, and this methodology relies on recent events more, that he gets the slight edge here.

Running backs: Ezekiel Elliott and Jay Ajayi vs. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram
Advantage: Kamara and Ingram by +7.25 points.
Elliott can hang with the Saints running backs, but Ajayi can’t.

Wide receivers: Odell Beckham Jr. and Alshon Jeffery vs. Michael Thomas and Julio Jones
Advantage: Thomas and Jones by +12.17 points.
Once again, Thomas and Jones blow their positional competition out of the water. Much like at the running back position, the NFC East has one powerhouse player, but not two. The NFC South brings two.

Tight ends: Zach Ertz vs. Greg Olsen
Advantage: Ertz by +9.02 points
Olsen is a bit overrated, and Ertz has emerged as a true top-three fantasy tight end. You can only take Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce over him.

Flex: Dez Bryant vs. Mike Evans
Advantage: Evans by +12.75 points
Bryant has fallen from his once lofty perch. Evans was a disappointment in 2017, but this head-to-head battle isn’t particularly close.

K: Jake Elliott vs. Matt Bryant
Advantage: Bryant by +4.45 points
Elliott nailed a clutch kick in the Super Bowl, but Bryant has two straight top-five fantasy season.

DST: Eagles vs. Saints
Advantage: Saints by +3.42 points

Final result: NFC South advances

The NFC South beat the NFC East by 28.59 points.

It was a blowout, folks. The Wentz-Ertz stack was the only advantage the NFC East had over the NFC South here.

AFC Championship Round: AFC South vs. AFC West
AFC South
Jalen Ramsey‘s squad
vs. AFC West
Keenan and Kelce
QB Deshaun Watson QB Philip Rivers
RB1 Leonard Fournette RB1 Kareem Hunt
RB2 Derrick Henry RB2 Melvin Gordon
WR1 DeAndre Hopkins WR1 Keenan Allen
WR2 T.Y. Hilton WR2 Tyreek Hill
TE Delanie Walker TE Travis Kelce
FLEX Allen Robinson FLEX Amari Cooper
K Ryan Succop K Harrison Butker
D/ST Jaguars D/ST Chargers

Quarterbacks: Philip Rivers vs. Deshaun Watson
Advantage: Watson by +11.42 points.
Watson’s incredible rookie campaign gives him a big leg up here, and gets the AFC South off to a fast start.

Running backs: Kareem Hunt and Melvin Gordon vs. Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry
Advantage: Hunt and Gordon by +14.48 points.
The AFC South gets a huge boost here with their fantastic running back duo.

Wide receivers: Keenan Allen and Tyreek Hill vs. DeAndre Hopkins and T.Y. Hilton
Advantage: Hopkins and Hilton by +0.28 points.
This is an extremely close positional battle, but Hopkins’ truly elite status makes just enough of a difference.

Tight ends: Travis Kelce vs. Delanie Walker
Advantage: Kelce by +6.76 points
Kelce widens the gap by winning his positional matchup against Walker.

Flex: Amari Cooper vs. Allen Robinson
Advantage: Cooper by +1.74 points
This flex battle is between two players who have tantalizing upside but who rarely seem to reach it.

K: Harrison Butker vs. Ryan Succop
Advantage: Butker by +8.04 points
I’m not much of a kicker guy myself, but Butker’s value cannot be understated.

DST: Chargers vs. Jaguars
Advantage: Jaguars by +4.75 points

Final result: AFC West advances

The AFC West beat the AFC South by 15.13 points.

The AFC West’s combination of Hunt and Gordon, combined with Kelce at tight end, was simply too much for the AFC South to handle.

The Championship Round: AFC West vs. NFC South

AFC West
Keenan and Kelce
vs. NFC South
Ain’t No-la ‘Back Girl
QB Philip Rivers QB Cam Newton
RB1 Kareem Hunt RB1 Alvin Kamara
RB2 Melvin Gordon RB2 Mark Ingram
WR1 Keenan Allen WR1 Michael Thomas
WR2 Tyreek Hill WR2 Julio Jones
TE Travis Kelce TE Greg Olsen
FLEX Amari Cooper FLEX Mike Evans
K Harrison Butker K Matt Bryant
D/ST Chargers D/ST Saints

We have found each conference best (fantasy) division. So which one takes the crown?

Quarterbacks: Philip Rivers vs. Cam Newton
Advantage: Newton by +10.24 points.
Newton trounces Rivers here. Rivers, while always serviceable, isn’t a perennial top-five fantasy option like Newton.

Running racks: Kareem Hunt and Melvin Gordon vs. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram
Advantage: Hunt and Gordon by +3.56 points.
This is a fantastic positional battle, but Hunt and Gordon eke out the narrow win.

Wide receivers: Keenan Allen and Tyreek Hill vs. Michael Thomas and Julio Jones
Advantage: Thomas and Jones by +5.09 points.
Thomas and Jones have been the backbone of the NFC South’s team for the entire bracket. That doesn’t change here.

Tight ends: Travis Kelce vs. Greg Olsen
Advantage: Kelce by +10.74 points
Kelce tops Olsen with ease. The only tight end you can take before Kelce is Gronkowski.

Flex: Amari Cooper vs. Mike Evans
Advantage: Evans by +13.96 points
What the AFC West gained via Kelce’s positional advantage, they lost by having a relatively weak flex spot.

K: Harrison Butker vs. Matt Bryant
Advantage: Butker by +4.69 points
It’s not a blowout, but Butker once again gives the AFC West an advantage at the kicker position.

DST: Chargers vs. Saints
Advantage: Chargers by +1.18 points
This relatively close battle had no bearing on the final results.

Final result: The NFC South wins it all

The NFC South beat the AFC West by 9.10 points in the championship round to take home the title of “Best (Fantasy) Division in the NFL.”

They’ll be talking about this one for years.

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