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McFarland: Wild-Card Fantasy Football Rankings & Tiers

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) runs with the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

It's time to set our wild-card fantasy football lineups and identify our favorite DFS plays and fades.

Below, you'll find tiers and rankings for every position, including analysis, implied point totals, betting spreads and more.

For adjustments after the timestamp below, check out PFF's weekly rankings and projections.

Last updated: 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13


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KEY:

  • SOS: PFF's Fantasy Strength of Schedule (SoS) metric provides a league-wide, season-long view of opponent matchups for each fantasy position.
  • OL Pass-Block Advantage (OL PBA): offensive-line pass blocking matchup; derived from the OL/DL Matchup tool (pass blocking advantage — the higher the number, the better the matchup for the offensive line, and vice versa).
  • OL Run-Block Advantage (OL RBA): offensive-line pass blocking matchup; derived from the OL/DL Matchup tool (run-blocking advantage — the higher the number, the better the matchup for the offensive line, and vice versa).
  • WR/CB Matchup Advantage (WR/CB MU): wide receiver versus cornerback matchup; derived from the WR/CB Matchup tool (matchup advantage grade — the higher the grade, the better the matchup for the receiver, and vice versa).
  • TE Matchup Advantage (TE MU): tight end versus linebackers and safeties; derived from the TE Matchup tool (matchup advantage — the higher the number, the better the matchup for the tight end, and vice versa.
  • Projections: from PFF projections tool.
  • Injuries: Q = Questionable; D = Doubtful (typically removed from ranks on Saturday); GTD = game-time decision

JUMP TO A POSITION RANKING:

QB | RB | WR | TE

QUARTERBACKS

Tier Rank Player Opponent Total Spread Implied Points QB SOS OL PBA PPR Injury Status
1 QB1 Josh Allen NE 44.0 -4.0 24.00 4.6 15 23.0
2 QB2 Tom Brady PHI 46.0 -8.5 27.25 7.5 5 23.4
2 QB3 Joe Burrow LV 49.0 -5.0 27.00 5.9 -35 21.6
2 QB4 Patrick Mahomes PIT 46.5 -12.5 29.50 3.5 -22 21.1
3 QB5 Kyler Murray @LA 49.5 4.0 22.75 2.5 -55 20.2
3 QB6 Matthew Stafford ARZ 49.5 -4.0 26.75 9.0 11 19.9
3 QB7 Dak Prescott SF 51.0 -3.0 27.00 4.0 -17 20.6
3 QB8 Jalen Hurts @TB 46.0 8.5 18.75 0.0 22 19.1
4 QB9 Jimmy Garoppolo @DAL 51.0 3.0 24.00 0.0 0 17.5 Q
4 QB10 Mac Jones @BUF 44.0 4.0 20.00 2.4 17 16.1
4 QB11 Derek Carr @CIN 49.0 5.0 22.00 10.0 -5 16.4
5 QB12 Ben Roethlisberger @KC 46.5 12.5 17.00 3.5 -16 12.7

Removed from ranks: N/A

Tier 1 – Josh Allen and the Bills carry the lowest game total on the slate in a matchup against the Patriots. However, the Bills drop back to pass above the NFL average in all game scripts, which keeps Allen viable in all matchups. He has hit big in two out of his past four outings against New England.

Season Week Pass Yards Pass TDs Rush Yards Rush TDs
2021 16 314 3 64 0
2021 13 145 1 39 0
2020 16 320 4 35 0
2020 8 154 0 23 1

Note that the Week 13 game was the crazy wind game where Mac Jones attempted only three passes, so it is tough to count that one against Allen.

Allen is a tough out for the Patriots schematically because they utilize the fourth-most man coverage, leaving scramble lanes open, and Stefon Diggs is an elite single-man beater. Additionally, the fourth-year quarterback handles 17% of the team's designed rushing attempts — the third-most in the NFL.

Tier 2 – Tom Brady originally was at the top of the quarterback ranks for this weekend, but there are potential wind and rain concerns. If those issues clear before kickoff, Brady belongs in Tier 1 with Allen. The Buccaneers aren't as pass-happy as they were early in the season since the loss of Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, but they are still above the league averages.

Tier 2 – Joe Burrow is coming off of back-to-back QB1 performances, racking up 971 passing yards and eight touchdowns across those outings. If the coaching staff finally decides that its best chance to win flows through the passing attack, Burrow moves into elite status. The Bengals were a balanced offense through most of the season, but they have opened things up across all game scripts over their past three games.

Cincinnati's dropback rates vs. the NFL average
Game Script Weeks 1 – 15 Weeks 16 – 18
Trailing by four or more points – 5% +0%
Within three points +2% +7%
Leading by four or more points -2% +14%

Tier 3 – Kyler Murray draws the third-hardest QB SOS (2.5) on the slate against the Rams, and his OL PBA is the worst (-55). Murray has eclipsed 300 yards passing only once since returning from injury and has thrown for more than one touchdown just two times. On a positive note, he ranks fourth in designed rushing attempts (12%).

Tier 3 – Matthew Stafford threw for 300 yards in six of his first 13 games but has hit that mark only once in the past four weeks as defenses look to take away the deep shots. His interceptions on throws of 20-plus yards have jumped from two on 50 attempts to five over his past 17 attempts.

Fortunately, the Cardinals allow the fourth-best completion rate (43%) and the 10th-highest open target rate on deep throws (22%), so Stafford has an opportunity to bounce back. In addition, Arizona provides the second-most-favorable QB SOS (9.0) on the slate.

RUNNING BACKS

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