Friday, May 27, 2022

Postseason Fantasy Football: Playoff Challenge rankings, position-by-position ahead of Divisional round

The wild-card round of the NFL playoffs weren’t exactly wild, especially when the Patriots, Eagles, Steelers and Cardinals were getting blown out. But we did have some interesting moments, including the whistle in Cincinnati and the quarterback sneak in Dallas, among other things.

And now it’s on to the divisional round, which should be exciting. The Bills-Chiefs game is the highlight matchup, but everyone should be looking forward to Bengals-Titans, 49ers-Packers and Rams-Buccaneers.

With that in mind, let’s update our PPR rankings for those of you competing in any playoff challenge league. These rankings are based on cumulative points, so the more games played the better. And I expect the Chiefs, Bengals, Packers and Buccaneers to win this weekend, although the two AFC matchups can go either way.

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It should be a fun weekend of playoff action. Hopefully, it’s better than what we just watched in the wild-card round.

Quarterbacks

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Mahomes has scored at least 24 Fantasy points in six games in a row, including the playoff victory against the Steelers when he had 404 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception, including 29 rushing yards. In Week 5 against the Bills, Mahomes scored 22 Fantasy points with 272 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, along with 61 rushing yards.

In that same game at Kansas City, Allen had 41 Fantasy points with 315 passing yards and three touchdowns, along with 59 rushing yards and a touchdown. Allen has scored at least 26 Fantasy points in five of his past six games, including the playoff victory against the Patriots when he passed for 308 yards and five touchdowns, along with six carries for 66 yards.

Brady handled himself well in the playoff win against the Eagles despite not having Chris Godwin (ACL) and Antonio Brown, passing for 271 yards and three touchdowns. He played the Rams in Week 3 in Los Angeles and passed for 432 yards and one touchdown, along with 14 rushing yards and a touchdown for 30 Fantasy points.

Stafford had 37 Fantasy points in that first matchup with the Buccaneers, passing for 343 yards and four touchdowns. He just scored 28 Fantasy points against the Cardinals in the wild-card round with 202 passing yards and two touchdowns, as well as 22 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Burrow continued his stellar play against the Raiders with 244 passing yards and two touchdowns for 21 Fantasy points, and he now scored 109 Fantasy points in his past three games. The Titans allowed 33 Fantasy points to Davis Mills in Week 18, so Burrow could have another big game at Tennessee.

Tannehill had his best game of the season in Week 18 at Houston with 35 Fantasy points, but we’ll see what the Titans offense looks like with Derrick Henry (foot) back. The Bengals have allowed only two quarterbacks in their past five games to score more than 16 Fantasy points.

Garoppolo had a down Fantasy performance against the Cowboys in the wild-card round with 172 passing yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He has one game with more than 19 Fantasy points since Week 9, and he scored just 18 Fantasy points against the Packers in Week 3.

Running backs

1. Aaron Jones

2. Devin Singletary

3. Joe Mixon

4. Derrick Henry

5. Jerick McKinnon

6. Giovani Bernard

7. Elijah Mitchell

8. Ke’Shawn Vaughn

9. A.J. Dillon

10. Sony Michel

11. Leonard Fournette

12. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

13. D’Onta Foreman

14. Cam Akers

15. Darrel Williams

Three backfields could look dramatically different this weekend if Henry (foot), Fournette (hamstring) and Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) play. You’ll need to check back here Friday for any injury updates, and I changed the rankings last week after we found out Fournette and Edwards-Helaire were ruled out prior to the wild-card round.

Henry was cleared for contact Tuesday and is expected to start against the Bengals. He’s been out since Week 8, but he averaged 23.6 PPR points per game this season and will hopefully be fine for the remainder of the playoffs. If Henry remains out then Foreman would again take over, and he scored at least 13 PPR points in three of his past five games.

The Chiefs got a surprise performance from McKinnon against the Steelers. With Edwards-Helaire out and Williams coming off a toe injury, the Chiefs stuck with McKinnon, who had 12 carries for 61 yards, as well as six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown on six targets. McKinnon is the likely top running back in Kansas City if Edwards-Helaire can’t go against Buffalo.

In Tampa Bay, with Fournette out against Philadelphia, Bernard and Vaughn led the backfield. Bernard, in his first game back after a four-game absence with a hip injury, had 13 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown, along with five catches for 39 yards on seven targets. I like him ahead of Vaughn, who had 17 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles, as well as two catches for 9 yards on two targets.

Fournette had his worst game of the season in Week 3 against the Rams with five PPR points, but Bernard was awesome with 20 PPR points on nine catches for 51 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets.

Michel had 20 carries for 67 yards against Tampa Bay in Week 3, with three catches for 12 yards on four targets. In the rematch this weekend, he will share touches with Akers, who continues to look amazing in his comeback from his Achilles injury in July.

Jones, like Rodgers, is ranked No. 1 because I expect him to play three games. He scored at least 13 PPR points in four games in a row, and he had 17 PPR points at the 49ers in Week 3. Dillon only has one game with more than 10 PPR points since Week 12, and he likely needs a touchdown to be a quality Fantasy option. But again, total points matter here, which is why he’s ranked in the top 10.

Mitchell has three games in a row with at least 21 total touches, and he scored at least 15 PPR points in two of those outings. He just had 27 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown at Dallas in the wild-card round, along with one catch for minus-11 yards, and he should once again get plenty of touches against the Packers. Mitchell didn’t play in Week 3 against the Packers, but Trey Sermon scored in that game with 10 carries for 31 yards.

Singletary has scored at least 14 PPR points in six games in a row, including the playoff victory against the Patriots when he had 16 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns, as well as three catches for 13 yards on four targets. Now, he only had six carries for 25 yards in Week 5 at Kansas City, with one catch for minus-2 yards, because Zack Moss led Buffalo with 11 carries for 37 yards and three catches for 55 yards on four targets. But Singletary has at least 16 carries in four of his past five games and has become Buffalo’s best running back by far.

Mixon has a tough playoff matchup against the Titans, who finished the season No. 1 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs. But Mixon has scored at least 15 PPR points in two of his past three games and has 17 catches over that span.

Wide receivers

1. Davante Adams

2. Tyreek Hill

3. Stefon Diggs

4. Mike Evans

5. Ja’Marr Chase

6. A.J. Brown

7. Deebo Samuel

8. Cooper Kupp

9. Tee Higgins

10. Allen Lazard

11. Odell Beckham

12. Gabriel Davis

13. Marquez Valdes-Scantling

14. Brandon Aiyuk

15. Tyler Boyd

16. Byron Pringle

17. Julio Jones

18. Cole Beasley

19. Tyler Johnson

20. Mecole Hardman

21. Breshad Perriman

22. Van Jefferson

23. Nick Westbrook

24. Jauan Jennings

25. Emmanuel Sanders

26. Scotty Miller

27. Demarcus Robinson

28. Isaiah McKenzie

In their past four games, including the playoff victory against the Cowboys, the 49ers have allowed opposing receiver groups to score at least 34 PPR points three times. Four receivers have scored at least 18 PPR points over that span, which bodes well for Adams this week. And Adams had 12 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown on 18 targets in Week 3 at the 49ers. Valdes-Scantling also had three catches for 59 yards and a touchdown on four targets in that game.

The Titans have the worst defense against opposing Fantasy receivers of the teams remaining in the playoffs. The 49ers and Texans receivers scored at least 45 PPR points in the past three weeks against Tennessee, and this secondary will be challenged in a big way by Chase, Higgins and Boyd.

In the first meeting with the Chiefs and Bills, Hill had seven catches for 63 yards on 13 targets, while Hardman had nine catches for 76 yards on 12 targets. Pringle had two catches for 11 yards and a touchdown on two targets.

In that same game, Diggs was held to two catches for 69 yards on five targets, while Sanders led Buffalo with three catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns on five targets. Davis had one catch for 16 yards on one target, and Beasley had one catch for 5 yards on two targets. I like Davis as the No. 2 receiver for the Bills for the remainder of the playoffs, and he has 20 targets in his past three games.

Evans is dominating without Godwin and Antonio Brown. Against the Eagles, he had nine catches for 117 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. And in his past three games, Evans now has 19 catches for 253 yards and four touchdowns on 24 targets. The second-best receiver for Tampa Bay isn’t going to be anyone reliable, but I like Johnson, Perriman and Miller, in that order, for the rest of the playoffs.

A.J. Brown closed the season with at least 16 PPR points in two of his final three games, and he should do well against the Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed three of its past four receiving groups to score at least 35 PPR points, with four guys scoring at least 13 PPR points over that span. Hopefully, Jones can build off his last game when he had five catches for 58 yards and his only touchdown of the season on nine targets at Houston in Week 18.

Samuel had another outstanding game in the wild-card round at Dallas with three catches for 38 yards on three targets, along with 10 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. He’s now scored at least 16 PPR points in five games in a row, but he was held to 10 PPR points against Green Bay in Week 3. Aiyuk has scored at least 11 PPR points in four games in a row, and he had four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown on six targets against the Packers in their first meeting.

I would have Kupp ranked higher if I thought the Rams would beat the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, but I don’t expect Los Angeles to win on the road. Kupp had 30 PPR points against the Buccaneers in Week 3 with nine catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 12 targets, and he scored a touchdown in three games in a row prior to this week. Beckham also has scored a touchdown in three of his past four games.

Tight ends

1. Travis Kelce

2. Rob Gronkowski

3. Dawson Knox

4. George Kittle

5. Tyler Higbee

6. Antony Firkser

7. Josiah Deguara

8. C.J. Uzomah

Kelce showed his dominance in the wild-card round against the Steelers with five catches for 108 yards and a touchdown on seven targets, and he also threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Pringle. He’s the easy No. 1 tight end remaining in the postseason, especially if the Chiefs advance to the Super Bowl. And against Buffalo in Week 5, Kelce had six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets.

In that same game, Knox had a huge outing with three catches for 117 yards and a touchdown on four targets against the Chiefs. It would be great if Kelce and Knox went off again in the divisional round, and Knox just had five catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns on five targets against the Patriots last week.

Gronkowski scored in the wild-card round against the Eagles with five catches for 31 yards on six targets, and he now has at least 14 PPR points in three games in a row. He had four catches for 55 yards on eight targets against the Rams in Week 3.

In that same game, Higbee had five catches for 40 yards and a touchdown on five targets. He has scored at least 12 PPR points in two of his past three games.

Kittle had one catch for 18 yards on three targets against the Cowboys, and he scored a combined 15 PPR points in four games in a row coming into the divisional round at Green Bay. He faced Green Bay in Week 3 and had seven catches for 92 yards on nine targets, so hopefully, he gets back on track this week.

DSTs

1. Packers

2. Buccaneers

3. Chiefs

4. Bills

5. Titans

6. Rams

7. 49ers

8. Bengals

Kickers

1. Mason Crosby

2. Harrison Butker

3. Ryan Succop

4. Tyler Bass

5. Evan McPherson

6. Randy Bullock

7. Matt Gay

8. Robbie Gould

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