Playoff fantasy football is about NFL teams rather than just individual players like in the regular season. Pick a lot of players from a wild card team that makes it into the Super Bowl, and you are likely to win your playoff league. Pick a few key players from a number two seed that loses in their first game and you are in trouble.
This is the most wide-open tournament in years. As Aaron Schatz wrote
, there are 7-8 teams that could win the title where you wouldn't even call it an upset. My feelings on what teams are positioned well this month (Baltimore, Philadelphia, Carolina) heavily influences my rankings. If you think the Ravens are going to lose in Miami, then Le'Ron McClain obviously isn't that great a pick.
While we don't know who will make it to Tampa, we do know what players are the most talented. Use the player's production, not his team, as the ultimate tiebreaker.
For a quick primer on how to play playoff fantasy football, check out a column Evan Silva wrote up a a few moons back. The rules aren't usually too different from regular fantasy football, except that total points are the key. Pick a starting team, possibly a bench, and let them go at it. MyFantasyLeague.com
is one place to sign up a team. Another way to keep the fantasy season going is by playing Rotoworld's new fantasy game: Snapdraft. We have it set up just for the playoffs. Draft a team before the playoffs start! Quarterbacks
1. Peyton Manning
2. Donovan McNabb
Two of the most talented quarterbacks left, with good first-round matchups, and a solid chance to play multiple games. Quarterbacks are at a premium in playoff leagues because they score the most. Draft two if your rules allow it.
3. Ben Roethlisberger
4. Jake Delhomme
5. Eli Manning
6. Joe Flacco
7. Philip Rivers
8. Kurt Warner
9. Matt Ryan
This is where my Ravens bias comes into play. I think they have a good chance to make it all the way to the Super Bowl, which would make Flacco valuable. Rivers is the best fantasy quarterback here by far, but I worry that he'll be one and done. If Philadelphia can win in Minnesota, I love Carolina's second-round matchup against Atlanta or Arizona. The Panthers are a great home team and Jake Delhomme
finished fourth in yards-per-attempt. Quarterbacks are at a pr
10. Kerry Collins
11. Chad Pennington
12. Tarvaris Jackson
Pennington and Jackson have brutal first-round matchups. Jim Johnson and Rex Ryan will throw the book at them. Collins could wind up facing the Ravens and Steelers, if Tennessee can get past Baltimore. Running Backs
1. DeAngelo Williams
2. Brian Westbrook
3. Brandon Jacobs
4. Michael Turner
5. Chris Johnson
First-round redraft talent with the chance to play multiple games. Williams may not be that high in my rankings at the start of next season, but he's the most dominant fantasy force of 2008. Westbrook is versatile enough to hurt the Vikings this week and the Giants after that. Jacobs should be fresh after the bye week. Turner is a touchdown hog with the ability to break it deep. Johnson is as explosive as any back in the league; expect his role to increase during the playoffs.
6. Adrian Peterson
7. LaDainian Tomlinson
8. Willie Parker
9. Le'Ron McClain
10. Joseph Addai
Starters with question marks or shaky matchups. Adrian Peterson
is our number one picks for next season, but he's facing the fourth-ranked rush defense in the league in what could be a one-and-done playoff run. Willie Parker
showed some life against the Browns and may be relied upon more heavily with Ben Roethlisberger
's noggin foggy. LT2 has run much better the last two weeks, but it came against collapsing competition. Addai and McClain aren't even guaranteed to lead their backfields in touches, but they should get plenty of work.
11. Jonathan Stewart
12. Derrick Ward
13. Ronnie Brown
14. LenDale White
15. Edgerrin James
16. Dominic Rhodes
17. Chester Taylor
18. Jerious Norwood
19. Darren Sproles
The best backups and the worst starters. The Miami matchup against Baltimore is daunting for Ronnie Brown
and Williams. Edgerrin James
appears to have taken over the primary role in Arizona once again. Taylor will get plenty of snaps on passing downs. White and Stewart could vulture carries. Ward is a nice sleeper pick that will pay off if the Giants reach the Super Bowl again. Sproles is playing too well for the Chargers not to use him.
20. Mewelde Moore
21. Tim Hightower
22. Correll Buckhalter
23. Ahmad Bradshaw
24. Willis McGahee
25. Ray Rice
The best of the rest. Hightower's role is diminishing, but could still be used on the goal line. Mewelde Moore
is a nice value pick for depth. McGahee looks like the clear backup in Baltimore, while Rice isn't fully healthy.