Mike Clay

Post-Season Fantasy Football Guide

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Wild Card Playoff Rankings

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Don’t breathe that sigh of relief just yet, significant others belonging to football-crazed fantasy owners. The 2013 post-season is here, which means your husband/girlfriend/"just friend"/etc. now has an opportunity to irritate you even more by participating in multiple playoff contests from across the web.

During the week leading up to each round of this year’s playoffs, I’ll be providing positional rankings and analysis at the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker, and team defense/special teams positions. Playoff contests tend to vary greatly in terms of format, so I won’t be getting too into specifics. Instead, I’ll just be providing one-week, standard-scoring player rankings. Feel free to use them as appropriate.

Check out Chris Wesseling’s annual playoff fantasy preview, which includes positional rankings for the entire playoffs.

Quarterback

1. Aaron Rodgers - GB (vs. MIN)

Despite an inconsistent season, Rodgers managed a 39:8 TD:INT ratio, which fueled him to a second place finish among quarterbacks in fantasy points. He put up 650 pass yards in two games against the Vikings this year, and is fresh off a four-touchdown game in Minnesota just a few days ago. The Packers are the league’s 11th-pass heaviest team and rank third with 81 percent of their offensive touchdowns coming through the air.

2. Robert Griffin III - WAS (vs. SEA)

The Redskins rank fifth in the NFL, averaging 2.9 offensive touchdowns-per-game. Griffin finished the regular season fifth at the quarterback position in fantasy points per-game (24.4). Although the ‘Skins ranked as the league’s No. 2 run-heaviest team, Griffin put up huge fantasy points thanks to 833 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns. Seattle has a tough pass defense, but RGIII will be a relatively safe play thanks to his ground production.

3. Russell Wilson - SEA (@ WAS)

Seattle sits as the league’s run-heaviest team, calling pass on just over half of its offensive snaps this season. That, however, includes a 56 percent mark on the road, where they’ve lost five of eight games this season. Teams have been averaging six additional drop backs per-game over their average against Washington over the last seven weeks. Considering it should be a competitive game, Wilson figures to be forced to throw the ball more than usual. The Seahawks are averaging an absurd 4.0 offensive touchdowns per-game over their last five weeks, which is easily tops in the league. Washington, meanwhile, is allowing 2.6 touchdowns per-game, which is highest among the 12 playoff teams.

4. Joe Flacco - BAL (vs. IND)
5. Andy Dalton - CIN (@ HOU)
6. Andrew Luck - IND (@ BAL)
7. Matt Schaub - HOU (vs. CIN)

The first three names on our list each fit on their own tier, but the next four are relatively interchangeable. The struggling Ravens don’t figure to build a commanding lead on the red-hot Colts, which will force Flacco to make plays with his arm...Indianapolis, meanwhile, has called pass two-thirds of the time on the road this season. The Colts' offense has found paydirt more often as Luck has progressed each week...Houston is allowing 20 fantasy points-per-game to opposing quarterbacks over the last seven weeks, which is worst in the league. The Bengals figure to trail quite often in this one, so Dalton actually has a plus matchup...Schaub could probably be on his own tier. The Bengals are only allowing 10 fantasy points-per-game to opposing quarterbacks over the last seven weeks, which is an NFL low. The Texans should be able to control this game, which will lead to a lot of carries for Arian Foster in the league’s fourth run-heaviest offense.

8. Christian Ponder - MIN (@ GB)

Ponder tossed three touchdowns against Green Bay in Week 17, but that marked the first time he eclipsed two touchdowns in a game this season. Additionally, he’s thrown for more than one touchdown only once since Week 6. The league’s seventh run-heaviest team, Vikings will lean heavily on Adrian Peterson in an attempt to upset Green Bay at Lambeau Field.

Running Back

1. Adrian L. Peterson - MIN (@ GB)

As if Peterson’s 6.0 yards-per-carry mark wasn’t enough, the Vikings play-calling has helped him to huge fantasy production this season. Minnesota has called a run play on 53 percent of their offensive snaps in three straight games. In fact, during their current four-game win streak, the Vikings have called a run 56 percent of the time, which, extrapolated over the entire season, would easily makes them the league’s run-heaviest team. The Vikings may end up trailing quite a bit in Green Bay this week, but coach Leslie Frazier knows his best bet for a win is 25-plus touches for Peterson. He’s locked in as the best running back option this week.

2. Arian Foster - HOU (vs. CIN)
3. Alfred Morris - WAS (vs. SEA)
4. Ray Rice - BAL (vs. IND)
5. Marshawn Lynch - SEA (@ WAS)

As good as Foster is, he simply can’t be placed in a tier with Peterson right now. Fantasy’s No. 2 back averaged just over 4.1 yards-per-carry this season in what was a down year for him, at least relative to his career numbers. The Bengals, meanwhile, have arguably been the best run defense in the league over the last two months. Their last five opponents have combined for 361 yards on 116 carries (3.1 YPC). The Texans are the favorite to lead throughout this game, so while 20-plus touches is achievable, big production is unlikely…The Redskins have played seven games since their Week 10 bye. Alfred Morris has been below 20 carries in zero of those games. Since their Week 10 bye, the Seahawks have allowed six straight opponents to average no fewer than 4.0 yards-per-carry…It hasn’t been a banner year for Rice, but he still finished sixth among all running backs in fantasy points. His 83 targets ranked second at the position. The Indianapolis run defense, meanwhile, has been shredded by Houston (twice) and Kansas City over its last three games…Fourth in fantasy points at the running back spot this year, Lynch is just over 5.0 yards-per-carry and benefits greatly from the league’s run-heaviest offensive attack. Washington’s run defense isn’t anything for him to be concerned about.

6. Vick Ballard - IND (@ BAL)
7. BenJarvus Green-Ellis - CIN (@ HOU)
8. DuJuan Harris - GB (vs. MIN)

Ballard handled 58-of-69 snaps and all 29 carries by a running back for the Colts in Week 17. Although he may have his hands full with Ray Lewis back for Baltimore, 20-plus touches is probable for one of the league’s least-recognizable workhorses…Green-Ellis’ prospects are cloudy due to a hamstring injury that cost him Week 17. He’s expected to play, though, and figures to handle the bulk of the workload. Note that he’s the lowest fantasy scorer (19th) among running backs that ran for 1,000 yards this season. He’s a solid producer, but even in a career year with the Bengals ranking in the upper third of the league in offensive touchdowns for much of the season, he’s only a mediocre RB2…Harris (38 snaps) and John Kuhn (28) carried the load for the Packers in Week 17. Alex Green (zero) and Ryan Grant (five) were barely involved. Harris is an unspectacular talent, but is the favorite to lead the unit in snaps this week. The Packers have a 39:9 pass:run touchdown ratio this season, with four of those rushing scores coming in one game.

9. Robert Turbin - SEA (@ WAS)
10. Bernard Pierce - BAL (vs. IND)
11. Ben Tate - HOU (vs. CIN)
12. Ryan Grant - GB (vs. MIN)
13. Toby Gerhart - MIN (@ GB)
14. John Kuhn - GB (vs. MIN)
15. Evan Royster - WAS (vs. SEA)
16. Alex Green - GB (vs. MIN)

Our final tier of backs includes reserve backs that are expected to see only a handful of touches. Green didn’t play in Week 17 but is a sleeper for 10-plus touches if he works his way back into the lead back role. Potential in-game injuries aside, Grant is the only other back listed who has a real chance to lead his team in touches this week.


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Mike Clay is a football writer for Rotoworld.com and the Founder/Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter @MikeClayNFL.
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