Rich Hribar

Postseason Rankings

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Divisional Round Rankings

Thursday, January 11, 2018


For those of you that are trying to cram in every morsel of fantasy football that the 2017 season must offer, playoff pools and DFS for postseason games are underway to fulfill our final fantasy needs. I’m going to take some space each week to rank the positions from the remaining teams as a guide to maximizing those final efforts.

 

The NFL is already an inherently volatile game weekly when we have 16 matchups to dissect, so when we cut the weekly player pool down to eight teams in four games, we’re inviting variance to run amuck. In DFS games, we can swerve into that variance to a degree by maximizing player exposure to cover as many angles as clairvoyantly possible. I typically avoid cash games for the NFL Playoffs, but want to run out as many different tournament lineups as possible in multi-entry fields over trying to hit a bullseye in single entry contests.

 

 

Quarterbacks


1. Tom Brady (vs TEN) - Brady averaged 238.3 passing yards per game over his final six games with six touchdowns to five interceptions over his final five games of the regular season, but he’s still easily the top option entering this weekend. In fact, he’s in a tier by himself given that Brees has a tough road assignment and the position is littered with floor plays. The Patriots have the highest implied team total of the week (30.3) against a Titans defense that has been a pass funnel all season long.  Tennessee ranked fourth in the league in yards per carry allowed to opposing backfields (3.4 YPC), leading opposing teams to throw the ball 62.3 percent of their plays (third highest). That passing rate fed into Tennessee ranking 26th in passing yardage allowed per game (256.3 yards), and compounded matters for fantasy by ranking 22nd in touchdown rate allowed per completion (7.3 percent). Both of those totals rolled over into the postseason as Tennessee allowed 264 passing yards and two touchdowns on 24 completions to Alex Smith a week ago. The Patriots ranked 10th in passing rate while having a lead (51.5 percent) and fourth in passing rate with the game within one score (60.6 percent) while Brady averaged 24.1 completions per game, second in the league.

 

2. Drew Brees (@ MIN) – The Saints are much different offense than when these teams met back in Week 1, but their road bugaboos have begun to crop up again. The Saints scored two offensive touchdowns in each of the past three road games, all of which were losses. Brees hasn’t thrown more than two touchdowns in 14 straight games while the Vikings allowed a league-low 13 passing touchdowns on the season, with just five of those touchdown passes coming in Minnesota. Anticipating a ceiling-game anchored by touchdowns shouldn’t be the case here. Still, Brees has faced a Mike Zimmer-led defense seven times in his career, throwing 17 touchdowns to four interceptions in those games and has thrown for 290 or more yards in five of those games, including four in a row.

 

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3. Case Keenum (vs MIN) – Keenum was the QB5 for fantasy after the Vikings’ Week 9 bye, throwing 15 touchdowns to five interceptions over those eight games. The Saints have allowed 288 passing yards to Matt Ryan, 363 yards to Jameis Winston and 349 yards to Cam Newton over their past three games, but those all came in games in which the Saints led throughout, something that is a question mark here as road underdogs. If the Vikings control the game, that means that Keenum will continue to be a caretaker like he was to close the season. Keenum wasn’t pressed to throw more than 30 passes in five of the final six games of the regular season while he wasn’t doing much with those attempts, either, posting fewer than 7.0 yards per attempt in three of those games. That makes Keenum more of a floor play with upside.

 

4. Marcus Mariota (@ NE) – Mariota’s passing touchdown to himself and rushing output last week accounted for nearly half of his fantasy production in the Wild Card Round, but he had another lackluster passing day, throwing for just 205 yards and 6.6 yards per attempt. Mariota will have increased volume in terms of dropbacks, which will lead to a volume spike in passing and rushing output. Opposing passers averaged 36.9 pass attempts per game versus New England (third) while Mariota averaged 4.1 rushing points per game in the regular season. He was right at that mark a week ago, with 4.6 rushing points. Volume isn’t everything as the Titans have the second-lowest implied total of the weekend, but a couple of scores and a handful of rushing yards should have Mariota right in the position as a baseline.

 

5.  Ben Roethlisberger (vs JAC) – Roethlisberger had the worst game of his career when these teams back in Week 5, throwing a career-high five interceptions without a touchdown on just 5.7 yards per attempt on 55 passes. Big Ben has been a much better quarterback over the back half of the season. Over his 10 games since that implosion, Roethlisberger threw 22 touchdowns to seven interceptions while ranking second in the league in passing yardage over that stretch. He threw multiple touchdowns in each of the final seven games he played on the season, the longest such streak for his career. Despite expectations being better for Ben in this rematch, the Jaguars are still not a fantasy target. They allowed multiple touchdown passes to just four passers on the season and just four passers to reach 15 passing points in a game versus them with a high of 16.8 passing points. Expect Ben to be better than Week 5, but still have limited ceiling potential through the air in a game where he shouldn't have to throw the ball 50-plus times again.

 

6. Matt Ryan (@ PHI) – Ryan is the only road favorite this weekend, but it’s hard to get real excited for him from a fantasy stance. Ryan has yet to post a 20-point fantasy game on the season and he hasn’t thrown multiple touchdown passes in seven consecutive games. In terms of stacking yardage, he has thrown for at least 250 passing yards in just three of his past nine games. The Eagles allowed just one passer to pass for more than 227 yards in a game over their final nine games of the season, although their strength of competition was bottom of the barrel for most of that stretch.

 

7. Blake Bortles (@ PIT) – Bortles has been flat out dreadful over the past two weeks. In those games, he’s completed 27-of-57 passes (47.4 percent) for 245 yards (4.3 Y/A).  When these teams played back in Week 5, Bortles threw a season-low 14 passes, something the Jaguars will be hard pressed to replicate here, so they are going to need to throw the ball more with him this weekend. The positive is that he still can add rushing output to his totals even if his poor efficiency spills into a third-straight week. While we can’t expect for him to match his career-high 88 yards rushing from last week, he was eighth in the league in rushing points scored at the quarterback position in the regular season. The Steelers aren’t impenetrable as a pass defense. As they’ve faced a tougher schedule and suffered some injuries, Pittsburgh ranked 20th in the league in passing yardage allowed per game (247.7 yards) since their Week 9 bye while allowing 14 passing touchdowns over that span -tied for the second most in the league- but with Jacksonville entering the game as a road dog with the lowest implied team total of the week, expectations are marginal at best for Bortles.

 

8. Nick Foles (vs ATL) – Foles’ strong first start in Week 15 was anchored by the heavy passing touchdown weight, throwing four scores in a game in which he threw for just 237 yards on 6.2 yards per attempt and followed that up with a dreadful Week 16 performance at home versus Oakland. Overall, Foles posted a pedestrian 5.3 yards per pass attempt on 101 attempts while just 8-of-24 passing with four first down conversions on third downs. Atlanta was a tough pass defense, ranking 11th in yardage allowed per game to opposing passers in the regular season while they are getting hot at the right time, holding Drew Brees (12.2 points), Cam Newton (14.1) and Jared Goff (14.4) to pedestrian totals over the past three weeks. 


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Rich Hribar is a husband, father, sports meteorologist and a slave to statistics. A lifelong sports fan and fantasy gamer. You can find him on Twitter @LordReebs.
Email :Rich Hribar



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