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Rich Hribar

Postseason Rankings

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Divisional Round Rankings

Thursday, January 10, 2019


For those of you that are trying to cram in every morsel of fantasy football that the 2018 season must offer, playoff pools and DFS for postseason games are here 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. Because of that, I wouldn’t focus too much on the arbitrary player ranking as opposed to the analysis, but hey, we have to put these guys in some order.

 

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. If you’re someone doing a playoff pool, that is much tougher to do. My best advice in those pools is to try and maximize player games as much as possible as suggested in our overall playoff rankings.

 

Quarterbacks

 

1. Patrick Mahomes (vs IND): Last week we had a fairly even quarterback slate and that’s how it played out, with the top-six passers all finishing within three points of each other. This week, we have three standouts at the top and then a gaggle of solid options you can spin a story on if you have to. To start, we have the highest-scoring fantasy player ever in Mahomes. Mahomes is making his first ever postseason start, but his season-low of fantasy points in a game this season was 15.8 and he was held below 20 fantasy points just three times. He just simply has had the highest-ceiling and floor at the position. As for matchup dynamics, the contrast here comes from Mahomes creating splash plays and the Colts doing everything they can to limit them with all of the zone coverage they play. Mahomes led the league in pass completions (4.7 per game) and touchdowns (15) on gains of 20-plus yards while the Colts ranked fifth in amount of those completions (2.5 per game) surrendered. But Mahomes was excellent against zone coverage this season while you have to get consistent pressure on him to get him off his game. Mahomes posted a league-best 132.4 passer rating versus no pressure while a 70.4 rating (16th) during the regular season. The Colts have allowed just 10 touchdown passes over their past eight games, but Mahomes is easily the best passer they will have faced over that stretch after facing Deshaun Watson twice, Dak Prescott, Blaine Gabbert, Marcus Mariota, Cody Kessler, Eli Manning, and Ryan Tannehill over their hottest stretch defensively.  

 

2. Drew Brees (vs PHI): We always like Brees at home and this season was no exception. In seven starts in New Orleans, Brees threw 21 touchdown passes to one interception while averaging 321.6 passing yards per game. That includes a 22-of-30, 364 yard, four touchdown passing game against the Eagles in Week 11. Brees is 5-0 for his career in the postseason while playing in New Orleans, throwing 12 touchdown passes to one interception while averaging 305.8 passing yards per game. The Eagles ranked 30th in passing yardage allowed per game (307.9 yards) and allowed the most passing yards to a quarterback in the opening week of the playoffs to Mitchell Trubisky.

 

3. Andrew Luck (@ KC): Luck is the counter to Mahomes in the highest-game total (57) of the weekend, which already makes him an intriguing option if you can’t fit Mahomes or Brees into lineups. Luck has thrown multiple touchdowns in 14-of-17 games this season and has averaged an extra 1.9 rushing fantasy points per game over his past six. His floor has been incredibly high, as only Mahomes has more games this season with 17-plus fantasy points (15) than Luck does (13) at this stage of the season. The Chiefs only allowed 14.4 fantasy points per game to passers at home this season, but outside of Philip Rivers (18.5 points) and Jimmy Garoppolo (22.3 points), their rogue’s gallery of quarterbacks faced at home was extremely soft.

 

4. Tom Brady (vs LAC):  After ranking those top three options, the rest of the field is full of strong floor options, but each also has a wart or two that make it harder to objectively find room for a ceiling performance. For DFS purposes, I may not even play anyone from this stage on. I edge to Brady as the next-best of the bunch by default. Brady closed the regular season as a QB1 in just two of his final nine games, averaging 16.2 fantasy points per game over that stretch.  Against six top-10 defenses this season, Brady averaged 1.3 passing touchdowns, 258.5 passing yards and 7.4 yards per pass attempts as opposed to 2.1 passing scores, 280.4 passing yards and 7.7 yards per attempt otherwise. The Chargers are in the first bracket, ranking ninth in passing points allowed per game (14.8) and allowed just two passers to reach 20 fantasy points in a game against them this season. That said, it’s tough to ignore Brady at home in the postseason where he averages 19.7 fantasy points per game over 19 starts and 23.7 points per game over his past seven home starts in the playoffs.

 

5. Jared Goff (vs DAL): Goff was another passer that had his numbers dip to close the season. Over his final five games after the Rams’ Week 12 bye, Goff threw for just 228.2 yards per game, completing just 58.6 percent of his passes for 6.3 yards per pass attempt. He threw more than one touchdown pass in just one of those five games. Where Goff particularly dropped off was downfield. Over that span, Goff completed just 8-of-31 (25.8 percent) pass attempts 15-plus yards downfield with two touchdowns and four interceptions after completing 54.5 percent (42-of-77) of those passes prior for seven scores and two interceptions. Dallas allowed multiple touchdown passes in just seven games this season, with more than two passing scores just once. Despite Dallas limiting high-ceiling games, they did allow 17 or more passing points to three of the past five starting quarterbacks they’ve faced.

 

6. Philip Rivers (@ NE): Rivers has averaged just 237.8 passing yards per game over his past six games and hasn’t thrown more than two touchdowns in a game since Week 12. The Patriots have just about everyone’s number under Bill Belichick, but they’ve especially had Rivers’. In eight career games against the Patriots, Rivers has thrown 10 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, averaging just 12.2 fantasy points per game over that span. In four games on the road in New England, those totals are 5-7 touchdowns to interceptions for an average of 10.8 fantasy points per game. New England closed the year productive versus the pass, holding opponents to 6.2 yards per pass attempt over their final eight games (eighth) while holding Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and Ben Roethlisberger well below their season averages in efficiency over that stretch. Rivers is still plenty capable of having a strong game and putting points up here, but as the road quarterback in the lowest game-total (47) of the week, his highest probable expectations fall between floor and median projections. 

 

7. Dak Prescott (@ LAR): Prescott’s home/road splits were as pronounced as any passer this season, throwing eight touchdowns on the road this season, half of which came in a Week 17 game against the Giants. That was also just one of two games in which Prescott had all season with more than two touchdown passes. The Rams were solid against the pass once Aqib Talib returned to the lineup after their Week 12 bye, In those five games, they allowed just 211.4 passing yards per game with five touchdown passes to eight interceptions. Prescott does have a potential trump card with rushing upside on this slate, something really only Mahomes and Luck offer. Prescott has a rushing touchdown in seven of his past 12 games while the Rams have allowed Josh Rosen (49 yards), Mitchell Trubisky (23), Russell Wilson (92 yards) and Patrick Mahomes (28 yards) to sprinkle some rushing output onto their fantasy lines over their past seven games.

 

8. Nick Foles (@ NO): Foles’ real-life magic hasn’t completely translated over to fantasy production and this is another week in which he’s drawing the worst objective spot for a starting quarterback. Foles only outscored Rivers last week among the quarterback pool and over his six starts this season, has scored 16.2 fantasy points or fewer in all but one. The Saints allowed just one top-10 scorer over their eight games prior to Week 17, allowing just nine touchdown passes over that stretch with eight interceptions. As the largest road dog on the slate, Foles will need his fantasy production to catch up to his current real-life lore.  


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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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