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Fantasy Football Playoff Challenge Forecast
The NFL’s regular season is over, but the fantasy football season continues. Hopefully your fantasy football team was successful this season, but if not, one more chance for redemption awaits you. And even if you tasted success, and won your league, the playoffs allow you one more opportunity for fantasy football glory. And to help you achieve that exaltation, here are our player rankings.
1) Peyton Manning: Despite playing less than a full game in each of his final two contests, Manning was second in the NFL in completions, completion percentage, passing yards and passing touchdowns (tied with Brett Favre). All that and his team was working on an undefeated season before essentially forfeiting their final two games.
2) Drew Brees: Brees set the NFL record for single-season completion percentage and led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes despite sitting out Week 17. If you believe the Saints’ late-season struggles were just a blip on the radar, Brees is an excellent option.
3) Philip Rivers: Rivers never seems to get mentioned when the top quarterbacks in the league are mentioned, but fantasy football enthusiasts know plenty about him. His 104.4 quarterback rating for the season was third in the league, and he was in the top-10 in both passing yards and touchdown throws.
4) Tony Romo: Romo had a great season, coming in third in the NFL in passing yards, and he happens to be playing his best football right now. Dallas is the No. 3 seed in the NFC, and many pundits like them to make a run at the Super Bowl.
5) Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers was fourth in passing yards, passing scores and quarterback rating for this season, so there’s no doubt he is one of the best in the game. Green Bay is the fifth seed as well, which means it’s unlikely they’d be playing any home games. He’s the ultimate boom-or-bust candidate in this group.
6) Brett Favre: Favre had a remarkable year in every way, and he ended the regular season with a flourish. You have to wonder, however, if the Vikings will gear up the running game more in the playoffs than they did towards the end of the regular season.
1) Kurt Warner: We all saw what Warner could do last season if he got hot in the playoffs, and despite the Cards getting waxed by the Packers last week, it didn’t seem like they gave their full effort, did it?
2) Donovan McNabb: McNabb was worse than his pedestrian numbers (20-of-36, no touchdowns, no interceptions) indicated last week against the Cowboys, as he missed a number of open receivers. That and the fact that Philly is the No. 6 seed in the NFC will lead some to be pessimistic about him for a postseason fantasy football run, but remember that Philly had won six in a row, and McNabb has led his team on a number of deep playoff runs.
3) Tom Brady: While we certainly believe the Patriots can make an extended playoff run, Brady is dealing with a plethora of problems. First and foremost are his busted bones – he reportedly has three cracked ribs and a broken index finger on his right (throwing) hand. Not to mention the fact that Brady has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in three of his last four games, and his leading pass-catcher, Wes Welker, tore up his knee and will miss the playoffs.
4) Joe Flacco: If you’re looking for a sleeper candidate, Flacco may be your man. He doesn’t put up huge numbers, but the Ravens have the running game and defense necessary to allow them to make an extended push in the playoffs, with Flacco doing enough to give you decent fantasy points along the way.
5) Carson Palmer: Really, Palmer and Mark Sanchez should be 6A and 6B, as neither is much of an option. Palmer was horrendous against the Jets last week, completing one of his 11 throws, for zero yards. New York is No. 1 in the NFL against the pass, but even if Cincy does beat them, Palmer won’t give you much.
6) Mark Sanchez: Sanchez is the poorest passer among quarterbacks whose teams made it to the playoffs, and he should be treated as such here. Even a Super Bowl run for him may not produce equal numbers equal to two games from other quarterbacks in the playoffs.
1) Adrian Peterson: Peterson led the NFL in rushing scores, and despite the fact he didn’t have a 100-yard rushing game in the playoffs, his fantasy football value is beyond doubt, and there’s reason to think that if the Vikings advance to the Super Bowl, he’ll have a lot to do with it.
2) Ray Rice: Rice has huge value in this scoring format due to his pass-catching acumen, and if you believe that the Ravens can win at least one game, he may be worth choosing.
3) Joseph Addai: Addai doesn’t rack up huge yards, but he was tied for ninth in the league with 10 rushing scores, catches the ball quite a bit, and also is on a team many think is the favorite to win the Super Bowl.
4) Thomas Jones: Jones has a tough go of it in the first round, against the Bengals’ seventh-ranked run defense, and though he ran for two scores against them last week, he gained just 78 yards on 27 carries.
5) Ryan Grant: Grant is an excellent runner, and the Packers blew away the Cardinals last week, but his lack of receptions really hurts his value.
6) Cedric Benson: Benson will have to be most of the offense if Cincinnati is to advance in the postseason, but the Jets are a tough defense and there is no frame of reference for how he’ll do against them because he sat out last week in their contest.
1) LaDainian Tomlinson: Tomlinson has the advantage of being the lead back on a team that very well could wind up in the Super Bowl. Still, he had just one game with at least 75 rushing yards this season and two games with more than two receptions.
2) Pierre Thomas: Thomas had a bruised rib which was part of the reason he didn’t suit up last week, but it’s not a serious injury. He’s a do-it-all back whose only question mark is how many carries he’ll get.
3) Marion Barber: Barber had a solid season, though he carried the ball 20 times just once, and not more than 17 in any of his last six games. On a positive note, he did manage 91 yards last week against the Eagles.
4) Reggie Bush: Bush is more of a slot receiver than a running back, but the Saints clearly have the ability to make the Super Bowl, and he could catch enough passes to make him a worthwhile option.
5) Beanie Wells: Wells is now the lead back on a Cardinals team that we all know is dangerous considering what they did last season, and that was without a running game that Wells now provides them.
6) Brian Westbrook: Westbrook is a real wild card, and though we’re not high on him due to what could be limited usage, if the Eagles wind up making a solid postseason run, Westbrook could be a big part of that, especially catching the ball.
1) Felix Jones: Jones’ explosiveness is what makes him an attractive option in this group. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry this season, tying Jamaal Charles for the highest average of any back with at least 100 carries. He also catches a decent amount of passes and received at least 10 carries in each of his last four games.
2) Darren Sproles: Speaking of explosive, Sproles fits right into that category, and he’s also a very good receiver out of the backfield, but he doesn’t receive the amount of carries Jones gets.
3) Chester Taylor: Taylor is a solid player who totes the rock between 5-10 times per game with 2-4 catches per. He could have good value if you think the Vikings are Super Bowl-bound.
4) Willis McGahee: We all saw what McGahee could do in Baltimore’s last game of the season, and it may surprise you to know that he tied for fifth in the NFL with 12 touchdown runs.
5) Donald Brown: If the Colts weren’t as good as they were, Brown would be last on this list, but he can pick up points based simply on the fact he may play more games. But he’s clearly second fiddle to Joseph Addai, and has battled injuries all year.
6) Tim Hightower: Hightower received double-digit carries just once in his final five games, and he isn’t explosive with the ball in his hands. What he does bring is potential fantasy points due to his ability to catch the ball.
1) Dallas Clark: Clark was fifth in the NFL in receptions this season, tying teammate Reggie Wayne with 100 passes caught. He also tied Wayne for seventh in the league in touchdown grabs with 10, and is the most reliable pass-catching tight end in football.
2) Reggie Wayne: Wayne’s numbers nearly mirrored Clark’s in every way but receiving yards, where he picked up 158 more. Yet he’s behind Clark due to his slow end to the year. He had fewer than 50 receiving yards in five of his final six games.
3) Sidney Rice: Rice broke out this season to place fourth in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,312 on 83 receptions for a robust average of 15.8 yards per catch. But with receptions so valuable in this fantasy football scoring format, he ranks behind both Indy players.
4) Antonio Gates: Gates is one of the best pass-catching tight end in the game, and arguably number one. He ended the season on a great note, catching a touchdown in each of his final four contests.
5) Vincent Jackson: Jackson started hot, slowed down, then got hot again, racking up 100 yards in two of his final three games. His inconsistency is a concern, especially with so few games in the postseason to make his mark.
6) Marques Colston: There’s nothing wrong with selecting Colston, it’s just that the Saints have so many weapons, you never can tell who will be the player Drew Brees goes to in any specific game.
1) Randy Moss: Moss tied for the league lead in touchdown catches with 13, and without Wes Welker, the onus to do big things in the New England passing game falls squarely on him.
2) Miles Austin: No receiver is currently playing better than Austin right now, who is physically dominating his opponents. He gained 90 or more receiving yards in five of his last six games, and wound up third in the league in that statistic.
3) Larry Fitzgerald: One of the players tied with Moss for the most touchdown catches in the NFL was Fitzgerald, though all things considered, he had a bit of a disappointing season, especially where receiving yards are concerned – he ranked 17th in the NFL with 1,092.
4) DeSean Jackson: Jackson is capable of pretty much anything, but he ended the season with two games of fewer than 50 receiving yards, and plays a Cowboys team that held him in check in Week 17.
5) Greg Jennings: Jennings’ four touchdowns on the season was a huge disappointment to fantasy football owners across the land, though he still gained over 1,100 yards. But it’s hard to ignore his lack of trips to the end zone and the fact that he caught fewer than 70 passes on the year.
6) Chad Ochocinco: Ochocinco will have to go up against Darrelle Revis in the Bengals’ opening playoff game, and Revis, combined with a knee bruise, held Ochocinco to zero catches and zero yards in Week 17.
1) Jason Witten: Witten’s 94 catches this season were ninth in the NFL, though he only scored twice – once in Week 2, and again in Week 17 – against the very same Eagles team he’ll be facing this week.
2) Brent Celek: Celek has become a trusted option for Donovan McNabb, and has proven that all season, but especially in the final weeks. He’s the only one that didn’t seem to have the dropsies in Week 17 against the Cowboys, a game in which he had seven receptions for 97 yards.
3) Percy Harvin: Harvin is a home run hitter who can find the end zone any time he touches the ball. He’ll also run the ball at least once per game, giving him further value. By no means is he a bad option, it’s just that he may not get as many looks as some other players in this group. Unless you think the Vikings are headed to the Super Bowl; then, by all means, insert him in your lineup.
4) Anquan Boldin: Boldin is suffering from injuries to both his knee and ankle, and may not suit up for Arizona’s initial playoff game, so check his status before employing him in your fantasy football lineup.
5) Donald Driver: Driver had six receptions for 65 yards in Week 17 against Arizona, but he hasn’t had a big game since Thanksgiving, and ended the season with fewer than 80 receiving yards in nine of his last 10 games
6) Derrick Mason: Mason is as reliable as they come, but Baltimore will win by running the ball, and their prospects for going deep into the playoffs seem remote.
1) Julian Edelman: Edelman takes over the Wes Welker role in the New England offense, and that means big things in this scoring format. For example, in Week 17 he was targeted a whopping 15 times and came up with 10 catches for 103 yards.
2) Jermichael Finley: Finley is on his way to becoming one of the league’s elite tight ends, and he finished the season with a bang, gaining 80 receiving yards or scoring a touchdown (or both) in each of his final five games.
3) Pierre Garcon: Garcon battled a hand injury late in the year that stunted what was seemingly excellent growth throughout the season. He was really playing well in the middle of the year before this injury caught up to him, and he can be effective on a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.
4) Robert Meachem: Meachem was extremely hot in the middle of the year, catching a touchdown in five straight games from Weeks 9-13. He’s only scored once since then, however, and gained at least 70 yards just once in his final seven contests.
5) Jeremy Maclin: Maclin, Philly’s first-round pick this year, has had a very good rookie season, but he’s behind both Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson on the depth chart, and had fewer than 50 yards in both of his meetings with Dallas this season, the team the Eagles will face in the first round of the playoffs.
6) Jerricho Cotchery: The Jets pound the rock on the ground to win their games, and despite the fact that Cotchery and Mark Sanchez clearly have a solid chemistry, he’s really not worth using.
1) Devery Henderson: It’s a gamble placing Henderson here, but one that could really pay off. He gained 804 yards this season on 51 receptions, and is always a threat to make one or two huge plays per game.
2) Bernard Berrian: Berrian had a highly disappointing season for his fantasy football owners, but he’s on a Vikings team that isn’t afraid to use all of their options, and one that could make a significant postseason run.
3) Jeremy Shockey: Shockey has been battling an injury, and hasn’t caught a pass since Week 14. Still, it’s possible he comes up with a solid postseason effort, because everyone on the Saints is capable of doing so considering how much they spread the ball around.
4) Braylon Edwards: Edwards gained less than 50 receiving yards in six of his final seven games, but he has the capability to deliver. Still, it’s difficult to believe in him, especially considering the Jets are the lowest seed in the AFC, and win by running the ball and defense.
5) Roy Williams: If Williams gets the opportunity, he’s shown he can make some things happen, but whether he does or not is anyone’s guess. He’s extremely frustrating to fantasy football owners, and can’t be trusted, even if his talent says he can.
6) Steve Breaston: Breaston has ceded catches and yards to Early Doucet, so unless it’s found out that Anquan Boldin’s injury is a serious one, you should leave him be.
1) Austin Collie: With Pierre Garcon out, Collie flourished, catching a touchdown in three consecutive games from Weeks 13-15. He also had nearly 100 yards in Week 16 and is a promising threat to, at the minimum, give you fantasy points with receptions, if not huge yards.
2) Malcolm Floyd: Floyd actually picked up 776 receiving yards on the season, which was more than players like Pierre Garcon, Jeremy Maclin and Robert Meachem. The problem was he did it on just 45 catches, which hurts in this scoring format, and he found the end zone only one time.
3) Patrick Crayton: Crayton is option three or four on the Dallas depth chart, depending on if Roy Williams actually shows up. But he had a big game against the Eagles in Week 17, and shouldn’t be completely discounted because of his low spot on the pecking order.
4) James Jones: Jones did more than you might think by the Packers this season. He caught just 32 passes, but gained 440 yards, and more importantly, caught five touchdowns, which was one more than teammate Greg Jennings.
5) Todd Heap: Heap caught two touchdowns in each of his game during Week 15 and 16, and while that meant gold if you had the cajones to use him during your fantasy football playoffs, it was a rare feat for him, and he’s just as likely to pick up 30 yards on two catches.
6) Dustin Keller: Keller is a middling option who didn’t catch more than three passes or gain even 35 yards in any of his final five games.
1) Nate Kaeding: Kaeding tied David Akers for the league lead in field goals, and was one of just two players who made 25 or more kicks to make at least 90 percent of his tries. He’s the best kicker on a team with realistic Super Bowl expectations.
2) Ryan Longwell: Longwell has the benefit of kicking indoors until/if he reaches the Super Bowl, which is a nice bonus. He also plays on a high-scoring team and led the NFL in extra points made.
3) Garrett Hartley: Hartley only played five games this season, and though he was 9-for-11 in field goals, he only attempted one kick from 40 yards and beyond, and missed that kick. Still, he’s on a team with a potent offense, and could be kicking in three games, which means plenty of points.
4) David Akers: As mentioned, Akers was tied for the league lead in field goals made. But he’s on the sixth-seeded team in the NFC, and it may be difficult for the Eagles to advance deep into the postseason. Still, they very well could win a game or two, possibly making Akers a worthwhile selection.
5) Stephen Gostkowski: Gostkowski is on a team that can put up a lot of points, and has at least one home game, but his problem is long-distance kicking – he made only seven of his 11 kicks from 40 yards or beyond.
6) Jay Feely: Feely wasn’t always accurate, making just over 83 percent of his field goal tries, but he was tied for third in the league in kicks made. Still, there are other options in this group that are better simply because they are on better teams.
7) Mason Crosby: Crosby made only 75 percent of his kicks this season, which is the worst percentage in this group. And he was only 6-of-13 from 40 yards or beyond.
8) Shaun Suisham: Suisham is a solid kicker, but he and Hartley are the only ones in this group not to have made a 50 yarder, and Suisham played nine more games than Hartley.
1) Colts: The defensive group is the most subjective, and essentially boils down to which team you believe will go the furthest, thereby offering you the most opportunity to rack up points. For that reason, we’ve simply ranked the teams by their playoff seed.
1) Saints: The defensive group is the most subjective, and essentially boils down to which team you believe will go the furthest, thereby offering you the most opportunity to rack up points. For that reason, we’ve simply ranked the teams by their playoff seed.
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