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Tom Brady Is The Top Pick In Fantasy Playoff Challenge Games

Michael Waterloo Staff Writer January 5, 2017 3:14PM EDT

Well, now what?

Perhaps you’ll try your hand at Fantasy Basketball, Fantasy Hockey or the DFS games for those sports. You could always see how you do at Fantasy MMA or Fantasy Golf. Or, you know what, how about Fantasy Bachelor? You can go here, where Pat Mayo has you covered, because let’s face it, you need some type of Fantasy contest in your life, right?

With Week 17 in the books, Fantasy Football is no more … or is it? With numerous playoff challenges out there, you can continue to get your Fantasy Football fix.

So, how do they work? Well, it depends on the site that you use.

With home field advantage and a nice second-round opponent, Tom Brady stands above the rest in Fantasy postseason contests. Photo Credit: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

With home field advantage and relatively soft second-round opponent, Tom Brady stands above the rest in Fantasy postseason contests. Photo Credit: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

For certain games, you can comprise your team of eight players – QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, DST, K – but you can only draft one player from each team for the entirety of the playoffs. If their team loses, you can’t use that player anymore.

In other games, you can have multiple players from each team throughout the course of the playoffs. But be careful with those contests. While it could pay off having players from the same team carry you to the Super Bowl, it could also come back to bite you if that team loses and you’re now without multiple players because that certain team lost.

Game by Game

First, you should look at the playoff landscape to see which teams could potentially play the most games. Ideally, you want to find a team playing in the Wild Card round that might run the table and get to the Super Bowl. Overall, your target should be three games for each of the players at each position.

Starting with the first weekend of games, look to see who you think will win:

Oakland at Houston

Miami at Pittsburgh

Detroit at Seattle

New York at Green Bay

I’m taking Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Green Bay as the teams to win the Wild Card games. My confidence level in the teams would go in ranked order: 1. Pittsburgh, 2. Green Bay, 3. Seattle, 4. Houston.

If things go according to plan in the Wild Card round, the next series of games would set up as follows:

Houston at New England

Pittsburgh at Kansas City

Seattle at Atlanta

Green Bay at Dallas

I’d pick New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Green Bay to win this round, with my confidence in rank order as follows: 1. New England, 2. Atlanta, 3. Pittsburgh, 4. Green Bay.

I’ll take the Patriots over the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, and the Falcons over the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. So, the players to target here would be those that play for the Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Packers. Given their respective divisional opponents, the players for the Packers and Steelers clearly carry the highest risk level. I am least confident in the Dolphins and the Giants, so I’ll be looking to fade their players from the start.

Position by Position

Quarterbacks:

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Aaron Rodgers
  3. Matt Ryan
  4. Ben Roethlisberger
  5. Dak Prescott
  6. Russell Wilson
  7. Alex Smith
  8. Matthew Stafford
  9. Eli Manning
  10. Brock Osweiler
  11. Connor Cook
  12. Matt Moore

Tom Brady is the obvious number one here, with what should be a layup against either the Texans or the Raiders at home. Considering how tough the Patriots are at home, they should be sitting pretty for the AFC title game, too. I’ll give a slight nod to Aaron Rodgers since he was the overall number one quarterback in Fantasy this year. He is neck and neck with Matt Ryan depending on how you see their division matchups playing out, and how the potential NFL Championship Game matchup goes. With only one game at home, be careful with Ben Roethlisberger. On the season, Roethlisberger scored 128 total Fantasy points on the road. In eight road games, that averages out to just 16 Fantasy points per game. Compare that to 190 total Fantasy points in just six home games, which averages out to 31.6 Fantasy points per game, and you can see why there is a reason to be concerned.

Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson could very well lead their teams to the NFC Championship Game. I also wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Lions beat the Seahawks in the Wild Card round. I expect Seattle to win, but in the four games they played without safety Earl Thomas, the Seahawks allowed 38, 3, 34 and 23 points to their opponents, respectively. They just aren’t the same unit without Thomas in the secondary. I want no part of the last four listed quarterbacks along with Alex Smith. With Smith, it’s his lack of volume and production. The Chiefs look to control the clock and utilize short passes. As for the other four, Eli Manning has thrown for 201 yards or less in five of his past six games. Connor Cook is making his first career start, and Brock Osweiler is, well, Brock Osweiler. I don’t think Matt Moore is actually that much worse a real-life quarterback than Ryan Tannehill, but there is no conceivable way I can start him when I fully expect the Steelers to handle the Dolphins with ease. You can afford to lose points from certain players in your playoff challenge in the wild card round. But your quarterback isn’t one of them.

Running Backs:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. LeGarrette Blount
  3. Ezekiel Elliott
  4. Devonta Freeman
  5. Lamar Miller
  6. Ty Montgomery
  7. Dion Lewis
  8. Thomas Rawls
  9. Spencer Ware
  10. Tevin Coleman
  11. Jay Ajayi
  12. Latavius Murray
  13. Paul Perkins
  14. Zach Zenner
  15. James White

For the first time all year, LeGarrette Blount is ranked above Ezekiel Elliott. The potential matchup between the Packers and Cowboys concerns me. As good as Dallas is, I’m afraid I may just get one game from Elliott. The best-case scenario for the Cowboys is that the Giants are able to knock off Green Bay in the Wild Card round. Despite their 13-3 record and number one seed, Dallas got the short end of the stick when they drew the Packers, arguably the hottest team entering the playoffs. Green Bay has won six in a row heading into their date with the Giants. In those six games, Rodgers has 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s playing out of this world. If the Cowboys are able to do what they do best and control the clock, they can win this game. But with the level that Rodgers is playing at right now, I’m not betting against him. Bell is a slam dunk, and if you’re in a league in which you go draft style, he has the potential to be the number one overall player over Brady or Rodgers. Lamar Miller is a sneaky-good pick just because of the usage he will get against Oakland, and his involvement in the game plan against the Patriots, too. Dion Lewis should be unleashed this postseason, which pushes James White down the list. I’d prefer not to use Thomas Rawls or Spencer Ware if possible, but Rawls could be good for at least two games.

Wide receivers:

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Julio Jones
  3. Jordy Nelson
  4. Davante Adams
  5. Julian Edelman
  6. Doug Baldwin
  7. Dez Bryant
  8. Odell Beckham
  9. DeAndre Hopkins
  10. Malcolm Mitchell
  11. Mohamed Sanu
  12. Eli Rogers
  13. Tyreek Hill
  14. Michael Crabtree
  15. Amari Cooper
  16. Cole Beasley
  17. Golden Tate
  18. Kenny Stills
  19. Sterling Shepard
  20. Anquan Boldin

The top three wide receivers are pretty easy, no matter the order you put them in. After that it gets tough. It would be great to have Odell Beckham and Dez Bryant next, but if their teams are one and done, it’s hard to maximize their value. With the lack of yards thrown by Manning and the Giants’ first-round draw against the red-hot Packers, it’s hard to see Beckham playing in more than one game of your Fantasy playoff challenge. Of course, with the Green Bay secondary banged up (again), he should do fine. But, similar to running back and quarterback, wide receiver is a spot you want to get as many games out of as possible. It’s a similar situation for Bryant, whom I mentioned as losing to the Packers. If you see the Cowboys advancing to the NFC Championship Game and beyond, he leaps into the Top 5 at the position and becomes a great play. I’m avoiding the two Raiders receivers at all costs if I can. Kenny Stills is the only receiver I’d want from Miami. In the final three games of the season for Miami, which were all started by Moore at quarterback, Stills caught eight balls on 18 targets and found the end zone in each game. He’s a nice contrarian play, but you’re likely to get just one game out of him with the likelihood that the Steelers win at home.

Tight End:

  1. Martellus Bennett
  2. Travis Kelce
  3. Ladarius Green
  4. Jimmy Graham
  5. Jason Witten
  6. J. Fiedorowicz
  7. Jared Cook
  8. Jesse James
  9. Eric Ebron
  10. Clive Walford

Brutal, brutal, brutal. I wish Rob Gronkowski was healthy. He’d be the biggest lock of the playoffs. If you think that the Chiefs can beat the Steelers at home, you can move Travis Kelce up to number one and I’d be OK with it. Jesse James is a nice contrarian play from the Steelers if Ladarius Green is out. But if you can only pick one player from each team, James would never be the  I’m taking the Steelers to the AFC Championship game, which means I’ll get three games out of their players. Tight end doesn’t need to be a priority for you to win your playoff challenge. Even in contests in which you can start multiple players from the same team, all you’re hoping for with James is that he falls into the end zone. Now, if Green plays and you can stack players from the same team, he’s an intriguing option behind Bennett and Kelce as the highest-upside play.

Defense:

  1. Patriots
  2. Texans
  3. Falcons
  4. Packers
  5. Steelers
  6. Cowboys
  7. Seahawks
  8. Chiefs
  9. Raiders
  10. Lions
  11. Giants
  12. Dolphins

I love the Giants’ defense; I just wish they weren’t facing the Packers. The Texans are high, but even playing just two games, you’re banking on a big performance against the Raiders and not a negative output against the Patriots.

Kickers:

  1. Stephen Gostkowski
  2. Matt Bryant
  3. Mason Crosby
  4. Chris Boswell
  5. Dan Bailey
  6. Cairo Santo
  7. Steven Hauschka
  8. Nick Novak
  9. Sebastian Janikowski
  10. Matt Prater
  11. Robbie Gould
  12. Andrew Franks

Optimal Lineup

QB: Tom Brady – Patriots

RB: Le’Veon Bell – Steelers

RB: Lamar Miller – Texans

WR: Jordy Nelson – Packers

WR: Julio Jones – Falcons

TE: Travis Kelce – Chiefs

DST: Seattle

K: Dan Bailey – Cowboys

Brady, Bell, Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones are locks. Those are my four final teams playing, so I’m expecting to maximize their value. I struggled at RB2, but opted for Miller with two games being played. The Seattle defense can generate me two games worth of points and if they upset the Falcons at home, I’ll take three games from an injured-but-still-scary defense. By fading the Dolphins and Giants, I’m left with the Raiders and Lions as the two teams I have the least faith in to earn a third – or, in this case, second – game. I decided to fade them. I expect the Chiefs and Cowboys to be one and done, so I’m fading top options from them. If they end up victorious, especially the Cowboys, I’ll kick myself all offseason for fading Elliott in postseason contests.

NFL.com Playoff Challenge

If you want to add a little twist to your game, you can play the NFL.com Playoff Challenge. To find out how it works, read the introductory article on their site.

To sum it up, though, you get bonus points for each week someone is in your lineup as follows:

Wild Card Round – Regular points

Divisional Round – 2X points

Championship Round – 3X points

Super Bowl – 4X points

Needless to say, you want to build your team around people that are playing in the Super Bowl. You set your lineup each week, and yes, you can play people on bye.

So, while you’ll have zero points from Brady on the opening weekend of the playoffs, you’ll get 2X, 3X and 4X if (when?) they make the Super Bowl. Is that strategy worth using instead of playing the Packers’ players who have the potential for a fourth game in there? It’s a tough call, honestly, and what makes it tougher is that you can stack players.

You can easily have Rodgers, Nelson and Adams throughout the playoff challenge if you so desire. If they make it to the Super Bowl, you’re in great shape. If they flame out in the second round at Dallas, though, it will be time to look forward to baseball season.

My Lineup

QB: Aaron Rodgers

RB: Le’Veon Bell

RB: LeGarrette Blount

WR: Antonio Brown

WR: Jordy Nelson

TE: Martellus Bennett

K: Stephen Gostkowski

DST: Patriots

Contrarian Lineup

QB: Matt Ryan

RB: Devonta Freeman

RB: Dion Lewis

WR: Malcolm Mitchell

WR: Dez Bryant

TE: Martellus Bennett

K: Dan Bailey

DST: Steelers

 

 

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