I have been playing “playoff fantasy football” for over 15 years and have come to enjoy it quite a bit. I have developed my own proprietary formula based on expected fantasy point totals, and the expected chance of playing another game. It’s simple to win at this in design – draft guys that go to the Super Bowl and score a lot of fantasy points. Not always so easy of course. I can’t help but recall our playoff league draft for Super Bowl XXXVII (2002 season, played in January 2003) thinking I had it in the bag and the ONLY way I could lose was if the Tampa Bay defense scored THREE defensive touchdowns in the Super Bowl. Yup. That happened of course as Tampa scored one in the 3rd quarter of that game, and then tacked on a 2nd and 3rd defensive touchdown in the fourth quarter. On the flip side, I recall riding the Giants from the wild card round all the way to beating the Patriots a few years ago. Last year, those that drafted Cam Newton and C.J. Anderson likely won as the Panthers and Broncos went to the Super Bow, plus Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski delivered huge points in two games.

Below are my rankings for this year and some axioms for success. Note that there is still some undecided things to keep track of (and these rankings will not be updated or maintained). Most notably, who will start at quarterback for the Texans? Does it really matter? Also, Randall Cobb and Thomas Rawls’ health will need to be monitored. 

Use this as a guide and of course check Rotoworld for updates on players or breaking news on injuries – and good luck and enjoy the playoffs!!

 

Axioms for Success
– Axiom #1: The optimal league size is 8 teams (total point scoring) – in theory then every team has a quarterback, kicker and defense in both weeks 1 and 2 of the playoffs.

– Axiom #2: Generally speaking, it is better to initially draft players on a BYE in week 1 of the playoffs.

– Axiom #3: That said in Axiom #2, if you can connect on a wild card weekend team that makes it to the Super Bowl (like the Packers in 2010 or the Giants in 2011) then you are golden but that can be a bit of good luck of course. Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Seattle stand out as possibilities this year and they are the three teams with the best odds to get to the Super Bowl from the wild card round.

– Axiom #4: Running backs are more important in this format — period. The reality is there are only 12 teams in the playoffs, so 12 starting running backs (even say 18-24 with shared backfields). The running backs go quick, whereas most of these teams have three to four wide receivers who will contribute fantasy points. 

– Axiom #5: Points is points – kickers and defenses are WAY more important than they are in regular season fantasy football. Likewise, quarterbacks are WAY more important in playoff fantasy football.

– Axiom #6: Per Axiom #5, knowing when to draft kickers and defenses is really critical – you don’t want to miss out on a run that can happen on you in an instant and you also will REALLY want the kickers you think will play in the Super Bowl (they can and may score almost as much if not more than skill-position players).

– Axiom #7: Building off Axiom #6, kickers and defenses for team’s likely to go to the Super Bowl – like New England and Dallas (the team’s with the best two odds) – are very valuable, as our potentially those from Atlanta and Pittsburgh. 

– Axiom #8: As you are drafting, keep track of Week 1 wild card kickers, defenses and quarterbacks – if you play it right, you can be the last team to snag a starter for the first week of the playoffs and perhaps late in your draft.

– Axiom #9: Generally speaking, go for broke and ride a team to try to win – diversifying players across five teams just means you will finish in the middle of the pack — can’t lose but you can’t win. Especially after the first 8-10 rounds, double-up on players from teams that you already have.

– Axiom #10: I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it, but if it can be had cheap, drafting both kickers (for example) from a Week 1 wild card round match-up may be worth it to guarantee a kicker in Week 2 of the playoffs. You also could take players in general from the opposite team to guarantee a player in the next round of the playoffs in later rounds.

– Axiom #11: I would recommend drafting from the overall ranks below and use as a guide, but also use the by position ranks to keep track of who is left by position.

– Axiom #12: Week 1 skill-position players can always be had late and they are (very) cheap draft value in general – there are eight teams playing, there are a LOT of #3 WRs you can add or flex players – see Axiom #2.

– Axiom #13: Draft players and teams you want to root for in the playoffs.

 

Overall Ranks
1 QB Tom Brady
2 RB Ezekiel Elliott
3 RB Le’Veon Bell
4 QB Matt Ryan
5 QB Ben Roethlisberger
6 RB Devonta Freeman
7 WR Antonio Brown
8 QB Aaron Rodgers
9 QB Russell Wilson
10 QB Dak Prescott
11 WR Julio Jones
12 WR Julian Edelman
13 RB LeGarrette Blount
14 WR Dez Bryant
15 WR Jordy Nelson
16 WR Doug Baldwin
17 RB Tevin Coleman
18 QB Eli Manning
19 WR Odell Beckham Jr.
20 WR Tyreek Hill
21 WR Davante Adams
22 K Stephen Gostkowski
23 TE Martellus Bennett
24 QB Alex Smith
25 TE Jimmy Graham
26 DT New England DT
27 WR Cole Beasley
28 RB Thomas Rawls
29 K Matt Bryant
30 QB Matthew Stafford
31 RB Dion Lewis
32 RB Lamar Miller
33 WR Taylor Gabriel
34 RB James White
35 WR DeAndre Hopkins
36 TE Travis Kelce
37 RB Spencer Ware
38 WR Mohamed Sanu
39 K Dan Bailey
40 WR Michael Floyd
41 WR Chris Hogan
42 WR Eli Rogers
43 DT Pittsburgh DT
44 TE Jason Witten
45 K Chris Boswell
46 RB Jay Ajayi
47 TE Ladarius Green
48 QB Brock Osweiler
49 WR Ty Montgomery
50 WR Jermaine Kearse
51 WR Randall Cobb
52 DT Seattle DT
53 WR Sterling Shepard
54 QB Matt Moore
55 K Steven Hauschka
56 DT Dallas DT
57 WR Terrance Williams
58 DT Atlanta DT
59 RB Latavius Murray
60 RB Rashad Jennings
61 DT Kansas City DT
62 DT New York Giants DT
63 K Mason Crosby
64 WR Golden Tate
65 WR Jarvis Landry
66 TE C.J. Fiedorowicz
67 RB Zach Zenner
68 TE Eric Ebron
69 RB Paul Perkins
70 WR Marvin Jones
71 K Cairo Santos
72 WR Amari Cooper
73 WR Anquan Boldin
74 WR Michael Crabtree
75 WR Malcolm Mitchell
76 RB Charcandrick West
77 WR Will Fuller
78 K Nick Novak
79 DT Green Bay DT
80 WR Jeremy Maclin
81 WR Geronimo Allison
82 WR Paul Richardson
83 RB Aaron Ripkowski
84 WR Victor Cruz
85 DT Houston DT
86 TE Jared Cook
87 WR Justin Hardy
88 TE Austin Hooper
89 WR Kenny Stills
90 K Matt Prater
91 RB DeAngelo Williams
92 TE Jesse James
93 WR DeVante Parker
94 RB Jalen Richard
95 RB Alfred Blue
96 TE Ryan Griffin
97 TE Will Tye
98 WR Aldrick Robinson
99 DT Detroit DT
100 DT Miami DT
101 WR Chris Conley
102 K Robbie Gould
103 WR Brice Butler
104 WR Albert Wilson
105 K Sebastian Janikowski
106 TE Richard Rodgers
107 TE Luke Willson
108 RB Christine Michael
109 K Andrew Franks
110 RB Alex Collins
111 WR Seth Roberts
112 TE Dion Sims
113 DT Oakland DT
114 WR Braxton Miller
115 TE Xavier Grimble
116 RB Darren McFadden
117 RB Kenyan Drake
118 RB C.J. Prosise
119 WR Sammie Coates
120 WR Cobi Hamilton
121 WR Tanner McEnvoy
122 RB DeAndre Washington
123 TE Clive Walford
124 TE Levine Toilolo
125 RB Akeem Hunt
126 RB Jamize Olawale
127 RB Terron Ward
128 RB Dwayne Washington
129 WR Andre Roberts
130 TE Demetrius Harris
131 TE Jerell Adams
132 WR Lucky Whitehead
133 QB Connor Cook
134 RB Jonathan Grimes
135 WR Andre Roberts
136 TE Joshua Perkins
137 QB Tony Romo
138 RB Alfred Morris
139 WR Keith Mumphrey
140 QB Tom Savage
141 WR Rodger Lewis
142 TE Stephen Anderson
143 RB James Starks
144 WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
145 TE Gavin Escobar
146 QB Ryan Tannehill
147 RB Bobby Rainey
148 RB Knile Davis
149 TE Mychal Rivera
150 RB Lamce Dunbar
151 RB Fitzgerald Toussaint
152 WR T.J. Jones
153 WR Dwayne Harris
154 WR De’Anthony Thomas
155 RB Troymaine Pope

 

Quarterback
1 QB Tom Brady
2 QB Matt Ryan
3 QB Ben Roethlisberger
4 QB Aaron Rodgers
5 QB Russell Wilson
6 QB Dak Prescott
7 QB Eli Manning
8 QB Alex Smith
9 QB Matthew Stafford
10 QB Brock Osweiler
11 QB Matt Moore
12 QB Connor Cook
13 QB Tony Romo
14 QB Tom Savage
15 QB Ryan Tannehill

 

Running Back
1 RB Ezekiel Elliott
2 RB Le’Veon Bell
3 RB Devonta Freeman
4 RB LeGarrette Blount
5 RB Tevin Coleman
6 RB Thomas Rawls
7 RB Dion Lewis
8 RB Lamar Miller
9 RB James White
10 RB Spencer Ware
11 RB Jay Ajayi
12 RB Latavius Murray
13 RB Rashad Jennings
14 RB Zach Zenner
15 RB Paul Perkins
16 RB Charcandrick West
17 RB Aaron Ripkowski
18 RB DeAngelo Williams
19 RB Jalen Richard
20 RB Alfred Blue
21 RB Christine Michael
22 RB Alex Collins
23 RB Darren McFadden
24 RB Kenyan Drake
25 RB C.J. Prosise
26 RB DeAndre Washington
27 RB Akeem Hunt
28 RB Jamize Olawale
29 RB Terron Ward
30 RB Dwayne Washington
31 RB Jonathan Grimes
32 RB Alfred Morris
33 RB James Starks
34 RB Bobby Rainey
35 RB Knile Davis
36 RB Lamce Dunbar
37 RB Fitzgerald Toussaint
38 RB Troymaine Pope

 

Wide Receiver
1 WR Antonio Brown
2 WR Julio Jones
3 WR Julian Edelman
4 WR Dez Bryant
5 WR Jordy Nelson
6 WR Doug Baldwin
7 WR Odell Beckham Jr.
8 WR Tyreek Hill
9 WR Davante Adams
10 WR Cole Beasley
11 WR Taylor Gabriel
12 WR DeAndre Hopkins
13 WR Mohamed Sanu
14 WR Michael Floyd
15 WR Chris Hogan
16 WR Eli Rogers
17 WR Ty Montgomery
18 WR Jermaine Kearse
19 WR Randall Cobb
20 WR Sterling Shepard
21 WR Terrance Williams
22 WR Golden Tate
23 WR Jarvis Landry
24 WR Marvin Jones
25 WR Amari Cooper
26 WR Anquan Boldin
27 WR Michael Crabtree
28 WR Malcolm Mitchell
29 WR Will Fuller
30 WR Jeremy Maclin
31 WR Geronimo Allison
32 WR Paul Richardson
33 WR Victor Cruz
34 WR Justin Hardy
35 WR Kenny Stills
36 WR DeVante Parker
37 WR Aldrick Robinson
38 WR Chris Conley
39 WR Brice Butler
40 WR Albert Wilson
41 WR Seth Roberts
42 WR Braxton Miller
43 WR Sammie Coates
44 WR Cobi Hamilton
45 WR Tanner McEnvoy
46 WR Andre Roberts
47 WR Lucky Whitehead
48 WR Andre Roberts
49 WR Keith Mumphrey
50 WR Rodger Lewis
51 WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
52 WR T.J. Jones
53 WR Dwayne Harris
54 WR De’Anthony Thomas

 

Tight End
1 TE Martellus Bennett
2 TE Jimmy Graham
3 TE Travis Kelce
4 TE Jason Witten
5 TE Ladarius Green
6 TE C.J. Fiedorowicz
7 TE Eric Ebron
8 TE Jared Cook
9 TE Austin Hooper
10 TE Jesse James
11 TE Ryan Griffin
12 TE Will Tye
13 TE Richard Rodgers
14 TE Luke Willson
15 TE Dion Sims
16 TE Xavier Grimble
17 TE Clive Walford
18 TE Levine Toilolo
19 TE Demetrius Harris
20 TE Jerell Adams
21 TE Joshua Perkins
22 TE Stephen Anderson
23 TE Gavin Escobar
24 TE Mychal Rivera

 

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

 

Defense
1 New England DT
2 Pittsburgh DT
3 Seattle DT
4 Dallas DT
5 Atlanta DT
6 Kansas City DT
7 New York Giants DT
8 Green Bay DT
9 Houston DT
10 Detroit DT
11 Miami DT
12 Oakland DT