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Rich Hribar

Postseason Rankings

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Wild Card Round Rankings

Thursday, January 3, 2019


For those of you that are trying to cram in every morsel of fantasy football that the 2018 season has to offer, playoff pools and DFS for postseason games are kicking off 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. Is this the week David Moore reemerges and catches multiple touchdowns? Nyheim Hines tacks on several receptions? The Eagles remember they traded for Golden Tate?  A Ravens wide receiver is useful? A lot can happen to swing these short slates. 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. Andrew Luck (@ HOU): This is a fun slate for quarterback options, with lots of mobile passers available. The best of this group is still Luck, however. Luck racked Houston twice this season, throwing for 464 yards and four touchdowns (35.7 fantasy points) in their Week 4 meeting in Indianapolis and then threw for 399 yards and two touchdowns (23.6 points) when these teams just met in Houston in Week 14. Houston is legit against the run but has struggled to defend the pass. Prior to shutting down Blake Bortles in Week 17, Houston had allowed opposing passers to average 364.6 passing yards per game over their previous five games.

 

2. Deshaun Watson (vs IND): This is the game we’re highlighting for shootout potential as it has the highest game total (47.5 points) on the slate. As Houston’s pass defense has limped to the finish line, Watson has had a volume spike. Over the final five weeks of the season, Watson averaged 34.4 pass attempts per game after having a six-game streak with 25 or fewer pass attempts prior. That’s turned into more passing yardage, with Watson averaging 271.6 passing yards per game over that stretch. Surprisingly, Watson has thrown more than two touchdown passes just once all season, but he’s also gotten back to using his legs a lot, averaging 46 rushing yards per game over his past six games four rushing scores. Watson posted 31.1 and 18.2 fantasy points in the two meetings these teams had during the regular season.

 

3. Mitchell Trubisky (vs PHI): Quarterbacks 3-6 are very tight in terms of baseline projections, but I believe Trubisky has the highest upside. Trubisky hasn’t played great since returning from his shoulder injury in Week 14, passing for 188.5 yards per game with just four touchdown passes. But Trubisky has been his best in Chicago. At home, Trubisky has thrown 19 of his 24 touchdown passes while also rushing for 38.6 yards per game as opposed to just five passing scores and 18.7 rushing yards per game on the road.  The Eagles have really struggled versus mobile passers, allowing big games to Cam Newton (25.7 points), Marcus Mariota (30.4 points), Blake Bortles (19.7 points) and Deshaun Watson (36.5 points). Trubisky has overall QB1 upside on this slate, but also a bit more variance from his ceiling to floor performance than the top two options.

 

4. Lamar Jackson (vs LAC): Jackson has been rock solid as a starting fantasy option, averaging 18.6 fantasy points per game over his seven starts with a low point of just 15.7 points. That includes the 16.1 fantasy points that Jackson scored in Week 16 against this Chargers team on the road.  Last week was the first time that we had a true glimpse of his ceiling as he notched 26.2 points and nearly had two more rushing touchdowns in that game as he failed to extend the ball over the goal line on a fumble and then had a 38-yard touchdown run get called back to a questionable penalty. While Jackson has a solid floor here, there are few things at play. For one, the Chargers will be the first team that the Ravens play for a second time with Jackson under center, allowing them to adjust to the unique run game that Baltimore has deployed as they’ve transitioned to Jackson. Second, the Chargers did a pretty good job in their first meeting limiting Jackson on the ground in the first place, allowing him to run for just 39 yards while he’s run for at least 67 yards in all of his other six starts. Jackson's median output has been so sturdy so far through seven starts, that he's ranked here for floor purposes.

 

5. Dak Prescott (vs SEA): Prescott is another quarterback with extreme home splits this season. At home, Prescott threw 14 of his 22 touchdown passes with averaging 8.0 yards per pass attempt as opposed to 6.8 Y/A on the road. Prescott carries rushing upside, but he hasn't been using his legs much at all, posting single-digit rushing yardage in six of his past eight games. Seattle is not a defense that causes concern for a solid game as they allowed 17 or more fantasy points to seven of the final 10 passers they faced during the regular season. But a potential hang up is game pace as Seattle opponents average just 59.7 offensive plays per game (which ranks 30th in the league) and Prescott has struggled in two career games against this defensive scheme. In two career meetings against Seattle, Prescott has thrown just one touchdown to four interceptions with 181 and 168 yards passing in each of those contests. 

 

6. Russell Wilson (@ DAL): Only Patrick Mahomes averaged more fantasy passing points per attempt (.655) than Wilson (.618) this season. The issue with Wilson from a fantasy ceiling stance is that overall volume. However, forcing him to always remain hyper-efficient to produce large lines. Wilson has completed 18 or fewer passes in four of his past five games.  The Cowboys have not allowed opposing passers to live on touchdown production this season, allowing more than two touchdown passes in a game just once all season long.  As hinted at with Prescott, this Seattle versus Dallas game also has potential to be extremely slow paced given how both teams play. These teams met all the way back in Week 3 and Wilson went 16-of-26 for 192 yards and two touchdowns with 15.6 fantasy points.

 

7. Philip Rivers (@ BAL): After rolling through the league for three months, Rivers hit a lull to end the season. In five December starts, Rivers threw six touchdowns to six interceptions while averaging just 7.3 yards per pass attempt. Over that span, he averaged just 237.8 passing yards per game. That includes a 181-yard performance in Week 16 against this Ravens defense at home, which was the only game all season in which he failed to throw a touchdown pass. The Ravens allowed just 13.7 passing points per game (fifth) during the regular season, making this an uphill battle for Rivers to begin with, let alone post a large point total. The Ravens also just neutralize play volume with Jackson under center, running 98 more plays than their opponents over Jackson’s seven starts, the largest differential in the league.

 

8. Nick Foles (@ CHI): The Bears allowed just four opposing quarterbacks to have 16-plus fantasy points in a game this season while just three hit the 20-point mark. Chicago closed the regular season allowing just 12.5 passing points per game (fourth) while leading the entire league in passing points allowed per pass attempt (.306). Sometimes a contrarian play will break through on a short slate, but there’s not much to go objectively here to push the button on Foles.

 


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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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