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Fantasy Playoff Wild Card And Full Rankings

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Aaron Rodgers returned just in time to lead the Packers and fantasy playoff teams deep into the postseason. Photo by David Banks/Getty Images
Aaron Rodgers returned just in time to lead the Packers and fantasy playoff teams deep into the postseason. Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

No, you've heard wrong! No matter what the masses are telling you, the fantasy football season is not over. There are numerous ways to keep the dream and fun alive during the NFL playoffs. I'll be posting playoff rankings over the next three weeks (the championship round and Super Bowl combined) for just that reason... there is still fantasy fortunes at stake! Make sure you read completely through this first week's piece. I have also included the rankings for the entire playoffs, not just the Wild Card Round, at the end. Best of luck!

Quarterbacks

Rank Player Team
1 Drew Brees NO
2 Nick Foles  PHI
3 Aaron Rodgers  GB
4 Colin Kaepernick  SF
5 Andy Dalton  CIN
6 Alex Smith  KC
7 Andrew Luck  IND
8 Philip Rivers  SD

We've heard plenty about Drew Brees' and the Saints struggles on the road. However, it wasn't all bad. Brees did average 316.5 passing yards with 10 touchdowns in road games not involving the Seahawks or Panthers. In addition, no team allowed more passing attempts (670) or yards (4,907) than the Eagles.

Those factors for Brees, plus the Saints improved defense is what gives Brees the edge over Nick Foles, even with the amazing success of the Eagles offense. While the Eagles offense is averaging more touchdowns than the Broncos(!) since Foles took over, the Saints allowed the second lowest amount of passing attempts (505) and fourth fewest touchdowns (20). Foles and the Eagles are terrific, but Brees is the slightly better bet for the Wild Card Round.

It's a near coin-flip with Aaron Rodgers and Colin Kaepernick… this week. Rodgers is at home and few teams have the offensive firepower of the Packers, but Eddie Lacy is a true feature back who will see touches and the 49ers defense is still formidable. Meanwhile, the 49ers have abused the Packers defense. Over the last three games (all wins), the 49ers are averaging 36.3 PPG. Granted, all three games were at home, but one game saw Alex Smith at quarterback, and Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns to kick off this season against the Pack. Home, frigid weather, playoff atmosphere game for Green Bay? Edge to Rodgers.

Andy Dalton finished the season on somewhat of a tear, but it's those four interceptions last week that keep him from the top tier of options. While Dalton finished as the fifth best fantasy quarterback, he had more games with 15 or less points than he did with over 15 (nine to seven). Prior to the Week 16 Colts matchup, Smith had 14 touchdowns in five games, which included a 294-yards three-TD effort against the Chargers at home. Even though the Colts handled the Chiefs in Kansas City just two weeks ago with a 23-7 win, Andrew Luck still only threw for 241 yards and one touchdown. Philip Rivers could be forced to throw a lot in this game, but the Bengals defense against quarterbacks is the fifth toughest and they forced the fourth most interceptions (20).

Running Backs

Rank Standard Player Team
1 Jamaal Charles  KC
2 LeSean McCoy  PHI
3 Eddie Lacy  GB
4 Frank Gore  SF
5 Ryan Mathews  SD
6 Giovani Bernard  CIN
7 Donald Brown  IND
8 Pierre Thomas  NO
9 Danny Woodhead  SD
10 BenJarvus Green-Ellis  CIN
11 Trent Richardson  IND
12 Darren Sproles  NO
13 James Starks  GB
14 Mark Ingram  NO
15 Bryce Brown  PHI
16 Kendall Hunter  SF
17 Knile Davis  KC
18 Chris Polk  PHI
19 Khiry Robinson  NO
20 John Kuhn  GB

Take your pick of studs here. Obviously, Charles has been the best fantasy option not named Peyton Manning this year, but LeSean McCoy isn't far behind. Last time Charles saw Indy, he rushed for 106 yards on 13 carries while scoring in his fifth straight game. With a week of rest in preparation for the WC game, Charles is the top choice. While Charles lit up the fantasy scoreboards, McCoy led the league in rushing and averaged nearly 20 carries per game (over two more than Charles). These two running backs should be the first ones off the board.

The next pair faces each other, and while Eddie Lacy faces the tougher defense, he's the superior running back at this point. The only thing that would derail Lacy at this point (or in the future for those looking ahead) is an (another) injury. Gore's expected workload allows for a high ranking, but it's about the time where I start thinking receiver instead. Ryan Mathews is having the season owners had wished for the past few seasons and is a solid bet even against the tough Bengals defense. Speaking of the Bengals, they're finally turning to Giovani Bernard more, as Gio is averaging nearly 13 carries since Week 10. While that's held steady, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis still saw plenty of work through Week 14, he dropped to four, 12 and 11 carries the last three weeks of the season. Bernard has more explosiveness and upside, while we hope BJGE can find the end zone for value. Although, that's a decent bet for BJGE, as the Chargers have allowed 1.3 rushing touchdowns per game since its bye – basically, all of their rushing touchdowns allowed happened after their bye. It's hard to know who to trust more in the Colts backfield, but Donald Brown has been more consistent and gets the edge. Danny Woodhead lost value as the season wore on and Mathews continued his great play; Woodhead obviously has more "real" value in a PPR format.

Wide Receivers

Rank Standard Player Team
1 A.J. Green  CIN
2 Jordy Nelson  GB
3 DeSean Jackson  PHI
4 Marques Colston  NO
5 Keenan Allen  SD
6 Anquan Boldin  SF
7 Randall Cobb  GB
8 T.Y. Hilton  IND
9 Michael Crabtree  SF
10 Riley Cooper  PHI
11 Dwayne Bowe  KC
12 James Jones  GB
13 Marvin Jones  CIN
14 Eddie Royal  SD
15 Lance Moore  NO
16 Kenny Stills  NO
17 Jarrett Boykin  GB
18 Donnie Avery  KC
19 Da'Rick Rogers  IND
20 Vincent Brown  SD
21 Dexter McCluster  KC
22 Mohamed Sanu  CIN
23 Jason Avant  PHI
24 Griff Whalen  IND
25 Robert Meachem  NO
26 Andrew Hawkins  CIN
27 LaVon Brazill  IND
28 Quinton Patton  SF

Back to the Chargers defense, check out what they allowed to receivers: the fourth most PPG, third most receptions, third most yards and fifth most touchdowns. A.J. Green finished fourth in PPG, sixth in receptions, fifth in yards and fourth in touchdowns. Hmm, think Green is set up for a huge game? After Green, feel free to wait a round or take the cheapest option for salary leagues with the next quartet of receivers. Both DeSean Jackson and Marques Colston have huge potential in a game primed for a shootout. Keenan Allen has an argument for rookie of the year and had 14 receptions and 215 yards in the two matchups with the Chiefs. Anquan Boldin has actually seen more attention and targets since Michael Crabtree returned, making him the better 49ers receiving option.

The next five receivers are similar to the previous four. Randall Cobb is the biggest boom/bust option on the list – his two touchdowns came on two targets – but another week of health is another week of Cobb nearing his early-season value. T.Y. Hilton is this year's Doug Martin. In five games (Weeks 2, 5, 9, 10 and 17), Hilton scored an astounding 72.7 percent of his points! That's right. In Hilton's other 11 games, he had just 36 points, or 3.3 per game. The same goes for Cooper. In four games, Cooper scored 63.8 percent of his points, led by his 32 and 22-point efforts in Weeks 9-10. Granted, Cooper didn't see much work or break out until Week 6, but it's still worth your attention. The next large group of receivers – from Dwayne Bowe to Jarrett Boykin – is largely touchdown reliant.

Tight Ends

Rank Standard Player Team
1 Jimmy Graham  NO
2 Vernon Davis  SF
3 Antonio Gates  SD
4 Zach Ertz  PHI
5 Coby Fleener  IND
6 Brent Celek  PHI
7 Jermaine Gresham  CIN
8 Andrew Quarless  GB
9 Tyler Eifert  CIN
10 Ladarius Green  SD
11 Anthony Fasano  KC
12 Sean McGrath  KC

Bleh! That's all I can say about the tight ends for Wild Card weekend. After Jimmy Graham, it's ugly. That's UG-LY… emphasized and extended pause version. Since Crabtree's return, Vernon Davis has an average of 4.6 targets and 2.8 receptions. The touchdowns have been his only saving grace, and both that potential against Green Bay and the dearth of options after him rank him second.

Antonio Gates is the opposite of Davis in that he can't find the end zone. Maybe it's hiding with Manti Te'o's girlfriend? Sorry, had to ring in the New Year with one last Lennay Kekua reference. Zach Ertz has nice upside, but it's hard to know if Brent Celek or he will be the beneficiary of Foles' red zone targets. Coby Fleener fell off late in the season similar to Gates, and Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert will share targets once again, as both should return to the field.

Kickers

Rank Player Team
1 Nick Novak  SD
2 Alex Henery  PHI
3 Phil Dawson  SF
4 Adam Vinatieri  IND
5 Shayne Graham  NO
6 Mason Crosby  GB
7 Mike Nugent  CIN
8 Ryan Succop  KC

Defenses

Rank Team
1 Kansas City Chiefs 
2 Cincinnati Bengals 
3 San Francisco 49ers 
4 Indianapolis Colts 
5 Green Bay Packers 
6 Philadelphia Eagles 
7 San Diego Chargers 
8 New Orleans Saints 

Full Playoff Rankings

These always come down to which teams you believe will advance each round and play the most games. When you factor in the scoring multipliers on many sites, it becomes even more vital to pick as many Super Bowl players as possible. Of course, you want to hedge your bets a bit, as seen by Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy fourth and fifth at running back, even though I have the Eagles being one-and-done and the Chiefs winning just one game. If my picks don't come to fruition, I'm still in great shape with either of those should they advance further.

For reference, I'm sticking with my pick of a Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl, which should be fairly evident by the rankings. I can't bet against the Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the playoffs and have them losing to the Broncos. In the NFC, I believe the Packers make a similar run to their Super Bowl winning season, but fall just short in Seattle. Obviously, that means the 49ers are another one-and-done team along with the aforementioned Eagles, as well as the Colts and Chargers.

If you feel strongly that different teams will prevail, by all means, adjust my rankings for your fantasy squad. Again, more games mean more opportunity for fantasy production, meaning the last thing you want is a one-and-done player on your team.

Quarterbacks

Rank Player Team
1 Peyton Manning  DEN
2 Russell Wilson  SEA
3 Aaron Rodgers  GB
4 Drew Brees  NO
5 Tom Brady  NE
6 Andy Dalton  CIN
7 Alex Smith  KC
8 Cam Newton  CAR
9 Nick Foles  PHI
10 Colin Kaepernick  SF
11 Andrew Luck  IND
12 Philip Rivers  SD

Running Backs

Rank Player Team
1 Marshawn Lynch  SEA
2 Knowshon Moreno  DEN
3 Eddie Lacy  GB
4 Jamaal Charles  KC
5 LeSean McCoy  PHI
6 Giovani Bernard  CIN
7 Shane Vereen  NE
8 BenJarvus Green-Ellis  CIN
9 Frank Gore  SF
10 DeAngelo Williams  CAR
11 Montee Ball  DEN
12 Ryan Mathews  SD
13 Pierre Thomas  NO
14 Stevan Ridley  NE
15 Darren Sproles  NO
16 LeGarrette Blount  NE
17 Donald Brown  IND
18 Danny Woodhead  SD
19 James Starks  GB
20 Mike Tolbert  CAR
21 Trent Richardson  IND
22 Bryce Brown  PHI
23 Kendall Hunter  SF
24 Mark Ingram  NO
25 Ronnie Hillman  DEN
26 Robert Turbin  SEA
27 Chris Polk  PHI
28 Knile Davis  KC
29 Christine Michael  SEA
30 Brandon Bolden  NE
31 Jonathan Stewart  CAR
32 Anthony Dixon  SF
33 Khiry Robinson  NO
34 John Kuhn  GB
35 LaMichael James  SF

Wide Receivers

Rank Player Team
1 Demaryius Thomas  DEN
2 A.J. Green  CIN
3 Eric Decker  DEN
4 Jordy Nelson  GB
5 Wes Welker  DEN
6 Julian Edelman  NE
7 Randall Cobb  GB
8 Marques Colston  NO
9 Golden Tate  SEA
10 James Jones  GB
11 DeSean Jackson  PHI
12 Keenan Allen  SD
13 Anquan Boldin  SF
14 Dwayne Bowe  KC
15 Danny Amendola  NE
16 T.Y. Hilton  IND
17 Michael Crabtree  SF
18 Steve Smith  CAR
19 Marvin Jones  CIN
20 Doug Baldwin  SEA
21 Lance Moore  NO
22 Brandon LaFell  CAR
23 Mohamed Sanu  CIN
24 Donnie Avery  KC
25 Jarrett Boykin  GB
26 Riley Cooper  PHI
27 Aaron Dobson  NE
28 Ted Ginn Jr.  CAR
29 Kenbrell Thompkins  NE
30 Jermaine Kearse  SEA
31 Andre Caldwell  DEN
32 Kenny Stills  NO
33 Percy Harvin  SEA
34 Dexter McCluster  KC
35 Eddie Royal  SD
36 Da'Rick Rogers  IND
37 Vincent Brown  SD
38 Griff Whalen  IND
39 Jason Avant  PHI
40 LaVon Brazill  IND
41 Quinton Patton  SF
42 Robert Meachem  NO
43 Darrius Heyward-Bey  IND
44 Andrew Hawkins  CIN

Tight Ends

Rank Player Team
1 Julius Thomas  DEN
2 Jimmy Graham  NO
3 Greg Olsen  CAR
4 Vernon Davis  SF
5 Zach Miller  SEA
6 Zach Ertz  PHI
7 Coby Fleener  IND
8 Jermaine Gresham  CIN
9 Andrew Quarless  GB
10 Brent Celek  PHI
11 Tyler Eifert  CIN
12 Antonio Gates  SD
13 Luke Willson  SEA
14 Jacob Tamme  DEN
15 Ladarius Green  SD
16 Anthony Fasano  KC
17 Michael Hoomanawanui  NE
18 Sean McGrath  KC
19 Benjamin Watson  NO
20 Joel Dreessen  DEN

Kickers

Rank Player Team
1 Matt Prater  DEN
2 Steven Hauschka  SEA
3 Stephen Gostkowski  NE
4 Mason Crosby  GB
5 Mike Nugent  CIN
6 Graham Gano  CAR
7 Phil Dawson  SF
8 Shayne Graham  NO
9 Ryan Succop  KC
10 Alex Henery  PHI
11 Adam Vinatieri  IND
12 Nick Novak  SD

Defenses

Rank Team
1 Seattle Seahawks 
2 Denver Broncos 
3 Cincinnati Bengals 
4 Kansas City Chiefs 
5 Carolina Panthers 
6 San Francisco 49ers 
7 New England Patriots 
8 Green Bay Packers 
9 San Diego Chargers 
10 New Orleans Saints 
11 Indianapolis Colts 
12 Philadelphia Eagles