Last Updated: December 31st at 5:58pm ET

 

Playoff fantasy football challenges us to think beyond player performance. In order to be successful, we need to also correctly factor in how many games a player will appear in. So while we’re of course thinking about injuries, depth chart changes, matchups and likeliest gameplans — we also need to think about who will win.

The rankings you’ll find below answer a simple question: Who will score the most fantasy points this playoff season? This is for a half-PPR format, but frankly there would be minimal changes for full-PPR or non-PPR.

In order to develop these rankings, we projected how many games each team would play. We did this using betting market data and slightly adjusted for our opinions. Here are our projections:

 

EXPECTED GAMES PLAYED
RAVENS: 2.33
SAINTS: 2.23
49ERS: 2.16
PATRIOTS: 1.97
CHIEFS: 1.96
SEAHAWKS: 1.81
PACKERS: 1.72
TEXANS: 1.71
EAGLES: 1.71
BILLS: 1.54
TITANS: 1.49
VIKINGS: 1.37

 

Editor’s Note: We will be adding more playoff-only content soon, including an overall Top-50, Silva’s Matchups, Thorn’s OL rankings, Thursday night show and more.

 

 

QUARTERBACK

TIER 1
1. Lamar Jackson — Ravens lead our expected games played category. Jackson’s likeliest first two games are potential shootouts against the Texans and Chiefs.

 

TIER 2
2. Drew Brees — Opener is ideal home spot against flammable Vikings secondary. A win means a date with Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau.

3. Patrick Mahomes — Won’t be easy if path is Patriots and then Ravens. But Mahomes is mostly matchup-proof; he put 30.9 DK points on the Ravens in Week 3 and 295 yards plus three TDs on the Pats in last year’s AFC Championship Game.

 

TIER 3
4. Russell Wilson — With only Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch at RB, will Seahawks finally unleash Wilson? The 40 attempts plus eight rush attempts in Week 17 were encouraging.

5. Deshaun Watson — Painful matchups. First up is a Bills team ranked 3rd in pass defense DVOA. If Texans win, likeliest Round 2 opponent is a Ravens team ranked 4th in pass defense DVOA.

6. Jimmy Garoppolo — 49ers would prefer to win with run game, but Jimmy G has flashed a ceiling when needed this season. Third-best games played projection helps.

7. Aaron Rodgers — Real danger of being one-and-done as likeliest Divisional Round opponent is Saints. Rodgers was also under 20 DK points in 11-of-16 games this season.

 

TIER 4
8. Tom Brady
— Has scored more than 18 DK points just once in his last nine games.

9. Carson Wentz — Lack of weapons combined with underdog status at home in Round 1.

10. Josh Allen — Good spot for opener at struggling Texans defense, but still just 1.54 expected games.

 

TIER 5
11. Ryan Tannehill
— Not only are the Titans at just 1.49 expected games, but their opener is against the NFL’s top-ranked DVOA pass defense.

 

TIER 6
12. Kirk Cousins — Brutally low 1.36 expected games. Path to upside is pulling an upset in a shootout at the Coors Field of the NFL.

13. Taysom Hill — We know Sean Payton will be drawing up plays in high-leverage situations for Taysom. 

 

 

 

RUNNING BACK

TIER 1
1. Alvin Kamara — Second-best expected games projection and massive floor thanks to pass-game role.

 

TIER 2
2. Damien Williams — Chiefs have soured on LeSean McCoy and don’t trust Darwin Thompson for extended burn. Darell Williams and Spencer Ware are on IR. That leaves Damien as the man.

3. Mark Ingram (Q, calf) — Ingram says calf should be ready for Divisional Round, but we don’t know for sure. Adjust ranking based on news.

4. Aaron Jones — If Jamaal Williams (shoulder) isn’t back for Divisional Round, Jones will get big boost. Packers expected games of just 1.72 is a concern.

 

TIER 3
5. Raheem Mostert — Has separated from Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida, but this remains a 3-man committee. And Mostert has seen a total of seven targets in his last four games.

6. Derrick Henry — The Big Dog will be the centerpiece of Titans’ gameplan at Foxboro. If they advance, he’ll almost certainly have a big game.

 

TIER 4

7. Dalvin Cook — Mild concerns over shoulder. Bigger concern over slate-worst expected games played.

8. Sony Michel — At least 18 carries in three straight games. But total zero in pass game and will lose some work to Rex Burkhead plus James White.

9. Devin Singletary — In Week 16, Singeltary out-snapped Frank Gore 52-2. He’ll be an every-down back at Houston Saturday.

10. James White — Averaging just 4.7 targets per game over last month. But that’s a threat to spike in certain game-flows and gameplans.

 

TIER 5
11. Miles Sanders (P, ankle) — Sanders was unable to return in Week 17 after spraining ankle. But, Eagles are optimistic he’ll play Sunday. Jordan Howard (shoulder) may be ready to contribute, while Boston Scott should continue to get work.

12. Latavius Murray — At least nine touches in four straight games. Saints have second-best expected games projection.

13. Travis Homer — Due to injuries, Homer is now Seattle’s lead back. In Week 17 he played on 50-of-75 snaps, ran 30 routes on 48 Russ Wilson dropbacks, saw 45% of the RB carries and 100% of the RB targets.

TIER 6

14. Boston Scott — Impressive in relief of Miles Sanders (ankle) in Week 17. Shift ranking based on status of both Sanders and Jordan Howard (shoulder).

15. Gus Edwards — Major upside if Mark Ingram (calf) can’t go or aggravates. Averaged 5.3 YPC on 133 carries this season.

16. Carlos Hyde — A total zero in pass game, but best way to beat Buffalo is running it up gut. Hyde has double-digit carries in his last five full games.

17. Jamaal Williams (Q, shoulder) — Unclear how severe injury is. When healthy, has handled at least 35% of the RB work on a weekly basis.

18. Tevin Coleman — Fighting with Matt Breida for scraps behind Raheem Mostert. But, expected games projection is strong.

19. Rex Burkhead — Direct backup to both Sony Michel and James White. Has resulted in 6.0 carries and 2.0 targets per game over the last month.

20. Marshawn Lynch — Emerged from retirement in Week 17 to play a short-yardage and pounder role behind Travis Homer.

21. Jordan Howard (P, shoulder) — Was “active” in Week 17 but played just one snap even though Miles Sanders (ankle) went down early.

22. Duke Johnson — Frustratingly averaged just 5.1 carries and 3.8 targets per game this season. Role never spiked.

23. Justice Hill — Flashy rookie would get a big boost if Mark Ingram (calf) can’t go or aggravates.

24. Matt Breida — Fighting with Tevin Coleman for scraps behind Raheem Mostert.

 

TIER 7
25. Darwin Thompson — Appears to be the no-doubt No. 2 RB behind Damien Williams. But still a bit role.

26. Alexander Mattison (P, ankle) — Ankle should be fine for Wild Card game, but expect Vikings to lean hard on Dalvin Cook.

27. Frank Gore — Played just two snaps in pivotal Week 16 game, then played entire first half with the backups in Week 17.

 

 

 

WIDE RECEIVER

TIER 1
1. Michael Thomas — NFL’s record-holder for receptions in a season gets an atrocious Vikings secondary at home to start. Third-best expected games projection.

 

TIER 2
2. Tyreek Hill — Matchups are tough, but on top of this tier thanks to expected games projection.

3. Davante Adams — At least 10 targets in eight of last nine games. Biggest concern is a one-and-done scenario via a home loss to the Saints.

 

TIER 3
4. DeAndre Hopkins — Brutal path, as noted under Deshaun Watson.

5. Julian Edelman — Knee and shoulder injuries have been a problem over last three weeks, where Edelman has totaled just 10 targets. Unclear how healthy he’ll be Sunday.

6. Tyler Lockett — Injuries to the run game open a ceiling for Lockett, who is now fully over the illness that crippled him in second half of year.

7.  Deebo Samuel — YAC machine gets looks in both the run and pass game.

8. Emmanuel Sanders — Excellent expected games played projection, but has been outplayed by Deebo Samuel.

9. DK Metcalf — Playmaking rookie would benefit greatly from increased Russ Wilson attempts.

 

TIER 4
10. A.J. Brown — Wildly impressive rookie year, but has worst possible matchup in Round 1 (at Foxoboro) and has second-worst games played projection. Even if Titans win, they’d get Ravens next.

11. John Brown — Excellent Wild Card matchup for Smokey on Houston’s fast track.

12. Marquise Brown — Very quiet since Week 1, but Ravens have best games played projection and Brown should be as healthy as he’s been all season.

13. Stefon Diggs — Would take an upset of the Saints in New Orleans for Diggs to find a ceiling.

14. Adam Thielen — Still injured? Thielen totaled 3-27-0 in two games since coming back from hamstring pull.

15. Greg Ward — Eagles’ No. 1 wideout has 4+ catches in five of his six NFL games.

 

TIER 5
16. Sammy Watkins — Production somehow not there despite being locked as Patrick Mahomes’ No. 2 WR. Zero touchdowns or games with more than 64 yards since Week 1.

17. Cole Beasley — Rough expected games projection, but has averaged 8.2 targets over last five games. And he raps.

18. Allen Lazard — Coming on as the No. 2 for Aaron Rodgers. Has seen 17 targets in last two weeks.

19. Will Fuller (Q, hamstring) — Has repeatedly tried to come back, only to aggravate again.

20. Kenny Stills — Holds some value if Will Fuller plays. Will have good opportunity (albeit in tough matchup) if Fuller sits.

21. Willie Snead — Lamar Jackson’s No. 2 WR. Expected games played makes Snead a sleeper.

22. Mohamed Sanu — Struggling to get open for Tom Brady. Will he lose snaps to N’Keal Harry?

23. Tre’Quan Smith — A playmaker who always sees single coverage. 

 

TIER 6
24. N’Keal Harry — With Mo Sanu struggling and Julian Edelman hurt, Harry’s role should grow.

25. Corey Davis — Has fallen far behind AJ Brown and has brutal matchups.

26. Demarcus Robinson — Only playing around half the snaps lately.

27. Mecole Hardman — Lightning-fast rookie is shot out of a cannon on every touch. Expect Andy Reid to scheme a few chances for him during bye week.

 

TIER 7
28. David Moore — Stepping in as No. 3 WR now that Josh Gordon is gone and Jaron Brown is banged up.

29. Kendrick Bourne — 49ers’ No. 3 wideout needs SF to get into shootouts to have a real role.

30. Geronimo Allison — Has fallen behind Allen Lazard on target totem pole.

31. Seth Roberts — A rotational wideout for Lamar Jackson.

32. Robert Davis — Moved ahead of JJ Arcega-Whiteside for the Eagles’ No. 2 wideout job last week.

33. Ted Ginn — Role diminishing, but still a threat for a bomb.

34. Phillip Dorsett — Has played a total of 27 snaps in last three weeks.

 

 

 

TIGHT END

TIER 1
1. George Kittle — Third-best in expected games played, but tied with Travis Kelce for most fantasy points per game.

2. Travis Kelce — Path not great as Kelce likeliest to see Patriots and then Ravens. But raw talent can easily win out.

3. Mark Andrews — Was sixth in fantasy points per game, but has best expected games projection for playoffs. 

 

TIER 2
4. Jared Cook — Quietly seeing extremely high-value targets as Saints line Cook up wide and send him vertical.

5. Dallas Goedert — Unclear if Zach Ertz (ribs) will be able to play. Goedert is fine as the 1B tight end, but pops big as the 1A.

6. Zach Ertz* (Q, ribs) — Status completely in the air as of Monday. A problem, especially once we factor in fourth-worst projected games played.

*Note: Ertz is looking very iffy this weekend, his position here reflects where we’d have him if he plays. He’s behind Goedert due to likely being limited if he plays, with significant re-injury risk. He would move out of the top 50 if he’s out for the Wild Card Round and only be draftable in mid Tier-5 in deep drafts.

 

TIER 3
7. Jacob Hollister — Near every-down role for Seahawks. Averaging 5.3 targets per game.

8. Jimmy Graham — Father time has beaten Graham, who managed just 38 catches in 16 games.

9. Josh Perkins (if Zach Ertz out) — Given all the injuries to Eagles WRs plus Zach Ertz, Perkins quietly a featured player. Can line up slot/wide.

 

TIER 4
10. Kyle Rudolph — Obvious red-zone favorite of Kirk Cousins.

11. Jordan Akins — Only projects for 2-4 targets, but did have at least two catches in 11 games this season.

 

TIER 5
12. Darren Fells — Touchdown-dependent red-zone option for Deshaun Watson.

13. Jonnu Smith — Talented athlete who is asked to block far too often. Still, has ability to make big plays.

14. Nick Boyle — Caught 31 balls this season as the every-down, in-line tight end.

15. Josh Hill — Goal-line option for Drew Brees. Touchdown or bust.

16. Dawson Knox — Talented rookie with a plus Wild Card matchup.

17. Irv Smith — Athletic rookie can make splash plays on limited touches.

18. Ben Watson — 39-year-old only projects to run 13-20 routes.