For those of you that are trying to cram in every morsel of fantasy football that the 2017 season must offer, playoff pools and DFS for postseason games are underway 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. 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.

 

Quarterbacks

 

1. Tom Brady (vs JAC)

2. Blake Bortles (@ NE)

3. Case Keenum (@ PHI)

4. Nick Foles (vs MIN)

 

Notes: There’s a large talent gap here from Tom Brady to the field. The Jaguars can create an interior pass rush that has been the udoing of Brady-led teams when they have lost in postseasons prior, but Jacksonville has also shown some vulnerability in terms of allowing fantasy production over the final leg of the season. Even outside of the pinball numbers Ben Roethlisberger posted last week against Jacksonville when the Steelers were in complete chase mode for three quarters, the Jaguars have given up some big fantasy games over the past six weeks, allowing Russell Wilson (24.8), Jimmy Garoppolo (22.9) to post over 20 points outside of that game by Roethlisberger. The quarterbacks that the Jaguars have stopped over that span are Tyrod Taylor, Marcus Mariota and T.J. Yates. Brady doesn’t have the rushing capability to add to his floor, but he’s still the best option at the position… Blake Bortles has scored at least 16 fantasy points in 10 of his past 12 games played. The Jaguars have protected Bortles over the past three weeks, but he could easily have the most passing volume of the field this weekend as he will undoubtedly be asked to make more plays than he has in the opening two rounds. Opposing passers are averaging 36.9 pass attempts per game against the Patriots while Bortles is averaging 3.1 rushing points per game on the year with 30 or more rushing yards in three of his past four games…Like Bortles, Case Keenum has been a solid floor play for fantasy, scoring at least 15 points in seven of his nine games since the Vikings’ Week 9 bye despite throwing for two or fewer touchdowns in eight straight games. Keenum struggled against pressure last week at home (3-of-11 passing) and goes on the road to face a defense than forced the most pressures in the league. Last week may have just been a blip, however, as Keenum was solid versus pressure during the regular season, ranking eighth in quarterback rating…Nick Foles has thrown one touchdown over his past 79 passes and gets a defense that allowed the fewest passing touchdowns and ranked second in yardage allowed per game in the NFL this season. The Vikings were a much tougher defense at home this season, but Foles has the lowest floor and ceiling from this collective group of passers.

 

Running Backs


1. Dion Lewis (vs JAC)

2. Leonard Fournette (@ NE)

3. Latavius Murray (@ PHI)

4. Jay Ajayi (vs MIN)

5. Jerick McKinnon (@ PHI)

6. T.J. Yeldon (@ NE)

7. Rex Burkhead (vs JAC)

8. James White (vs JAC)

9. LeGarrette Blount (vs MIN)

10. Corey Clement (vs MIN)

 

Notes: The Patriots should finally get Burkhead back on the field, but Dion Lewis has been too good to put back in the bottle. Lewis is the first NE player at any position to have at least 125 yards from scrimmage in three straight games since Curtis Martin in 1995. Lewis also has five or more receptions in four of the past five weeks. Even if Burkhead cuts into his scoring upside, we just watched Lewis miss out on three touchdowns from the New England backfield a week ago and still end up fine. Now that we’re reducing the number of options at the position, high yardage totals and is still relevant. Opposing running backs scored 41.4 percent of the fantasy points produced by skill position players versus Jacksonville during the regular season -the highest share in the league- and so far in the playoffs, the Jaguars have given up 119 total yards to LeSean McCoy and 155 yards to Le’Veon Bell… Leonard Fournette looked better in the first half last week than he had at any point over the past two months and is the easiest bet on the board at the position to push 20 plus touches this weekend. He has at least 21 touches in six straight games played. There is some déjà vu in play here as this is the second power back in a row that New England will face that is coming off a slump-busting game in terms of inefficiency. The Patriots run defense has tightened up a touch here, allowing 2.7 YPC to opposing backs over the past three weeks and they have allowed just one running back to rush for a touchdown over their past nine games…Latavius Murray led the NFL in carries and rushing touchdowns from inside of the 5-yard line over the final eight weeks of the regular season and he scored once again last weekend in the Divisional Round. He has at least 21 touches in four straight games to go along with that scoring upside as well. The slight downside is he is reliant on finding the end zone as he has more than two targets just once on the season and has reached 100-yards from scrimmage just three times on the year. But the Eagles has been giving up some production to backfields since their Week 10 bye. Over the eight games since that break, Alfred Morris (91 yards), Mike Davis (101), Todd Gurley (135), Marshawn Lynch (92), Ezekiel Elliott (141) and Tevin Coleman (93) have had at least 90 yards from scrimmage…Jay Ajayi’s 18 touches last week were his most since joining the Eagles and he’s chipped in over 40-yards receiving in two of his past three games played. The rub with Ajayi outside of a tough matchup against a Minnesota defenses that just allowed 68 yards rushing on 21 carries to a strong New Orleans running game is that Ajayi was lifted at the goal line a week ago for Blount…Jerick McKinnon has not held much a ceiling, topping 60-yards from scrimmage just once over his past nine games.  A big part of that has been the Vikings controlling games and not forced to use him out of the backfield as he has more than three receptions in just three of those nine contests…T.J. Yeldon has had 52, 77 and 77 total yards in three of his past four games with 15 receptions on 20 targets over those games. If the game gets away from the Jaguars, he could be in line to be a receptions-based play while the Patriots were 26th in receiving points allowed to opposing backfields…It’s tough to gauge how much Rex Burkhead will be used this weekend, but he is a scoring threat if active. Burkhead out-touched Lewis 7-1 inside of the 5-yard line from Weeks 10-15 prior to his injury…James White is dependent on Burkhead remaining out as he failed to play more than 17 snaps in three of the five full games that Burkhead played after the bye week…LeGarrette Blount is staying in the 7-9 touch range per game over the past month and is a touchdown or bust commodity.


 

Wide Receivers


1. Stefon Diggs (@ PHI)

2. Adam Thielen (@ PHI)

3. Brandin Cooks (vs JAC)

4. Marqise Lee (@ NE)

5. Nelson Agholor (vs MIN)

6. Chris Hogan (vs JAC)

7. Danny Amendola (vs JAC)

8. Alshon Jeffery (vs MIN)

9. Dede Westbrook (@ NE)

10. Jarius Wright (@ PHI)

11. Keelan Cole (@ NE)

12. Torrey Smith (vs MIN)

13. Allen Hurns (@ NE)

 

Notes: Stefon Diggs has five or more receptions in five straight games after reaching that mark four times over his first 10 games of the season. He also has found the end zone in four straight games while ranking second on the team in red zone targets since the Minnesota bye week… Adam Thielen ran a season-low 27.9 percent of his routes from the slot last week after running 51 percent of his routes from the slot during the regular season. The loss of those snaps takes away from his floor, but he still put up 6-74-0 on nine targets largely drawing Marshon Lattimore a week ago. Thielen is more than capable of given problems to both Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, but he has just one touchdown over his past seven games and is third on the team in red zoned looks (four) over that span…Brandin Cooks has just 17 receptions over his past six games and hasn’t reached 80-yards receiving in a game since Week 12. We can’t expect him to pile on catches here, but his upside is prevelant this weekend. Teams don’t often sustain drives against the Jaguars, but they have hit splash plays for touchdowns in the passing game against their aggressive secondary. After tying in allowing the most touchdown passes allowed from outside of the red zone in the regular season, the Jaguars came back and allowed three such receiving scores last week. The Jaguars trust their corners to make plays and Cooks will have a lot of one on one opportunities to connect on a big play. 33 percent of Cooks’ targets this season have come on throws 20 yards or further downfield, which ranks fifth in the league… Chris Hogan returned to play 83 percent of the team snaps, but the game plan was designed to attack the Titans with the backs out of the backfield and Amendola in the slot last weekend. Hogan now has five yards on nine targets since his Week 8 shoulder injury. Hogan was in the slot for 23 of his 47 routes a week ago, so for nearly half of his snaps. He’ll avoid both Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, but the Jaguars were far more vulnerable to vertical speed wideouts on the season… That rolls right into Danny Amendola. The Jaguars allowed just one primary slot receiver to reach 60-yards receiving in a game this season. It’s hard to really press for either Amendola or Hogan having a big game… When it comes to the Jaguars wideouts, Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee are the guys to concentrate on. Those are the two getting the starters snaps while Keelan Cole (22-of-61 snaps) and Allen Hurns (18 snaps) are the third and fourth options…Alshon Jeffery has just nine receptions for 118 yards on 121 dropbacks for Foles over the past month and will lock up with Xavier Rhodes. He’s going to need to find the end zone…Nelson Agholor has also been stung by the quarterback change. After catching seven passes for 59 yards in Foles’ first start, Agholor has caught 10 passes for 70 yards since. He still possesses the most upside of the Philadelphia wideouts with his versatility…Jarius Wright played 37 snaps last week, by far the most he’s played in a game with both Thielen and Diggs active. Those snaps resulted in a season-high six targets. It may have been a game plan specific usage that won’t roll over to the game this weekend, but the Eagles have allowed slot options to notch productive games against them this season despite the strong individual play from Patrick Robinson.

 

Tight Ends

 

1. Rob Gronkowski (vs JAC)

2. Zach Ertz (vs MIN)

3. Kyle Rudolph (@ PHI)

4. Trey Burton (vs MIN)

5. Marcedes Lewis (@ NE)

 

Notes: Gronk has been on a tear, catching 34-of-48 targets for 545 yards and four touchdowns in his past five games outside of Week 17. He will surely get more attention from the defense, but also gets a Jacksonville defense that allowed a career-game to Vance McDonaldZach Ertz has 25.6 percent of the targets from Nick Foles. The Vikings have been solid against the tight end position this season, allowing just three tight ends to reach 50-yards receiving in a game, but haven’t been challenged by any fantasy producers at the position… Kyle Rudolph has just 54 receiving yards over his past four games, but is coming off the most targets he’s had in a game since Week 6 and leads the team in targets (18), receptions (14) and touchdowns (seven) inside of the red zone.

 

Kickers


1. Stephen Gostkowski (vs JAC)

2. Jake Elliott (vs MIN)

3. Kai Forbath (@ PHI)

4. Josh Lambo (@ NE)

 

Notes: With the Patriots projected to score the most points at home, Gostkowski hangs on to the top spot in a tight field, but no team has allowed fewer field goal attempts this season than the Jaguars with one or fewer field goals in 11 of their games this season…Forbath has double-digit points in four of his past five games…The Eagles haven’t been able to score touchdowns with Nick Foles under center recently, but Elliott has multiple field goals in four of his past five games… Lambo has attempted just one field goal in each of his past five games.

 

DST

 

1. Minnesota (@ PHI)

2. New England (vs JAC)

3. Philadelphia (vs MIN)

4. Jacksonville (@ NE)

 

Notes: Looking at the favorites this weekend. None of these teams allow many sacks, with all four teams ranking in the top half of the league in lowest sack rates allowed…Minnesota is on the road, but face a Philadelphia team with the lowest implied total (17.8 points) of the weekend and have managed just two offensive touchdowns on their past 27 possessions with Nick Foles under center…The Patriots project to force the most negative game script to produce counting stats for fantasy purposes while they have scored nine or more fantasy points in eight of their past 10 games… The Jaguars have been the best defensive unit for fantasy purposes all season long, but go on the road to face an offensive that doesn’t allow a ton of pressure or turn the ball over. The Patriots rank 11th in the league in sacks allowed per game (2.1) with more than three allowed in a game just once on the year while committing the second-fewest turnovers in the league… The Vikings are right behind the Patriots in the turnover department, giving away the ball less than one time (0.9) per game on the season. 

 

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