Turning 2 Sports’ NFL Playoff Challenge

Ken Mahoney, Contributor from Turning 2 Sports (@Turning2Sports)

https://www.turningtwosports.com/ 

Say it ain’t so! It can’t be time for the NFL Playoffs already can it? It seems like just yesterday we were crunching our draft kits, looking for any and all sleepers and studs to lead our teams to Fantasy Football greatness. Luckily for you Fantasy Football junkies the fantasy season does not need to end just yet. Turning Two is proud to announce that we will be hosting a $20 entry NFL.com Playoff Challenge, running from Wild Card Weekend all the way through the Super Bowl.

If you have interest in participating, please reach out to us directly at our site, or via Twitter @Turning2Sports or @JavimenteT2S, or via email at turningtwosports@gmail.com.

For those who are not familiar with the contest, each week you select a roster of QB, WR, RB, TE, K, DEF. You accumulate points much like you do in a traditional fantasy league. The catch is in the subsequent weeks. Every time you use a repeat player, they’re point multiplier increases. For example, if you select Todd Gurley to play in Wild Card weekend, and then select him again in the Divisional Round, all the points he receives in the Divisional Round will be x2! If he makes the NFC Championship and you play him again, it’s x3! The Super Bowl would be x4! Looking at it from a different perspective, if you think the Steelers or Patriots are Super Bowl locks you can go ahead and play Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown in the Wild Card round and take a 0 from all of them. Then, in the Divisional Round, every point they net you is x2 multiplier! As you can see, there are a multitude of strategies involved.

To help prep you for the contest, we preview it from top to bottom here. Aren’t you lucky?

 

Quarterbacks

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Ben Roethlisberger
  4. Case Keenum
  5. Alex Smith
  6. Jared Goff
  7. Matt Ryan
  8. Cam Newton
  9. Blake Bortles
  10. Marcus Mariota
  11. Nick Foles
  12. Tyrod Taylor

There are a few obvious choices for quarterbacks, but you have to be prepared to take a 0 on opening weekend if you want to use them. If you feel that a team playing in Wild Card weekend is going to make the Super Bowl, I would lock them in because you have a chance at 4 games.

The most likely, in my opinion, would be Drew Brees and the Saints. While Brees’ numbers have taken a step back due to the emergence of a top notch running game, he’s still in the upper echelon of quarterbacks and warrants some consideration over second round QBs like Roethlisberger and Keenum, in my opinion.

Tom Brady is the chalk play, as many believe the Patriots have a clear path to the AFC Championship and then to the Super Bowl if they again topple Pittsburgh.

Alex Smith should warrant some consideration if you want to lock in some points for this weekend, as he will be presented with the top matchup of all Wild Card Round quarterbacks. He’ll face the Titans who just allowed Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Savage to throw for over 300 yards. Unfortunately, you may only get one game out of Smith as they’ll head to New England or Pittsburgh in the Divisional Round.

Jared Goff and Matt Ryan are both interesting cases. The Falcons/Rams game may be the tightest contested bout of the entire weekend, with both teams having a legitimate chance to make a Super Bowl run. If either the Rams or Falcons are able to make their way to the Super Bowl, they’ll both be bargain picks for your quarterback position. You may be the only one getting 4x bonus from them at the big dance.

You might get two games from Bortles, but I’d much prefer to take one game from Goff or Ryan than two from Bortles. Mariota and Tyrod should not be considered, as I expect both to be one and done. I also expect the Eagles to lose in the Divisional Round, making Foles a one and done.

 

Running Backs

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Todd Gurley
  3. Alvin Kamara
  4. Dion Lewis
  5. Mark Ingram
  6. Kareem Hunt
  7. Leonard Fournette
  8. Latavius Murray
  9. Derrick Henry
  10. Devonta Freeman
  11. Christian McCaffrey
  12. Jay Ajayi
  13. Jerick McKinnon
  14. Tevin Coleman
  15. LeSean McCoy
  16. Rex Burkhead
  17. James White
  18. J. Yeldon
  19. Jonathan Stewart
  20. DeMarco Murray
  21. Corey Clement
  22. LeGarrette Blount
  23. Marcus Murphy
  24. Mike Tolbert

 

Running Back is a bit different than quarterback. For running back, two of the very best of 2017 play on Wild Card weekend in Alvin Kamara and Todd Gurley. You can do just fine for yourself and your roster by locking in these two for the stretch run. Again though, there is significant risk in Gurley only giving you one game. This Atlanta vs. Los Angeles game is the biggest toss up of the weekend in my opinion. However, if either the Rams or Saints make the Super Bowl you could be locked into a gold mine.

While Kamara will be the chalky play, Ingram has similar upside and could be much less owned for the entirety of the NFL playoffs. Considering the fact that the Saints want to run the ball, and with Ingram being the superior between tackles runner, there’s a lot to like rolling with Ingram.

While I’ve already mentioned four very enticing plays, I’ll have a hard time ignoring Dion Lewis in the 2017 playoffs. The Patriots Swiss Army Knife has had back to back multiple touchdown games and continues to dominate the backfield with injuries to White, Burkhead, and Gillislee. With an extra week of rest, I do expect at least one of those guys back on the field for the Patriots. That shouldn’t deter you from playing Lewis, who has been the lead back for the entire second half of the regular season. The combination of Lewis and Burkhead has been kind to fantasy owners this year, and with the success of Blount’s playoff campaigns with the Patriots I won’t be denied some exposure.

Moving down, I like Fournette in a plus matchup this week, but I don’t think he gets you too much afterwards. He shouldn’t have any trouble against the extremely poor run defense of the Bills, but against the Steelers in the Divisional Round he’ll have a tougher test.

Rather than Fournette, I’d rather play Kareem Hunt. Hunt went through midseason lull but has bounced back in a big way, having scored touchdowns in each of his last four. The Chiefs won the opener in New England this year, and I’m not sure how much better the Steelers are than the mighty Chiefs offense. A Smith/Hunt stack is a sneaky approach to the opening weekend.

Latavius Murray and Derrick Henry have both been stuck in a committee for most of the season, however Murray has clearly emerged as the bellcow in the running game which makes me slot him in the top 10. The Vikings are a very good team, and could be playing at home all the way through the playoffs, including the Super Bowl. If they beat teams like they’ve been beating teams to date, Murray is going to see a lot of work. For Henry, he sees a huge volume uptick with DeMarco out. Henry is a legitimate one-and-done candidate though, as I don’t see the Titans toppling the Chiefs.

As we move into the latter half of the top 20 we run into a lot of guys who may only play one game, but have the upside for four. This includes Devonta Freeman, who could become a gold mine if the Falcons can make another Super Bowl run. Similarly, the same can be said for McCaffrey if Jonathan Stewart remains dinged up. McCaffery is a PPR stud who will see looks from Newton all day long, especially if J-Stew isn’t game to go.

McKinnon and Coleman are not guys I’m considering, but they warrant more consideration than guys like McCoy and Ajayi. I see both the Eagles and Bills losing their first games, so Ajayi has significant cap on his upside. McCoy was carted off last week, so there’s no question he’s not 100%. There’s simply no reason to play McCoy, who is a surefire one-and-done and at less than 100%.

Then there’s “the rest”. Burkhead and White could have sneaky value, especially if Lewis were to ever get hurt. Yeldon is a legitimate start in the Divisional Round if Fournette were to go down, but don’t count on it. Finally we have the backups to Ajayi, who are not worthy of consideration, and the backups of McCoy, who are only listed due to the injury suffered by McCoy in Week 17.

 

Wide Receivers

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Michael Thomas
  3. Brandin Cooks
  4. Stefon Diggs
  5. Julio Jones
  6. Tyreek Hill
  7. Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster
  8. Adam Thielen
  9. Robert Woods
  10. Devin Funchess
  11. Chris Hogan
  12. Danny Amendola
  13. Keelan Cole
  14. Dede Westbrook
  15. Sammy Watkins
  16. Cooper Kupp
  17. Alshon Jeffery
  18. Ted Ginn
  19. Nelson Agholor
  20. Mohammad Sanu
  21. Marquise Lee
  22. Rishard Matthews
  23. Martavis Bryant
  24. Kelvin Benjamin
  25. Allen Hurns
  26. Deonte Thompson
  27. Albert Wilson
  28. Corey Davis
  29. Eric Decker
  30. Torrey Smith

 

I’m sure after seeing those videos of Antonio Brown crisply running routes his ownership inflated, as they should. If AB comes back healthy for the Divisional Round as many expect him to, he’s going to be a monster for two rounds of play. If you roster him for the opener, and we get our Patriots/Steelers rematch, that’s Antonio Brown at 4x.

While AB is the clear cut top play, the next group of wide receivers can be lumped together. All have immense talent, big play ability, and formidable offenses. Michael Thomas is a lock for either a touchdown or 90 yards receiving. The Saints are my dark horse Super Bowl pick this year, and there aren’t many guys who you can look to for 4x multipliers that play opening weekend. Additionally Cooks and Diggs are both firmly in the realm of consideration. The Patriots and Vikings have the projected easiest Super Bowl paths, meaning bonus multipliers a plenty.

Next up are a group of ridiculously talented receivers who could become gold mines if there teams progress multiple rounds in the NFL playoffs. This includes Tyreek Hill, who has been a dominant force on the road this year. With the Chiefs only projected to play one home game, there’s some multi-week intrigue in Hill. The same can be said for Julio Jones, who had a down 2017 by his standards. The Falcons offense has been solid as of late, and Julio has the talent to be the top receiver in the stretch run.

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adam Thielen are both #2 receivers are top teams, but both have to compete for targets with studs. I prefer JuJu to Thielen due to AB’s injury, but both warrant consideration due to their potential longevity in these NFL playoffs.

Amendola and Hogan are potential PPR assets for this contest. Assuming Hogan returns for the Divisional Round, he’s the better play than Amendola. Amendola should be considered as an injury replacement should something happen to the Cooks, Gronk, Hogan, Lewis crowd.

Keep an eye on Robert Woods, especially if Los Angeles can surprise some teams and make a deep run. Aside from his brief stint on the injury shelf, Woods has been the top receiver for Goff all season long. While Cupp and Watkins are the flashier, well-known pass catchers, it’s been Woods who has thrived under new Head Coach Sean McVay.

Alshon Jeffery might seem low ranked, but I’m not expecting much from the Nick Foles led Eagles who were shut out by the Dallas Cowboys last week. It’s simply not the same offense without Wentz, and I think it will show when Philly gets bounced in the Divisional Round. For that reason, I’m staying away from Jeffery, Agholor, and Torrey Smith.

Keep an eye on the status of the Jaguars receivers. If Lee is to play, it’s going to be a messy situation, and one that should be avoided at all costs. Bortles is still Bortles, after all. If Lee does sit, Cole becomes a fantasy relevant play against a mediocre Bills defense. Dede Westbrook also warrants consideration in that same scenario.

 

Tight Ends

  1. Rob Gronkowski
  2. Travis Kelce
  3. Kyle Rudolph
  4. Zach Ertz
  5. Delanie Walker
  6. Greg Olsen
  7. Vance McDonald
  8. Austin Hooper
  9. Charles Clay
  10. Marcedes Lewis
  11. Josh Hill
  12. Tyler Higbee

Rob Gronkowski is the play here, don’t overthink it. You could make a case for Kelce, but if Kelce is indeed one-and-done, or even two-and-done, you’ll miss out on some serious fantasy points if the Patriots go as far as everyone thinks they will.

After the big two, you have Kyle Rudolph. I almost put Rudolph ahead of Kelce because of his redzone presence, and the fact that the Vikings are perennial Super Bowl contenders. There’s a legitimate chance you could have Rudolph at a 4x multiplier playing at home in the Super Bowl.

Then you have the next group containing Ertz, Walker, and Olsen. I expect all three to be one-and-done, and are not on my radar. I’d almost rather roster a Vance McDonald, who is almost a lock to be present in the AFC championship. Of course, these are all just pivots off Gronk.

 

Kickers

  1. Stephen Gostkowski
  2. Chris Boswell
  3. Wil Lutz
  4. Kai Forbath
  5. Harrison Butker
  6. Matt Bryant
  7. Josh Lambo
  8. Sam Ficken
  9. Graham Gano
  10. Jake Elliott
  11. Ryan Succop
  12. Steven Hauschka

Kicker and Defense are where you don’t want to get too fancy. Find the guys who you think will go to the Super Bowl, and lock them in. Gostkowski is the top kicker selected in fantasy leagues almost every single year for a reason. He plays on a high flying, top tier offense that presents him with countless opportunities.

If New England isn’t your favorite way to go, I wouldn’t go past Boswell, Lutz, or Forbath. I believe the top four teams in the NFL are New England, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and Minnesota. I believe those to be the Conference Championship matchups, so there’s no doubt one of those four will be my kicker of choice.

Defense / Special Teams

  1. Vikings
  2. Patriots
  3. Jaguars
  4. Steelers
  5. Saints
  6. Rams
  7. Chiefs
  8. Panthers
  9. Falcons
  10. Eagles
  11. Bills
  12. Titans

Finally we have the Defense and Special Teams. Much like kicker, you want that bonus multiplier. The Vikings and Patriots are the top of the class. The Vikings and Jaguars have been arguably the best defenses of the year. The Vikings don’t have to leave their dome at all, making their defense a top tier play if they can advance a few rounds.

The Patriots and Steelers will both more than likely be there in the end, making both their defenses firmly in play. I give the edge to New England over Pittsburgh, based purely off recent play.

The other team I won’t sleep on is Jacksonville, who has been far and away the top defense of 2017. If you think the Jags take care of business against Buffalo like I do, you could get a tasty 2x multiplier for the Divisional Round against Pittsburgh. Imagine getting 2x the fantasy points during Jacksonville and Pittsburgh’s first meeting this year. In case you forget, the Jags won 30-9 and picked off Roethlisberger 5 times.

 

 

There you have it.  Again, if you are interested in participating in the contest and (hopefully) winning some money, reach out to us on Twitter @Turning2Sports or @JavimenteT2S, or email us at turningtwosports@gmail.com. Good luck out there!



Categories: Fantasy Football

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