(Image credit: Mike D. Sykes II/USA Today Sports)
By: Jett Rosenstein
Your fantasy football seasons may have come to an end, but the fun isn’t over just yet as NFL.com has its signature “NFL Playoff Challenge” each year where you select a lineup of players each week and try to accumulate as many points as possible. For those who do not know how it works, let me explain:
First, you select a team of 8 players (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF). Depending on which teams win, you will need to adjust your lineup accordingly each week. The kicker in this challenge is that each time a player’s team advances to the next round, you get a multiplier. For example, if you select Patrick Mahomes as your QB, he would get a 2X multiplier in the next round if the Chiefs were to win against the Steelers. That multiplier could increase to 4X if Mahomes were to make it to a Super Bowl. You also have the ability to pick players that are on a bye for Wild Card Weekend. They will automatically receive a multiplier the following week.
There are many strategies to focus on when constructing a lineup for this contest. You can go heavy on players that have a bye this week (e.g. Packers and Titans). You can build a lineup based on teams you believe will go the farthest. Or, you can just pick the best players that will provide the most fantasy output. The biggest thing that separates the great entries from the good entries is the multipliers. The more players you have with multipliers, the better chance you will have to accumulate more points. Here are my picks for this year's NFL Playoff Challenge!
QB- Aaron Rodgers (GB)
Aaron Rodgers is coming off another great regular season. While he is in the heat of the MVP conversation, he has a much bigger goal in mind. The Super Bowl. His Packers team will get a bye this week and face off against the 49ers, Eagles, Rams, or Cardinals in the next round. In his last 7 games, he has thrown 20 TDs with no picks. I expect that to continue in the postseason and with the format of this challenge, Rodgers will earn double the points due to him being on a bye week.
RB- Derrick Henry (TEN)
While it is not definite yet, there is a good chance we could finally see the return of Derrick Henry here in the playoffs. It is very important that the Titans have a bye as it gives Henry another week to rest up. Henry missed the last 9 games and somehow he finished 9th in rushing yards. Henry may get off to a slow start, but he should be able to put up a decent stat line to make this selection worthwhile. Plus, he will get double the points due to the Titans being on bye.
RB- Leonard Fournette (TB)
Here we have another player that dealt with injury issues down the stretch. Leonard Fournette was having a remarkable season until he suffered a hamstring injury in Week 15. However, he is expected to be available in the Bucs' first playoff game against the Eagles. Fournette is going to remain a focal point of this offense especially with Chris Godwin out for the remainder of the season. The Eagles have allowed the 9th most PPR points to opposing RBs throughout the season. Back in Week 6, Fournette racked up over 100 yards and 2 TDs against this same Eagles team.
WR- Davante Adams (GB)
Davante Adams is coming off of another extraordinary season where he racked up over 1,500 receiving yards and 11 TDs. I love the Rodgers-Adams stack and they both are going to have productive postseasons especially since it may be their final time playing together. Adams is set to pick up the 2X multiplier in the Divisional Round as well.
WR- Cooper Kupp (LAR)
Cooper Kupp is coming off a historical regular season where he fell just short of the 2,000-yard mark. Nevertheless, he has cemented himself as one of the top WRs in the NFL and I still expect no one to be able to slow him down. While I am not counting on the Rams making it to the Super Bowl, Kupp should be able to receive at least a multiplier in the divisional round as long as they take care of the Cardinals. By the way, the last time Kupp faced the Cardinals, he went off for 123 yards and a TD.
TE- Travis Kelce (KC)
For the first time in 6 years, Travis Kelce is not the #1 TE in PPR formats. However, Kelce still had a very productive year to the tune of 1,091 yards and 9 TDs. Good for #2 among TEs. The Chiefs look to be back and I expect them to make a run at another Super Bowl. Hence, Kelce is a great option at the TE position. He can put up the numbers and his team has a high probability of advancing.
K- Mason Crosby (GB)
As far as the kicker position goes, most of them will put up similar numbers so I tend to lean towards a kicker who is a part of a team that has a great chance at making a run at a Super Bowl. While they don’t play this week, the Green Bay Packers will get a multiplier next week and every week they advance. The Packers will put up points hence Mason Crosby is a great option.
There are some very good defenses in this year’s playoffs. Seven of the top ten scoring defenses are in the playoffs. With that being said, we once again want to not only focus on a defense that is going to be productive but one that could advance relatively far in the playoffs. For me, that is the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are the 6th scoring defense in the NFL and have really revamped what was once just a mediocre unit. This could be the year the Titans finally reach the big game.