DFS fantasy football rankings: conference championships

There are just two more games remaining in the NFL playoffs, so that’s just two more opportunities to play fantasy football. Here are my DFS fantasy football rankings for the conference championships. There’s not much difference between these and my NFL Playoff Challenge fantasy rankings with the season so close to an end. But there are a few differences and more options ranked here.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

NFL playoff fantasy football rankings: conference championships

It’s starting to get serious if you’re playing NFL.com’s Playoff Challenge. The players you started in the first round are now due to earn triple points if you’ve kept them in your lineup this whole time. Last week I suggested you start a few top-scoring Saints and Titans, but with the caveat that it would possibly be the end of the line for them. It was indeed the end of the line for the Saints, and in unbelievable fashion.

Here’s a look at my rankings for the conference championships.

Quarterbacks

The Patriots have just been cruising along this whole time, having all the breaks go their way. Now they take on an upstart Jaguars team that needs their defense to score points in order for them to win. If Brady can’t be productive against the Jags’ pass defense, it might be time to start thinking his skills are falling off. I don’t think that happens. If you started him in the first week of the playoffs, you’ll get to multiply this week’s points by three. A lot of people started Drew Brees to begin the Playoff Challenge, but with him no longer available, they should look to Case Keenum, who is favored to make the Super Bowl.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Case Keenum, Vikings
3. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
4. Nick Foles, Eagles

Running backs

Dion Lewis did it all last weekend, though James White was the running back that scored twice. Lewis is a safer play that can pay off big if he ends up getting in the end zone. He had 24 touches for 141 yards from scrimmage while White had just eight touches, though he scored twice. Someone that I think will have to score in order for his team to advance is Jay Ajayi. He had 19 touches and 98 yards from scrimmage, but things should be tough against the Vikings. For the Vikings, I think Latavius Murray continues to take a big share of carries, especially if Minnesota controls the game.

1. Dion Lewis, Patriots
2. Jay Ajayi, Eagles
3. Latavius Murray, Vikings
4. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
5. James White, Patriots
6. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
7. Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
8. Rex Burkhead, Patriots
9. LeGarrette Blount, Eagles
10. Corey Clement, Eagles
11. Chris Ivory, Jaguars
12. Corey Grant, Jaguars
13. Tommy Bohanon, Jaguars

Wide receivers

Stefon Diggs was the big hero last Sunday, but a big chunk of his numbers came on the winning play. The numbers still count, obviously, but Adam Thielen has been the more consistent receiver for the Vikings. I don’t have Diggs far behind Thielen, though. Brandin Cooks is my third-best receiver this week as I expect the Patriots to find a way to get by the Jags’ defense. Jacksonville, though stout on D, has had some high-scoring affairs this season and they just gave up 42 points to the Steelers.

1. Adam Thielen, Vikings
2. Stefon Diggs, Vikings
3. Brandin Cooks, Patriots
4. Danny Amendola, Patriots
5. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
6. Chris Hogan, Patriots
7. Marqise Lee, Jaguars
8. Nelson Agholor, Eagles
9. Keelan Cole, Jaguars
10. Jarius Wright, Vikings
11. Allen Hurns, Jaguars
12. Torrey Smith, Eagles
13. Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
14. Laquon Treadwell, Vikings
15. Kenny Britt, Patriots
16. Phillip Dorsett, Patriots

Tight ends

Rob Gronkowski was the easiest call in terms of starting a tight end for the Playoff Challenge. Owners will get rewarded with triple points this week. I’ve got Kyle Rudolph ranked second since he and the Vikings are favored to make the Super Bowl. He had five catches, but just 28 yards in the win over the Saints. Zach Ertz had a disappointing game last weekend, catching three passes for 32 yards. I have him behind Rudolph because I think his season ends in a loss to the Vikings. Of course, if you have a multiplier in play for Ertz, you might want to start him over Rudolph.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
3. Zach Ertz, Eagles
4. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
5. Trey Burton, Eagles
6. Dwayne Allen, Patriots
7. Brent Celek, Eagles
8. James O’Shaughnessy, Jaguars

Defense/Special teams

These picks are pretty straight forward. I think the Patriots, who are favored by more than a touchdown, won’t have much trouble against the Jaguars. I’ve ranked the Vikings second since I think they move on.

1. Patriots
2. Vikings
3. Eagles
4. Jaguars

Kickers

If you pick either one of the top two kickers, you’re likely to have a multiplier in play during the Super Bowl.

1. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
2. Kai Forbath, Vikings
3. Jake Elliott, Eagles
4. Josh Lambo, Jaguars

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

DFS fantasy football rankings: divisional round

If you’re in a fantasy football playoff league, or are playing the NFL Playoff Challenge on NFL.com, you’ll want to go here for my rankings. If you’re playing daily fantasy, check out my divisional round rankings below. They’ll update as news develops leading up to Saturday’s games.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

 

NFL playoff fantasy football rankings: divisional round

If you’re playing NFL.com’s fantasy football Playoff Challenge it’s time to set your lineup for the divisional round of the playoffs. Last week we saw big games from Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Derrick Henry. If they were in your lineup, you might want to roll with them again for double the points. You’ll be rooting for their teams to win as their points would triple during the conference championships if you start them again. Whether they advance, however, is highly in doubt. The Titans are big underdogs against the Patriots in Foxboro and the Saints will have a tough time advancing past the Vikings in Minnesota.

Here are my rankings for the divisional round.

Quarterbacks

I’ve got Brady at the top of my list since his points double this week if you started him during the bye last week. All he has to do is have an average game and you’ll get caught up with any points you missed out on last week in the Playoff Challenge. You’ll also have his points tripled next week if the Pats win and you keep him in the lineup. I think the Falcons make their way back to the NFC championship with a win over the Eagles this weekend. That’s why I’ve got Matt Ryan ranked second. Brees might not make it past the Vikings this week, but if you started him last week you can have his points doubled this week.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Matt Ryan, Falcons
3. Drew Brees, Saints
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
5. Case Keenum, Vikings
6. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
7. Nick Foles, Eagles
8. Marcus Mariota, Titans

Running backs

I’ve got Le’Veon Bell at the top for the same reason I have Brady at the top of the QB position. Though the Steelers face a tough Jaguars defense, his versatility is a big value. Though Pittsburgh lost 30-9 to the Jaguars this year, it was early in the season and Roethlisberger had a nightmare game. Bell rushed for just 3.1 yards per carry, but only had 15 attempts. He also caught 10 passes in that game. Dion Lewis is another versatile back who I think has a productive day against the Titans this weekend. The Patriots should be able to do whatever they want against Tennessee. The Falcons may not have such an easy time against the Eagles, but I think Devonta Freeman logs a good performance. He’s my third-ranked running back as I see the Falcons getting by the Eagles.

1. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
2. Dion Lewis, Patriots
3. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
4. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
5. Alvin Kamara, Saints
6. Latavius Murray, Vikings
7. Mark Ingram, Saints
8. Derrick Henry, Titans
9. Tevin Coleman, Falcons
10. Jay Ajayi, Eagles
11. Rex Burkhead, Patriots
12. James White, Patriots
13. Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
14. LeGarrette Blount, Eagles
15. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
16. Stevan Ridley, Steelers
17. Corey Clement, Eagles
18. Chris Ivory, Jaguars
19. Zach Line, Saints
20. Corey Grant, Jaguars

Wide receivers

With the Falcons favored to win, I believe that Julio Jones has a big day against the Eagles. He had a solid performance against a good Rams defense last week. The Eagles have a tough defensive front, but the Falcons have protected their quarterback well this season. Antonio Brown will return to the field and I think he has to have a big game to advance over the Jaguars. I’m confident he can do it to avenge the loss the Steelers suffered early in the season. I’ve got Adam Thielen ranked third this week, thinking the Vikings will edge out the Saints. The last time he faced New Orleans he had nine catches for 157 yards.

1. Julio Jones, Falcons
2. Antonio Brown, Steelers
3. Adam Thielen, Vikings
4. Michael Thomas, Saints
5. Brandin Cooks, Patriots
6. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
7. Stefon Diggs, Vikings
8. Mohamed Sanu, Falcons
9. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
10. Ted Ginn, Saints
11. Rishard Matthews, Titans
12. Chris Hogan, Patriots
13. Nelson Agholor, Eagles
14. Martavis Bryant, Steelers
15. Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
16. Eric Decker, Titans
17. Keelan Cole, Jaguars
18. Danny Amendola, Patriots
19. Brandon Coleman, Saints
20. Corey Davis, Titans

Tight ends

I’m banking on Rob Gronkowski having a big day in the Patriots’ first playoff game. He missed last postseason due to injury so he’ll be itching to get going. Having him in your lineup last week felt like a must, given that the Patriots are favored to win the Super Bowl. Given that they’re likely to advance, you’re looking at triple points in the conference championship. I have Zach Ertz ranked second as he’ll look to solidify his connection with Nick Foles. Not counting the meaningless game against the Cowboys, the two have connected on 15 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in two games. They’ve had an extra week of reps as well. In that same game, I think Austin Hooper has a solid outing as the Eagles tend to give up double digits in fantasy points to tight ends.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Zach Ertz, Eagles
3. Austin Hooper, Falcons
4. Delanie Walker, Titans
5. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
6. Jesse James, Steelers
7. Josh Hill, Saints
8. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
9. Vance McDonald, Steelers
10. Dwayne Allen, Patriots
11. Trey Burton, Eagles
12. Levine Toilolo, Falcons

Defense/Special teams

The Patriots defense has gotten better as the season has gone along. I’ve got them ranked first as they face a Titans team that somehow managed to get past the Chiefs in the wild-card round. I think the Steelers get some revenge on the Jaguars who struggle with the forward pass. Blake Bortles rushed for more yards than he threw last week. That’s not a good thing. The Vikings are third in my rankings because they’re great, but the Saints are hot.

1. Patriots
2. Steelers
3. Vikings
4. Falcons
5. Jaguars
6. Eagles
7. Saints
8. Titans

Kickers

Matt Bryant has been good all year and I think he and the Falcons put up some points on the Eagles. Stephen Gostkowski is second in this list since the Patriots should handle the Titans pretty easily. Wil Lutz will likely have to kick a few field goals as the Saints should move the ball, but struggle to get in the end zone against the Vikings.

1. Matt Bryant, Falcons
2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
3. Wil Lutz, Saints
4. Kai Forbath, Vikings
5. Chris Boswell, Steelers
6. Caleb Sturgis, Eagles
7. Josh Lambo, Jaguars
8. Ryan Succop, Titans

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

DFS fantasy football rankings: wild card

There’s not much football left to be played, but the wild-card round starts Saturday. If you’re in a fantasy football playoff league, or are playing the NFL Playoff Challenge on NFL.com, you’ll want to go here for my rankings. If you’re playing daily fantasy, check out my wild-card rankings below.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

The 2017 fantasy football awards

Week 17 ended with some fireworks as the NFL playoff picture wasn’t totally clear until late. Now that the regular season is over, we can take a look back on the fantasy football year. Here are my 2017 fantasy football awards, complete with MVP, the All-Fantasy team and much more.

The MVP: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

He was my most disappointing player of 2016, given the spot in which he was drafted. This season he turned it all around, thanks in large part to rookie head coach Sean McVay. Gurley rushed for 1,305 yards, good for second in the league, and caught 64 passes for 788 yards. He totaled 19 touchdowns on the season, including 13 on the ground to lead the NFL. With the Rams looking like the NFL’s team of the future, if not present, I expect Gurley to keep it going next year.

2017 All-Fantasy Team

Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seahawks (3,983 yards passing, 34 TDs, 586 yards rushing, 3 TDs)
Running back: Todd Gurley, Rams (1,305 yards rushing, 13 TDs, 788 yards receiving, 6 TDs)
Running back: Le’Veon Bell, Steelers (1,291 yards rushing, 9 TDs, 655 yards receiving, 2 TDs)
Flex: Alvin Kamara, Saints (728 yards rushing, 8 TDs, 826 yards receiving, 5 TDs)
Wide receiver: Antonio Brown, Steelers (101 rec., 1,533 yards, 9 TDs)
Wide receiver: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (96 rec., 1,378 yards, 13 TDs)
Wide receiver: Keenan Allen, Chargers (102 rec., 1,393 yards, 6 TDs)
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (69 rec., 1,084 yards, 8 TDs)
Defense/Special teams: Jaguars (8 TDs, 21 INTs, 55 sacks, 17 FF, 12 DFR, 2nd in points allowed)
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (45 XP/47 XPATT, 37 FG/40 FGA, 8 FGs made beyond 40 yards, 4 FGs made beyond 50 yards, Long of 62)

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) catches a pass for a touchdown as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (21) defends during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Best rookie: Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs

Hunt gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in the first seven games of his career. When Spencer Ware went down in the preseason, Hunt landed on many radars, but I didn’t expect him to lead the league in rushing. He hit a lull before finishing the season strong. He took his only carry in Week 17 for 35 yards and a score. That sealed the rushing title for the rookie as he finished with 1,327 yards.

Best waiver pickup: Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints

When the season started it was tough to see how the rookie out of Tennessee was going to be a factor in the Saints’ backfield. It looked like Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson would take a large share of the touches. Once Kamara caught 10 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in Week 4, the Saints jettisoned Peterson to Arizona and things opened up for the rookie.

Running back Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints evades cornerback Brent Grimes #24 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he rushes 7-yards for a touchdown during the first quarter of an NFL football game on December 31, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Best bang for your buck: Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins

The Dolphins lost Ryan Tannehill to start the season and when Jay Cutler was brought in, there wasn’t much hope for big fantasy games from Miami. Landry has proven that he can be a reliable target no matter who starts at QB. He led the league with 112 receptions as he gained 987 yards and scored nine touchdowns. He finished as a WR1 even though he was drafted as a low-end WR2.

Breakout player: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

His injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, but you can’t ignore how well he performed up until then. Wentz’s rookie season was decent, but the way he ran the offense for Philadelphia this year put him in the MVP conversation. Not one of his games was a dud. He would have been fantasy’s top quarterback had he not missed the final three games of the year. Wentz finished with 3,296 yards passing and 33 touchdowns. He also rushed for 299 yards.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, right, escapes a tackle by Los Angeles Rams nose tackle Michael Brockers during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Best comeback: Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers

Before this season, Allen played in just nine games the previous two years combined. He played in all 16 games this year and lived up to the potential displayed in his rookie year. Allen recorded career highs in receptions and yards with 102 and 1,393. He scored six touchdowns and had an outstanding run from Week 11 through Week 14.

Never say die award: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals

Fitzgerald was last season’s “Never say die” award winner, and he just keeps producing. His future is up in the air right now, as is Carson Palmer’s. Their coach Bruce Arians just announced his retirement. It would be surprising if Fitz called it quits after turning in the year he had this season. He was second in the league with 109 receptions. He gained 1,156 yards and scored six times in his 14th year, one of his best.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a catch against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter at CenturyLink Field on December 31, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Worst regression: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons

I predicted his regression before the season started. The biggest reason for it is losing Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers. The production Ryan had in 2016 was unsustainable, but his numbers dropped drastically this year. After throwing 38 touchdowns in 2016, he managed just 20 this season. That’s the least amount of TD passes he’s had since his rookie year when he threw 16.

Biggest disappointment: Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins

Pryor had a great breakout year last season, catching 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns when he moved to wide receiver. That was with the Browns, so most expected him to keep putting up big numbers as he joined Kirk Cousins and the Redskins. The situation was ripe for a new No. 1 wideout to join Washington as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon left the team. Instead, Pryor caught just 20 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown in ten games. With him being drafted as high as the second round in most fantasy leagues, he turned out to be a big bust.

All-Injury team

2017 was a tough year for a lot of top fantasy talent. You could make an all-star squad out of all the big names that fell to injury this year. So I did.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) watches his team play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Running back: David Johnson, Cardinals
Running back: Dalvin Cook, Vikings
Flex: Ty Montgomery, Packers
Wide receiver: Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
Wide receiver: Pierre Garcon, 49ers
Wide receiver: Brandon Marshall, Giants
Tight end: Jordan Reed, Redskins
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.