Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 4

Thursday night is starting to become a lot of fun.

The games selected for Thursday night haven’t always been competitive, high-scoring affairs, but that’s starting to change.

Last week we had Baker Mayfield’s debut and this week we had a shootout between the Vikings and Rams.

Jared Goff recorded the first 400-yard, five-touchdown game on three days’ rest in NFL history. He had a perfect passer rating to boot.

Here’s a look at who else you should start, and sit, in Week 4.

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Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: He gets to face the 49ers who are in the bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. They’ve already given up eight TD passes through three games.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Though A.J. Green is battling a groin injury, the Bengals have a good passing matchup against the Falcons. Dalton is building chemistry with Tyler Boyd, a third-year receiver looking to break out.

Case Keenum, QB, Broncos: The Chiefs have given up 1,127 yards passing, which is worst in the league. Keenum will be playing at home against a team that is second worst in points allowed to quarterbacks.

Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals: Bernard filled in well for an injured Joe Mixon last week, rushing for 61 yards and making five receptions for 25 more. He has a great matchup this week against he Falcons. They’re third worst in points allowed to running backs.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Browns: The Raiders allow 5.1 yards per carry and Hyde is on a scoring streak. Having Mayfield start could open things up even more for the running back.

Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks: The Cardinals are second worst in points allowed to running backs, allowing five rushing touchdowns to the position. That’s the most in the league. Carson eclipsed 100 yards on 32 carries last week.

Allen Robinson, WR, Bears: Facing the Buccaneers is a good thing for a guy who gets targeted as much as he does. Tampa Bay has given up 595 yards through the air to receivers. They’ve surrendered 56 receptions to receivers which is last in the league.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Packers: Randall Cobb is dealing with a hamstring injury and Allison has yielded solid production. I’m betting he gets more than four targets, like he did last week, against the Bills this week.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants: He’s the No. 2 wideout in N.Y. and has an outstanding matchup with the Saints. Shepard should build upon his 80-yard, TD performance last week.

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Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: He hasn’t thrown for more than 170 yards in a game yet this season and he has just as many picks as he does touchdown passes. The Lions are in the top-10 in terms of limiting fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: The Browns are actually really good at limiting quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. They intercepted Ben Roethlisberger three times and held Drew Brees to 243 yards and two touchdowns. Those are pedestrian numbers for an elite quarterback. Carr isn’t an elite quarterback.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: He was outstanding two weeks ago against the Patriots, but in his two other games he failed to eclipse 200 yards passing. Bortles faces the Jets, a team that has allowed three touchdowns while making five interceptions.

Alex Collins, RB, Ravens: Fantasy owners are pulling their hair out every time they see Javorius Allen make the most of a red zone opportunity. The back up running back is cutting into Collins’ production tremendously.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: He hasn’t gained more than 53 yards rushing in a game and has put up two duds in three weeks. He’s very dependent on touchdowns at this point and the Patriots have allowed just one on the ground so far this season.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: There’s good reason to believe the Packers will lead this game. And there’s no good reason why McCoy should be in the game while dealing with a rib injury. He’s expected to play, but you can’t trust he’ll be that productive.

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots: Tom Brady isn’t throwing him the ball. Wait until Hogan has a decent game before you start him. Honestly, if he doesn’t perform this week, you can cut him.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders: I’m not going to get fooled by his big performance last week. He had two huge gains after showing next to nothing the first two weeks. If he strings two good games together we can start thinking about inserting him into the lineup.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: This week could be telling for him. If he can somehow be productive while nursing a hamstring and playing with a rookie quarterback, you might be able to start him again. Just don’t do it yet.

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

Thursday Night Football Fantasy Preview: Week 4

We’ve got a good one on the Thursday night schedule this week. The Vikings travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in a short week for both teams.

L.A. is running like a well-oiled machine right now, but the Vikings are coming off a huge upset loss to the Bills.

RELATED: Fantasy Football Week 4 Rankings.

You’re obviously starting Todd Gurley, but the rest of the skill positions are worth thinking about.

Both defenses are very good, but there are definite weaknesses on both sides.

Brandin Cooks is probably the safest start in the Rams’ receiving corps. If you have to choose between Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, I would go with Woods who has been targeted at least nine times in each week. Kupp has to score in order to be worthy of a start. He has done that in two games so far, so it’s not stupid to have him in your lineup.

As far as the Vikings go, both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs should have productive outings. The team is due a bounce back after last weekend and they’re facing a team that’s without its starting cornerbacks. That makes Kirk Cousins a decent start as well.

Dalvin Cook was limited at practice Wednesday and he’s a risky start in my opinion as he’s dealing with a hamstring injury.

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

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 3

All of a sudden the Cleveland Browns look like they’ve got a few options to start on your fantasy squad. Baker Mayfield entered Thursday night’s game against the N.Y. Jets and led the Browns to their first win since Dec. 24, 2016. With Mayfield inserted into the lineup, Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway get an increase in value. Landry should remain the top target for the rookie QB, but Mayfield also had a nice rapport with fellow rookie Callaway in the preseason. The trio will deserve to be started in the near future. Here’s a look at who else should start, and sit, in Week 3.

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Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers—Yes, he’s on the road, and yes Antonio Brown threw a fit this week. Big Ben should be fine, however, as he takes on the Buccaneers. They’re in the bottom 10 in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks.

RELATED: Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers—Ride the Fitzmagic wave as long as you can. Not only does he get to face the Steelers, second-worst in points allowed to quarterbacks, but his defense isn’t great. Both quarterbacks in this matchup should be productive.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions—The Lions will have to score points in order to keep up with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots. New England is in early-season, beatable mode. Kenny Golladay looks like another solid option for the veteran signal caller.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons—It’s a simple rule, really. If Devonta Freeman is out, start Coleman. He’s coming off a game in which he gained 125 yards on 20 touches. The Saints have been good at limiting running backs, but they faced Peyton Barber in one of their best defensive efforts against a rusher.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals—He’ll fill in for Joe Mixon and has the skill set to stay on the field for the most part. The Panthers aren’t good at limiting running backs in terms of yards per carry.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins—He’s getting double digit touches per game but he’s only had one good week. Facing Oakland should yield a productive day out of Drake, who is sharing carries with the unsinkable Frank Gore.

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagle—With the return of Carson Wentz, Agholor might have even better results. So far he’s caught eight passes in each of the first two games. Agholor should remain the top target Sunday, especially with Mike Wallace out.

Will Fuller, WR, Texans—The Giants are third-best in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, but those numbers have come against the Jaguars and Cowboys. Tavon Austin scored on a big play last week against N.Y. Fuller’s speed makes him a danger to defenses if his hamstring is healthy enough to play.

Allen Robinson, WR, Bears—Chicago is moving the receiver all over the field to make sure he’s involved. The Cardinals are decent at limiting wideouts’ fantasy points, but that’s mostly due to their first-week success against Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson. Last week they gave up 159 yards to Brandin Cooks.

George Kittle, TE, 49ers—Last week’s performance will scare you, but he should bounce back against a Chiefs squad that got torched by Pittsburgh’s tight ends.

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Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers—I hate sitting Rivers, but he’s got a very tough matchup this week as he faces the Rams’ league-best defense in limiting quarterbacks in fantasy points.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans—He’s already dealing with an odd injury that is giving him tingling in his throwing hand. Even if he were fully healthy, I would sit him against the Jaguars’ pass defense.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders—Carr hasn’t been a good fantasy player this season yet, though he had a great completion percentage in Week 2. It would be a big surprise if he managed to be productive against a good Miami defense on the road.

Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers—He’s highly inefficient, gaining just 91 yards on 35 carries through two weeks. He also has just one reception for seven yards. The Steelers are a tough matchup and the game should be a passing affair anyway.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills—Not real sure there’s anyone in Buffalo that could start on your fantasy team at this point. McCoy is dealing with a rib injury that he may not even play through. He faces a tough Vikings defense to boot.

Colts running backs—A tough Eagles defense that allowed just 74 yards rushing to the Falcons and 43 yards to the Bucs won’t let any one Indy rusher have much success.

Seahawks receivers—Doug Baldwin is out and the Cowboys have been good at limiting receivers with the help of a solid pass rush. Nobody for the Panthers gained more than 45 yards receiving while Odell Beckham had just 51 yards last week against Dallas.

Corey Davis, WR, Titans—Mariota isn’t a slam dunk to play and Davis faces a big challenge against the Jaguars.

Redskins receivers—The Packers should have a decent day holding down Washington’s receivers. They were torched by Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen last week, but Richardson and Crowder are definitely a lower-tier group.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals—I keep thinking he’ll turn it around now that he’s healthy. He’s had minimal success thus far and the Panthers are middle of the road in defending the position.

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

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 2

A.J. Green may have already won the week for you (or dealt you a loss) by catching five passes for 69 yards and three touchdowns Thursday night, but it’s never over until it’s over. So have a look at who I think should have strong games, and who you should avoid, in Week 2.

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Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers—The Chargers had a good offensive game against the Chiefs last week and that should continue against the Bills. Rivers threw for over 400 yards and three scores in Week 1 and gets to face a defense that allowed three TD passes last week.

RELATED: Fantasy Football Week 2 Rankings.

Alex Smith, QB, Redskins—If you’ve got a nice advantage over your opponent this week, starting Smith could be a nice safe play. He threw two touchdowns last week and should be able to take advantage of the Colts pass defense.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers—He faces the Lions who made Sam Darnold look like a first-ballot Hall of Famer after his first pass. Garoppolo had a rough game in Week 1, but that was against a tough Vikings defense. He’ll be productive enough to start.

James Conner, RB, Steelers—Le’Veon Bell is not walking through that locker room door. And until he does, Conner is an RB1. He gets to face a Chiefs defense that gave up 166 total yards to Melvin Gordon in Week 1. Conner should match that in addition to probably finding the end zone.

Lamar Miller, RB, Texans—He’s had good success against the Titans while playing for the Texans. The amount of touches he’s guaranteed weekly is very valuable for fantasy.

Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins—I still don’t think he’ll be able to sustain his efficiency over the season, but he’s doing his best to prove me wrong. He rushed for 65 yards on just five carries last week against the Cardinals. Thompson was a big part of the winning formula last week so there’s no reason to change.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns—Landry is getting targeted downfield now that he’s with the Browns. He wasn’t just a short route receiver in the first week. Now he gets to face the Saints, who gave up 361 yards and four touchdowns to the Buccaneers.

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles—The Buccaneers gave up a league-high 23 receptions to wide receivers last week. Agholor caught eight passes in Week 1, albeit for just 33 yards. That total should rise against the third worst team at limiting fantasy points to wideouts.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins—He’s a big-play receiver, but he caught just four passes last week. Luckily, two of those receptions went for touchdowns. I like him as a flex play this week if you are looking for a high-ceiling option.

Jack Doyle, TE, Colts—He was targeted 10 times in Week 1 and the Colts with Andrew Luck still throw way more than they run. Washington held tight ends to just 19  yards in Week 1, but that was against a bad Cardinals passing attack.

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Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans—Without Delanie Walker in the mix, I don’t think Mariota plays well against the Texans. Add to that he’s dealing with an elbow injury. The Texans allowed three touchdown passes last week, but that was against Tom Brady.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers—Fitzpatrick was outstanding in Week 1, but that wasn’t against a Super Bowl caliber defense. That’s what he faces this week against the Eagles. Philly didn’t allow a touchdown pass to Matt Ryan last week and will be tough to score on.

Sam Darnold, QB, Jets—The rookie had a strong debut after making a mistake on his first throw against the Lions. It should be a different story against the Dolphins, who haven’t allowed more than one TD since Tom Brady threw four against them in Nov. of last year.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Lions—The Lions threw passes on over 3/4 of their plays in the first week. That’s not a winning formula for Blount. I would even stay away from rookie Kerryon Johnson as the Lions face the 49ers. San Francisco allowed just 82 yards rushing to running backs last week.

Duke Johnson, RB, Browns—Though Cleveland faces a Saints defense that gave up a lot through the air last week, they allowed just one reception to a running back.

Jordan Wilkins, RB, Colts—The Redskins held David Johnson to 67 yards from scrimmage last week and Wilkins will share time with Nyheim Hines. Marlon Mack, might even play after practicing on a limited basis this week.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders—Targeted just four times in Week 1, Nelson hauled in three passes for 23 yards. I don’t expect him to fare well in Denver either.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs—Keep him on your bench until he starts clicking with Pat Mahomes. Watkins had just three catches for 21 yards in Week 1 when Tyreek Hill was going off.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Bills—Josh Allen will get his first start and you shouldn’t feel comfortable starting any Bill at this point.

Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons—The Panthers allowed just 18 receiving yards to tight ends last week. Hooper isn’t a solid start after catching just three balls for 24 yards in Week 1.

Thursday Night Football Fantasy Preview: Week 2

The Baltimore Ravens travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals to kick off Week 2 of NFL action.

There are some easy calls in this one on the Bengals side. You’ll want to start A.J. Green and Joe Mixon, of course. I’d look for a better option over Andy Dalton this week, though. This will be a nice barometer for seeing if he is a viable fantasy option this season. Dalton had a good week against the Colts to open the season, but Thursday night will be a tougher test.

RELATED: Fantasy Football Week 2 Rankings.

Tyler Eifert has a lot of talent and is healthy, but the Ravens have been historically good at limiting fantasy points for tight ends. You’ll need him to score a touchdown for him to be worth the start.

On the Ravens side, I’d be comfortable starting Alex Collins. Kenneth Dixon took some work from Collins in Week 1, but Dixon is out for the year with a knee injury. That solidifies Collins’ role with the team. Javorius Allen could get more opportunities as a result of the injury as well. He could be a decent flex play at this point.

I don’t like starting both receivers for the Ravens and it depends on what you face in your matchup this week. If you’re favored to win, you may want to go with Michael Crabtree who has a better history of scoring. Also, Crabtree is a good red zone target. If you need big performances this week as an underdog, go with John Brown. He’s a deep threat and could eventually become the clear No. 1 for Joe Flacco by season’s end.

As for Flacco, is he a new man with the rookie Lamar Jackson lingering over his shoulder? I’d like to see more consistency out of Flacco before starting him. I have him ranked No. 16 on my QB rankings for this week.  I’ve got players like Tyrod Taylor, Andrew Luck and Jimmy Garoppolo ranked higher.

Finally, I think both defenses are decent starts Thursday.

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

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 1

The first week of NFL action kicked off with a replay of last seaon’s NFC divisional playoff round. Once again it came down to a red zone possession for the Falcons, and once again they couldn’t get into the end zone to defeat the Eagles. At least this time Julio Jones caught the pass from Matt Ryan, though he was out of bounds. Jones was an easy start for fantasy owners this week, catching 10 passes for 169 yards. Here are more players you can be confident to start, and some you should avoid in Week 1.

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Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings—It will be his first start with his new team and I think it will be a good one. Cousins has developed a rapport with Stefon Diggs already and had a great game the last time he faced the 49ers.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 1 rankings.

Update: Weather is having me second guessing Ben Roethlisberger and Tyrod Taylor this week. Plan accordingly as rain could be a big factor in Cleveland Sunday. If you have to play Big Ben, I’m a little more optimistic about him over Taylor in the bad weather. Two possible replacements are Marcus Mariota (at Miami) or Andy Dalton (at Indianapolis).

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers—The home-road disparity in Roethlisberger’s fantasy scoring has always been a concern, but it wasn’t that bad last season. He faces the Browns and without Le’Veon Bell he should utilize Antonio Brown a great deal.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Browns—Call it Hard Knocks hype if you like, but all signs point to Taylor having a nice outing. He turned the ball over just six times last season and scored 18 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. The pass catchers he has in Cleveland are a big upgrade from what he had in Buffalo.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals—Mixon showed great athleticism in preseason that we all expected to see in his rookie campaign. He gets to face a weak Colts defense in the season opener.

Alex Collins, RB, Ravens—Collins is expected to be the workhorse for Baltimore and he faces a Buffalo defense that gave up the most fantasy points to running backs last year.

James Connor, RB, Steelers—With Bell out, Connor could give the Steelers a glimpse of life without the All Pro. He gets to face the Browns this week and Pittsburgh may have to run due to weather conditions.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals—He faces a Washington defense that was decent against the pass last year, but lost its slot corner Kendall Fuller in a trade with the Chiefs. Fitz feasts in the slot and Sam Bradford will want to get the ball to him.

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots—I think this is the year Tom Brady and the Patriots drop off a bit, but I like Hogan in the first week. He faces the Texans, who were sixth worst in points allowed to wideouts last year.

Broncos receivers—Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are not facing the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman is in San Francisco and Earl Thomas isn’t happy. Last season Seattle was merely middle of the road in limiting wide receivers. Case Keenum is a major QB upgrade as well.

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals—Washington was in the bottom six teams in defending the tight end. Seals-Jones has a big opportunity here with Jermaine Gresham recovering from last year’s Achilles injury.

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Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers—The hype surrounding Garoppolo is based on a solid end to last season. He can turn in some QB1 weeks this year, but this shouldn’t be one of them as he faces the Vikings pass defense led by All-Pro Harrison Smith.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants—He has Odell Beckham Jr. back and three, maybe four, solid targets to throw to, but he faces a tough Jaguars defense. Jacksonville has possibly the best defensive backfield in the league.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders—The Raiders have had a rough preseason and I see that carrying over to the opener against the Rams. Add to that, Carr is facing a defensive backfield comprised of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Not to mention Aaron Donald joined the Rams in time to harrass the Raiders QB.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots—I don’t really understand the hype around him, but it probably has to do with the eight touchdowns he scored last season and the fact that Dion Lewis is now in Tennesse. James White, a pass-catching maven, is still in town, though.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins—Some owners can’t help but get excited about having Peterson on their team. They have to realize he’s not the same running back he was a few years ago. He faces the Cardinals this week and they were fifth best in limiting running backs’ fantasy scoring last season.

Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks—I do think he’ll have some weeks when he could be a solid start, but this most likely won’t be one of them. He faces the Broncos and the Seahawks’ offensive line isn’t much better than last year.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers—I like Goodwin over the course of the season, but Sunday’s matchup has him covered by Xavier Rhodes. That’s a tough matchup with a strong Vikings defense.

Buccaneers tight ends—This decision is based on not knowing which one will lead the team at the position, Cameron Brate or O.J. Howard. Wait until it’s clear which one becomes the favorite.

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

NFL Playoff Challenge fantasy football rankings: Super Bowl LII

It’s all come down to this. The Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots are the last teams standing and one of them will be crowned the Super Bowl LII champions on Sunday.

If you’re playing in the NFL.com’s Playoff Challenge, you’ve got one more lineup to set. There are couple of things to consider in this type of competition which I’ll cover as we get to each position.

Here are my rankings for the final game of the season.

Quarterbacks

This is a pretty standard call. If you’ve started Tom Brady since the beginning of the competition, you’ll want to cash in on his quadruple bonus. However, I could see a scenario where you’re close to the top of your group’s standings after starting Nick Foles in the conference championship. If that’s the case you can get double points starting him in the Super Bowl. That’s if you think he’ll stay hot.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Nick Foles, Eagles

Running backs

I think the Patriots will win it all, and Dion Lewis will have a big role. He lost some touches due to a fumble in the AFC championship, but his skills will make up for that. James White was a huge part of New England’s Super Bowl win last season. He could be a big factor again, which is why I have him ranked second. In either case, the running backs for the Patriots will have to get most of their points through the air against the tough Eagles run defense. The highest ranked Eagle for me is LeGarrette Blount. While Jay Ajayi is the better overall back, I think a touchdown for Blount is more likely if they get down near the goal line.

1. Dion Lewis, Patriots
2. James White, Patriots
3. LeGarrette Blount, Eagles
4. Jay Ajayi, Eagles
5. Rex Burkhead, Patriots
6. Corey Clement, Eagles

Wide receivers

I have Alshon Jeffery ahead of Brandin Cooks because he’s been hot recently. He’s a big target in the red zone. Jeffery’s quarterback is coming off his best playoff game. With Tom Brady having a lot of options, including Rob Gronkowski, it’s likely Jeffery is the highest scoring wideout in the game. The Patriots wide receivers that could lead in fantasy points are Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola. Cooks is more talented, but Amendola has been solid for Brady.

1. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
2. Brandin Cooks, Patriots
3. Danny Amendola, Patriots
4. Nelson Agholor, Eagles
5. Chris Hogan, Patriots
6. Torrey Smith, Eagles
7. Mack Hollins, Eagles
8. Phillip Dorsett, Patriots
9. Kenny Britt, Patriots

Tight ends

It’s a no-brainer starting Gronkowski, if he’s fully recovered from the concussion he suffered in the conference championship game. Of course, Zach Ertz has been good, but it’s not likely you’ve sat Gronk so far this postseason. You’ll need that multiplier to work in your favor.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Zach Ertz, Eagles
3. Trey Burton, Eagles
4. Dwayne Allen, Patriots
5. Brent Celek, Eagles
6. Jacob Hollister, Patriots

Defense/Special teams

Nick Foles has played well in stretches and his 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in 2013 was no fluke. That said, the Patriots have had two weeks to prepare for the quarterback who has also played poorly in stretches. Odds of the Patriots winning and of Foles turning the ball over have me picking the Patriots to score more fantasy points on defense.

1. Patriots
2. Eagles

Kickers

I’m not expecting a blowout, but I think the Patriots can hold the Eagles out of the end zone more often than not. That would give Jake Elliott more opportunities to kick field goals.

1. Jake Elliott, Eagles
2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

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.

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.