NFL Playoff Challenge fantasy football rankings: Super Bowl

If you’ve been playing NFL.com’s Playoff Challenge, it all comes down to this Sunday.

The best piece of advice I could give you is if you’ve been starting a player since the first week of the playoffs, don’t change now. According to the rules, if you started a player like Julio Jones in every week so far, even though he didn’t have a Wild Card game, his points will be quadrupled. If you’ve started a player since the Divisional Round then his points will be tripled, and so on.

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots works out during a practice session ahead of Super Bowl LI on February 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots works out during a practice session ahead of Super Bowl LI on February 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

It would be a bad idea to switch quarterbacks at this point, but if you were banking on a QB other than Matt Ryan or Tom Brady you’ll have to change it up. It’s a tough choice between the two quarterbacks if bonus points aren’t involved. On one hand you’ve got the potential MVP in Ryan facing the Pats defense and on the other you’ve got Brady against a Falcon’s defense that was 28th in passing yards allowed per game. I’d give the nod to Brady in this one, but just barely.

At running back there are a lot of options. It’s hard to find anything that really worked well against the Patriots this season, but I think their biggest weakness may be in defending running backs catching passes out of the backfield. They lost just twice this season and in both games they allowed opposing running backs to hurt them through the air. When the Seahawks defeated the Patriots 31-24 in Week 10 rookie C.J. Prosise caught seven passes for 87 yards and rushed for 66 yards on 17 carries. In their early loss to Buffalo LeSean McCoy had a touchdown reception.

Tevin Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons scores a three yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Tevin Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons scores a three yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

If the Falcons’ tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman can be effective out of the backfield, they have a real chance. I’d take Freeman as my top back in the NFL Playoff Challenge and go with Dion Lewis on the other side. Bill Belichick has taken his time with the dynamic talent since LeGarrette Blount has been very solid, but Lewis is a play maker and he could be unleashed against a middle of the road defense.

You’ve got to believe the Falcons’ Jones will show up in the biggest game of his life, double teams be damned. I’d make sure to start him.

Chris Hogan #15 of the New England Patriots reacts against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Chris Hogan #15 of the New England Patriots reacts against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The other side of the ball is harder to predict. Julian Edelman had just three touchdowns all year and eclipsed 100 yards receiving just twice. Chris Hogan had just as many 100-yard games and scored one more touchdown than Edelman and he’s been on fire lately. Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Floyd have combined for just four catches in the postseason, but who knows what Josh McDaniels has cooked up.

If you pass on Edelman and Hogan, you might be best served going with two Falcons in the passing game. Mohamed Sanu has scored a touchdown in three straight games and the Patriots are known for taking away a team’s best weapon (Jones). Another Falcons option is Taylor Gabriel who finished the regular season scoring six touchdowns in the final six weeks. He can make big plays and sometimes you need the lesser known players to have a shot at getting over on the more common picks. Gabriel hasn’t scored in the postseason so he may be due.

Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

People keep expecting Martellus Bennett to break out, and though he’s shown signs, he’s just not as reliable as you want out of the tight end position. That said, you might have to trust him more than his rookie counterpart in Atlanta.

Atlanta’s Austin Hooper has just three catches in the postseason for 33 yards. Bennett was held down by the Texans in the Divisional round of the playoffs but the Falcons have had bad games against tight ends. Travis Kelce lit them up for 140 yards in Week 13. Bennett is the better play among the tight ends.

NFL Playoff Challenge rankings:

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady, Patriots

Matt Ryan, Falcons

Running backs

Devonta Freeman, Falcons

Dion Lewis, Patriots

LeGarrette Blount, Patriots

Tevin Coleman, Falcons

Wide receivers

Julio Jones, Falcons

Chris Hogan, Patriots

Mohamed Sanu, Falcons

Julian Edelman, Patriots

Taylor Gabriel, Falcons

Michael Floyd, Patriots

Tight ends

Martellus Bennett, Patriots

Austin Hooper, Falcons

Kickers

Matt Bryant, Falcons

Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

Defense/Special teams

Patriots

Falcons

2016 Fantasy Football Awards and 2017’s Top 100

With the 2016 season in the books, it’s time to talk about the bests and worsts of the year and take a look toward 2017. Here are the 2016 Fantasy Football Awards.

We’ve got the MVP,  best sleeper, the best waiver pickup and a lot more.

We’ve also got the Top 100 rankings heading into next season.

Here’s a look at the potential first round:

1. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

2. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals

3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys

4. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

5. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants

6. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers

7. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

8. Jordan Howard, RB, Bears

9. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills

10. DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans

11. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals

12. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

Go here for the rest of the list.

NFL playoff fantasy football rankings: Divisional round

If you’re playing NFL.com’s fantasy football challenge it’s almost time to set your lineup for the divisional round of the playoffs. Last week we saw big games from Aaron Rodgers, Thomas Rawls and Antonio Brown. If they were in your lineup in the Wild-Card round, you need to have them back in  your lineup this week as points double for players you start in consecutive games. You’ll likely be rooting for their teams to win as their points would triple during the conference championships if you start them again.

Quarterbacks

One strategy for the NFL playoff challenge was to start Tom Brady last week, even though he didn’t play, so his points this week would be doubled by virtue of you starting him twice in a row. Another great strategy would’ve been for you to start Aaron Rodgers who did play, very well, and whose points will double this week against the Cowboys. Rodgers, however, isn’t favored to advance. Ben Roethlisberger is another high prospect given that his Steelers have the best chance to advance.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and strong safety Jordan Richards (37) warm up during an NFL football practice, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and strong safety Jordan Richards (37) warm up during an NFL football practice, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
3. Matt Ryan, Falcons
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
5. Dak Prescott, Cowboys
6. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
7. Alex Smith, Chiefs
8. Brock Osweiler, Texans

Running backs

Your best bet for scoring big points in the playoff challenge is to have multiple players hit those bonus points. Le’Veon Bell has a great chance to score triple points next week if he and the Steelers can get past the Chiefs in the divisional round. Even if they end up bowing out, Bell will still likely give you nice production this week, times two if you started him last week. The Patriots are heavily favored over the Texans and LeGarrette Blount should pay off when they get a lead and want to run the clock.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) carries the ball during the second half of an AFC wild-card NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) carries the ball during the second half of an AFC wild-card NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

1. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
2. LeGarrette Blount, Patriots
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
4. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
5. Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
6. Dion Lewis, Patriots
7. Ty Montgomery, Packers
8. Tevin Coleman, Falcons
9. Spencer Ware, Chiefs
10. Lamar Miller, Texans
11. James White, Patriots
12. DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
13. Charcandrick West, Chiefs
14. Aaron Ripkowski, Packers
15. Darren McFadden, Cowboys
16. Alfred Blue, Texans
17. Alex Collins, Seahawks
18. Christine Michael, Packers

Wide receivers

You have to start Brown this week if you started him last week to get double points, especially since the Steelers have a real chance to beat the Chiefs. One guy you’ll have to keep an eye on is Jordy Nelson. If he has fractured ribs, as reported by NFL.com, he may not be able to play. Even if he can go, you’ve got to believe he would be limited. Look for Malcolm Mitchell to be pretty productive this week and in later rounds.

New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple (24) breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) during the first half of an NFC wild-card NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple (24) breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) during the first half of an NFC wild-card NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers
2. Julio Jones, Falcons
3. Davante Adams, Packers
4. Julian Edelman, Patriots
5. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
6. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
7. Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots
8. Randall Cobb, Packers
9. Jordy Nelson, Packers
10. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
11. Mohamed Sanu, Falcons
12. Eli Rogers, Steelers
13. Cole Beasley, Cowboys
14. Michael Floyd, Patriots
15. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
16. Chris Hogan, Patriots
17. Taylor Gabriel, Falcons
18. Terrance Williams, Cowboys
19. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs
20. Geronimo Allison, Packers
21. Jermaine Kearse, Seahawks
22. Paul Richardson, Seahawks
23. Cobi Hamilton, Steelers
24. Will Fuller, Texans

Tight ends

Travis Kelce has been a monster all year. Even if the Steelers pull off an upset, he’s the tight end most likely to be productive. Jimmy Graham and the Seahawks are slight underdogs, but he’s had a nice bounce back year this season. Don’t be surprised if he’s a big factor against a Falcons defense that isn’t good at defending the position.

1. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
2. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
3. Martellus Bennett, Patriots
4. Jared Cook, Packers
5. Jason Witten, Cowboys
6. Austin Hooper, Falcons
7. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans
8. Jesse James, Steelers
9. Luke Willson, Seahawks
10. Ryan Griffin, Texans

Kickers

Sensing a Steelers upset of the Chiefs, I’m expecting Chris Boswell to be able to start multiple weeks for you. Same goes for Stephen Gostkowski, who tops this list.

1. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
2. Chris Boswell, Steelers
3. Matt Bryant, Falcons
4. Dan Bailey, Cowboys
5. Mason Crosby, Packers
6. Cairo Santos, Chiefs
7. Steven Hauschka, Seahawks
8. Nick Novak, Texans

Defense/special teams

The Texans are ranked last because they have to face the Patriots. The Seahawks face the Falcons who have been a terrible matchup for defenses all year. Dallas is favored over the Packers, so their defense is ranked slightly higher. Plus, Green Bay may be without Nelson.

1. Patriots
2. Falcons
3. Steelers
4. Cowboys
5. Packers
6. Seahawks
7. Chiefs
8. Texans