2021-2022 Playoff Fantasy Football Rankings

Drew DeLuca ranks every position ahead of fantasy football playoff contests.

Playoff fantasy football comes in many forms, just like its better-known regular season counterpart. Some are bestball, others require set lineups. A few, like NFL.com’s Playoff Challenge, use multipliers that double, triple, or quadruple the fantasy point totals for players whose teams advance through the playoffs.

NFL.com allows fantasy football managers to swap players out after every round of the playoffs, a nice wrinkle that offers flexibility for fantasy enthusiasts. Other platforms lock rosters for the duration of the playoffs once the first Saturday game of Wild Card Weekend kicks off.

BabyBowl 2021, a charity tournament benefitting the March of Dimes and Ashlie’s Embrace, employs a “One And Done” approach. This means any player can be used only once all season (or in this instance, once for the entire duration of the playoffs). Choosing quality players from teams that are most likely to bow out early is a key strategy in this style of tournament.

While players from teams with first-round byes a bit more heavily in multiplier leagues, our rankings assume a PPR scoring system in a more traditional format, with no round multipliers. Our battle-tested strategy for more generic playoff fantasy football leagues: stockpile players from teams that are most likely to play multiple games. With this in mind, we placed the fourteen playoff teams into tiers to help us identify which teams to target.

 

Tier 1: Super Bowl Favorites

 

1. Green Bay Packers – Vegas lists the Packers as the favorites to win the whole thing, and we agree: it’s a tall order for any team to go into Green Bay and win in January. The next closest thing to a cold weather team on the NFC side of the bracket is the Philadelphia Eagles, who would have to beat Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Tampa to earn their shot.

2. Kansas City Chiefs – Everyone knows that the Chiefs go as Patrick Mahomes goes, but the defense isn’t getting the credit it deserves. After Week 5, Kansas City was allowing 32.6 points per game. They’ve allowed just 16.8 points per contest in the 12 games since. As winners of nine of their last ten games, we see the Chiefs as the team most likely to hoist the Lamar Hunt trophy for the third consecutive season.

 

Tier 2: Likely to Play Two or More Games

 

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Earlier this season, the Buccaneers traveled to Philadelphia and rolled the Eagles during the first half of a Thursday night game. An Eagles team that had yet to find its identity then asserted itself in the second half and made it a ballgame, pulling to within six points with five minutes and change left. That Buccaneers team featured both Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, neither of whom will be suiting up this Sunday. Tampa Bay should win, but it’ll be closer than many think; a first round scare that should serve as motivation to propel the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – While the Bengals offense has been a fixture in highlight reels this season, their defense has flown under the radar, by comparison. We expect the Bengals to roll the Las Vegas Raiders this weekend, thereby cementing the likelihood of Cincinnati as a team that will play multiple post-season games. Don’t be surprised when they get past the Titans and find themselves in the AFC Championship Game.

5. Buffalo Bills – The Bills righted the ship after a midseason lull, closing out the regular season with four straight wins. Buffalo draws the New England Patriots in a rubber match out of the gate; the two teams split the season series and square off against each other for the third time in seven weeks. The Bills will face the Chiefs in what should be (but won’t be) the AFC Championship Game.

6. Los Angeles Rams – It’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Rams, winners of five of their last six games, drop a high-stakes game to the Cardinals, a team that has dropped four of its last five. The running game is a bit of a mess due to a myriad of injuries, but the Cardinals don’t have an answer for Cooper Kupp. The Rams should waltz into the second round of the playoffs, but don’t expect them to dance beyond that.

 

Tier 3: Could Potentially Play Two Games

 

  1. Dallas Cowboys The Dallas Cowboys are currently three-point favorites at home against the San Francisco 49ers, meaning they’d essentially be a pick ’em at a neutral site. Dak Prescott hasn’t been sharp down the stretch, but his exceptional performance in a tune-up game against the Philadelphia Eagles’ JV squad in Week 18 offers reason for optimism. The Cowboys’ defense has been a revelation this year; their performance against the likes of Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Elijah Mitchell in the red zone will determine whether or not the team lives to play another game.

  2. Tennessee Titans – The Titans dominated inferior competition this season, going 8-2 against teams who missed the playoffs. A 4-3 record against playoff teams is far from terrible, but Tennessee had to survive a scare from the lowly Houston Texans in order to secure a first-round bye. The Titans are one of the more beatable top seeds in recent memory.

  3. San Francisco 49ers – The Cowboys should beat the 49ers, but that doesn’t mean they will: the 49ers match up well against the Cowboys and should give the NFC East Champions all they can handle. If the 49ers earn a meeting with the Packers in Green Bay next week, it wouldn’t be a surprise. However, life after Lambeau Field would be a shocker.

  4. New England Patriots – The Patriots have leveraged a cold-weather advantage during the playoffs many times in recent years. However, they get no edge over the Buffalo Bills in that department. The Patriots are obviously a well-coached team, but the Bills offer more talent on both sides of the ball. A near-flawless game from a rookie quarterback might be necessary for the Patriots to advance.

 

Tier 4: Unlikely to Play Two Games

 

  1. Arizona Cardinals – Much like certain cool kids in middle school, the Cardinals peaked way too early this season. A lot would have to go right for the Cardinals to upset the Rams at SoFi Stadium. However, while Los Angeles is stacked on both sides of the ball, their lack of chemistry and continuity could open the door for Kyler Murray and friends.

  2. Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia came within a touchdown of coming back to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this season, but that was before the Eagles looked in the mirror and realized they’re a team that does best when pounding the football on the ground. While the Buccaneers are heavy favorites, we expect the Eagles to make it a game. A victory would be a tall order, however.

  3. Las Vegas Raiders – The Raiders stumbled out of their Week 8 bye and lost five of their next six games. Amazingly, they rattled off four straight wins to punch their playoff tickets. Hats off to this team for enduring a constant circus of distractions, from the firing of Jon Gruden to the release of Henry Ruggs. Unfortunately, the Bengals’ potent offense and underrated defense should prove to be too much for the Raiders.

  4. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers face long odds to advance beyond the first week of the playoffs. Ben Roethlisberger has not played inspiring football, and their narrow 16-13 overtime victory over a Lamar Jackson-less Baltimore Ravens team was their first road win since October. The Steelers need to show up the Chiefs in hostile Arrowhead Stadium to advance beyond Round 1. Nope. Don’t see that happening.

 

QUARTERBACKS

QB RANKINGS
Name Team Position Drew DeLuca Adam Sloate
Patrick Mahomes II KC QB 1 2
Aaron Rodgers GB QB 2 1
Josh Allen BUF QB 3 3
Joe Burrow CIN QB 4 5
Tom Brady TB QB 5 4
Dak Prescott DAL QB 6 6
Matthew Stafford LAR QB 7 8
Kyler Murray ARI QB 8 7
Jimmy Garoppolo SF QB 9 12
Derek Carr LV QB 10 9
Jalen Hurts PHI QB 11 11
Ryan Tannehill TEN QB 12 10
Mac Jones NE QB 13 14
Ben Roethlisberger PIT QB 14 13
Trey Lance SF QB 15 15
Marcus Mariota LV QB 16 16

 

RUNNING BACKS

RB RANKINGS
Name Team Position Drew DeLuca Adam Sloate
Joe Mixon CIN RB 1 2
Derrick Henry TEN RB 2 1
Aaron Jones GB RB 3 3
Devin Singletary BUF RB 4 8
Leonard Fournette TB RB 5 7
Ezekiel Elliott DAL RB 6 5
Elijah Mitchell SF RB 7 6
Najee Harris PIT RB 8 4
James Conner ARI RB 9 10
Josh Jacobs LV RB 10 9
Damien Harris NE RB 11
Sony Michel LAR RB 12
Darrel Williams KC RB 13
AJ Dillon GB RB 14
Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC RB 15
Tony Pollard DAL RB 16
Chase Edmonds ARI RB 17
Miles Sanders PHI RB 18
Rhamondre Stevenson NE RB 19
Ke’Shawn Vaughn TB RB 20
Boston Scott PHI RB 21
Ronald Jones II TB RB 22
Jordan Howard PHI RB 23
Kenneth Gainwell PHI RB 24
Jerick McKinnon KC RB 25
Zack Moss BUF RB 26
D’Onta Foreman TEN RB 27
Samaje Perine CIN RB 28
Giovani Bernard TB RB 29
Benny Snell Jr. PIT RB 30
Le’Veon Bell TB RB 31
Jeff Wilson Jr. SF RB 32
Brandon Bolden NE RB 33
Dontrell Hilliard TEN RB 34
Eno Benjamin ARI RB 35
Jalen Richard LV RB 36
Anthony McFarland Jr. PIT RB 37
Derrick Gore KC RB 38
Kyle Juszczyk SF RB 39
Trey Sermon SF RB 40
Kalen Ballage PIT RB 41
Matt Breida BUF RB 42
JaMycal Hasty SF RB 43
Chris Evans CIN RB 44
Corey Clement DAL RB 45
Peyton Barber LV RB 46

WIDE RECEIVERS

WR RANKINGS
Name Team Position Drew DeLuca Adam Sloate
Davante Adams GB WR 1 1
Cooper Kupp LAR WR 2 2
Tyreek Hill KC WR 3 3
Ja’Marr Chase CIN WR 4 4
Deebo Samuel SF WR 5 5
Stefon Diggs BUF WR 6 6
Mike Evans TB WR 7 7
A.J. Brown TEN WR 8 9
CeeDee Lamb DAL WR 9 8
Tee Higgins CIN WR 10 10
Amari Cooper DAL WR 11 11
Diontae Johnson PIT WR 12 13
Odell Beckham Jr. LAR WR 13 14
Hunter Renfrow LV WR 14 12
Brandon Aiyuk SF WR 15 15
Allen Lazard GB WR 16 16
Tyler Boyd CIN WR 17 18
Mecole Hardman KC WR 18 21
Christian Kirk ARI WR 19 19
Julio Jones TEN WR 20 20
Van Jefferson LAR WR 21 24
Cole Beasley BUF WR 22 25
DeVonta Smith PHI WR 23 17
Gabriel Davis BUF WR 24 22
Chase Claypool PIT WR 25 23
Marquez Valdes-Scantling GB WR 26 26
Cedrick Wilson Jr. DAL WR 27 27
Jakobi Meyers NE WR 28 28
A.J. Green ARI WR 29 29
Byron Pringle KC WR 30
Kendrick Bourne NE WR 31 30
Nelson Agholor NE WR 32
Randall Cobb GB WR 33
Emmanuel Sanders BUF WR 34
Zay Jones LV WR 35
Breshad Perriman TB WR 36
Rondale Moore ARI WR 37
Bryan Edwards LV WR 38
Jalen Reagor PHI WR 39
DeSean Jackson LV WR 40
Demarcus Robinson KC WR 41
Anthony Miller PIT WR 42
Cyril Grayson Jr. TB WR 43
James Washington PIT WR 44
Isaiah McKenzie BUF WR 45
Tyler Johnson TB WR 46
Antoine Wesley ARI WR 47
Quez Watkins PHI WR 48
Jauan Jennings SF WR 49
Scotty Miller TB WR 50
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine TEN WR 51
Ray-Ray McCloud PIT WR 52
Josh Gordon KC WR 53
N’Keal Harry NE WR 54
Amari Rodgers GB WR 55
Equanimeous St. Brown GB WR 56
Ben Skowronek LAR WR 57
Noah Brown DAL WR 58
Chester Rogers TEN WR 59
Greg Ward PHI WR 60

TIGHT ENDS

TE RANKINGS
Name Team Position Drew DeLuca Adam Sloate
Travis Kelce KC TE 1 1
Rob Gronkowski TB TE 2 3
George Kittle SF TE 3 2
Dalton Schultz DAL TE 4 4
Dawson Knox BUF TE 5 5
Dallas Goedert PHI TE 6 6
Zach Ertz ARI TE 7 8
Tyler Higbee LAR TE 8 9
Darren Waller LV TE 9 7
Pat Freiermuth PIT TE 10 11
Hunter Henry NE TE 11 10
Josiah Deguara GB TE 12 12
C.J. Uzomah CIN TE 13 13
Anthony Firkser TEN TE 14 14
Cameron Brate TB TE 15 15
Foster Moreau LV TE 16 16
O.J. Howard TB TE 17 17
Marcedes Lewis GB TE 18 18
Blake Jarwin DAL TE 19 19
Jonnu Smith NE TE 20 20
Tyree Jackson PHI TE 21 21
Geoff Swaim TEN TE 22 22
Eric Ebron PIT TE 23 23
MyCole Pruitt TEN TE 24 24

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

  1. Kansas City Chiefs KC
  2. Green Bay Packers GB
  3. Buffalo Bills BUF
  4. Los Angeles Rams LAR
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers TB
  6. Dallas Cowboys DAL
  7. Cincinnati Bengals CIN
  8. New England Patriots NE
  9. San Francisco 49ers SF
  10. Tennessee Titans TEN
  11. Arizona Cardinals ARI
  12. Philadelphia Eagles PHI
  13. Las Vegas Raiders LV
  14. Pittsburgh Steelers PIT

KICKERS

  1. Harrison Butker KC
  2. Ryan Succop TB
  3. Tyler Bass BUF
  4. Matt Gay LAR
  5. Mason Crosby GB
  6. Evan McPherson CIN
  7. Greg Zuerlein DAL
  8. Robbie Gould SF
  9. Randy Bullock TEN
  10. Nick Folk NE
  11. Matt Prater ARI
  12. Daniel Carlson LV
  13. Jake Elliott PHI
  14. Chris Boswell PIT

 

Images by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@justparadesigns on Twitter)

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