Sunday, January 21, 2018

Fantasy Football TE Rankings: Championship Games Round

Down to only four teams with three games to go, we have published our fantasy football rankings for the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

With that said, here are our fantasy football tight end rankings for this week's games:

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

With the exception of Vance McDonald, who finished with 10 catches for 112 yards last weekend, the Jaguars only allowed three (other) tight ends to go over 50 receiving yards this season. Of course, Gronk is a matchup nightmare and he should see a heavy dose of targets from Tom Brady, especially given the talented Jacksonville perimeter corners.

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2. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

While Gronk's matchup isn't favorable, Ertz has an even more difficult matchup. No team allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season than the Vikings. Finishing with 70-plus catches, 100-plus targets and 800-plus yards this season, Ertz also set a career high in touchdowns (eight). The loss of Carson Wentz limits his upside as the team will lean heavily on Jay Ajayi and their backfield as none of the team's pass-catchers exceeded five targets in last week's 15-10 win over the Falcons.

3. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

With 15 touchdowns over the past two seasons, Rudolph's numbers dipped year-over-year (83/840 in 2016 to 57/532 in 2017). Even though Rudolph has a more favorable matchup than either Gronk or Ertz, I'd still rank him third this weekend. That said, the gap between him and Ertz is closer than that between Ertz and Gronkowski.

4. Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars

Scoring five touchdowns this season, Lewis had three of them in one game (Week 3). Over the next three games, he sandwiched a one-catch, 14-yard performance with a pair of goose eggs. If the Jags are able to move the ball with any success, Lewis could be the recipient of a red-zone target or two, but he's nothing more than a fantasy dart throw.

Here are the next seven tight ends:

5. Trey Burton, Philadelphia Eagles
6. Dwayne Allen, New England Patriots
7. James O'Shaughnessy, Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
9. David Morgan, Minnesota Vikings
10. Ben Koyack, Jacksonville Jaguars
11. Jacob Hollister, New England Patriots
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Fantasy Football WR Rankings: Championship Games Round

Down to only four teams with three games to go, we have published our fantasy football rankings for the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

With that said, here are our fantasy football wide receiver rankings for this week's games:

1. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings

Diggs scored an unlikely 61-yard touchdown to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game and finished the week with six catches for 137 yards and a score. He now has five-plus catches in five consecutive games and a touchdown in four straight. Both he and Adam Thielen are the top-two options on Sunday.

2. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

A Pro Bowl snub, Thielen took another big step forward in 2017 (91/1,276/4) following last year's breakout season (69/967/5). Thielen had six catches for 94 yards against the Saints on Sunday. As challenging of a matchup as the Jaguars and Vikings pose to the Patriots and Eagles receivers, respectively, Diggs and Thielen enters this week's games as the 1(a)/1(b) receivers -- separated by only 0.04 fantasy points in my projections.

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3. Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots

No team allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season than the Jaguars, who have the league's best cornerback duo in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Perhaps the Jags will use Ramsey on Gronk, but things won't be easy for Cooks and New England's receivers. Plus the hand injury to Tom Brady doesn't help, even if it appears that it won't limit him in a major way on Sunday.

4. Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles

Coming off a career-best season (62/768/8), Agholor had three catches for 24 yards and two rushes for 20 yards in Sunday's win over the Falcons. With a conservative approach in a Carson Wentz-less offense, it's difficult to get too excited about any of the Eagles pass-catchers, but I'd actually prefer Agholor slightly to Alshon Jeffery.

5. Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles

In his debut season with the Eagles, Jeffery failed to reach the 100-yard milestone in any game, but he scored nine touchdowns -- one shy of his career high (10) set in 2014. Not only was the injury of Wentz a huge blow to Jeffery, as the team plays it much more conservatively on offense, but Jeffery is likely to draw shadow coverage from Xavier Rhodes on Sunday.

6. Chris Hogan, New England Patriots

In his first game back, Hogan didn't appear limited as he played on 83 percent of the team's offfensive snaps. Targeted only four times, Hogan finished with just one catch for four yards but it was a touchdown. The matchup against Jacksonville's elite corners is certainly difficult, but Hogan should see more targets this weekend.

7. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots

Amendola converted 13 targets last weekend into 11 catches for 112 yards, both of which were team highs. Even if that's something he's unlikely to repeat this weekend, he should see plenty of targets from Brady this week as well. With low touchdown upside, he remains a better option in full PPR formats.

8. Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars

Relatively quiet in two postseason wins, Lee had a team-high six targets last week as he finished with three catches for 28 yards. Up to this point in the playoffs, the Jags have been able to utilize a run-heavy approach with only 49 combined pass attempts from Blake Bortles. While that will remain the preferred approach, the daunting task of winning a playoff game in Foxboro could dictate that they throw more often than they'd like this week. Either way, I'd expect Lee to once again lead the team's wideouts in targets.

9. Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars

In two postseason wins, Westbrook has six catches for 56 yards on 11 targets. As noted above, the team has only thrown the ball 49 times in those two games so Westbrook has had 22.45 percent of the team's targets. If game flow leads to more pass attempts, Westbrook could have his best fantasy performance of the postseason this weekend.

10. Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars

Cole has only one catch and two targets in the team's two playoff games, but he had a very productive stretch in December. From Weeks 13 to 16, Cole had 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown in all four of those games. Given the recent success and chemistry he has shown with Bortles, it's certainly possible that Cole erupts with a December-like game, especially if the score gets out of hand early.

Here are the next eight wide receivers:

11. Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
12. Jarius Wright, Minnesota Vikings
13. Torrey Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
14. Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings
15. Mack Hollins, Philadelphia Eagles
16. Michael Floyd, Minnesota Vikings
17. Phillip Dorsett, New England Patriots
18. Kenny Britt, New England Patriots

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Fantasy Football RB Rankings: Championship Games Round

Down to only four teams with three games to go, we have published our fantasy football rankings for the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

With that said, here are our fantasy football running back rankings for this week's games:

1. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

If Doug Marrone had his way, Blake Bortles wouldn't throw a single pass on Sunday. Of course, Bill Belichick will do everything to take away Jacksonville's biggest offensive weapon (Fournette). Against the Steelers, Fournette carried the ball 25 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns and added two catches for nine yards. In addition to New England's presumed defensive game plan, negative game script (TD+ underdogs) doesn't bode well for Fournette. Based on volume (and talent), however, Fournette is still the top option among this week's backs.

2. Dion Lewis, New England Patriots

Over his previous three games, Lewis has 65 carries and 20 receptions for a total of 427 yards and four touchdowns. In the four games before that stretch, Rex Burkhead had a total of six touchdowns and will return this week. There is the potential for Lewis to get vultured near the goal line, but he should once again lead the backfield in workload.

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3. Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles

Ajayi totalled 98 yards from scrimmage on 15 carries and three receptions in last week's win over the Falcons and I'd expect him to get 18-plus touches once again. The Eagles are home 'dogs against the Vikings, who allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, but the loss of Carson Wentz will force the Eagles to rely more heavily on Ajayi and their ground game.

4. Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings

Including last week's playoff win, Murray has 19-plus carries in four consecutive games and he has eight rushing touchdowns in his past nine games. Including the postseason, Murray has averaged just 3.8 yards per carry this season and the Eagles had the league's top-ranked rush defense (79.2 YPG allowed). Based on workload, however, Murray should at least be able to grind out mediocre numbers.

5. Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots

As noted above, Burkhead is expected to return this week and he was a scoring machine prior to his injury with six scores over a four-game span. With the highest implied total of the weekend, the team's running backs (and offense in general) have plenty of scoring upside.

6. Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings

Since Week 5 without Dalvin Cook, McKinnon has double-digit touches in all but two games and a minimum of eight touches weekly. Setting career highs in receptions (51) and falling just short of 1,000 yards from scrimmage (991), McKinnon should see 10-12 touches as a change-of-pace complement to Murray.

7. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars

Chris Ivory was a healthy scratch last weekend and expect that to be the case once again. Given Fournette's ankle issues, Yeldon could see a fair amount of work if Fournette is sidelined at all during the game (like last week) or if the game gets out of hand early.

8. James White, New England Patriots

White turned eight touches and 40 yards into a big day with a pair of touchdowns against the Titans. With Burkhead likely to return this week, however, White's role is a little less certain this week.

The next four:

9. LeGarrette Blount, Philadelphia Eagles
10. Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles
11. Corey Grant, Jacksonville Jaguars
12. Tommy Bohanon, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Fantasy Football QB Rankings: Championship Game Round

Down to only four teams and three games to go, we have published our fantasy football rankings for the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

In a game where quarterback play is so important, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan were all eliminated last week as Case Keenum, Blake Bortles and Nick Foles advanced to the Final Four.

With that said, here are our fantasy football quarterback rankings for this week's games:

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1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Posting relatively modest numbers in December (240.6 YPG, six TDs and five INTs over five games), Brady threw for 337 yards and three scores against the Titans in the Divisional Round. Things won't be as easy against the Jaguars, but Brady is the clear-cut top quarterback on Sunday despite a hand injury requiring stitches this week. After limiting opponents to one (or zero) passing touchdowns in their first eight games, the Jags have allowed multiple passing scores in five of their past 10 games.

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2. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bill Belichick has historically taken away an opponent's top offensive weapon, which makes it likely he'll stack the box to limit Leonard Fournette and force Bortles to beat them. Given that, there is a wide range of outcomes for Bortles. Whether it happens due to garbage-time production or the ability to make plays with his legs, Bortles has QB1 upside (and QB4 downside) on this four-game slate and is an excellent DFS tournament play. Bortles finished as a weekly top-10 fantasy quarterback over a five-game stretch from Weeks 12 to 16, but he's managed to complete just 26-of-49 combined for 301 yards and two touchdowns in the team's two playoff wins.

3. Case Keenum, Minnesota Vikings

Soon to parlay his 2017 success into a big free-agent contract, Keenum has made the most of his opportunity this season. He has thrown for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions since taking over for Sam Bradford in Week 2. In terms of home-road splits, Keenum has been consistent: 100.1 rating, 8.06 Y/A, eight TDs at home and two INTs compared to 96.8 rating, 7.27 Y/A, 14 TDs and five INTs on the road.

4. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

Regardless of what Doug Pederson says, the team's playoff hopes suffered a huge blow when Carson Wentz tore his ACL. As we saw last week, the Eagles will likely limit the number of pass attempts for Foles and instead rely heavily on their ground game provided the game stays close. A three-point home underdog, the Eagles have the lowest projected total of the weekend.

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