DFS: Positional Rankings For Wild Card Weekend
While the trophies have been handed out in most traditional leagues, daily fantasy sports rages on as the NFL Playoffs kick off this week with four big games across the board on Wild Card Weekend. Here's who to take a look for to add to lead your team to victory at each position.
1. Russell Wilson, Seattle-Wilson has played the past football of his young career over the past month and a half, posting 100+ passer ratings in 6 of his past 7 games as well as 2+ touchdown passes in all of his past 7. That span includes a 21-27, 274 yard, 2 TD performance over this week's opponent, Minnesota.
2. Kirk Cousins, Washington-Cousins rewrote the Redskins' record book this season, and arguably is the hottest hand entering the playoffs. Cousins has thrown for 300+ yard in 3 of his last 4 games (he was pulled early after throwing for 176 yards and 3 TDs in Washington's finale against Dallas last Sunday) and has tallied 11 TD passes over his past 3 games, not to mention a 100+ passer rating in 6 straight.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh-Rumors persist that Big Ben may still be a tad injured, but he always turns it up a notch against the Bengals. Roethlisberger is 17-7 all time against Cincinnati, including 1-0 in the postseason.
4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay-A lot of prognosticators have declared 2015-16 an off year for Rodgers, but quarterbacks everywhere would kill for the "struggles" he has had. A visit to Washington and their 25th ranked pass defense may just be what he needs to snap out of his recent funk.
5. Alex Smith, Kansas City-Smith may be a solid quarterback and been a key component in the Chiefs' 10 game winning streak, but he doesn't put up the most eye opening stats. For what it's worth, Smith has thrown a touchdown pass in six consecutive games and his 498 rushing yards are 3rd amongst playoff QBs.
6. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota-Likewise, Bridgewater has been a solid contributor to the Vikings' success, but his stats don't scream "fantasy performer". He has thrown for 300+ yards just twice this season and only 14 TDs. Going up against a top ranked Seattle pass defense in frigid cold Minnesota weather won't help either.
7. AJ McCarron, Cincinnati-I believe McCarron can become a solid contributor in this league, but a young QB making his mere 4th career start doesn't bode well fantasy-wise, especially when Cincinnati has made him more of a game manager. McCarron posted somewhat solid numbers in relief vs the Steelers in December however (22-32, 280 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTS)
8. Brian Hoyer, Houston-Hoyer may not be Tom Brady, but he can post solid numbers in a pinch and protects the ball (only 7 INTs). However, he struggled on opening weekend against the Chiefs this season, going 18-34 for 236 yards and a touchdown and interception each.
1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota-Can't really go wrong with the resurgent Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher. While Peterson could get some carries in the freezing Minnesota weather, be wary of his numbers against Seattle earlier this season (8 carries, 18 yards, both season lows)
2. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati-Hill may not tear up the stat sheet in terms of yardage, but he helps out his fantasy owners in another key stat...touchdowns, a category Hill tied for the league lead in with 11. Hill, along with his teammate on this list, may get some good carries tonight to help out young McCarron.
3. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay-It has been a struggle for Lacy this season, but he's slowly starting to show signs of his old self. He hasn't gotten the most carries in December, but the month did include a season high 148 total yards in a win over Dallas.
4. Alfred Blue, Houston-Blue came out of nowhere (no I will not do the obvious pun) to keep the Texans' season alive when not only Arian Foster went down, but when Houston carried on with a carousel of quarterbacks. Blue posted solid number in limited time against Kansas City in Week 1, picking up 42 yards on 9 carries (4.7 average)
5. Charchandrick West, Kansas City-West is another player who has stepped it up in the face of injury, solidly filling in for Jamal Charles. West has also proved himself a solid threat through the air, nabbing 20 receptions this season.
6. Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati-Bernard saw his carries fall a little with the emergence of Hill, but whereas Hill provides the touchdowns, Bernard can provide the gritty, must-earn yardage (averaging 4.7 yards per carry). While the workload is small, Bernard has averaged over 7 yards a carry in two games against Pittsburgh this year.
7. Spencer Ware, Kansas City-The speedier of the KC running back duo, Ware earned himself an extended workload in the Chiefs' regular season finale against Oakland. Ware averaged 4.8 yards per carry in KC's 10th consecutive win, below his yearly average carry of 5.6.
8. James Starks, Green Bay-The struggles of Lacy have allowed Starks to show his stuff, and he has done so, picking up 601 yards on the year. Unlike his peers on this list, Starks has playoff experience. As a rookie Starks was the Green Bay's lead rusher, picking up 315 yards (including a 123 yard wild card round in Philadelphia) en route to the Packers' Super Bowl XLV title.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh-The latter stages of the season allowed Brown to throw his hat into the "who's the best receiver in the NFL" ring. In the 2nd half of the season, Brown has had 5 games of 100+ yards and, as Indianapolis will tell you, as established himself as a special teams threat as well. Brown had 13 receptions for 134 yards in 2 games against the Bengals this year.
2. Doug Baldwin, Seattle-Baldwin has enjoyed a breakout year in Seattle. Not only has he picked up a career high 78 receptions and 1,069 yards, but he also led the league in touchdowns this season with 14. One of Baldwin's 2015 gems came against Minnesota, where he had 5 catches for 94 yards and 2 scores.
3. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston-Whether it's the fact he plays in Houston, or has had a carousel of quarterbacks, Hopkins's accomplishments have been rather quiet. Nonetheless, he's made several plays that would rival Odell Beckham Jr., and has kept the Texans's season alive, alleviating pressure off of all those QBs. On opening weekend, Hopkins torched Kansas City for 98 yards and 2 scores.
4. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati-Eifert returned on regular season finale weekend and did what he does best...score touchdowns. Eifert may not tear up the stat sheet based on yardage, but he has scored 13 touchdowns this season, 2nd in the NFL, and he MISSED 3 games this season. Eifert did not score in two games against the Steelers, though he missed part of the second meeting due to injury.
5. Jordan Reed, Washington-Reed helped a young Cousins find his groove, giving him a dependable receiver to throw to. Reed has two 120+ yard games over his past 4, (again, being pulled in the season finale) and has tallied 11 TDs on the season.
6. Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City-Remember all the fuss about how Kansas City receivers couldn't score touchdowns? That's all in the past thanks to Maclin, who has scored 8 this year to go along with 1,088 yards. Maclin, who has scored touchdowns in 3 consecutive games, had 5 receptions for 52 yards in Week 1 against Houston.
7. AJ Green, Cincinnati-Green's production has gone down since the injury to Andy Dalton, but with Dalton out, he becomes the Bengals' symbol of postseason suffering. Green has loved seeing the Steelers this season, picking up 17 receptions for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns in the two games this season.
8. James Jones, Green Bay-Frankly, this slot can go to any of Green Bay's receivers (like Randall Cobb, Richard Rodgers or Davante Adams) but it's Jones who led the way this season with 890 receiving yards and and 8 TDs. Like Starks, Jones has playoff experience with the Packers, scoring 2 TDs in the Packers' Super Bowl run.
1. Seattle-The Legion of Boom is still a thing. So there.
2. Houston-JJ Watt always seems to have at least one epic moment come the wild card round. This time around, he gets help from Brian Cushing (110 tackles) and Whitney Mercilus (12 sacks).
3. Kansas City-The Chiefs sacked the quarterback 47 times this season, 2nd most among Wild Card Weekend teams. Also keep an eye on Marcus Peters who had 8 INTs, two returned for touchdowns.
4. Cincinnati-The Bengals can sure take the ball away (21 INTs) but giving up over 26 points per game (7th most in the league) is concerning.
5. Green Bay-The Packers have the most sacks amongst wild card teams (48) but will have to be wary against Washington by giving up 346 yards per game.
6. Minnesota-Minnesota's defense isn't flashy, but giving up only 18.9 points per game is good for 5th best in football.
7. Pittsburgh-In a shocking twist, the Steelers' once feared defense gave up a whopping 401 yards per game, topping only New Orleans and the New York Giants. They can, however, cause turnovers, as they forced 30.
8. Washington-Even by NFC East standards, the Redskins' defense was pretty bad, letting up 23.7 points (17th in the NFL) and 380.6 yards (28th) per game.
1. Steven Hauschka, Seattle-Not only was Hauschka accurate (29-31, 3rd best percentage in football), but he was perfect from field goals from 50+ yards out.
2. Mason Crosby, Green Bay-Another Super Bowl XLV vet, Crosby is the only kicker playing this weekend to be perfect on his extra points.
3. Blair Walsh, Minnesota-Walsh's extra point percentage is lowest amongst playoff kickers (89.2%) but his 34 field goals are most in the NFL overall.
4. Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh-A midseason addition, Boswell solved the Steelers' kicking problems immediately, his 90.6% ranking him 2nd among Wild Card Weekend kickers.
5. Mike Nugent, Cincinnati-Nugent struggled with accuracy (82.1%), but if you need those crunch time points, he's made 48 extra points, most among Wild Card kickers.
6. Nick Novack, Houston-Another midseason pick up, Novack had just 21 attempts, making 18, though all three of his misses came from deep.
7. Dustin Hopkins, Washington-Hopkins was perfect on any field goal inside 40 yards, but don't pick him up for the deep ball, as he was just 2-4 from 50+.
8. Cairo Santos, Kansas City-Santos's 81.1% ranks lowest amongst all playoff kickers, and he was a mere 13-19 from field goals 40 yards or longer.
Enjoy the games everybody!
Geoff Magliocchetti's picks this weekend are the Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks and Packers. Convince him otherwise on Twitter @GeoffMags5490
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