Figuring out who will put up the best fantasy numbers in the playoffs is a little easier than doing so for the regular season, especially when you have only four games to look at. However, by no means is it simple, especially when you consider the defenses they all have to play against.
That's why those of us in the fantasy industry put together these lists—to give the reader a gauge of what to expect from their players during the NFL Wild Card Weekend.
With that, here are the rankings for the big four offensive positions in the first round of the playoffs along with some detailed analysis on the top five guys at each:
8. Christian Ponder (at GB; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
7. Matt Schaub (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
6. Andy Dalton (at Hou; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
The Top Five QBs for Playoff Week 1
5. Andrew Luck (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Of the three rookie quarterbacks who made it to the playoffs, it would be tough to pick which one had the best season, but I’d probably choose Andrew Luck in the end.
After going 2-14 last season, Luck turned the franchise around almost on his own and led the Colts to an 11-5 record while putting together six fourth-quarter comebacks along the way.
However, I’m not sure he has enough to overcome a Ravens defense that not only allowed the second-fewest passing TDs in 2012, but will also be returning their defensive leader, Ray Lewis, to its lineup this Sunday.
That being said, Indy will need to pass a bunch to win this game, so Luck’s final fantasy stats should inflate to the mid-range zone by the final whistle.
4. Robert Griffin III (vs. Sea; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
The Redskins are going to need Griffin to step up in a big way if they want to beat the Seahawks this Sunday.
His poise should be up to the challenge, though the overall fantasy numbers may lack a bit.
Seattle takes care of the quarterback position as well as any defense in the league, but Griffin’s athleticism should be able to squeak out some decent fantasy points by the end of this one.
Just don’t expect a monster effort here.
3. Joe Flacco (vs. Ind; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
He’s not flashy by any means, but Joseph Vincent Flacco gets the job done.
He’s been to the playoffs every year since entering the league back in 2008, and though he’s only had a few good fantasy games in the postseason, this one should be added to the list.
His statistics at home are far better than when he is away, as evidenced by his 18 total touchdowns in Baltimore versus just seven on the road.
Indy can be beat both through the air and on the ground, though I expect the Colts to stack the line against Ray Rice, so Flacco should have plenty of room to throw the ball.
2. Russell Wilson (at Wash; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
Where would the Seahawks be without their rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson?
The guy has been amazing during the second half of the season, putting up 20 total touchdowns (just two interceptions) and a 7-1 record over the past eight games. In fact, he played so well down the stretch that he actually climbed into the top 10 fantasy QBs by season’s end.
Against a mediocre Washington D, he should be a big point-getter for at least one more game.
1. Aaron Rodgers (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
Aaron Rodgers averaged 325.5 yards and 2.5 touchdowns in the two games he faced off against the Vikings this season.
Being the playoffs, however, this is the only game that counts, and Rodgers knows what to do when it counts.
In six career playoff matches, Rodgers has averaged 296.8 yards and three total TDs per game, so with the Vikings maybe owning the worst defense in the 2012 postseason, you have to think Aaron puts up some big numbers here.
Of course, having a full complement of wide receivers to throw to certainly doesn’t hurt.
22. Mewelde Moore (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
21. Justin Forsett (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
20. Leon Washington (at Wash; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
19. John Kuhn (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
18. Brian Leonard (at Hou; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
17. Evan Royster (vs. Sea; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
16. Toby Gerhart (@ GB; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
15. Robert Turbin (at Wash; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
14. Delone Carter (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
13. Alex Green (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
12. Ben Tate (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
11. Cedric Peerman (at Hou; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
10. Ryan Grant (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
9. Bernard Pierce (vs. Ind; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
8. DuJuan Harris (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
7. Vick Ballard (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
6. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at Hou; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
The Top Five RBs for Playoff Week 1
5. Alfred Morris (vs. Sea; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
If Alfred Morris can keep the momentum going from what he did in that regular-season finale against the Cowboys, not even the hard-nosed Seahawks defense will be able to contain him.
Considering Seattle’s top-tier pass D will be back to working at full capacity this Sunday, the Redskins will need a big game from Morris anyway if they want to win this game.
Washington has won seven games in a row now, and in each one of them, Morris carried the ball 20 or more times.
I expect the same strategy to be used here, though his final fantasy numbers will hinge on whether or not he can get into the end zone, which I believe there to be a 50 percent chance of happening.
4. Arian Foster (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
You can’t really say a guy was a bad fantasy player when he had more touchdowns than games played in a season, though I wouldn’t blame fantasy owners for feeling that way with the way Arian Foster performed in the last half of 2012.
Is it possible the Texans overused him in the first half?
Absolutely, but the bright side heading into the playoffs is that Foster has seen 20 or more touches in a game just once in the past five weeks, so he should be ready for a full load this Saturday.
Look for Houston to do what they do best against the Bengals, which is to wear the defense down with one of the league’s best rushing attacks until, inevitably, they finally break.
3. Marshawn Lynch (at Wash Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
“Fugly McSkittles” didn’t break down the way some thought he would over the course of 2012 and in fact, was a gem for fantasy owners down the stretch against the league’s toughest second-half schedule versus the run.
It doesn’t get any easier this Sunday with the Redskins top 10 rush D on tap, but Lynch is as fearless of a runner as the NFL has to offer, so don’t expect his fantasy stats to suffer too much, if at all.
2. Ray Rice (vs. Ind; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Ray Rice absolutely loves playing in Baltimore as he’s scored a touchdown in 14 of his past 18 regular-season home games.
However, the playoffs are a whole different story, though I expect the outcome to stay the same.
In six career postseason games as a starter, Rice has put up four total touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) while averaging 108.7 total yards per game.
Against probably the worst rush defense to make it to the playoffs, Rice should be able to outperform each of these past numbers, even if the Colts decide to stack the box against him.
1. Adrian Peterson (@ GB; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
Adrian Peterson has ascended to a status Fantasy God, so I'll keep this short and sweet.
The world runs through Purple Jesus when it comes to the Vikings’ offensive strategy, and considering where it’s gotten them, I see no reason to change it now.
If AP doesn’t get upwards of 30 touches, one touchdown and 150 yards in this game, it would shock the bejeezus out of me.
32. Aldrick Robinson (vs. Sea; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
31. Lestar Jean (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
30. Brandon Tate (at Hou; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
29. Keshawn Martin (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
28. Donald Driver (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
27. LaVon Brazill (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
26. Leonard Hankerson (vs. Sea; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
25. DeVier Posey (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
24. Josh Morgan (vs. Sea; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
23. Jerome Simpson (@ GB; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
22. Kevin Walter (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
21. Andrew Hawkins (at Hou; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
20. Michael Jenkins (@ GB; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
19. Jacoby Jones (vs. Ind; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
18. Doug Baldwin (at Wash; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
17. Marvin Jones (at Hou; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
16. Donnie Avery (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
15. Jarius Wright (@ GB; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
14. Santana Moss (vs. Sea; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
13. Golden Tate (at Wash; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
12. James Jones (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
11. Anquan Boldin (vs. Ind; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
10. Sidney Rice (at Wash; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
9. Reggie Wayne (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
8. Pierre Garcon (vs. Sea; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
7. T.Y. Hilton (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
6. Jordy Nelson (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
The Top Five WRs for Playoff Week 1
5. Randall Cobb (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
Randall Cobb wasn’t able to play against the Vikings last weekend due to ankle and knee injuries, but it looks like he’ll be 100 percent for the game this Saturday—which is bad news for the Vikings secondary.
Minnesota had trouble with slot-type receivers all year long, and Cobb might just be the best of the bunch.
In their first matchup back in Week 13, Randall caught all six of his targets for 64 yards, though I could easily see more balls thrown his way this time around.
When Rodgers really wants to get down to business, he can work those high-percentage throws with the best that ever played, and Cobb is definitely the highest percentage toss on the field, catching an astounding 80 of his 104 targets this season.
4. Torrey Smith (vs. Ind; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Torrey Smith is one of the biggest feast-or-famine fantasy receivers in the game today, but when he does decide to roll up his sleeves and slap on the bib, it’s usually at home against a bottom-tier pass defense.
The Indianapolis Colts pass D is exactly that, especially when it comes to their coverage of opposing WRs.
Not only did they allow the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, but they also gave up 17 double-digit performances with 10 of them going for over 14 points.
Basically, the Colts have a tendency to allow the big game, and Torrey Smith just loves these all-you-can-eat buffets.
3. A.J. Green (at Hou; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
For quite a while there, A.J. Green was the gold standard to which all other fantasy wide receivers were compared.
He was targeted a ton, made plenty of catches, turned in 100-yard games and my ohhhhh my were those weekly touchdowns divine.
Recently, however, things haven’t been the same, with Green putting up one just 100-yard performance and one touchdown over the final five weeks of the season.
Still, the 6’4” receiver is a caged beast who could explode at any moment—especially on the road where he averaged 106.8 yards while catching six of his 11 TDs this season.
Houston’s pass defense isn’t nearly as dominant as it was last season, so even though I expect Green to be double- and sometimes triple-teamed, he should still be able to pull through with some nice fantasy numbers this playoff weekend.
2. Greg Jennings (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
It sure is nice to see the old Greg Jennings back, isn’t it, Mr. Rodgers?
Jennings, when healthy, is usually the quickest of the Packers outside receivers to get open, which basically means that if the Vikings happen to go blitz-heavy again or if the Packers offensive line can’t hold their front four back, Jennings will likely see the most targets come his way.
He’s also as sure-handed as they come, so he has the trust of Mr. Rodgers as well.
I can’t promise another eight catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns again (like he put up last weekend) simply because Rodgers has too many other weapons at his disposal.
However, I can tell you that Jennings has nine touchdowns in his past seven games against the Vikings, so at least one score looks pretty darn likely.
1. Andre Johnson (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
Old Man Johnson didn’t play to his age this year as it could easily be argued that despite his usual touchdown deficiency, Andre might very well have had the best season of his career in 2012.
Cincinnati, however, has been one of the best at defending the pass all year long, so ‘Dre will certainly have his work cut out for him this weekend.
Last year when these two teams met in the first round of the playoffs, Johnson put up 90 yards and a touchdown on five catches (nine targets), numbers he may need to outdo if the Texans want to move on into the next round.
I believe there's a pretty good chance that he will.
14. John Carlson (@ GB; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
13. Ed Dickson (vs. Ind; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
12. Garrett Graham (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
11. Coby Fleener (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
10. James Casey (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
9. Anthony McCoy (at Wash; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
8. Dwayne Allen (at Bal; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
7. Logan Paulsen (vs. Sea; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
6. Zach Miller (at Wash; Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
The Top Five TEs for Playoff Week 1
5. Owen Daniels (vs. Cin; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
Owen Daniels has hit the skids as of late, averaging just three catches for 32.2 yards with zero touchdowns over the last five weeks of the season.
Some of it can be attributed to nagging injuries taking their toll, but the Texans offense as a whole hasn’t played very well either—and you can’t blame it all on Owen.
Cincinnati can be had for a decent amount of catches and yardage, but a tight end hasn’t scored on them since Week 9, so don’t expect a slumping Daniels to suddenly pull a 180 here.
4. Kyle Rudolph (@ GB; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
Kyle Rudolph is no model of consistency, but his red-zone play and super-glue hands give him as good of a chance to score as any tight end in the league. Period.
Last week against the Pack, Rudolph put up a stinker, catching just two passes for a measly 20 yards.
However, up in Green Bay back in Week 13, Kyle caught six passes for 51 yards and a touchdown—numbers any guy would love to have on their fantasy team this week.
It’s tough to predict which Rudolph you’re going to get, seeing how he plays equally well both on the road or at home and against good teams or bad, but that’s a chance you have to take when the talent pool is this thin.
3. Jermaine Gresham (at Hou; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
Jermaine Gresham’s overall play this year has inched him into the top 10 fantasy discussion heading into next season, though for myself, I’m still not completely convinced.
He has most of what you could ever want in a tight end, but a career-long trend I find to be a bit bothersome thus far is his poor play down the stretch of a season—particularly during the team’s last five games. It’s as if his body never matured past playing a shortened college schedule.
Be that as it may, Gresham has a great matchup this playoff weekend going up against a Texans defense that allowed the most touchdowns and fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.
Cincy will need him to step up if they want to win this game, so hopefully Jermaine can turn it up a notch this Saturday.
2. Jermichael Finley (vs. Min; Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
People can say what they want about Jermichael Finley—and it might very well be deserved (he really has been an ass)—but in this last half of the Packers' 2012 season, the guy has come through.
Finley has now put up five or more catches for 60-plus yards in four of his past five games, and while the touchdowns haven’t quite been there, he’s certainly due to get in the end zone sooner than later.
In two games with Minnesota this season, Jermichael has averaged eight targets, seven catches and 66 yards a game.
Combine those lofty numbers with the amount Green Bay will be passing the ball this Saturday, and suddenly Finley looks like a real good fantasy player, doesn’t he?
1. Dennis Pitta (vs. Ind; Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Dennis Pitta may not be the end all, be all of tight ends, but he sure has been looking good since the Ravens got rid of offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron.
In fact, Dennis has been a top-five fantasy player over the past eight weeks, so you at least have to like his consistency.
The Colts are usually very good at defending tight ends and don’t often give up big fantasy points to the position, but the top players can do some damage against them, so we’ll see if Pitta is up to the task.
If Baltimore runs a bit of the no-huddle offense at them on Sunday, his chances to do so climb immensely.
For write-ups on every player, check out the: Pyro® Week 1 Playoff Rankings.
For all the ins and outs to each playoff game, check out the: Pyro® Playoff Matchups.
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