Fantasy Football Playoff Rankings 2013: Sunday's Best Play at Major Positions

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 18: Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, shakes hands with Reggie Wayne #87 of the Indianapolis Colts before a game the Indianapolis Colts after a Patriot win at Gillette Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

It doesn't grip the nation quite like it does during the regular season, but fantasy football does still exist during the NFL playoffs.

And why shouldn't it? Football is football, right? Plus, without teams like the Raiders, Jaguars and Eagles inflating stats, postseason fantasy is actually a more accurate reflection of how good a player's performance is.

So here's to you, Mr. "17 weeks of fantasy isn't enough for one season." I'm right there with you.

Let's take a look at Sunday's best plays:


QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Some expected Flacco to make the leap from good to great this season. Others, like myself, thought he'd make the leap from above-average to good. Either way, you'd be crazy to view his 2012 season as anything but a disappointment.

But during the playoffs, Flacco has traditionally upped his game considerably. One of the many reasons people expected so much of him this season was the fact that he did so well in the playoffs last season. Especially in New England in the AFC Championship Game, a game that's widely considered the best performance of his career.

He also gets to go up against a Colts team that ranked 27th defending the pass this season (h/t Football Outsiders). The Bucs, who might have would have broken an NFL record for passing yards allowed had Atlanta tried to win in Week 17, rank one spot ahead of them at 26th.

If Flacco doesn't put up big numbers Sunday, we might never see him do so.


RB Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

Let's start with the obvious. Marshawn Lynch is no stranger to Wild Card success:


Even if he doesn't get a chance to grab his junk, Lynch should find plenty of success in Washington; per Football Outsiders, the Redskins rank just 22nd in the league against the run.

Russell Wilson has shown poise beyond his years this season, but the playoffs are a different animal. Especially on the road. Look for Pete Carroll to ease his rookie into the moment by establishing the run early.

And look for Lynch to capitalize on that opportunity. 


WR Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

These aren't your dad's (alright, your older brother's) Baltimore Ravens. The defense is rated 22nd in Football Outsiders' final rankings, a steep decline from last year's first-place finish.

On Sunday they'll be healthier than they've been in a long time, welcoming the likes of Ray Lewis back into the lineup. But one player who won't be returning this weekend is shutdown corner Lardarius Webb, who's still sidelined with a season-ending ACL injury.

That should provide Wayne with all the operating room he needs.

Andrew Luck's favorite target should operate largely against Ravens cornerback Cary Williams. And while Williams has performed admirably since being forced into action, his weaknesses coincide inauspiciously with Wayne's strengths. Per Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz:

"[Williams] spent most of the season giving up a steady stream of 8-to-12-yard completions ... [which] doesn't sound like a particularly strong skill set if you have to cover Reggie Wayne, master of the 10-yard curl. Wayne was targeted this year on 43 passes that went between 8 and 12 yards in the air, more than any receiver except Brandon Marshall."

That, combined with the fact that Indy could be playing from behind, makes Wayne a valuable fantasy commodity.