2011 NFL Playoffs: Ranking the Top 14 Fantasy Quarterbacks
Playing fantasy football during the NFL playoffs might be a new concept to some, but speaking as a person who plays in a separate league for the playoffs, let me tell you—it’s a blast. In fact, it can often times be more dramatic and exciting than playing in the regular season, as you find yourself truly cheering for teams along with your individual players.
Playoff fantasy football can be an thrilling way to shorten the already prolonged offseason if you’re one of the millions who is addicted to fantasy football.
In the league I play in, we will draft a team that must consist of each of the following:
- 1 Quarterback
- 2 Running Backs
- 3 Wide Receivers
- 1 Tight End
- 1 Kicker
- 1 Defense / Special Teams Unit
If you have filled up your roster with each of these, you are free to draft six more players at any position. This often means that some teams have two quarterbacks, two or more kickers or defenses, etc.
The scoring system is simple: total points on your fantasy roster throughout the entirety of the playoffs.
This means that you do not set a “starting lineup” each week. Every player on your roster is automatically in your lineup until his team is eliminated from the playoffs.
(Note: Because kickers and defenses are almost guaranteed to accrue at least some points in every game, they are often selected earlier in the playoff system than they would be in your standard preseason fantasy draft.)
With a limited talent pool in the playoffs, this means that selecting players who you believe will be on a team that will make it the furthest in the playoffs is of the utmost importance.
It also can mean slightly downgrading players on teams that have a first round bye, as they will have one less opportunity to gain points than the players on teams that do play in the Wild Card round.
With the basics out of the way, let’s move on to ranking the quarterbacks for this season’s playoffs!
14. Kevin Kolb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Playing the role of backup to Michael Vick this season has to have been a tough pill for Kevin Kolb to swallow, but that’s what he has been relegated to after Vick’s amazing emergence to stardom.
Kolb got a chance to play in Week 17 with the Eagles having nothing to play for, but was unable to will his team to victory against a better-than-their-record Dallas Cowboys team.
Vick’s playing style makes him the most likely quarterback to be knocked out of a game, but that’s really his only chance of playing.
12. Matt Hasselbeck and 13. Charlie Whitehurst, QBs, Seattle Seahawks
It’s not often that a team playing for its playoff lives lets its regular quarterback sit with an injury that he could probably play through, but that’s exactly what the Seahawks did in Week 17.
With Hasselbeck out, Charlie Whitehurst was the man given the reins of the Seahawks offense, as the Seahawks defeated the Rams for the NFC West championship.
The Seahawks are the first 7-9 team to ever make the NFL playoffs and will have the extremely difficult task of facing the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round.
It’s looking like Matt Hasselbeck will be the team’s starter for the playoffs, but Whitehurst is right behind him, ready to step in if things don’t go smoothly. Then again, that might be too little, too late.
11. Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
It has certainly been an up-and-down fantasy season for New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
After three awful fantasy performances against the average-at-best pass defenses of Cincinnati, New England and Miami, Mark Sanchez turned things around in Weeks 15 and 16 with solid, albeit not spectacular days against the Steelers and Bears.
The Jets were able to march into the playoffs with a win over the Bills in Week 17 without Sanchez throwing a pass, but they will need Sanchez to avoid mistakes and play one of his stronger games of his season if they hope to defeat the Colts in Indianapolis.
10. Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Considered by some to be the most overlooked candidate for NFL Most Valuable Player, much of the Kansas City Chiefs’ resurgence can be credited to Matt Cassel and his 27 passing touchdowns.
The concerning thing is that he and the Chiefs were completely manhandled against the Oakland Raiders in Week 17. In their defense, they did have nothing to play for with a playoff spot already in their pockets, but the Oakland defense isn’t exactly one that is known for shutting down its opponents.
The Chiefs have a much tougher task in the first week of the playoffs as they host the Baltimore Ravens, who actually finished two games better than them during the regular season, but were unlucky enough to be in a division that actually fielded some decent competition.
9. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
After having nothing to play for in Week 17, Joe Flacco has now failed to reach even 200 yards passing in three straight games.
While he did throw for six touchdowns from Weeks 14-16, the concern remains that the Ravens offense simply isn’t clicking on all cylinders going into the playoffs.
The saving grace of his fantasy value may be that he is facing the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round, who despite hosting the game, are three-point underdogs to Flacco’s Ravens.
8. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler and the Bears should be thanking their lucky stars that they had absolutely nothing to play for in Week 17. With a bye in the first round of the playoffs, the Bears laid down against the Packers in the final regular season contest, failing to score an offensive touchdown and letting their division rival into the playoffs.
With a week off to plan and something to play for in the second round of the playoffs, Cutler and the offense should be back in gear soon, but it’s certainly a concern that they were unable to generate momentum going in.
7. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
When it comes to performing in the clutch, there aren’t many quarterbacks in NFL history who have a better track record than Ben Roethlisberger.
Needing a few big performances down the stretch to lockup the AFC North, Roethlisberger had three nice fantasy days in a row to end the regular season.
He has thrown only one interception since Week 11 and is riding a streak of eight games with over 240 yards passing.
While he has a bye in the first week of the playoffs, Roethlisberger and the Steelers are a major candidate to win their third Super Bowl under his leadership.
6. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Truly one of the breakout stars of the 2010 season, many fans were calling for Matt Ryan to be included in the Most Valuable Player award conversation.
Ryan’s 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions were among the best ratios in the league and helped give the Falcons the NFC's top seed for the playoffs.
5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers capped off another monster fantasy season by defeating the division rival Chicago Bears in the final game of the season to secure a playoff spot for the Packers.
Rodgers finished in the top two fantasy players at his position for the second straight season, living up to all preseason expectations.
The biggest question for Rodgers’ fantasy value in the playoffs is not his physical ability, but rather his team’s chances of beating the Eagles in the first round.
The Packers did defeat the Eagles back in Week 1, but showed signs that they would have trouble stopping Mike Vick, who has only gotten better since then. If the Eagles win, it will mean only one fantasy game for Rodgers.
4. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
With over 4,600 passing yards and 33 touchdowns, Drew Brees should have been one of the top scoring fantasy quarterbacks this season. Instead, his 22 interceptions forced him out of the top five at his position despite him being one of the top two quarterbacks taken in most fantasy drafts.
With the Seahawks’ 30th-ranked fantasy pass defense as his first test, expect big numbers from Brees in the Wild Card round, which could alone be good enough to make him one of the top scoring quarterbacks in the playoffs.
Brees remains a top player at his position, particularly in the playoffs, but he does need to limit his turnovers if the Saints hope to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
3. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Always one of the best fantasy quarterbacks, Peyton Manning is the poster boy for fantasy football at his position over the past 10 years.
He does have a seemingly tough matchup against the Jets in the Wild Card round, but the Jets actually have been very beatable through the air. They ranked 24th in the league at fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks during the regular season, and Peyton Manning is no slouch.
If Manning and the Colts can make it through round one, Manning should again be one of the premier fantasy quarterbacks.
2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Another excellent season from Tom Brady will likely be capped off by his second NFL Most Valuable Player Award.
Brady has not thrown an interception since Week 6 and his 36 passing touchdowns led the entire league, despite him being without his perceived-to-be top receiver going into the year, Randy Moss, after Week 4.
Now it’s time to see if he can carry that dominance into the playoffs once again. Brady and the New England Patriots are the odds-on favorite to make it to the Super Bowl.
1. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
The top fantasy quarterback in the regular season despite only playing in a total of about 12 total games, Michael Vick is also the top ranked quarterback in the playoffs.
Averaging over 50 rushing yards per game and with nine rushing touchdowns to go with his 21 passing touchdowns, Vick is simply a fantasy football dream.