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FFPC Playoff Challenge Strategy

By Kevin English and C.H. Herms. 9:06pm EST 1/9/23


If you thought the fantasy football season was over ... think again.

The Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) will award $500,000 to the winner of their Playoff Challenge. You can view all of the details here, but the keys are below:

-$1.4 million prize pool

-$200 buy-in

-Entries capped at 7,800 teams

-Payouts down to 900th place

-FFPC scoring (1 PPR for RBs and WRs; 1.5 for TEs)

-Super Bowl points count double

Your mission: Pick the highest scoring team with the following (deep!) roster:

The catch? You can only select 1 player per NFL team. No stacking opportunities here.

Before we get into player selection, let's look at some influential factors for lineup building.

NOTE: For complete, playoff-long rankings, visit this page.


SB Odds

The odds for each team winning the Super Bowl, per DraftKings sportsbook, are as follows:

AFC

Kansas City Chiefs: +350

Buffalo Bills: +400

Cincinnati Bengals: +850

Los Angeles Chargers: +2000

Baltimore Ravens: +3500

Jacksonville Jaguars: +5000

Miami Dolphins: +6000

NFC

San Francisco 49ers: +500

Philadelphia Eagles: +550

Dallas Cowboys: +1200

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +2800

Minnesota Vikings: +3500

New York Giants: +5500

Seattle Seahawks: +7000


Next, here’s a look at postseason odds from analytics site FiveThirtyEight:


The Draft Sharks View

We project a Bills-Eagles Super Bowl with the following number of games played for each playoff participant:

AFC

BUF: 4

KC: 2

CIN: 2

LAC: 2

BAL: 1

JAX: 1

MIA: 1

NFC

PHI: 3

SF: 3

DAL: 2

NYG: 2

MIN: 1

TB: 1

SEA: 1


Now, let’s go team-by-team with our top targets:

AFC

Chiefs: The Chiefs clinched the top seed with a win over Vegas, so they’ll play a maximum of 3 games. Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce lead the pack as clear top options. Kelce probably holds the higher ownership percentage given a lack of TE alternatives. Of course, he’s also coming off a monster season with 370.3 fantasy points (FFPC scoring) — 118 ahead of #2 TE T.J. Hockenson. We’d look to diversify Kelce/Mahomes teams if you’re rolling multiple lineups.

Note: If K.C. faces Buffalo in the AFC Championship, the game will take place at a neutral site.

Bills: Is this a team of destiny? Or one simply led by one of the best (and streakiest) QBs league-wide? Call them what you want, but the Bills have a real chance to make their first Super Bowl since 1994. Home vs. Miami, the Wild Card round will likely see them face a backup QB. Allen, impressively, his hit 32 fantasy points in 3 straight vs. the Fins. Beyond that, our projections have the Bengals coming to town. In a close one, we give the nod to the home Bills. As for targets — look for ownership to be heavily focused on Allen and Stefon Diggs. Because we project Buffalo to play 4 games — and be the only squad to do so — Allen is your top play. But we’d go ~70%-30% in favor of the QB if you’re rolling out a glut of lineups.

Bengals: Our playoff forecast includes the Bengals facing Baltimore (at home) and Buffalo (on the road). So you’re staying away from the Cincy D and K Evan McPherson. Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are all in play. We give heavy preference to Chase, though. Selecting Burrow comes with a significant opportunity cost (namely, Allen and Hurts). Mixon simply hasn’t flashed a reliable ceiling, and the Ravens rematch isn’t ideal. Mixon, in fact, posted 23% of his season-long fantasy points in just 1 game (Week 9, vs. Carolina). Higgins is a boom-or-bust option, but he’s tough to get behind given his current form. He's been held under 40 yards in 3 of his past 4 outings.

Jaguars: After winning the AFC South, Jacksonville gets a date with a talented Chargers squad. In what profiles as a close game, you could take a look at guys like Travis Etienne, Christian Kirk or Evan Engram (FLEX). Our numbers have L.A. advancing, however, so kicker/defense is firmly on the table as well. Etienne looks most tempting among the skill guys, as the Chargers have allowed the 2nd most rushing yards to enemy RBs. The Clemson product also paced all RBs (min. 125 attempts) in rushing yards over expected en route to a breakout, RB2-level season. Meanwhile, the Bolts grade out as above average vs. WRs/TEs. Note that stud S Derwin James (concussion) returned for Week 18.

Chargers: The Chargers were locked into the 5 seed even before kickoff on Sunday. Yet for some reason, HC Brandon Staley decided to play key starters. It cost him, as WR Mike Williams and EDGE Joey Bosa left early with injuries. Their availability isn’t yet known for Sunday. The Chargers already enter a coin flip game in Jacksonville, with the visitors currently installed as 1-point favorites (-120 moneyline). While we project L.A. to advance, you’re essentially down to Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen as options (with Justin Herbert serving as a major, off-the-board pick). As our own Jared Smola pointed out on Twitter, Allen’s recent production has really improved. Ekeler just wrapped up a 2nd straight campaign with 18+ TDs, but he’ll surely be among the highest-owned RBs.

Ravens: Lamar Jackson hasn’t played since suffering a sprained knee (PCL) in Week 13. The general thought was that he’d have returned by now. Instead, there remains some uncertainty regarding his Wild Card availability. Our early guess is Jackson plays. But his effectiveness — especially on the ground — will be a pre-game mystery. At bottom: We’re out on Jackson as a potential selection. Pivot to Justin Tucker, Mark Andrews or J.K. Dobbins, in that order. Dobbins, who was rested in Week 18, is a truly contrarian pick with Baltimore installed as 6.5-point underdogs at Cincy. However, the 24-year-old has hit 93 yards in 3 of his past 4 outings.

Dolphins: As of this writing, Tua Tagovailoa remains in the concussion protocol. Given everything that’s transpired this season, we’d be surprised if he's back for Buffalo. Miami’s currently 11-point road underdogs, and while they’ve played the Bills tough this year — even winning 1 matchup — the dynamic shifts without Tua. Tyreek Hill also suffered another ankle injury in Week 18, although he should be fine for Wild Card weekend.

We’re OK with targeting K Jason Sanders. Beyond him, though, we’re passing on Dolphins.


NFC

Eagles: The Eagles are justifiably among the favorites to represent the NFC in the title game. Between a top-flight secondary, a robust supporting cast of weapons, and a QB in Jalen Hurts who likely would’ve been a top MVP pick had it not been for a shoulder injury, this team is poised for a deep run. Hurts represents the top pick from the Eagles for this contest. His rushing floor/Konami Code archetype alone makes him a tremendous asset. WR A.J. Brown warrants consideration given his penchant for the big play and a team-leading target share (28.4%) and air yards share (39.2%). TE Dallas Goedert deserves mention as well given the shallow landscape of quality, difference-making TEs.

49ers: There’s not much to dislike about this 49ers roster outside of the QB situation. It stands to reason that this team, led by a powerhouse defense, could be a surprise assuming rookie signal-caller Brock Purdy can manage games properly. RB Christian McCaffrey is going to be the focal point of this offensive effort and is assuredly the top RB in this contest. He’s tallied 15+ touches in 6 of the team’s 7 games entering the postseason, including 3 games with over 20 total touches. No other RB on a top team this postseason carries that volume security. TE George Kittle is an interesting selection as well. He and Purdy have seemingly built a good rapport that’s translated into 7 TDs over the last 4 games between them. Beyond CMC and Kittle, though, we're not getting cute with San Francisco.

Vikings: The Vikings are a rather mercurial case. On one hand, their NFL-record 11 wins in 1-score games speaks volumes to their resilience. On the other hand, a -3 point differential indicates that HC Kevin O’Connell and company are at risk of an early exit from the bracket. There are still a pair of elite pass-catching options from this team despite this. Both WR Justin Jefferson and TE T.J. Hockenson are +20% target share and air yards share players in this offense since Week 9. Should the Vikings continue their stretch of good fortune, we like this pair with Jefferson as the favorite between them. Just be aware that he might be the highest-owned player in this contest, so a fade has merit if you're running a high volume of teams. The health of RB Dalvin Cook will be worth monitoring as this week evolves.

Buccaneers: There’s not much to like about the Buccaneers’ playoff hopes beyond prior experience and QB Tom Brady leading the charge. WR Chris Godwin is a player whose high-target share/low-air yards share combo carries intrigue as a flex-worthy floor play. He fits the bill as an “it won’t kill you” volume option should the Bucs muster a 2-game run. Their defense, which ranked 10th in Football Outsiders’ total defense DVOA, also warrants consideration here. So does RB Leonard Fournette, a player who's flashed a high-end opportunity share despite the presence of rookie RB Rachaad White.

Cowboys: WR CeeDee Lamb and RB Tony Pollard immediately leap off the page when contemplating Cowboys players. That said, how many games will they ultimately win? Our projections have Dallas for 2 games, but we view the road Bucs matchup as largely a toss-up. QB Dak Prescott is out of the mix for us. If you're looking beyond Lamb or Pollard, it's K Brett Maher or the defense. Note that Dallas averaged 3.2 sacks per game in 2022 -- tied for 2nd most league-wide.

Giants: In a world where the Giants are fully healthy, they’re probably a more intriguing, playoff-long dark horse. We don’t live in that world, but we can see a mini upset brewing in Minnesota given the current form of QB Daniel Jones. DJ completed 67.2% of his passes this season while setting new highs as a ball-carrier. He also paced the league in on-target throw percentage (81.0%), per Pro Football Reference. So look to RB Saquon Barkley as a speculative flex. His dominator rating ranks 6th among qualified RBs this season -- 3rd-best behind only Austin Ekeler and Christian McCaffrey among playoff participants. The Vikings rank bottom-12 in fantasy points allowed to RBs.

Seahawks: Thanks to QB Geno Smith, the Seahawks are a fun story. Still, it’s one that expects to have a swift ending. San Francisco has already defeated Seattle twice this season by a combined margin of 28. It’s a pretty brutal matchup for RB Kenneth Walker, and neither WR D.K. Metcalf nor WR Tyler Lockett seem primed to go off in a 1-and-done scenario. Perhaps the Seattle D surprises in QB Brock Purdy's 1st playoff start... but the 49ers are currently implied for 26.5 points.


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