Fantasy Football QB Playoff Rankings - Wild Card Round
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With all 256 regular-season games in the books, we are down to 11 playoff games to decide the Super Bowl XLVIII champion — and the painful seven-month wait for a meaningful NFL game will begin.
Whether it's playing a fantasy league or group for the entire postseason or just one round on a daily fantasy sports site, it's fortunate that the fantasy season does not have to be over.
In addition to posting fantasy ranking for the entire playoffs, I will post them by round as well and here are my top eight fantasy quarterbacks for the Wild Card round only:
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (at PHI)
This would be more of a slam-dunk top rating for Brees if this game were played in the SuperDome as he has a 27:3 TD-to-INT ratio at home versus 12:9 on the road. That said, Brees finished second in fantasy points behind only Peyton Manning and he threw for 5,162 yards, his third consecutive 5,000-yard season and fourth of his career, and 39 touchdowns.
The Eagles did allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, but no defense allowed more passing yards (4,636) this season.
2. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NO)
In our final NFL power rankings of the season, the roundtable question was which player should (hypothetically) finish second in the MVP voting (behind the likely unanimous selection of Peyton Manning). My choice was Foles.
Even though he hasn't started every game this season, Foles led the NFL in passer rating (119.2) and yards per pass attempt (9.12) while throwing 27 touchdown passes to only two interceptions. Perhaps as surprisingly, Foles has run the ball well with 225 rushing yards and three touchdowns as well.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (vs. SF)
As talented as any other quarterback in the league, Rodgers returned to action and began the process of shaking off the rust in Week 17 with a come-from-behind win to clinch the division in exciting fashion (unless you're a Bears fan). Rodgers will get a tougher matchup this weekend against the 49ers, but no quarterback in this round of the playoffs has as many weapons at wide receiver as Rodgers.
Not only did the Packers get Rodgers back last week, but Randall Cobb returned for the first time since mid-October and he joins a trio of talented receivers in Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jarrett Boykin. With a strong running game led by Eddie Lacy and the return of Rodgers and Cobb, the Packers offense is as potent as any other and he's more of a 2(a) to Foles for me than my third-ranked signal-caller.
4. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at GB)
In his last two games against the Packers, things could not have gone much better for Kaepernick. In the playoffs last year, he threw for 263 yards and two scores while also rushing for 181 yards and two scores. In the regular-season opener this year, he threw for a season-high 412 yards and three touchdowns.
As unprolific as Kaepernick has been throwing the ball this year (he has less than 200 passing yards in 10 of 16 games), he has been throwing the ball better recently and part of that is due to the presence (return) of Michael Crabtree. Kaepernick had his second 300-yard game of the season in Week 17 against the Cardinals.
While he may not have nearly the success he has had recently against the Packers, things are looking up for him and he has tons of upside due to his rushing ability as well.
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5. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. SD)
Dalton set the franchise records for most passing yards (4,296) and passing touchdowns (33) in a season, but he was also one of five quarterbacks to throw at least 20 interceptions this season. Even though he threw four interceptions on Sunday, Dalton has thrown a total of 11 touchdowns in his past four games.
6. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at CIN)
Rivers had a nice bounce-back season with 4,478 yards, 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. After a hot start with three 400-yard games in the first five weeks of the season, Rivers has reached 300 passing yards only twice in his past 11 games. In addition, Rivers had 20-plus fantasy points in three of his first four games, but he has only one such game in his past 12 games.
The Bengals have one of the league's best overall and well-rounded defenses and have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2013. Not only have they held opposing quarterbacks to single-digit fantasy points in three consecutive games, they have done so in six of their past nine games.
7. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (vs. KC)
Only three quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points than Luck in the 2013 season and Brees is the only one of that group playing this weekend. While you could easily argue that he should be at least several spots higher on this list, Luck has been a little inconsistent this year.
As an example, he had 32 fantasy points in Week 14, but he has had 15 fantasy points or less in the other five of his six most recent games this season. In his first matchup against the Chiefs (in Week 16), Luck threw for 241 yards and a touchdown and scored only 13 fantasy points.
8. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (at IND)
Sometimes Smith gets lucky like when he threw five touchdown passes in Week 15 and four of those were to Jamaal Charles, who did virtually all of the work. But Smith ranked 29th in the league in yards per pass attempt in the Chiefs' dink-and-dunk offense and I have more confidence in the ability of the other seven quarterbacks to have a big week than I do in Smith.
Oddly enough, Smith has had either zero or multiple passing scores in every game played this season. In other words, he had no games with just one passing touchdown. In his matchup against the Colts a couple of weeks ago, he threw for 153 yards and no touchdowns as he scored four fantasy points.
Alternatively, you can view my full playoff rankings here.