2021 NFL Playoff Fantasy Football: Wild Card Rankings
The fantasy football season isn’t over. You read that correctly! There is still plenty of fantasy football formats to get in on throughout the NFL postseason. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to roster and root for players you wish you had during your usual redraft leagues. Yes, you have a chance to benefit from what’s left of Cooper Kupp’s monster 2021 season, among many other fantasy football studs in the NFL playoffs. It all starts with the Wild Card Round weekend slate of games.
There are a variety of different ways to get in on NFL playoff fantasy football action. The key to all of them, of course, is that as NFL teams exit the postseason, so do the key players on those rosters. The most popular formatting has managers select players on a week-by-week basis. However, players cannot be used more than once. So, there is some strategy to select players on teams you think may be eliminated any given week. In this format, managers may have players in common, but, by the Super Bowl, there will be enough variation at some point that produces a clear winner.
As the Wild Card Round approaches, get your redraft or dynasty leagues together and establish a playoff fantasy football league. Once you have your format and rules, it will be time to set your lineup! Of course, a lineup with the top players at each position would be great out of the gate. However, you have to be careful to leave some firepower available to pick from each round of the NFL postseason. Also, let this be a reminder to keep up with any injury, Covid-19, or other breaking news that alters a players’ availability. Whichever way you choose to set your lineup, the rankings below will guide you in the right direction.
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NFL Wild Card Round Positional Rankings
|3||Jalen Hurts||PHI||at TB|
|4||Kyler Murray||ARI||at LAR|
|9||Derek Carr||LV||at CIN|
|10||Jimmy Garoppolo||SF||at DAL|
|11||Ben Roethlisberger||PIT||at KC|
|12||Mac Jones||NE||at BUF|
It’s no surprise Josh Allen heads the Wild Card Round quarterback rankings. He enters NFL playoff fantasy football as the QB1 from regular-season fantasy football. In Week 16, Allen rushed for 64 yards and carved up the Patriots defense for 314 passing yards and three touchdowns. Patrick Mahomes is right behind Allen facing off against the Steelers who allow an average of 27.5 points per game on the road.
Jalen Hurts will have to be busy through the air against the Buccaneers’ stout run defense. It’s worth noting they allow the fourth-most rushing yards to quarterbacks. Kyler Murray has averaged 21.02 fantasy points in two games against the Rams this season. Though Joe Burrow finished regular-season fantasy football as QB5, he opens NFL fantasy football a bit low with expectations that the Bengals go run-heavy against the Raiders.
Mac Jones and Jimmy Garoppolo have thrown 25 or more times a combined eight times in a combined 32 games played this season. There’s just not enough upside from either player to start in any NFL playoff fantasy football format. Ben Roethlisberger’s weapons around him are all in play. However, he’s averaging 9.87 fantasy points per game since Week 15.
|2||Najee Harris||PIT||at KC|
|4||Elijah Mitchell||SF||at DAL|
|6||Josh Jacobs||LV||at CIN|
|7||Damien Harris||NE||at BUF|
|8||James Conner||ARI||at LAR|
|11||Miles Sanders||PHI||at TB|
|14||Rhamondre Stevenson||NE||at BUF|
|15||Chase Edmonds||ARI||at LAR|
|16||Boston Scott||PHI||at TB|
|21||Brandon Bolden||NE||at BUF|
|22||Jalen Richard||LV||at CIN|
|23||Jordan Howard||PHI||at TB|
Joe Mixon, Najee Harris, and Leonard Fournette are the top running backs available in the Wild Card Round of NFL playoff fantasy football. Mixon has the best matchup against a Raiders defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to running backs this season. Though they have tougher matchups, Elijah Mitchell and Sony Michel round out the top-five with expectations of heavy volume.
The Kansas City Chiefs are currently 12.5-point favorites at home against the Steelers. With that in mind, as well as a fantasy-friendly matchup for running backs, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a strong option for the Wild Card Round of playoff fantasy football. Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard will likely share the backfield and fall just outside the top-10 here. Zeke is battling a knee injury so putting him any higher is difficult.
Most of the backs outside the top-15 are handcuffs to those ahead of them. However, players, like Chase Edmonds and Boston Scott, offer receiving upside in games where their teams may be playing from behind. That’s good enough for some flex appeal.
|2||Deebo Samuel||SF||at DAL|
|7||Dionte Johnson||PIT||at KC|
|10||Hunter Renfrow||LV||at CIN|
|11||Odell Beckham Jr.||LAR||ARI|
|12||A.J. Green||ARI||at LAR|
|13||Brandon Aiyuk||SF||at DAL|
|14||DeVonta Smith||PHI||at TB|
|17||Christian Kirk||ARI||at LAR|
|18||Jakobi Meyers||NE||at BUF|
|20||Zay Jones||LV||at CIN|
|21||Ray-Ray McCloud||PIT||at KC|
|24||Nelson Agholor||NE||at BUF|
|26||Chase Claypool||PIT||at KC|
|29||Kendrick Bourne||NE||at BUF|
|31||Jauan Jennings||SF||at DAL|
|32||Antoine Wesley||ARI||at LAR|
|33||Quez Watkins||PHI||at TB|
Cooper Kupp stands alone at the top of the wide receiver rankings. Aside from being the 2021 fantasy football MVP, it’s worth noting that the Cardinals defense allows the most touchdowns to wide receivers this season. Deebo Samuel is one of my favorite plays this weekend. It’s going to be tough to beat the Cowboys in Dallas so investing in 49ers players in the Wild Card Round of NFL playoff fantasy football is a solid strategy. I’m banking on Deebo to lead San Fran in targets.
Though I fully expect the Bengals to lean on the run at home versus the Raiders, Ja’Marr Chase is too good to knock down in the rankings. However, I did drop Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd a bit with plans to use them in future rounds of NFL playoff fantasy football. I have DeVonta Smith at 14 and that admittedly feels low. The Buccaneers defense could give Jalen Hurts some trouble, but Smith is a good bet to lead the Eagles in receiving yards. I just think there are more likely red zone options if Philly finds themselves in scoring position.
There are some diamonds in the ruff down near and just outside the top-20. If you’re hoping to save some studs for deeper into playoff fantasy football, then consider a guy like Ray-Ray McCloud this weekend. The Steelers are more than likely to lose and McCloud has 27 targets in the Steelers’ last three games. He is a sneaky flex option to rack up reception points. Let’s just hope he can produce with the ball in his hands.
|3||George Kittle||SF||at DAL|
|4||Dallas Goedert||PHI||at TB|
|5||Darren Waller||LV||at CIN|
|7||Zach Ertz||ARI||at LAR|
|9||Pat Freiermuth||PIT||at KC|
|11||Hunter Henry||NE||at BUF|
Travis Kelce is hard to question as the top tight end, but Rob Gronkowski can arguably sit atop the tight end rankings for the Wild Card Round. The Eagles are an extremely fantasy-friendly defense against opposing tight ends. Gronk missed the Tampa Bay and Philadelphia Week 6 matchup, but O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate combined for nine catches for 75 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. I think Gronk can put up a similar stat line by himself this weekend.
Most of the top-10 options should produce enough for any lineup. Anyone outside the top-10 becomes touchdown-dependent. Again, a likely first-round bounce, like Pat Freiermuth, offers NFL playoff fantasy football managers an opportunity to “zig” while others “zag.” He should be busy for the Steelers in a come-from-behind situation out in Kansas City.
|5||Matt Prater||ARI||at LAR|
|6||Robbie Gould||SF||at DAL|
|7||Nick Folk||NE||at BUF|
|10||Jake Elliot||PHI||at TB|
|11||Daniel Carlson||LV||at CIN|
|12||Chris Boswell||PIT||at KC|
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||PIT|
|3||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||PHI|
|6||Arizona Cardinals||at LAR|
|7||New England Patriots||at BUF|
|8||San Fransisco 49ers||at DAL|
|9||Los Angeles Rams||ARI|
|10||Las Vegas Raiders||at CIN|
|11||Philadelphia Eagles||at TB|
|12||Pittsburgh Steelers||at KC|
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