FFPC Playoff Challenge Rd 2 Analysis


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FFPC Playoff Challenge Rd 2 Analysis

We are back for more FFPC Playoff Challenge fun! The FFPC Playoff Challenge 2 is similar to the first FFPC Playoff Challenge, except it starts in the divisional round. If you want more playoff fantasy to play or your teams from the first playoff challenge don’t look too great, this is a great tournament to get in on.

First, I will go over the rules to help explain what the tournament is and how to play if you have not heard of the tournament before.

All of the information can be found on the FFPC site here.

FFPC offers both a $200 and $35 tournament. Both have the same rules, but the $35 dollar tournament has about double the number of entries, so it will be slightly harder to win it all.

This time around, your roster only needs 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, and 2 FLEX. There is no kicker or defense and you no longer have to fade two teams entirely. This means you are picking a player from every team remaining in the playoffs.

The scoring is the same as any FFPC leagues: 4 points per passing TD, 6 for all other TDs, 1 point per 20 passing yards, 1 point per 10 rushing/receiving yards, and 1 point per reception — except tight ends, who get 1.5 points per reception (TE premium scoring). All points are doubled for players in the Super Bowl.

Below I will run through my player pool for each position and how I would think about using players in certain lineups.


Tier 1: Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts

There are two obvious options at QB — Allen and Hurts. Allen came in at 45% in the first Playoff Challenge so expect high ownership for him again. I could see the ownership coming down a touch with Hurts and Mahomes no longer on bye and the Bills not looking so hot in the Wild Card round. However, Allen still has what should be high-scoring matchups ahead of him and was the overall QB1 in fantasy this season. You will need to get different elsewhere if you plan to use him.

Hurts is my favorite overall play in the tournament. He is going to come in at much lower ownership than Allen, and actually came in lower than both Mahomes and Burrow in the first tournament. If we had no questions about Hurts’ health, he would be much higher owned and that is the kind of risk I am willing to take in a tournament where you are shooting for first. He will play the New York Giants this week — the Eagles are touchdown favorites, making it likely he sees at least two games.

Tier 2: Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow

Mahomes and Burrow are a touch below Allen and Hurts to me. Travis Kelce is such a dominant play for the Chiefs that it makes it hard to play Mahomes and his ownership likely isn’t much different than Hurts. He would make sense to use on a Mahomes-Goedert team as perfect leverage off of Hurts-Kelce teams.

Burrow didn’t show a high ceiling in the Wild Card round against the Ravens. But the Ravens have played good defense against Burrow in his early career, so I wouldn’t be too worried about that. Burrow is still playing some of the best football in the NFL right now, and should the Bengals make it to the Super Bowl, there is a good chance he is spreading the ball around enough to where he is the highest-scoring Bengal by a large enough margin.

Tier 3: Rest of QBs

I am probably not playing any other QBs than the four listed above. This group likely comes in less than 5% owned individually, so if you did want to use one you would have a ton of leverage in your lineup. Dak Prescott is probably the one I’d be most interested in if you believe the Cowboys make it to the Super Bowl. Just remember you would need Dak to outscore all those AFC QBs as well as beat the Eagles/Giants in the next round and the 49ers this round.

Running Backs

Tier 1: Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Travis Etienne Jr.

McCaffrey and Barkley are clearly the best RB options remaining. They also will be extremely popular, with both likely on 70+% of teams. Of the two, Barkley is probably the one I’d want to fade and go with an NYG receiver instead. Barkley only saw 14 carries against the Vikings so maybe the Giants will be playing from behind against the Eagles and limit Barkley’s touches. I think it is also viable to fade CMC and Barkley in the same lineup. Deebo was the best 49er in the Wild Card round and could continue to be dominant. By just not playing both McCaffrey and Barkley, you would have plenty of leverage on the field, and both have realistic paths to failure.

Etienne gets in this group because he is the last “bell-cow” in the playoffs. Despite playing most of the running back snaps for the Jaguars, he still is not targeted much. He saw only one target last week, even with the Jaguars playing basically the entire game from behind. They project to see a similar game script against the Chiefs this week, so he will have to run efficiently to put up a good fantasy score — another likely popular RB with paths to failure. Etienne will likely be on around 40-50% of teams.

Tier 2: Jerick McKinnon, Joe Mixon, Tony Pollard

This is my favorite group of running backs to play. I would recommend avoiding playing more than one of the RBs from Tier 1 in the same lineup, but I think you could avoid all of them if you want to stick with this tier. McKinnon will be very low-rostered due to Kelce and Mahomes ownership, so if you want to fade Kelce, McKinnon would be my preferred Chief play. Mixon is great leverage off all the Bengals WRs and Burrow. I would rather play Mixon than Burrow because it is a similar play in that you would need the Bengals WRs to all score decently without anyone, in particular, going off. We have seen a ceiling from Mixon, even if it was only in one game. Pollard is stuck in a timeshare and gets a tough matchup against the 49ers, but if you think the Cowboys can win, he likely will need to be more involved than he was against the Bucs. The Cowboys were never in danger of losing the game to the Bucs, so hopefully they didn’t feel a need to overuse Pollard.

Tier 3: Miles Sanders, BUF RBs, Isiah Pacheco

I would avoid these RBs unless you are building 10+ lineups. Sanders and the Buffalo running backs would have to overcome their elite QBs in likely a one-and-done scenario, which doesn’t make logical sense. Pacheco doesn’t catch passes and would have a hard time outscoring Kelce and Mahomes, though McKinnon can with his pass-catching work.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1: Stefon Diggs, Ja’Marr Chase, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith, CeeDee Lamb

Diggs will be the most popular Bill outside of Josh Allen and makes a ton of sense in non-Allen lineups. Gabe Davis had the big game in the first week of the playoffs, but Davis is very reliant on deep targets, which are usually not sustainable over multiple games. If you have the Bills losing this week I would avoid Allen for sure and consider avoiding Diggs as well, but he definitely is still playable.

Chase saw double the number of targets as Tee Higgins last week against the Ravens, and that has been the trend since Week 13, a span over which Chase has out-targeted Higgins 72-35. Chase is my favorite Bengal and probably the most elite WR remaining in the playoffs with Justin Jefferson eliminated last week. Expect him to be 60+% rostered.

Lamb will probably be vying with Chase for highest-rostered WR in the tournament. With no receiver to rival him for targets and people preferring to play WRs over TEs, people will love to play him because he can make sense in Dallas win-or-lose scenarios. I would be okay playing Lamb, depending on the rest of my lineup, but love going to Pollard or Schultz as leverage if I need it.

I wasn’t sure if I would put both Eagles wide receivers in the same tier at first, but I really think Smith deserves to be viewed on the same level as Brown. He has run more routes and has seen only two fewer targets than Brown since Week 13. Brown will see more air yards, but Smith has seen four end zone targets to Brown’s two since Week 13. I wouldn’t fault you for wanting to play A.J. Brown and I will likely try to get some of both, but Smith is probably one of two of my favorite WR plays relative to ownership if you are not playing Jalen Hurts. Smith will likely come in around 10% ownership compared to Brown’s 50%, and they are very similar players in terms of opportunities.

My other favorite WR play is Deebo Samuel. It is tough to fade Christian McCaffrey, but we continue to see his workload drop with a healthy Deebo and Elijah Mitchell. There are paths where McCaffrey is not the optimal 49er, and Deebo makes a ton of sense at about 10% ownership, particularly if you think they lose to the Cowboys. The Cowboys have been the 7th worst matchup for RBs and the 2nd best matchup for WRs since Week 13.

Tier 2: Gabe Davis, Christian Kirk, Tee Higgins, Isaiah Hodgins, Zay Jones

I discussed Davis earlier relative to Diggs and think he makes sense if you think the Bills lose this week. Higgins is in a very similar boat to Davis. I am probably more comfortable using Davis over Diggs than Higgins over Chase. Kirk will likely carry 4X the ownership as Zay Jones, but they really should be seen as equals. They have similar target numbers and Zay actually sees more end-zone targets. Kirk probably has the safer floor, but we are shooting for upside. If you want to play some chalkier pieces elsewhere and need a Jags WR, go with Zay Jones.

I wanted to get a Giants wide receiver in here because I think it makes a ton of sense to fade Barkley and use one of them. Hodgins just looks like the best receiver for the Giants and has for many weeks now. Since Week 13 he is leading the team in targets, yards per route run, and end zone targets. If the Giants want to have a shot this week they are going to need to put up points to match the Eagles offense.

Tier 3: Richie James, Darius Slayton, JuJu Smith-Schuster

I likely am not really using any of these receivers, but I think they could be viable if you are making enough teams. The NYG WRs are really interchangeable with Isaiah Hodgins if you think they have the better matchup.

Tight Ends

Tier 1: Travis Kelce

Kelce belongs in a tier of his own. He will be the most popular player in the tournament, and for good reason. He is good chalk but also OK to fade if you think the Chiefs either don’t make the Super Bowl or Mahomes spreads the ball around enough and another tight end plays well.

Tier 2 : Dallas Goedert, Evan Engram, Dalton Schultz

I like each of these tight ends as the only tight end on your team or with Kelce. Schultz is probably the only one of the three that is OK to use even if you think his team makes the Super Bowl. The Jaguars don’t have a great chance to win this week and Goedert likely gets significantly outscored by Hurts if the Eagles go on a Super Bowl run. Engram is probably the most popular of the group at around 20% ownership. You can pick your favorite Jaguar as they all will carry some ownership besides Zay Jones. The Chiefs are basically middle of the pack versus both wide receivers and tight ends, so there doesn’t seem to be a player with a significant matchup boost.

Tier 3: George Kittle, Dawson Knox

Kittle probably doesn’t look like he belongs here, but I spoke about how Deebo is one of my favorite WR plays earlier. It would be different if Deebo was going to be popular, but he isn’t, so I really don’t see the need to play Kittle. Kittle saw just two targets last week compared to Deebo’s nine. Deebo has the better ceiling and the better floor and will come in around the same ownership. I think you can play Kittle and still make a good team, but most of my teams will have Deebo or CMC over Kittle.

Knox isn’t really usable unless you are building double-digit teams. He is similar to Gabe Davis in that he could be the one to score two touchdowns, and the Bills still lose. No one will play him but he is a fine TD or bust option if you want to get really off the board.

Chris graduated as an engineer from the University of Delaware, and since graduating he was always interested in combining his programming and coding skills along with his love of football to find a career in sports