One round of the playoffs down, three more to go.
Earlier in the week, I wrote about some key takeaways from the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs, including big questions for each of the eliminated teams, and now it's time to move on to the divisional round. For those of you playing DFS or playoff challenges, the FFT team will have predictions, rankings, and analysis for you on CBSSports.com as well as both the Fantasy Football Today and Fantasy Football Today in 5 podcasts today, so make sure you check that out, along with SportsLine's comprehensive playoffs coverage, including Mike McClure's picks.
In today's newsletter, I have a key storyline to watch out for in each game this weekend, plus Heath Cummings' latest Dynasty rankings updates as we continue to train our eyes on 2023 and beyond. We'll have lots more coverage throughout the postseason and into the offseason, both in this newsletter and on the podcasts, so make sure you stay subscribed for more.
For now, here's what we're looking forward to this weekend:
What to watch this weekend
Here are the key storylines to keep up with this weekend:
Jaguars @ Chiefs – How does the Chiefs backfield shake out?
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a forgotten man at this point. He went 117th overall in our 0.5-PPR mock draft earlier this week, three full rounds after Isiah Pacheco. However, Edwards-Helaire is under contract for next season and has been practicing this week, so he could be back from his high-ankle sprain for this one. Of course, Edwards-Helaire was already losing playing time to Pacheco well before his injury, so it's possible Edwards-Helaire is activated but serves almost no role as the No. 3 back. If that's the case this week, it would make me feel a lot better about Pacheco's chances of being a viable RB3 for 2023.
Giants @ Eagles – Can Daniel Jones keep rolling?
Jones' two best games of the season arguably came in his past two -- he had four touchdowns in Week 17 against the Colts and then followed that up with 301 yards, two touchdowns, plus 78 rushing yards against the Vikings in the wild-card round. He did that against two of the worst defenses in the league, so the degree of difficulty this week is going to be quite a bit higher. It looks like Jones has played his way into a nice little contract to return to the Giants this offseason, and you have to imagine they are going to make giving him more help a top priority for 2023 and beyond. Jones' rushing ability is the main draw here, but if he can continue to play well with his subpar supporting cast against a tough defense like Philadelphia's, that'd be a good sign.
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Bengals @ Bills – How does the Bills backfield shake out?
The Dolphins ended up keeping the game closer than expected last week, and yet we saw rookie James Cook out-touch Devin Singletary last week. Singletary still played more snaps (55% to 31%), but Cook being so heavily involved in a close game bodes well for his role in 2023 -- the previous games where he had double-digit carries came with the Bills winning by eight, 34, 14, and 22 points. When things are close, the Bills have trusted Singletary more, which makes sense given his experience playing in big spots for them. However, if that changes in the playoffs, we can feel a bit more confident in Cook as the lead back for 2023.
Cowboys @ 49ers – How do the 49ers split up touches?
The wild-card game against the Seahawks was the first time we've really seen the 49ers at full strength with Brock Purdy at QB, and even that game is kind of tough to take much from seeing as they beat the Seahawks by 18. Still, we need as much information about this team as we can get heading into next season, given the star power at each position. And that game saw Deebo Samuel get nine targets and three carries, while Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle split seven as the 49ers threw the ball just 30 times. Christian McCaffrey had a big game, but he needed a 68-yard run and a receiving touchdown to put together what would have been a big Fantasy game, as Elijah Mitchell came on and took nine carries and three targets for himself. This offense is a ridiculously well-oiled machine right now, and the explosiveness and efficiency is going to create big Fantasy production every week. However, given how many weapons there are, it might be a different person (or two ... or three) benefitting every week. We'd like to see them concentrate the touches in a more competitive game, but I don't think Kyle Shanahan is particularly likely to do that. This might just remain a headache.
Dynasty Rankings Updates
The nice thing about playing in a Dynasty league is your season never actually has to end. I mean, sure, the games are done, but the game within a game is still going strong in the offseason. We're going to have Dynasty-focused content available all offseason for you, and Heath Cummings' first position-by-position ranks of the offseason are already here to help you make your offseason moves.
I have a peek at those here for you below, but you'll want to click through to the links to see how each position shakes out in full. More importantly, perhaps, are Heath's updated Dynasty trade values. If you know Dave Richard's in-season trade values chart, the idea here is the same -- every player is given a numerical value to assess their trade value, with Justin Jefferson coming in as the No. 1 overall player with a value of 50.
The nice thing about these values is, Heath also accounts for the value of upcoming draft picks. So, if you wanted to trade for Jefferson it might cost you, say, a first-round pick (20) and Cooper Kupp (29.2) or Tee Higgins (31.2) to get it done.
As we get closer to the NFL Draft, Heath will start to incorporate rookies into his rankings, so you'll want to make sure you bookmark the trade values and rankings -- and this newsletter will have more Dynasty coverage to come from both Heath and myself.
For now, here's how each position shakes out
"At quarterback there is more uncertainty heading into this offseason than there is in most. While the top eight is probably locked in, Kyler Murray's recovery from a torn ACL kicks off near constant uncertainty after that. From the health of Tua Tagovailoa and Trey Lance to the landing spots for Daniel Jones, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Geno Smith, there's plenty we don't know about the upcoming season.
These rankings are devised mostly for one-quarterback leagues, so it's worth saying that the certainty that comes with Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins would earn them a higher ranking in a Superflex format. Their floor is more important there. And the same may be true for Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Derek Carr, but there are questions to answer about all three before we get to the NFL Draft."
- Patrick Mahomes
- Josh Allen
- Jalen Hurts
- Justin Fields
- Justin Herbert
- Lamar Jackson
- Joe Burrow
- Trevor Lawrence
- Kyler Murray
- Tua Tagovailoa
- Dak Prescott
- Trey Lance
"A year ago, I told you a change was coming at running back, and it's hit even faster than I expected. Half of the top 12 are different than it was just 12 months ago, including four of the top six. Jonathan Taylor is the only top-12 back who didn't fall in the rankings in the past year. And truth be told, that's only because of Breece Hall's torn ACL. If Hall had stayed healthy throughout his rookie year, he'd be No. 1 right now. But I have just enough questions about his 2023 season to keep him at No. 2.
Most of the backs who have risen into the top 12 make sense. Four of them are first-year running backs and a fifth is Josh Jacobs, who is coming off of a career year. Saquon Barkley seems like the outlier. But Barkley himself won't turn 26 until February. And all indications are that the Giants plan on keeping him around. Considering the efficiency rebound we saw this year, and the likelihood that the Giants will make him the centerpiece of their offense, another two or three seasons as an RB1 seems likely. That's about all you can ask from any running back past his 24th birthday."
- Jonathan Taylor
- Breece Hall
- Kenneth Walker
- Travis Etienne
- Christian McCaffrey
- Saquon Barkley
- Javonte Williams
- D'Andre Swift
- Dameon Pierce
- Najee Harris
- Josh Jacobs
- Joe Mixon
"At the receiver position, the first thing that sticks out is the youth at the top of the rankings. Cooper Kupp is the only wide receiver in the top 10 who will be over 26 years old by Week 1. And A.J. Brown is the only other receiver in the top 10 who won't have his 25th birthday before the 2023 season begins. Part of that is because I don't weigh 2023 projections as heavily this time of year.
The main reason I weigh current-year projections more in August than January is that they're more accurate in August and I don't want to change my valuation too much based on a bad guess about 2023 circumstances. The other desirable outcome is that it increases the value of younger players during the offseason. This is desirable because draft picks are the only safe Dynasty asset that will hold or gain value. But young players are the next closest thing."
- Justin Jefferson
- Ja'Marr Chase
- CeeDee Lamb
- Jaylen Waddle
- Garrett Wilson
- Amon-Ra St. Brown
- DeVonta Smith
- A.J. Brown
- Tee Higgins
- Cooper Kupp
- Chris Olave
- Tyreek Hill
"At the tight end position there have been only three viable TE1 choices over the past two years. At this point it's hard to imagine that changing in 2023.
Travis Kelce is still the clear TE1 in redraft, outscoring every other tight end in 2022 by nearly six points per game...at least. He'll rank No. 1 in redraft on 2023 preseason lists as well and is the clear top option for any true contender, even in Dynasty."