Fantasy football doesn’t always end in the regular season. There are now many playoff fantasy football leagues and contests available, with rules similar to what you are familiar with in re-draft and even standard leagues: finding the best and most talented players in an effort to score the most points.

There are a few differences in most playoff formats that you should be aware of. There likely won’t be as many participants in your playoff league as there were in your regular season competition, and with only 14 NFL teams eligible for the playoffs, the pool of players is smaller. Players on teams with first-round byes have no chance to accrue points during the opening weekend, but they tend to have the best players and the best Super Bowl odds, so don’t be shy about drafting them early. And remember, this season only two teams — the top seeds in each conference — get a bye, giving all the other squads a chance to play a maximum of four games instead of three.

The good news is we will help you dominate your league or contest by taking all those factors into account. The method used is similar to our projection system featured during the regular season. The rankings are adjusted for strength of schedule and positional scarcity for a six-team point-per-reception (PPR) league using the following starting lineup: one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one flex player (RB/WR/TE), one defense, a kicker and five bench players. Here are the rankings, starting with the top three players at each position.


1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,470 yards, 38 touchdowns and just six interceptions, giving him the lowest interception rate in the NFL this season. He also led the league in passing yards per game (316) and touchdowns off deep passes (13).

The Chiefs won’t play in the opening round, but the defending champs have the best chance to emerge from the AFC and reach the Super Bowl.

2. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

An MVP candidate for most of the season, Allen made huge strides in his third year as a pro, setting career highs in completion rate (69 percent), passing yards (4,544), touchdown passes (37) and passer rating (107.2). He also added eight rushing touchdowns, the third most at the position.

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers was the most-valuable passer of 2020, per ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating, and the highest-rated quarterback according to Pro Football Focus after leading the league in completion rate (71 percent), touchdowns (48) and passer rating (121.5). Like Mahomes, Rodgers has a first-round bye.

Running backs

1. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

Kamara tested positive for the coronavirus last week, landing on the covid-19 reserve list Friday and beginning at least a 10-day isolation period. The NFC’s No. 2 seed, the Saints won’t play until Sunday afternoon, giving Kamara a chance to play in the matchup with the Chicago Bears, although he wouldn’t be able to practice in advance. Still, it is hard to pass up a player that averaged 112.5 yards from scrimmage, with a league-leading 21 total touchdowns (16 rushing, five receiving).

2. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

The league’s leading rusher topped the 2,000-yard mark this season and averaged almost four yards per carry after contact. Only Cleveland’s Nick Chubb was better at extending plays with brute force. Henry also led the league with 21 carries that produced 15 or more yards this season.

3. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

Jones is one of five players to carry the ball 200 or more times plus get targeted 50 or more times out of the backfield this season. Among that group, only Dalvin Cook and David Montgomery produced more yards from scrimmage than Jones.

Wide receivers

1. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

Adams led the league in receiving touchdowns despite missing two games to injury. His 18 receiving touchdowns tied for the third-best season-long performance in NFL history. Adams also led the league in yards per route run (3.0) and tied for third with 73 catches that resulted in a first down. No wideout received a larger share of his team’s targets in the red zone (37 percent).

2. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

A threat to score every time he steps on to the field, Hill caught a league-leading eight deep passes for touchdowns this season and combined with Mahomes to produce a 133.0 passer rating when targeted on passing plays. Only Rodgers-to-Adams was a more effective combination in 2020.

3. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Diggs led the league in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535) during his first season in Buffalo, and ranked fifth in yards per route run (2.5). He’s also the team’s most-used receiver both in the red zone (21 percent of team targets) and inside the 5-yard line (14 percent).

Tight ends

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

The 31-year-old caught 105 passes this season, making him the first tight end to have two 100-catch seasons. Kelce also set the single-season yardage record for a tight end (1,416), eclipsing George Kittle’s record set in 2018. He also led the position in yards per route run (2.5).

2. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

Andrews saw the third-highest share of red-zone targets this season among tight ends (29 percent of his team’s targets) and finished third at the position in yards per route run (2.0).

3. Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s clearly not surprising that Gronkowski and quarterback Tom Brady showed chemistry with their new team this year. Gronkowski caught 45 of 75 targets from Brady for 623 yards and seven touchdowns, resulting in a 106.7 passer rating when he was targeted.


1. Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs

Butker struggled at the start of the season. He missed six extra points during the first nine weeks of the season, including one in three straight games, but he has corrected those mistakes. Since Week 10, he is 10 for 10 on field goal attempts and 21 for 21 on extra-point attempts.

2. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

The nine-year veteran went 9 for 9 on field goals from 40 to 49 yards and 3 for 5 on tries over 50 yards. He was a near-perfect 52 for 53 on extra-point kicks.

3. Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Succop went 28 for 31 on field goal tries and 52 for 57 on extra-point kicks. Eight of those kicks — three field goals and five extra points — came in the regular season finale, earning him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors and making him the first player in franchise history to win two of those awards in the same season.

Defense/special teams

1. Buffalo Bills

Buffalo has the league’s fifth-best pass-rushing unit, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus, and the 11th best secondary, making it tough on opponents to move the ball. Edge rusher Jerry Hughes led the team in total pressures (54 sacks, hits and hurries) and cornerback Tre’Davious White led the cornerbacks in yards allowed per snap in coverage (0.9, 16th among 78 qualified players at the position).

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers held opponents to 1.6 points per drive, the second-best rate during the regular season, and forced opponents to go three-and-out a league-high 40 percent of the time. Pittsburgh also led the league in quarterback pressure rate, harassing the passer on nearly a third of their drop-backs.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles devised schemes that held opponents to 1.9 points per drive this year (sixth best in the NFL) and stopped opposing rushers at or behind the line of scrimmage 23 percent of the time, the fourth-best rate of 2020.

Overall rankings