Maybe you won your fantasy football league and you want to show everyone it wasn’t a fluke. Or maybe your campaign ended up as a bust and you’re looking for a chance at redemption. Either way, playoff fantasy football is the answer. After all, why should the fun stop at the end of the regular season when there is still plenty of football to be played?

If this is your first time entering a playoff fantasy football league, the structure likely won’t be exactly what you are used to. 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 available players is smaller.

Points are usually scored cumulatively, rather than with weekly wins and losses. 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 method used to rank players below is a simplified version of our projection system featured during the regular season. The rankings are adjusted for projected games played in the postseason, 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. (Some leagues opt for weekly supplemental picks rather than a bench.) All players were considered to be fully healthy at the start of the playoffs, so be sure to monitor the news for any changes on that front. Here are the rankings, starting with the top three players at each position.


1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

The start of his season was filled with inconsistencies but the former MVP winner settled down and ended the 2021 campaign as the fifth most-valuable passer per ESPN with 4,839 passing yards and 37 touchdowns.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers led all quarterbacks with a 111.9 passer rating thanks to a league-leading 7 percent touchdown rate, with just four interceptions thrown all year.

3. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The 44-year-old led the league in completions (485), passing yards (5,316) and passing touchdowns (43) plus earned Pro Football Focus’s second-highest rating on throws traveling 20 or more yards down field, information that will be beneficial to anyone playing in a league that awards bonuses for deep passes.

Running backs

1. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

Henry missed nine games due to injury but when he was on the field he was almost unstoppable. He averaged 137 total yards per game and was on pace for a 21-touchdown season.

2. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

He lost some of the red-zone carries to teammate A.J. Dillon but he gets far more passing targets inside the 20-yard line (13 percent to four percent), which is more valuable in leagues that reward receptions.

3. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills

Singletary has been on a tear since Week 15, accumulating 323 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns over the last four games of the season. He also added 73 yards and a touchdown catching passes out of the backfield.

Wide receivers

1. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

Kupp won the receiving triple crown after finishing the regular season with the most catches (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16). He is also the team’s most-targeted receiver in the red zone and the third most-targeted receiver in the league inside the 20-yard line.

2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

The 11 touchdowns Adams hauled in are impressive on their own but consider he added almost 72 points more than expected to his team this season after factoring in the down, distance and field position of each play. Only Kupp (104 more points) exceeded expectations by a higher margin in 2021.

3. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Volume is key at the wideout position and only six receivers saw more total targets than Hill did this season. Plus, his target share usually increases in the playoffs. From 2016 to 2020, he saw 20 percent of his team’s targets during the regular season and over 25 percent of those targets during the postseason.

Tight ends

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Kelce turned in another fine season — 92 catches for 1,125 yards and nine touchdowns — and only four tight ends produced more yards per route run than he did in 2021. Just two of those four are in the playoffs. Mahomes is also looking for Kelce inside the 10-yard line in opponents’ territory, fertile ground for more touchdowns in the postseason.

2. Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The elder statesman of the tight end position caught 55 of 89 targets for 802 yards and six touchdowns. The injury to receiver Chris Godwin also moved him up on Brady’s target list. Gronkowski saw a team-high 19 percent of targets during the last two weeks of the season, a number that should remain flat or even improve with the subsequent departure of wideout Antonio Brown.

3. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Kittle set a career high for touchdowns this season (six) and had the third-most yards after the catch (450) at the position. Only Baltimore’s Mark Andrews (not in the playoffs) and Kelce had more.


1. Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs’ offense led the league in points per drive and had the lowest rate of three-and-outs during the regular season. That gives Butker plenty of opportunities at field goals and extra points. In fact, no team scored on a higher percentage of offensive drives than Kansas City (48 percent).

2. Greg Zuerlein, Dallas Cowboys

A year after leading the league in field goal attempts Zuerlein made 29 of 35 attempts with half of those misses from beyond the 50-yard mark.

3. Tyler Bass, Buffalo Bills

Bass made 28 of 32 field goal attempts this season and was a perfect 51 for 51 on extra-point kicks. He wasn’t asked to make many long-range attempts but he did convert two of four field goals tries beyond 50 yards. He was also four for five on kicks from 40 to 49 yards out.

Defense/special teams

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers defensive line stopped a league high 26 percent of opposing rushers at or behind the line of scrimmage, while their secondary was graded as the third-best of the regular season by Pro Football Focus.

2. Dallas Cowboys

After adjusting for the situation at hand and strength of schedule, the Cowboys had the league’s second-best defense, per Football Outsiders. The pass defense was stellar, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 76.6 passer rating, the third-best in the NFL. The league average was 90.8.

3. Green Bay Packers

Green Bay’s pass rush was the second-best pressure unit of 2021, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus. Edge rusher Rashan Gary led the team with 81 total sacks, hits and hurries while Kenny Clark and Preston Smith were each credited with over 60 quarterback pressures during the regular season.

Overall rankings

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.

1. Derrick Henry (TEN-RB)
22. Darrel Williams (KC-RB)
43. Jalen Hurts (PHI-QB)
64. Tampa Bay DST
2. Patrick Mahomes (KC-QB)
23. A.J. Brown (TEN-WR)
44. Tony Pollard (DAL-RB)
65. Derek Carr (LV-QB)
3. Travis Kelce (KC-TE)
24. Matthew Stafford (LAR-QB)
45. Brandon Aiyuk (SF-WR)
66. Ronald Jones II (TB-RB)
4. Aaron Jones (GB-RB)
25. Najee Harris (PIT-RB)
46. Julio Jones (TEN-WR)
67. Chase Claypool (PIT-WR)
5. Aaron Rodgers (GB-QB)
26. Tee Higgins (CIN-WR)
47. Ryan Tannehill (QB-TEN)
68. Kenneth Gainwell (PHI-RB)
6. Cooper Kupp (LAR-WR)
27. George Kittle (SF-TE)
48. Allen Lazard (GB-WR)
69. Harrison Butker (KC-K)
7. Davante Adams (GB-WR)
28. Joe Burrow (CIN-QB)
49. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC-RB)
70. Jerick McKinnon (KC-RB)
8. Devin Singletary (BUF-RB)
29. James Conner (ARI-RB)
50. Damien Harris (NE-RB)
71. Dallas DST
9. Tom Brady (TB-QB)
30. Dalton Schultz (DAL-TE)
51. Jakobi Meyers (NE-WR)
72. Green Bay DST
10. Tyreek Hill (KC-WR)
31. CeeDee Lamb (DAL-WR)
52. AJ Dillon (GB-RB)
73. Zack Moss (BUF-RB)
11. Joe Mixon (CIN-RB)
32. Sony Michel (LAR-RB)
53. Miles Sanders (PHI-RB)
74. Trey Sermon (SF-RB)
12. Josh Allen (BUF-QB)
33. Diontae Johnson (PIT-WR)
54. Van Jefferson (LAR-WR)
75. Cam Akers (LAR-RB)
13. Elijah Mitchell (SF-RB)
34. Hunter Renfrow (LV-WR)
55. Brandon Bolden (NE-RB)
76. Samaje Perine (CIN-RB)
14. Stefon Diggs (BUF-WR)
35. Amari Cooper (DAL-WR)
56. Christian Kirk (ARI-WR)
77. Kansas City DST
15. Mike Evans (TB-WR)
36. Kyler Murray (ARI-QB)
57. Jimmy Garoppolo (SF-QB)
78. Buffalo DST
16. Ezekiel Elliott (DAL-RB)
37. Chase Edmonds (ARI-RB)
58. D’Onta Foreman (TEN-RB)
79. New England DST
17. Ja’Marr Chase (CIN-WR)
38. Dawson Knox (BUF-TE)
59. Cole Beasley (BUF-WR)
80. Greg Zuerlein (DAL-K)
18. Leonard Fournette (TB-RB)
39. Odell Beckham Jr. (LAR-WR)
60. Boston Scott (PHI-RB)
81. Tyler Bass (BUF-K)
19. Deebo Samuel (SF-WR)
40. Zach Ertz (ARI-TE)
61. Ke’Shawn Vaughn (TB-RB)
82. Ryan Succop (TB-K)
20. Dak Prescott (DAL-QB)
41. Josh Jacobs (LV-RB)
62. Rhamondre Stevenson (NE-RB)
83. Randy Bullock (TEN-K)
21. Rob Gronkowski (TB-TE)
42 Tyler Boyd (CIN-WR)
63. Mecole Hardman (KC-WR)
84. Matt Gay (LAR-K)