Tue Feb 26 10:12am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
A last-minute decision turned out to be a good one for Jennifer Krigbaum, who took home the Postseason Shootout contest. Krigbaum signed up for the contest less than an hour before the first games and won $50,000 for her big-time accomplishment.
“I usually enter the Playoff Challenge, competing in 10-person leagues but by January 5th (Wild Card Saturday), I had not entered,” Krigbaum said. “I was driving to Kansas City that day and didn't have time to look for open leagues before I left so I bought one Playoff Shootout entry, drove to KC, then submitted my lineup about 45 minutes to kickoff.”
That decision was one of the best for Krigbaum, picking the correct roster to win the big prize. And getting in a high-stakes contest was new to Krigbaum. She was not a veteran high-stakes player like many that have won this contest past seasons.
“This is the first contest I've entered with a payout over $10,000,” said Krigbaum.
If you aren’t familiar, rules for the Postseason Shootout contest are pretty simple. For an entry of $125 (or three teams for $350), you select a roster from all the teams in the NFL playoffs that you think will score the most points this postseason (you can’t select more than two players from each NFL team, though). Your roster will consist of two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers/tight ends, two flex players (RB/WR/TE), a defense/special teams and a kicker. There is no draft or head-to-head games. It is a total points contest. If you finish in the top 150, you are going to win some money. First place takes home $50,000 while finishing 150th gets you $250.
With those rules in place, Krigbaum setup a strategy for picking the correct roster, which turned out to be a contest-winning strategy.
“I thought New England would win the Super Bowl, so after taking two Patriots, part of my strategy was to not take Chiefs players,” Krigbaum said. “I assumed most people would have Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill/Travis Kelce, so my lineup was based on that.”
Krigbaum’s lineup consisted of Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Julian Edelman, Robert Woods, Michael Thomas, Eric Ebron, Greg Zuerlein and the Colts defense. Edelman proved to be key for Krigbaum, posting huge numbers throughout the playoffs.
Krigbaum edged a roster that had Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, finishing roughly five points ahead of that team. Needless to say, the Patriots/Chiefs game was a big one in deciding the outcome for Krigbaum.
“I wasn't nervous going into the Super Bowl but I was definitely nervous during the second half of the Patriots/Chiefs game,” Krigbaum said. “I knew that game was the difference maker.”
So now that Krigbaum is $50,000 richer, does she have any big plans for the winnings?
“No plans for the winnings yet except maybe a Julian Edelman jersey,” said Krigbaum.
If you want a chance to take down Krigbaum next season, sign up for the Postseason Shootout before the start of the playoffs. We’ll have links up on our site and home page. You won’t watch postseason football the same way going forward.
Click on this link to see more details about the contest or to sign up: www.fantasychampionship.com.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
May 29th: Quarterback Preview
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had a 9:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio on deep passes in 2019 and the highest passer rating (121.5) on such throws among NFL.com's Nick Shook's top-10 best deep passers last season. But his deep shots weren't nearly as risky as other QBs, as Cousins attempted deep shots into tight windows just 20.4 percent of the time and his receivers were open on 25.9 percent of his deep pass attempts with an average target separation of 2.2 yards. Cousins did this while being pressured on 31.5 percent of his deep attempts, but his probability for success was high to begin with. But losing Stefon Diggs, his No. 1 deep threat, will surely put a dent in these numbers in 2020. It's why Cousins' fantasy upside won't be as high this year while remaining in a run-first offense.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team in rushing last season, but he was also surprisingly effective taking shots deep down the field. The grizzled veteran wasn't afraid to throw the ball downfield, even if the coverage was tight, as 56.6 percent of his 53 deep pass attempts were into tight windows. Fitzpatrick had a 6:2 touchdown-to-interception rate on deep passes and helped the Dolphins pull out some improbable wins during their rebuild. His QB rating on deep passes was a nice 100.8. The 37-year-old defied expectations last year and could be the Week 1 starter in 2020 if Miami feels rookie Tua Tagovailoa isn't quite ready, but he's just keeping the seat warm for the future of the franchise.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson enjoyed throwing the ball deep in 2019, attempting a deep pass on 14 percent of his throws last year, the fifth-highest mark among signal-callers. With receiver Will Fuller V on the field, Watson attempted a deep pass on 17 percent of his throws since 2017, as opposed to 11 percent with Fuller on the sidelines. The QB has completed 43.2 percent of his deep throws with Fuller on the field since 2017, as opposed to 34.3 percent without him. Watson had an average air-yards mark of 30 last season and only had Fuller for 11 games. But with All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins now in Arizona, many expect Watson's efficiency to fall. The good news is that he can still be a very solid QB1 because of his ability to scramble and make plays with his legs. But Watson's QB1 stock will take a hit without Hopkins picking up the slack.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray benefitted from open receivers deep down the field in his rookie season and also had a very low pressure rate (13.1 percent) on his deep attempts, but it was his own dual-threat ability to use his legs as a rusher that afforded him the chance to excel deep down the field through the air. Defenses were forced to respect his ability to run for first downs, which allowed Murray to sit back and read defenses. He often exited the pocket when connecting deep down the field. Having All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins will only make Murray more successful in what could be a breakout sophomore season. In Kliff Kingsbury's creative and explosive spread offense, Murray has high-end QB1 upside already.
Despite having a down year in 2019 overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was actually the fourth-best deep passer, per Next Gen Stats. He had seven touchdowns and only two interceptions on deep balls with Julian Edelman as his top target. Brady was pressured often (40.7 percent) and was throwing to receivers that were often covered deep down the field. The 42-year-old had a completion percentage of 38.9 on deep passes and an expected completion percentage of 31.4 on those throws. Brady is getting older and might not have the same arm strength, but he suddenly has the best receiving duo in the league and can still pass for a QB1, albeit a low-end one without a ton of upside.
San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams blocked for nine different quarterbacks in the last decade with the Redskins, but he thinks quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is among the best he's played with heading into the 2020 season. "I think Jimmy G is awesome," Williams said. "I think he has proven that he's a quarterback that you can win with. In this league, it's just hard to find," Williams said. Jimmy G did help lead the Niners to the Super Bowl last year, but he remains more of a game manager in Kyle Shanahan's run-heavy offense. He rarely challenges defenses deep down the field and has a low fantasy ceiling as a low-end QB2.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert could land a contract extension before tight end George Kittle does, in the opinion of The Athletic's Matt Barrows. Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is another player that could be looking at an extension in the near future. Mostert stepped up down the stretch and in the postseason for the Niners and became their lead back, but San Fran's backfield remains crowded even after they traded Matt Breida to the Dolphins. In a backfield that could change weekly based on the hot hand, Mostert will be fighting for touches with Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon (if healthy), making him more of a high-end RB3/flex in most leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' expected completion rate on deep passes is higher than most QBs in the league because of his speedy weapons, namely receiver Tyreek Hill, whose 18 touchdowns on deep targets since 2016 is second-most in the NFL behind Antonio Brown. Mahomes had a 30.3 percent rate of targets considered to be open on deep passes, which was the highest in the league. He was 7-for-11 on deep passes for 257 yards and four TDs in Week 2 against the Raiders, with his receivers being open on 27.3 percent of those 11 deep attempts. Mahomes leads the NFL with 25 deep-pass touchdowns since 2018, and although his receivers have made it easier on him, he's still an elite athlete with an elite arm. His 2019 season wasn't as good as his 2018 MVP campaign, but we still wouldn't blame you if you took him as the top QB1 over Lamar Jackson this year.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott is expected to compete for an offensive role in training camp instead of just competing for a roster spot. Miles Sanders will be the team's lead back in 2020, but even if the team adds a veteran backup, Scott is expected to compete for a role in Philly. The coaching staff truly believes that Scott's production down the stretch last year when Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles were injured wasn't a fluke. The 25-year-old finished with 61 carries for 245 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and five touchdowns on the ground, adding 24 receptions for 204 yards through the air. Scott should have late-round appeal in deep PPR leagues, especially if the Eagles don't add another running back before the season.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been one of the best deep passers in the NFL since 2016. He threw 32 TD passes on deep throws from 2016 to 2018 and had 1.5 yards of target separation on deep passes last season, which was the lowest in the NFL. Wilson makes a habit of extended plays outside the pocket and finding his receivers deep down the field, mainly Tyler Lockett. Seattle's wideouts had 32 deep receptions in 2019, also the most in the league. Wilson led all quarterbacks with nine DIMES (30-plus air yards and a tight window resulting in a completion). If the Seahawks let Wilson throw the ball more with Lockett and D.K. Metcalf at his disposal, he should be able to finish as a top-five fantasy QB in 2020.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott tops NFL.com's Nick Shook's list of the top-10 deep passers from the 2019 season. Prescott relied mostly on wide receiver Amari Cooper, who was efficient on deep targets by catching 12 passes for 386 yards and two touchdowns on passes 20-plus yards downfield. Prescott had a completion percentage of 44.4 percent and an expected completion percentage of 31 percent on deep throws, with a TD-to-interception ratio of 6:2 and a passer rating of 109.7. Now that rookie wideout CeeDee Lamb is in the mix, he has some of the best surrounding offensive weapons in the league. Prescott had a career year in 2019 despite not making the playoffs and could be even better in 2020. He's coming off the board as the No. 3 fantasy QB behind Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes.
Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack has inherent respect as the starter, according to head coach Frank Reich. 'I see it as a 1-1 (punch),' Reich said, referring to Mack and second-round pick RB Jonathan Taylor. 'The way the league has gone and the way roleplaying has been elevated in our league, it's made it prominent. We used to say in San Diego that when we had Danny Woodhead. He was not our starter, he was our 'role-playing' starter. He played such a significant role. He had 80 catches in a year. You look at a guy like Nyheim Hines. We talk about Marlon and Jonathan, but what about Nyheim? He's such a good third-down back that he'll play a prominent (role). In some ways, (Hines) is a starter. He's a role-playing starter.'
Fantasy Spin: It sounds to be a true committee in Indy with Mack holding RB2 status in fantasy and Nyheim Hines an RB3 in PPR. Taylor could play a larger role, but he'll open draft season as an RB4 or RB5 handcuff.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and other members of the team's offense have been conducting informal workouts. This is not welcome news for those who have been unable to practice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since the Chiefs have already displayed one of the most potent offenses in the league over the last few years. After finishing 2018 as the league's top fantasy producer at the quarterback position, the 24-year-old was relegated to 14 games last season after dislocating his knee cap during the Thursday night encounter with the Broncos while also seeing statistical regression across the board throughout the year. However, with some extra reps added in before the start of the regular season, the former MVP may be on track for another stellar season.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders posted a plus-7.2 percent catch-rate difference last year with the Broncos and 49ers and broke 850 receiving yards while fighting through press coverage on almost 30 percent of all routes run. He was also targeted in a tight window 20.6 percent of the time while covering an average of 23.5 yards per route run. In total, the veteran ran 481 routes and covered 11,303.5 yards while catching passes from Joe Flacco and Jimmy Garoppolo. The 33-year-old is getting up there in age, but he remains incredible efficient and has a great opportunity in New Orleans with Drew Brees now throwing him passes. Even though he doesn't score often, Sanders is an undervalued pass-catcher that could put up WR3 numbers in his new home.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders has his sights set on being named the MVP in 2020 while also maintaining confidence that he can serve as an effective three-down back for the team. Despite splitting time with Jordan Howard and Boston Scott last season, the sophomore back still finished with a respectable 818 yards and three rushing touchdowns off of 179 attempts. He also added 50 receptions for 509 yards and three additional trips to the end zone. With Howard no longer in the mix, the 2019 second-round pick has a chance to thrive as both a runner and a pass-catcher, making him a desirable selection in all formats, especially in PPR leagues.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown had an excellent rookie season and beat defenders with his combination of size and strength. Quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota had a combined passer rating of 127.6 when targeting Brown in 2019. Brown faced pressure at the line of scrimmage 38.3 percent of the time but still had 52 catches for over 1,000 yards receiving. Cornerbacks blanketed the young wideout on 33.3 percent of all of his targets, and he was open on just 25 percent of his targets. Brown finished strong to help fantasy owners get to the promised land, but don't overvalue him as a WR1 because of his strong first season. The soon-to-be 23-year-old should be a force in this league for years to come, but he had just 84 targets and remains in a run-first offense.
Philadelphia Eagles DE Vinny Curry pressured the quarterback on 15.9 percent of his pass rushes in 2019, tying Cameron Jordan for the third-highest mark among defensive linemen with at least 100 pass rushes.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle had just 5.7 air yards per target in 2019, as the 49ers looked to get him the ball early and often to utilize his yards-after-the-catch skills. He racked up 641 (60.9 percent) of his 1,053 receiving yards after the catch. Kittle's average yards-per-catch mark of 12.4 was better than Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas. He had a catch rate of 79.4 percent and an expected catch rate of 71.8 percent. It's no secret that Kittle and Travis Kelce are the top two fantasy tight ends in the league, with both of them likely to come off fantasy boards in the middle of the second round.
Denver Broncos DL Shelby Harris deflected five passes and broke up nine passes in all during the 2019 season. Both marks were the most among defensive linemen.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay is projected to place third in the league in receiving yards in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus, finishing behind only Julio Jones and Michael Thomas. Golladay finished as the third-best wideout in standard formats in 2019 by compiling 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns off of 65 receptions. He was also one of the league's most opposing deep threats, averaging 13.6 YBC/R and doing so despite the prolonged absence of Matthew Stafford, who missed eight games with a back injury. With the longtime signal-caller seemingly back at full-strength, the third-place projection may be more accurate than not in 2020, with the potential for a top-two finish for the 26-year-old also a realistic possibility.