Tom BradyJuan Salas/Icon SportswireMany feel that Tom Brady and the Patriots have the clearest path to the Super Bowl, especially when you consider the quality of depth in the NFC.
Fantasy football fun doesn’t have to end when the league’s regular season does, but veteran postseason players know the main difference come January is in valuing the top quarterbacks. Sure, the wise move back in August drafts was to wait on the passers, for there was depth and surprises and, well … this isn’t the case now. Ask anyone about to peruse the Texans-Raiders clash this weekend about that one. Twelve teams made the playoffs, but there aren’t 12 quarterbacks a fantasy owner wants to rely on. Plus, a third of the teams will be out by the time the weekend ends. In postseason fantasy football, it’s still about production, but by February, only two teams will be supplying it, so volume of games is also important. So let’s get right to one man’s tiered positional rankings and remind you that, if you really think Tom Brady and the Patriots, for example, will be headed to Houston for the Super Bowl, then aim to invest in several Patriots. You need games, but don’t solely go with teams getting first-round byes, either. If the Steelers or Packers go the distance, for example, they’d play one more game than the top-seeded Patriots and Cowboys. So drafting in the postseason also requires the fantasy owner to project which teams will be advancing through the playoffs. Rankings are based on a 12-team format and standard scoring. Good luck!

NFC fantasy lessons from 2016 

January, 2, 2017
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AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyEagles quarterback Carson Wentz showed promise as a rookie. What is his fantasy ceiling going forward?
That’s all for the 2016 fantasy football season, and while we hope you won all your leagues, if everyone who claimed to be winning all their leagues actually did, there would be a lot more leagues than there really are. That’s something we’ve learned over the years. What did we learn during this 2016 season for fantasy purposes? Well, there was plenty, actually! Let’s go team by team to investigate, and with the AFC posted here, let's look at the NFC. What we learned about the Dallas Cowboys: That a great offensive line can really take a team far. We knew the rookie running back would be great, but the fourth-round quarterback too? Take care of the football and anything is possible! Fantasy owners don’t spend much time thinking about the 300-pounders who don’t accrue fantasy stats, but they matter so much. Perhaps fantasy owners learned a great O-line doesn’t merely add value to running backs. Still, Ezekiel Elliott isn’t as likely to

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Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY SportsDolphins running back Jay Ajayi had some huge games in 2016, but should fantasy owners believe in him for 2017?
That’s all for the 2016 fantasy football season, and while we hope you won all your leagues, if everyone who claimed to be winning all their leagues actually did so, there would be a lot more leagues than there really are. That’s something we’ve learned during the years! What did we learn during this 2016 season for fantasy purposes? Well, there was plenty, actually! Let’s go team by team to investigate, working through the NFC here and the AFC below: What we learned about the New England Patriots: That Tom Brady

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Erik KramerUSA TODAY SportsThe Lions haven't won a division title since 1993, when Erik Kramer was their quarterback.
The 256th and final game of the 2016 regular season will decide the NFC North and perhaps even a few (million) fantasy championships. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers enters the final weekend well on his way to his fourth season as the leader in fantasy scoring at his position. Unless Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson scores a ton of points, Rodgers will end up the top overall scorer in ESPN Fantasy as well. Of course, we know Rodgers is great and has been for a long time. How the Detroit Lions and their veteran quarterback perform at home might end up being more interesting.

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Week 17 flex rankings: Top RB, WR, TE 

December, 29, 2016
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T.Y. HiltonRich Graessle/Icon SportswireBelieve it or not, T.Y. Hilton is the NFL's current leader in receiving yardage through Week 16. Where does he rank as an overall option for Week 17?
The final flex rankings of the fantasy season are generally a little bit different than all the ones preceding it -- for obvious reasons. Some of the best players in the league will not be used either to their full capacity this weekend or at all, and that means some new names -- names we haven’t dealt with the prior 16 weeks -- could become relevant. In general, however, the top of the flex rankings show the same names we’re used to seeing, but tell that to Le'Veon Bell owners. Regardless, whether you’re still playing for something or simply interested one last time, thanks for checking out the standard flex rankings this season. Best of luck this weekend and Happy New Year!

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Bilal PowellAP Photo/Bill KostrounCould Bilal Powell close out the 2016 season in grand fashion, or are fantasy players who start him in Week 17 being too cute?
There were indeed a few unusual names among the Week 17 statistical leaders last season, from Kellen Moore to Rashad Jennings to Terrance Williams, but the age-old narrative about how fantasy seasons must end in Week 16 goes a bit too far. The main difference in this week and the others is that teams with little to play for -- either teams that already have clinched or those in flux, like the Buffalo Bills, for example -- realign their depth charts to keep stars healthy. Rarely are they looking at potential new stars. As you can see from the ESPN staff rankings this week, there remain plenty of stars upon which to rely.

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USA TODAY SportsPromising young QBs Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota were both injured in Week 16 and both have question marks in regards to their 2017 fantasy value.
Promising young AFC quarterbacks Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans sophomore Marcus Mariota began Week 16 as top-10 fantasy scorers and ended it with broken legs. While there was much to celebrate this holiday weekend, both on and off the football field, the great equalizer in fantasy tends to be about injuries and who becomes unavailable. For Carr and Mariota, however uplifting their 2016 performance was, it’s reasonable to wonder to what degree they should be counted on in 2017.

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Drew BreesChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesDrew Brees at home in a divisional game should be money as your starting QB for your championship games.
Some would say the holiday season is all about spending time with those you’re most familiar and comfortable with -- for better or worse -- and that’s why it’s nice to see so many divisional games down the stretch. These are rematches from prior meetings and the teams know each other, generally making for better football. From a fantasy aspect we might think we’ve learned something or have seen a trend. The majority of the Week 16 games occur on Saturday -- please set lineups accordingly! –- and the rematch games hold much intrigue. With the Thursday night rivalry game concluded, here are the other divisional games and what to watch.

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Week 16 flex rankings: Top RB, WR, TE 

December, 22, 2016
12/22/16
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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY SportsWith just 16 more yards, Jordan Howard will move into third place on the all-time Chicago Bears rushing list for rookies.
Welcome to championship week, and while we will be providing flex rankings for Week 17, we know that for many of you -- this is it, the end of the 2016 season. The names look familiar at the top because they are, not surprisingly, the ones you’ve been relying on all season long. Don’t get too cute in any week, whether it’s late September or late December, I say. Go with your best options and try not to overrate your own bias or weather or anything else. It’s just another week, but with a bit more on the line. Best of luck and Happy Holidays! 1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: He's put up remarkable numbers considering the missed September games. In six games versus the Ravens he’s averaging more than 100 yards per game. In other words, no worries.

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Photo by Jim Dedmon/Icon SportswireShould fantasy owners expect Cam Newton to catch fire against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16?
For a first-place team outscoring its opponents by 111 points, the Atlanta Falcons sure give up a lot of, well, stuff. While the Falcons will likely secure a playoff berth with a win this weekend, having fantasy options who face the Falcons remains a good thing, and that’s again shown in this week’s set of rankings for the defending division and conference champs, the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers come off an impressive win in Washington, and Atlanta really isn’t any better defensively, which is odd, because they are second to New England in point differential.

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Aaron Rodgers, Ty Mongomery, Packers, BearsJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesTy Mongomery rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears in Week 15.
Perhaps it’s not so important in the big picture, but the initial fantasy fascination with Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery was really about the added position eligibility, not the actual statistics. The truth is Montgomery hadn’t helped many fantasy owners the first seven weeks since he was provided valuable eligibility as a running back and a wide receiver. After all, what was the big deal? On Sunday in Chicago we found out as Montgomery finally became an enticing fantasy option and a RB2, turning his career-high 16 rushing attempts into 162 yards and two touchdowns.

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When this fine Friday of Week 15 started, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was owned in a tad more than half of ESPN’s standard leagues and, at least to the general public, had little likelihood of changing it this week. After all, Peterson had suffered a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee back in Week 2 and while he boasted he’d return before the end of the season, it didn’t seem so likely. Well, news broke Friday afternoon that Peterson intends to play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, so the story has clearly changed.

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Bilal PowellSamuel Stringer/Icon SportswireDepending on Matt Forte's health, Bilal Powell could be in line for another big effort on Saturday night.
Those waiting until Sunday morning or right before games begin that day to make their moves – like pretty much every week! - will be missing out on the Saturday night AFC East clash between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. It might not seem like much, but Bilal Powell comes recommended for this one with Matt Forte nursing a knee injury, though it is still possible the starter suits up.

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Week 15 flex rankings: Top RB, WR, TE 

December, 15, 2016
12/15/16
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Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty ImagesHow much trust should fantasy owners have in LeGarrette Blount Sunday against the Broncos in Denver?
Matchups and recent trends are the key factors when examining lineup decisions. What happened on draft day is irrelevant, and the same goes with September and October statistics. One might find that the way these rankings intersperse the top running backs, wide receivers and tight ends looks a bit odd in certain places, and that’s because season numbers tell us only so much. Patriots at Broncos? Scary. Saints in Arizona? Big problem. Andrew Luck at the Vikings? Yuck. Best of luck with your lineup decisions. Let’s flex! 1. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals: Still not a believer? Only two quarterbacks have outscored him. Last year the top 17 scorers were all passers. Johnson is a fantasy monster.

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Play Tyrod Taylor over Brady, Luck, Brees 

December, 14, 2016
12/14/16
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Tyrod TaylorBrett Carlsen/Getty ImagesWith your fantasy playoffs on the line, should you trust Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor? Actually, yeah. Here's why.
Timing is everything in life and fantasy football, and so it is that in this critical Week 15 -- more fantasy playoffs! -- some of the biggest-name quarterbacks face arguably their toughest tests of the regular season. Never overlook matchups! Sure, recent trends and injuries and even weather matter to some degree, and there’s no way to give the league scheduling office credit for this, but one can’t help but notice which quarterbacks the top pass defenses will be facing this fine week. There’s Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck and Drew Brees against the Broncos, Giants, Vikings and Cardinals. And that spells potential doom for fantasy owners who have been relying on those fellows all season.

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