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That's So Raven - Pianow's playoff draft sheet

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There are plenty of NFL playoff contests out there. I play in two types of them, and today, I address one specific type — the draft-and-hold group.

The rankings below are aimed at leagues that draft once before the playoffs start, then ride with what you got. No trades, no pickups, no starting decisions. Anyone on a field counts.

The key to these types of leagues is forecasting the flow of the playoffs. You need to get as many games as possible. If you can find a first-weekend team that’s going deep, you’ve hit a home run. But if you stock up on a bye-week team that’s Super Bowl-bound, you also get a bonanza.

As these drafts progress, it’s important to tie yourself to a plausible but uncomplicated team strategy. You want a basic path that can win it for you. If you simply draft according to Best Player Available and don’t be mindful of how your roster is distributed, you’re probably in big trouble. (I do think that BPA strategy can work in something like an NHL playoffs pool. There are more games in the NHL playoffs and more chaos. In NFL games, you need a streamlined scenario.)

[Play in Yahoo’s NFL $150K Baller. $10 entry fee and $15K to first place]

I like to have a primary team bankrolled, and 2-3 other teams with primary options. The back of the roster, sure, it might be a handful of singletons, looking for a strong one-and-done score. Just be mindful that the team-building exercise is much different in this type of draft than in a standard one.

My ranks below won’t help you in a play-anyone-once league, like the contest Mike Salfino runs. Man, what a fun format that is. You set a lineup each week and can use anyone on the board, but you can only use a player once for the balance of the playoffs. It will warp your head, but it’s a blast.

And, of course, there’s DFS. Or just get together some of your friends and make up your own game. There’s no wrong way to play.

For the list below, assume a six-manager draft where every team is required to have two (and only two) quarterbacks and multiple flexes. And my list is just a guide; season and taste with your own feelings, league shapes, roster thoughts. You know your league and your room better than any outsider ever could.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be doing Exit Interviews with the major positions — seasonal look-backs and lookaheads. Look for the first piece of that on Friday. But for now, we draft the playoffs.

Buena suerte.


1. Lamar Jackson

2. Drew Brees

3. Patrick Mahomes

4. Jimmy Garoppolo

5. Deshaun Watson

6. Russell Wilson

7. Ryan Tannehill

8. Aaron Rodgers

9. Tom Brady

10. Carson Wentz

11. Josh Allen

12. Kirk Cousins

13. Taysom Hill

Jackson, Brees, and Mahomes could easily be the first three picks in any QB-friendly formats where every team is required to play two starters. The goal in those formats is to avoid QBs with poor chances to play multiple games. No offense to the Vikings, but in most of my drafts, I’ll go into the room trying to make sure I’m not stuck with him — the longest underdog of Week 1.

CINCINNATI, OHIO - NOVEMBER 10: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens on the sideline during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
We won't be throwing shade at the Ravens in this set of playoff rankings. (Silas Walker/Getty Images)

I wish Garoppolo was a better volume play, and I actually think any NFC team has a theoretical chance of beating the Niners. But in the Yahoo Friends & Family Draft, I had the (unfortunate) fourth pick and I rolled with Jimmy G. I didn’t want to be locked out at quarterback, and the striation at other positions allowed me to feel I could at least wait a round there.

The Packers are a team I’m generally fading. I feel like they could beat or lose to anyone, and they might be a pick-em against New Orleans in Round 2, if it comes to that. Rodgers hasn’t played well in the second half of the year.

Running Back

1. Alvin Kamara

2. Raheem Mostert

3. Mark Ingram

4. Damien Williams

5. Aaron Jones

6. Derrick Henry

7. James White

8. *Dalvin Cook

9. Devin Singletary

10. Latavius Murray

11. Carlos Hyde

12. *Miles Sanders

13. Gus Edwards

14. Boston Scott

15. Travis Homer

16. Sony Michel

17. Duke Johnson

18. Tevin Coleman

19. Matt Breida

20. Rex Burkhead

21. Marshawn Lynch

22. Justice Hill

23. Darwin Thompson

24. Kyle Juszczyk

25. Jamaal Williams

26. Frank Gore

27. Jordan Howard

28. Dion Lewis

29. LeSean McCoy

30. Alexander Mattison

31. Mike Boone

32. Jeff Wilson

33. Ameer Abdullah

Mostert might look high at No. 2, given that Kyle Shanahan likes to use multiple backs (and a healthy Matt Breida is pretty damn good). But Mostert does have touchdowns in six straight games, he’s an efficiency darling, and the Niners do have the best deep path in the NFC.

If you can pick the Seattle-Philadelphia game correctly, you open yourself up to some juicy two-week potential. Of course, we don’t know how healthy Sanders is. Seattle’s offense is filled with question marks, too.

Wide Receiver

1. Michael Thomas

2. Tyreek Hill

3. DeAndre Hopkins

4. Deebo Samuel

5. Emmanuel Sanders

6. Davante Adams

7. Julian Edelman

8. Tyler Lockett

9. Marquise Brown

10. A.J. Brown

11. DK Metcalf

12. John Brown

13. Cole Beasley

14. Stefon Diggs

15. *Will Fuller

16. Adam Thielen

17. Greg Ward

18. Allen Lazard

19. TreQuan Smith

20. Mecole Hardman

21. N'Keal Harry

22. Sammy Watkins

23. Ted Ginn

24. Kenny Stills

25. Demarcus Robinson

26. Corey Davis

27. Kendrick Bourne

28. Mohamed Sanu

29. Willie Snead

30. Tajae Sharpe

31. Malik Turner

32. Seth Roberts

33. Miles Boykin

34. Adam Humphries

35. Bisi Johnson

36. Phillip Dorsett

37. Jake Kumerow

38. David Moore

39. Isaiah McKenzie

40. Geronimo Allison

41. M. Valdes-Scantling

42. Robert Davis

43. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

44. Nelson Agholor

45. DeSean Jackson

Thomas is going to get his against anyone, and he’ll have at least one of those fun dome games. A Kansas City-Baltimore rematch in the AFC Championship Game would be a blast. The Patriots defense is known for eliminating the opponent’s best weapon, but is that A.J. Brown or Derrick Henry this week? And how come they couldn’t stop DeVante Parker last week?

I have nothing good to say about Watkins.

Say what you want about Brady, who’s living that game-manager life, but this is the worst skill-position help he’s had in several years. Edelman has been playing through major injury for about two months. White is a wonderful support player, but no star. The new receivers have been slow to adjust; perhaps that’s a statement on New England’s culture and system, but no serious contender would want to trade skill players with the Patriots.

Tight End

1. George Kittle

2. Mark Andrews

3. Travis Kelce

4. Jared Cook

5. Dallas Goedert

6. Jacob Hollister

7. *Zach Ertz

8. Jonnu Smith

9. Hayden Hurst

10. Jimmy Graham

11. Darren Fells

12. Dawson Knox

13. Kyle Rudolph

14. Nick Boyle

15. Jordan Akins

16. Josh Hill

17. Benjamin Watson

18. Josh Perkins

19. Irv Smith

20. Matt LaCosse

21. Anthony Firkser

The tight end list is top-heavy and fun at the top. Man, I miss Tyler Higbee. Ertz is impossible to rank at the current time, and I’ll probably just let someone else have him. If you’re in a very deep league and need cheap Baltimore lottery tickets, remember they sometimes throw to their off-brand tight ends.

The Patriots sure could use a guy like Hollister right about now.


1. Justin Tucker

2. Wil Lutz

3. Robbie Gould

4. Harrison Butker

5. Ka'imi Fairbairn

6. Jason Myers

7. Nick Folk

8. Mason Crosby

9. Jake Elliott

10. Greg Joseph

11. Stephen Hauschka

12. Dan Bailey

As usual, the kicker list is tied to the team-expectation list. That said, those first four guys are dynamite kickers, too. I still maintain Tucker is the best kicker I’ve ever seen.

I didn’t bother with a DST list since it’s so dependent on how you see the playoffs shaking out. The kicker list could also stand-in for a de-facto DST list, though I’d swap New Orleans and San Francisco.

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