Fantasy power ranking the 12 eliminated NFL playoff teams: Who comes out on top?
The NFL playoffs started with 14 teams. Now we’re down to two, with 12 others eliminated. I thought it might be a good time for a post-mortem on the playoff teams who were recently eliminated and rank those teams by expected fantasy juice for the 2023 season. Obviously, a lot is going to change in the next few months, with free agency, trades, the draft and unavoidable injuries here and there.
Consider this a placeholder article to keep you warm through the winter months.
Again, only playoff teams (other than the Chiefs and Eagles) are ranked here. That’s why we’re not talking Jets, Lions, Packers, etc.
And away we go.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It would be temping to blow everything up with Tom Brady retiring, but the division is so weak, Tampa Bay might fancy itself 2023 contenders anyway. Leonard Fournette is no sure thing to return. Mike Evans enters a dangerous age pocket for a receiver.
11. New York Giants
The team doesn’t have a choice in Daniel Jones — he has to come back. Saquon Barkley is not a sure thing. Brian Daboll somehow coached this team into the playoffs despite a mediocre receiver room; that position surely will be addressed proactively in the coming months.
10. Baltimore Ravens
For a second I forgot these guys made the playoffs. The Lamar Jackson situation needs to be cleared up, but team and player likely realize they need each other. The wide receiver room desperately needs a coat of paint, even if we assume Rashod Bateman pops in Year 3. Jackson’s never thrown much to his running backs, which keeps a modest ceiling on J.K. Dobbins.
9. Miami Dolphins
Nobody can cover Miami’s two speed merchants, but there are questions everywhere else. Miami doesn’t have a signed running back heading into the offseason, and nobody can predict if Tua Tagovailoa can overcome his scary concussion problems. Tight end Mike Gesicki was always a square peg for the round hole of this offense; he’s probably headed elsewhere.
8. Dallas Cowboys
The Pokes want to retain Tony Pollard, though the situation becomes cloudy after Pollard broke his left ankle in the playoffs. And of course, Ezekiel Elliott is still on the books, though Pollard blew past him for the entire 2023 season. Despite missing five games, Dak Prescott led the league in interceptions. CeeDee Lamb blossomed into a star receiver, but no one else on this offense reached 600 yards receiving.
7. Minnesota Vikings
Justin Jefferson will be a top-three pick in virtually every league next year, and T.J. Hockenson is finally spreading his wings. Dalvin Cook is no sure thing to escape a possible salary-cap cut, while Alexander Mattison is also a free agent. K.J. Osborn was more efficient than Adam Thielen in 2022, and that trend is unlikely to reverse itself with Thielen entering his age-33 season.
6. Seattle Seahawks
Geno Smith’s breakout season probably guarantees the Seahawks will give him a juicy contract, and we’d like to see that for fantasy purposes — D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were both right answers last year. Kenneth Walker’s receiving efficiency was ordinary, but at least he wasn’t a zero in the passing game; the team doesn’t view him as merely a two-down grinder.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers pick up a new offensive coordinator at the right time, but the receiver room needs a makeover, too. Austin Ekeler posted new lows for yards per target and yards per touch, but volume and touchdown deodorant kept him in fantasy royalty. He’s entering the always tricky age-28 season.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Many pundits will have Trevor Lawrence going to the moon and I’m more or less in agreement, but Lawrence is already most of the way there — he quietly logged a QB7 finish in 2022. Jacksonville’s offense was tidy and efficient in 2022, with every key piece outkicking ADP, but the tree gets a little more complicated if Calvin Ridley is ready for a strong return. Jacksonville gets a boost from the weak competition in the AFC South.
3. Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen remains a dynamic dual-threat god, even if he made a few too many errors in 2022. Stefon Diggs is still performing at a Pro Bowl level. The rest of the offense is filled with useful but not electric players; there’s no Jaylen Waddle or Tee Higgins or Brandon Aiyuk on this offense. I’ll be shocked if Buffalo doesn’t go after receiver help this spring.
2. Cincinnati Bengals
Ja’Marr Chase probably won’t be the first receiver selected in most leagues but he has a fair chance to outscore everyone. Tee Higgins is a dynamite WR2, and Joe Burrow stands as a strong pick for anyone who wants to get a signature QB without being the first manager to tap into the tier. The offensive line still needs maintenance, and it’s likely that next year’s featured back is not currently on the roster (Samaje Perine is a free agent, and Joe Mixon — who was a possible salary-cap cut to begin with — had an arrest warrant issued on him this week).
1. San Francisco 49ers
It’s the wonderful steakhouse that has everything — ambiance, location, a professional serving staff and world-class chef … but we’re not sure about the steaks.
Until the Niners pick a lane at quarterback, it’s hard to know what this offense’s identity and ceiling are. Tom Brady looked like a potential fit and I wonder if team and player quietly explored that, but apparently, it’s dead now. We haven’t seen Trey Lance play meaningful snaps since 2019, and he still hasn’t played a full season against a major level of competition.
And all that said, I still have them with the yellow jersey. Christian McCaffrey could be the consensus 1.01 pick next year, and George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk will be above-the-fold picks everywhere.