If you’ve successfully navigated your team into the fantasy football playoffs, congratulations!
This wasn’t the easiest of years to have done so, as evidenced by the list of most popular players on the rosters of 2017 ESPN fantasy football playoff teams below, so those who made it should feel particularly proud of the accomplishment. It was a weird, wacky season — weirder and wackier than usual — and the lesson to take away from it was that you need to be constantly ready to make changes.
Luck plays a significant part in who makes it to the playoffs, as evidenced by the fact that six of the top nine players most commonly found on ESPN playoff teams were undrafted in the preseason. In fact, 12 of the 27 players found on greater than half of playoff teams had ADPs in “undrafted” territory — meaning that some were selected by some astute owners, but their average draft position was outside the top 170 picks. Many only made it onto their respective teams as in-season pickups.
Here are all 27 players who reside on rosters of playoff teams in at least 50 percent of ESPN 10-team standard leagues, along with their preseason ADPs:
Remarkably, not only did a kicker make the cut, but he was in fact the second-most commonly found player on playoff rosters. He was, however, almost entirely undrafted, the 23rd kicker off the board in terms of ADP, and his name: Greg Zuerlein of the Los Angeles Rams. His presence on a whopping 66.2 percent of playoff rosters is a bit less surprising if you’ve noticed that he has been a top-10 scorer at the position in 10 of his 12 games and a top-two finisher in six, has a 33-point advantage over No. 2 scoring kicker Stephen Gostkowski (found on 47.2 percent of playoff rosters) and is on pace for an unbelievable 220 fantasy points.
How good a year would that be? Consider this: The single-season record for fantasy points by a placekicker is 182.56, set by David Akers in 2011. Zuerlein is already tied for 11th all-time in kicker scoring, not to mention within 18.56 of Akers’ record with four games to play.
In a development that should come as no surprise, Alvin Kamara, perhaps the hottest player in fantasy football, is on a most-in-the-game 77.4 percent of playoff rosters. Like Zuerlein, Kamara was undrafted in a majority of ESPN 10-team standard leagues, though his presence highlights what was an outstanding year for rookies. Fellow freshmen Kareem Hunt (53.4 percent), Evan Engram (52.9), Leonard Fournette (52.8), Jamaal Williams (52.3), JuJu Smith-Schuster (52.2) and Samaje Perine (50.3) also found their way onto playoff rosters in greater than half of ESPN leagues. The pendulum has swung back to the game’s youth, a point I made just last week.
It was also a banner year for the sophomore quarterbacks: The Philadelphia Eagles‘ Carson Wentz (57.3 percent) and Rams’ Jared Goff (50.2) also found their way onto greater than half of ESPN playoff rosters. Wentz is the season’s No. 2 scoring quarterback, and Goff is the No. 2 scoring quarterback of the past five weeks, with the only one with greater in either time period the third quarterback who made it onto greater than half of playoff rosters: Russell Wilson (52.9).
Here are the five most popular players at all six standard positions on the rosters of ESPN playoff teams:
How about some of this season’s biggest busts? Putting aside injury-related examples — No. 1 overall pick in terms of ADP David Johnson (on 10.2 percent of playoff rosters) and No. 4 overall pick Odell Beckham Jr. (2.7) suffered unexpected injuries — here are some players who failed to get their fantasy teams into the playoffs:
Jordy Nelson: He’s on playoff rosters in only 32.1 percent of ESPN 10-team standard leagues, the lowest of any healthy first-round pick. His 120.0 PPR fantasy points is also the fewest of any of the eight first-rounders excluding Johnson and Beckham, as Nelson suffered greatly in terms of production with Aaron Rodgers sidelined.
Terrelle Pryor Sr.: While he’s now on IR and out for the season, Pryor logged a lot of time on fantasy rosters before finally being shelved, resulting in his residing on playoff rosters in only 6.3 percent of ESPN leagues. He scored just 50.0 PPR fantasy points.
Isaiah Crowell: His 109.5 PPR fantasy points was a disappointment, considering he scored 40.4 more than that through the first 13 weeks of 2016. The No. 33 overall pick in terms of ADP, he’s on playoff rosters in just 28.3 percent of ESPN leagues.
T.Y. Hilton (25th in ADP, on 29.5 percent of playoff rosters), Demaryius Thomas (28th in ADP, 28.5 percent) and Kelvin Benjamin (50th in ADP, 27.0 percent) also aren’t unexpected names on a limited percentage of playoff teams.
As the playoffs progress we’ll update you on those who reside on the most finals and championship rosters in ESPN 10-team standard leagues. Who might be this year’s Sam Bradford, Jerick McKinnon, Cameron Meredith or Charles Clay, players who had unexpectedly excellent fantasy-playoff (Weeks 14-17) performances last season?
Stay tuned …