And then there were four.
As the conference championship games near, only four teams remain alive in the quest for a berth in Super Bowl LIV in Miami after last week’s Divisional Round. For the most part, chalk ruled the weekend—the round opened with the San Francisco 49ers pummeling the Minnesota Vikings in Santa Clara and ended with the Green Bay Packers holding off the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field to set up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle in the NFC Championship.
The AFC was another matter. The second-seeded Kansas City Chiefs did their part, storming back from a 24-0 deficit to become the first team in NFL history to win a playoff game by 20 after trailing by that same amount. But the Cinderella run of the Tennessee Titans rolls on. Not only did the Titans stun the 14-2 Ravens in Baltimore, but Derrick Henry and the Titans spanked the AFC’s No. 1 seed 28-12.
That sets up Titans and Chiefs in the first game Sunday for the Lamar Hunt trophy, while the Packers and Niners will play a rematch of a Week 12 game dominated by San Francisco in the battle for the Halas trophy. When the dust settles, we’ll know the participants for Super Bowl LIV.
And in IDP playoff leagues like the Fantasy Sharks IDP Playoff Challenge, the pool of available defensive players now looks more like a puddle.
In order to help you in the final quest for a fantasy championship (and a few laughs), I’ll be publishing IDP rankings each week during the NFL playoffs here at Fantasy Sharks. These rankings assume a league format where teams start two defensive linemen, two linebackers, two defensive backs and a “flex” spot or two.
They also assume a “one/two and done” format where players are concerned. In other words, while the entire pool of individual defensive players is available, each player can only be used once (or twice, in some formats). So, while matchup and talent are still the primary considerations, it’s also important to identify which teams are going to be eliminated in a given week and try to use those players where possible.
Otherwise, by the time we get to Miami, IDP owners won’t have anyone left to slot in starting lineups.
Before we get to the rankings, a quick personal note. I was recently fortunate enough to be named a finalist for the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. It’s the fourth straight year I’ve been a finalist in the category, but unlike the Buffalo Bills I managed to bring one home in 2017.
I’m incredibly honored to receiver this recognition, but I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank Fantasy Sharks and specifically Tony Holm. Tony was one of the first folks in the fantasy football industry to offer me a paying gig, and I wouldn’t be where I’m at today were it not for his friendship and support. The 2020 season will be my 10th at Fantasy Sharks, and I’m as excited for it as I was my first.
Now let’s down to business, with the Top 10 defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs for the conference championship games.
- Frank Clark – DE, KCC (vs. HOU)
- Nick Bosa – DE, SFO (vs. GBP)
- DeForest Buckner – DT, SFO (vs. GBP)
- Arik Armstead – DE, SFO (vs. GBP)
- Jurrell Casey – DE, TEN (at KCC)
- Kenny Clark – DT, GBP (at SFO)
- Dee Ford – DE, SFO (vs. GBP)
- Solomon Thomas – DE, SFO (vs. GBP)
- Jeffery Simmons – DT, TEN (at KCC)
- Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, KCC (vs. TEN)
- Blake Martinez – ILB, GBP (vs. SEA)
- Fred Warner – ILB, SFO (vs. MIN)
- Rashaan Evans – ILB, TEN (at KCC)
- Za’Darius Smith – OLB, GBP (at SFO)
- Wesley Woodyard – ILB, TEN (at BAL)
- Preston Smith – OLB, GBP (at SFO)
- Kwon Alexander – OLB, SFO (vs. GBP)
- Anthony Hitchens – ILB, KCC (vs. TEN)
- Damien Wilson – ILB, KCC (vs. TEN)
- Harold Landry – OLB, TEN (at KCC)
- Logan Ryan – CB, TEN (at KCC)
- Tyrann Mathieu – S, KCC (vs. HOU)
- Adrian Amos – S, GBP (vs. SEA)
- Kevin Byard – S, TEN (at KCC)
- Jaquiski Tartt – S, SFO (vs. GBP)
- Emmanuel Moseley – CB, SFO (vs. GBP)
- Jaire Alexander – CB, GBP (vs. SEA)
- Kenny Vaccaro – S, TEN (at BAL)
- Daniel Sorensen – S, KCC (vs. TEN)
- Darnell Savage – S. GBP (at SFO)