I try not to pay too much attention to the statistical performances in the playoffs. A player who has a great postseason often can't repeat the numbers the following season. Like the NHL goalie who gets hot in the playoffs and goes back to being mediocre the next year, a player might look awesome in the postseason and stick in my head too much on draft day, only to disappoint when they're needed. I'm fine if other teams make that mistake, but not mine.
Still, we're seeing a few patterns in the playoffs that might be good to note for the future. Not just the hard numbers necessarily, but the behavior of teams when the chips are down and they're desperate for first downs and scores. If a quarterback looks to a certain receiver when they're in a high-pressure situation, or if a running back gets ignored in a big game, it might be good to remember that for next season.
Please note that I said "might." The offseason will bring new coaches and free agents to teams, so the plays and personnel will be somewhat different. The favorite target in January might not be a focus in September. Also, some of the conclusions might be too obvious. Oh, Joe Burrow likes Ja'Marr Chase? You don't say. Even if it's true, it's not valuable information. Note to self: Brock Purdy throws to George Kittle. Stop the presses.
I mean things that you know, but I think might really carry over to next season. We’re seeing some great games, and most of it is just to be appreciated in the playoffs. But here are a some players I’ll try to remember in August, to either target or avoid.
Christian Kirk. Sure, Kirk started the season strong but seemed to tail off a bit. He had a six-game scoreless streak, and totaled fewer than 50 yards seven different times this season. But when the games really mattered, he was a primary target for Trevor Lawrence.
Kirk had 36 playoff targets (I’m counting the week 18 game, since it was basically a playoff game for the Jaguars) and scored three touchdowns in those three contests. He also signed a hefty contract that basically guarantees he’ll be with the team for at least a couple more seasons. With that kind of chemistry with Lawrence, I think he’s going to justify where he’ll be slotted before draft day, and might be worth more in some circumstances. When so many early fantasy picks disappoint, it’s good to find some that should be at least worth where you take them. I think Kirk looks like a guy who will be worth the cost, especially in a PPR format. And if Lawrence takes another step forward, Kirk’s numbers can grow with him.
Devin Singletary. Every year, Fantasy Index does a “lightning round” series of questions for the back of the magazine. One of those questions is always to name a running back who will be drafted too early. I’m going to give you a sneak preview of my answers: For that question, my answer will be Devin Singletary. If he’s still with Buffalo, I don’t care where you take him, it will be too early.
It's not that he’s terrible. It’s that the team doesn’t trust him to be the bell cow, and they never will. Seven times during the season he failed to accumulate 10 carries in a game. And he doesn’t help himself much with receptions. He caught two or fewer passes 11 times during the regular season. In the playoffs, James Cook had more carries. So when the games really mattered, they still didn’t lean on him. From a fantasy perspective, he’s not worthy of a roster spot, because there’s no scenario where they’ll let him be the guy.
I used to think the Bills were silly to keep giving Zack Moss carries when Singletary could easily handle the job himself. So what happened? They got rid of Moss, and he ended up looking a lot better on a bad Colts team than Singletary did on a great Bills team. Watching how they utilized him in the playoffs was enough for me. If it wasn’t snowing, would he have caught as many passes against the Bengals? They don’t trust him, and neither do I. Maybe I’m wrong, and he has a great year in 2023. It just won’t be on my team.
Brett Maher. This one hurts, because I started him, and benched Tyler Bass, in the playoffs this season. In my first playoff game, the difference in points was more than my margin of victory, so he got me to the championship. I wouldn’t have won a title without him. He was a star in my playoffs. Dallas’ playoffs? Not so much.
The truth is that he failed to connect on five extra points in the playoffs. One was blocked, but it was going to sail left. He was lucky it will go down as a block. I think he’s done in Dallas, and if he isn’t, I have no confidence that his confidence will remain high enough to be worth a start. Sadly, it’s the kind of thing that can ruin a career, and he’ll have to wait several months for a shot at getting back on track. I hope he bounces back and has a great year, but I’ll pass on him no matter what the other options are. Having a kicker from a good team can really help your fantasy fortunes, but I’ll just have to get along without him.
From here on out, I think I’ll pass on carrying anything over to next season. Anything can happen in one or two games, and half the quarterbacks are hurt. Game plans might change based on what they can do on the field. So I’ll keep the above guys in mind next season, and just try to enjoy the football we have left. I hope you do the same.
Any playoff results strike you as important to remember for next season? Are you higher or lower on anybody based on what they’ve done in the playoffs? Share your thoughts below.