With Week 15 getting started, the fantasy football playoffs are in full mode throughout the fantasy universe. This year, I have been fortunate enough to have made it to the playoffs in five of my six leagues. This doesn’t mean that I have been cleaning house in fantasy football this year, but that I have been doing well enough to end up the season as one of the better teams. Here is how I fared:
|Macho Head Games
|Regular season record of 9-5 (3rd seed of 4)
|No Safe Spaces
|Regular season record of 7-7 (4th seed of 4)
|Pure IDP league; Regular season record of 9-5 (2nd seed of 4)
|Regular season record of 8-5 (2nd seed of 6)
|Mount Brook Homes
|Regular season record of 6-7 (missed playoffs)
|Regular season record of 7-6 (7th seed of 8)
I made it by the skin of my teeth in all but one of my leagues. It was so close, in fact, that I had to win my Week 14 match ups in four of my leagues in order to stay alive, which I fortunately did. And in three of my leagues I won the tie-breaker simply because I scored more points during the regular season.
Getting into the playoffs, though, is only half the battle. Now it’s time to try to win a championship. Here are some strategies going down the road to champions.
Put everything into the game this week
Unless you play in multiweek playoff matchups (e.g. ESPN leagues), the playoffs are usually only two or three weeks long. This means you need to win this week or go home. In other words, you need to focus everything on winning now. If you have a talented guy on your team who can’t help you this week for some reason, but who might be able to help you next week, you seriously need to think about dropping him if you need to pick up someone else who can help you this week. This can come into play if you have a good player who is temporarily injured, or if you are loaded at one position but not at another. Keep in mind, however, that you should try to drop your talented players as close as possible to game time so that your competitors can’t pick him up until after the waiver period has ended. This will also give you the chance to pick him up next week should you win this week’s round.
Plan for the week ahead by rebuilding your bench
Ok, so this kind of seems like it contradicts the point above, but hear me out. If you have a solid group of starters set for the first week of the playoffs, you need to already be planning for the second week. Look for players who are in line for easy match ups next week and stack them on your bench now. It’s a great thing to do with DSTs who are scheduled to play bad teams in the near future. It’s also something to do if you are carrying only one quarterback and want some insurance in case an injury happens to him in this week’s game. Obviously, you shouldn’t drop anyone you need to win this week, but focus on bench players who aren’t going to help you anyway.
Anticipate your competition’s needs
If you know that your opponent needs help at a particular position in the coming week, consider picking up his targeted player at waiver time. The point is to put this player your bench rather than let him be active for another team. This will effectively handicap him before the first ball is ever hiked this week. Be careful not to go overboard with this by ignoring your own needs at starting positions, but if you have room on your bench this strategy can help.
Anticipate strange match ups in Week 17
Most fantasy football leagues will likely end in Week 16, which is a week before the actual NFL season ends in Week 17. However, if you are in a league that plays all the way through Week 17, you need to completely reevaluate your team. If your star fantasy players are on NFL teams heading for the (real( playoffs, expect them to get only a fraction of the snaps they normally get as they are rested. Target players on waivers who will get playing time and prioritize them over talented players who won’t get many snaps.
With the fantasy playoffs, managers need to rethink the way they approach their team management. It’s not a macro-level game anymore, so decisions have to shift away from long-term strategies. While no strategy can guarantee a match up win on any given Sunday, there are definite ways that a manager can stack the odds in his favor.