So you’ve made it into the playoffs. You deserve a pat on the back. But not much else.
You’ve made the playoffs mainly because of injuries to Doug Martin, Arian Foster, Julio Jones and Aaron Rodgers. No one could have predicted the horror that is Stevan Ridley or the glory that is Knowshon Moreno (whose tears are second to none). The lack of creativity and utter laziness by fellow team owners in your league boosted your chances of making the playoffs ten-fold. The playoffs are where boys and girls become men and women, fellow fantasy owners. And I want to help you.
Two of my three teams made the playoffs (one is cruising in first place), as my third squad was decimated by injuries and Ridley. Because the waiver wire isn’t particularly hot (other than Ladarius Green, tight end for the Chargers and Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver for the Vikings), this week’s “five” will consist of my five tips to guiding you to the championship. The fantasy football gods will not be merciful, so we must prepare, my dear friends, for war.
Prince’s Prudent Playoff Policies
1. Go with your gut.
Fantasy owners should not end a season with regrets about their lineup choices. Much time is wasted simply tinkering with one’s lineup, and the entire process is truly a crapshoot.
For example, here’s a brief summary of how last week’s roster fiddling went for my first place team.
“Do I start Keenan Allen or Alshon Jeffery? Oh god. Allen is facing Cincinnati, and their defense can be tight. Jeffery’s been consistent, I think I’ll go with him… wait. Jeffery only reeled in four catches for 42 yards in Week 12, and Allen had nine receptions for 124 yards. And Cutler loves Brandon Marshall a lot more than Jeffery, and they have Matt Forte at running back. But is Cutler healthy? Do I go with Allen? Oh, Fantasy Zeus, please share your knowledge with me!”
On a gut instinct, I went with Jeffrey, who caught 12 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, earning me a healthy 50 points and a first-place seed for the playoffs.
While you should take all factors into account (as in, previous stats, consistency, opponent, health status), the player that you are more drawn to start is probably the right start.
And your gut-instinct player not panning out is worse than benching that guy and watching him put out a monstrous stat line.
2. Cut off loose ends.
Dear Stevan Ridley,
I drafted you in the third round of my fantasy football league, right after Doug Martin and Larry Fitzgerald. You were my safety valve for ten touchdowns and an average of at least 12 fantasy points per game. I thought we had something.
But it’s the playoffs, dude. And you got benched last week. You fumble. A lot. And your coach isn’t pleased with you. The Patriots will be alright without you, and so will I. I BANISH YOU TO THE WAIVER WIRE.
All of you should have this conversation with at least one of your players. Now isn’t the time to “stash a player to see if they break out or return to glory soon.” The situation is too crucial to waste a roster spot on a flailing player. It’s time to move on from Trent Richardson, I hate to say it. And the days of Eddie Royal ever being a fantasy factor again are over. Trust me, it’s them, not you. Use the roster spot to show off the ingenuity that earned you a place in the playoffs.
3. Start your best players.
If you have studs on your team, guys that have produced week-in and week-out for your team and don’t have any major signs of slowing down, play them.
I have witnessed fantasy owners trying to get cute and not start a superstar against a tough defensive matchup or because of an injury to a player that might affect their value. Your best men are the ones who got you into the playoffs, so respect their previous work and keep on rolling with them.
Also, don’t drop these guys if they have a bad first week in the playoffs. They’re going to end up saving your butt the next week anyway. Have faith. While some NFL players loathe our game, they do play to the best of their ability (which helps us tremendously, whether they like it or not).
4. Be wary of your opponent’s lineup, but don’t fall into their games.
Sometimes, your opponents will make suave moves as well. Perhaps they see that your wide receivers are Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, and they want to cancel out any points that they gain if they explode. Your fellow team owner might go out and pick up Eli Manning and start him, in order to receive a good amount of points if he throws multiple touchdowns their way.
While you should pay attention to this and recognize what is going on, don’t be silly by proceeding to sit either of them. You start your studs, remember? Your lineup is your lineup, and should never be dictated by your opponents. If your player has a good game, it will benefit you in the long run, even if your opponent’s team gains some points from your players’ success.
5. Play week-by-week.
Your goal in Week 14 is not to be champion. It is to win Week 14. If you don’t win Week 14, you won’t be champion anyways. This is the most important rule of thumb for the fantasy football playoffs.
Each week must be treated as what it actually is: a do-or-die situation. No week should be taken lightly (saving any bye-weeks a team earns by being especially brilliant). If you’re going to wake up an hour before Sunday’s NFL action to tinker and receive updates on your players and adjust, make sure you do it every week possible. If you’re going to do a plug-and-play defense which will change based on opponent strength, apply the strategy to every week. Your goal is to be champion once you reach the championship. Keep your focus on the task at hand, put your best lineup out there every week and reap the rewards in the future.
Live by these rules. Study your roster. Be savvy and not stupid on the waiver wire.
Most of all, have fun. It has been a treacherous journey to the playoffs and, upon your arrival, soak it in. Talk a little trash. Brag some. You have handled your fantasy football team well, just continue your work for three more weeks. And then… glory.
The Jackson Fives