The time has come. The hours of preparation furiously flipping through magazines, cheat sheets, and bust lists has paid off. Hundreds of names have been circled, highlighted, crossed out, and furiously over-analyzed. League fees have been paid, trash talk dealt. The droplets of sweat that lined your brow as the draft clock slowly approached zero during your first round pick have long been gone. Some players have risen, others fallen. Your lineup has been set, adjusted, second guessed, and reset again. Injuries have stricken, and the waiver wire is thin. An infinite range of emotions have been felt week to week, Sunday to Sunday, and game to game. Touchdowns have provoked exuberant fist pumps; fumbles and picks have brought heartbreak and anguish. Through it all, many have stuck by their teams, got their guys, and believed in their picks. But, as week 13 came to a close only a lucky select few have made their Fantasy Football Playoffs.
At this point those who have made it have a grasp on the shape of their team, who are their studs, and who will produce week to week. Instead of a Start/Sit I’ve decided to share a list of playoff strategies and outlooks that hopefully can help bring you the year long bragging rights, and possibly money, that come with winning your Fantasy Football League.
(1)Start Your Studs-It has been thirteen long weeks. Between filling in for injuries, adjusting for bye weeks, and going with gut feelings your lineup has been shaken up quite a bit. But by now every owner knows who their studs are, and by most accounts their studs are assuredly who carried the team to the playoffs. Don’t try and get fancy with your lineup changes and over analyze start/sit decisions, for they may be your last.
(2)Handcuffs are Important- With trade deadlines having passed, the majority of leagues can no longer make transactions between teams. This means your team is your team and there isn’t much changing. It also makes it a lot harder to address needs you have. At this point your bench depth isn’t as important, and it makes more sense to have Ben Tate on your team as Arian Foster’s backup, than a fourth of fifth receiver who won’t see your starting lineup from here on out.
(3)Play the Matchups- By this point in the year, trends have begun to arise and defensive statistics can be relied upon. Be aware of the “points against” lists, and take them into account when deciding between two equal players. This can be especially important when choosing a defense to play. There have not been many defenses that have stuck out this year and score above and beyond others. Because of this choosing your defense week to week can really pay off. Look for matchups against poor offenses such as the Rams, and Colts, or against situations like the Bears who are without a starting running back and quarterback.
(4)Beware of the Weather- As the playoffs approach, keep in mind that winter is now in full swing and the weather worsens. Sometimes checking the expected weather reports can be just as crucial as checking injury reports. You can always find what the weather is expected to be like come kickoff time. Games that have rain, snow, and heavy winds tend to limit quarterback and wide receiver upside because it can be hard to throw the ball and teams will look to the run. This especially comes into play when selecting a kicker. Kicking is arguably the aspect of the game that is most influenced by the weather, kickers who are playing in domes can be a much safer bet.
(5)Keep Your Lineup Flexible- This strategy can be slightly more complicated but can really pay off. Especially when your league uses a flex spot it can be viable to keep players who are playing in 4 o clock games or Sunday/Monday night games in that spot. Generally there are two types of players, those with low risk/upside (Antonio Brown) and those with high risk/upside (Torrey Smith). Say after the one o’clock games you find yourself down needing to make up 15-20 points. If you asked me which one of those two players is more likely to score 20 points I would say Torrey Smith. On the other hand if you find yourself up after the first set of games you may just be looking for consistent points to keep your lead. Although Torrey Smith is the most likely to score 20 points, he is also the most likely to score 0. Therefore, I would much rather swap him out for Antonio Brown, a much more consistent option that will likely save you from posting a goose-egg.
When all is said and done only one person finishes their season on a high. At this point, no one should have to tell you who to start and who to leave on your bench. When Sunday rolls around believe in yourself, the decisions you make, and most of all your team. Go with your gut, start your guy, and let the points pile up.