Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Full-Length Playoff Leagues - Fantasy Football Strategy


The regular season is over, but that doesn't mean the fantasy fun stops there. While certainly inferior to full season leagues, playoff fantasy football is still a great way to carry on playing this game that we love and providing us all with a vested interest in each of these playoff games, no matter how unexciting some of them may appear to be.

Playoff leagues come in many shapes and sizes. Today's discussion will concern one particular format and my preferred format - pick a 16 player roster before the start of the playoffs and accumulate as many points as possible over the four rounds.

Each round, you must start a QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, and DEF. Well, that is, for as long as you can. If you're able to submit a full lineup each week, you're probably going to win. Which brings us to the first step in drafting your team.

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!

 

Select Players That Will Play Multiple Games

Obviously this is easier said than done. Football is very much a game with randomness and if we knew who would win these games, this would be too easy. In this format, under no circumstances should you not be fielding a full lineup for at least the first two rounds. That is something you can guarantee due to the nature of the first round byes. The biggest challenge is ensuring you can get close to a full lineup when we're down to just four teams in the conference championships and then just two in the Super Bowl.

The odds of any team playing round one advancing to the Super Bowl will almost always be lower than the teams with the byes. You need at least eight players on your roster playing in the first round. Make sure all of those players (yes, every single one) is on a team you think will also be playing next week.

 

Predict The Outcome Of The Games

In order to optimize your chances of winning, you need to have conviction. You are not going to win your playoff league by playing it safe and taking players on just about every team. There are 12 teams in the playoffs, which means eight of them will be gone after the first two rounds. You need to have as many players as possible on those final four and ultimately, final two teams. To do that, you have to trust your analysis on how the actual games will play out. This is the fundamental difference between playoff fantasy (specifically, this format) and regular season fantasy. We don't care who wins the regular season games as long as our players produce because, absent injury, our players all play the same 16 games. In playoff fantasy, the outcome of the games is immensely important. Once your player's team loses, that's it for that player. Your roster literally just shrinks. You cannot replace him.

 

Pick The Best Players...On The Teams You Think Will Win

Now we're at the point where we can discuss actual players. I love LeSean McCoy. I think Cam Newton is a great play in round one. Julio Jones is liable to pop off a huge game at any moment. And the Titans also are a team in the playoffs. The problem with these players is they're all on teams that are supposed to lose. If Newton puts up 30 points this weekend in a loss, that's excellent, but you'll already be down a QB after just one round. Ideally, you don't want to lose a single player this weekend. If you can head into round two with all 16 of your players, you're in a great position to ensure you have more players as the pool shrinks.

My predictions on how the NFL playoffs will play out are just that - my predictions. You can and should have your own and select your players accordingly. If you think the Titans are taking out the Chiefs, then Rishard Matthews is a better selection than Tyreek Hill. If you, like me, think the Rams are going to the Super Bowl, then you can't even consider taking Julio Jones over Robert Woods even though Jones is obviously the better player.

 

Try To Be Different

You can always go straight chalk on everything. Mathematically, the Patriots, Steelers, and Vikings are the three teams most likely to win the Super Bowl. But as anyone who fills out a March Madness bracket knows, putting all four #1 seeds in your Final Four is not going to win you any pools. Maybe you think the Eagles can prove the world wrong and win with Nick Foles? Fire up some Alshon Jeffery. Maybe you think the Jaguars have a shot to make a run? Fire up some Leonard Fournette. Try and predict what your fellow owners will do and compose a roster that gives you a chance to win if the obvious doesn't happen.

 

My Roster And Reasoning

Now that we've spent plenty of time discussing how and why to construct a roster a particular way, I will share with you my team and explain my choices. I split my roster evenly with eight players (a full lineup) playing this week and eight players on bye.

QB: Tom Brady, Jared Goff

RB: Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, Dion Lewis, Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette

WR: Antonio Brown, Brandin Cooks, Tyreek Hill, Adam Thielen, Michael Thomas

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce

DEF: Jacksonville, New England

As you can see, I have loaded up on Patriots. I am more confident in the Patriots making the Super Bowl than any other prediction I have about this year's playoffs. As a result, I've selected a Patriot at every position. I won't be able to field a full lineup in the Super Bowl no matter what, but I highly doubt anyone else will be in that position either. I am most confident in a Rams vs. Patriots Super Bowl and second most confident in a Saints vs. Patriots Super Bowl. I do realize that I am actually in better shape if the Saints make it out of the NFC as I can start both Kamara and Thomas while I can't start Goff and Brady if it is Rams vs. Patriots, but I don't anticipate other owners having many Rams besides Goff and Gurley, who I also have. There will be some Robert Woods out there, but I chose not to select him because I don't think he is good enough to warrant selecting over the five WRs I have chosen. This may appear to be contradictory to my claim about having conviction, but I do believe that three games of the five I've chosen could very well be better than four of Woods.

If the Patriots don't reach the Super Bowl, I am still in a good position as long as it's the Steelers that beat them. With Bell and Brown, I can still score points, but I will be at a disadvantage against the owners that are all in on the Steelers who will likely roster Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster as well. If I get the Patriots wrong, I will need to get the Rams correct to have a chance as not having a QB in the Super Bowl is very detrimental.

Every player I've taken that is playing round one is on a team I think will win. Leonard Fournette is the only round one player on the Jaguars. I think he is an excellent round one play, will be viable in round two, and on the off chance the Jaguars pull off the second round upset, I don't anticipate other owners having any other Jaguars. Fournette is a strong pick because he is an elite player in an excellent situation likely to play two games and the only viable player from his team.

I only selected one Viking because I honestly believe the Rams are going to beat the Vikings next week. Adam Thielen is clearly the best fantasy option on the Vikings and my selection of him is a minor hedge against me being wrong, but also due to the lack of certainty on the other options. Stefon Diggs has been inconsistent and unreliable all season. Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray split snaps and don't have a high enough ceiling to justify choosing especially given that I only think they're playing one game. Kyle Rudolph is not Gronk or Kelce and the reality is everyone should be taking Gronk and Kelce as their only two TEs because no one else is worth it. Case Keenum is a viable choice only if you think the Vikings are making the Super Bowl. I do not think it is smart to take a QB that is not playing round one on a team that you do not think is making the Super Bowl.

I did not select any Bills or Titans and would not recommend any of them to anyone else. While it wouldn't totally shock me if the Titans pulled off an upset, there just aren't any elite fantasy options on the team. Marcus Mariota has disappointed all season. Rishard Matthews is good, not great. DeMarco Murray is hurt and he's also done. Derrick Henry has relied heavily on splash plays to generate fantasy points and otherwise looked pedestrian, at best. Corey Davis is not ready and Eric Decker is more done than Murray. As for the Bills, I don't give them any realistic chance to win, but even if they did, they don't have fantasy options. Tyrod Taylor at Jacksonville is not what you want. Kelvin Benjamin against A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey is not what you want. Deonte Thompson and Zay Jones aren't fantasy option. Charles Clay's ceiling is too low and you will never be able to justify starting him over Kelce or Gronk. LeSean McCoy is still excellent, but he has a bad matchup and although I think he tries to play, his effectiveness will be in serious question with his ankle injury. The Bills have no appealing options even if they were to somehow earn a second game.

I also did not select any Falcons or Panthers even though both teams have plenty of appealing fantasy options. Both are certainly capable of pulling off the upset and if either or both of them do, I'll be in a bit of trouble. If you think one of these teams will win, then you should certainly be selecting players from that team. I could, in theory, go with players on teams facing off in round one, guaranteeing that I have some round one players that advance to next week. That's certainly a viable strategy. It's just not the most optimal one. Remember, you have to score more points than everyone else in your league. Even though playing it safe in round one might seem smart now, there will almost certainly be a few teams in your league that gamble on getting everything correct and do. Those are the teams you have to compete against. Guaranteeing yourself four or five players in the conference title games is not going to cut it.

The most likely conference championship games are Vikings vs. Saints and Patriots vs. Steelers. I am predicting Rams vs. Saints and Patriots vs. Steelers. If that happens, my teams will be an a strong position to win. In finalizing your roster, predict your final four teams and the Super Bowl and maximize your potential player pool accordingly. This turned out to be way longer than I expected, but hey, I love football. Good luck and above all else, just enjoy the games!

More Playoffs Lineup Prep




Today’s Most Viewed Players

More Recent Articles

 

2020 Regression Candidates: Breakout Outfielders

Every season in MLB you can count on the fact that you will have breakout performances from players. Sometimes these breakout performances can be seen coming a mile away and sometimes they catch you entirely by surprise. Regardless of which type of breakout we see, you will almost always have to pay up for that... Read More


Bases Loaded Podcast - Quality Start Episode 1

Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) and Matt Williams (@MattWi77iams) of the Turn Two Podcast come together for a new co-pod series called "Quality Start". This will be a joint effort and episodes will be found on Bases Loaded as well as the Turn Two Podcast. We are joined by Jorge Montanez (@Roto_Nino) as well for this one.... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Adrian Houser

In life, there seem to be two kinds of people, the flashy and the boring. “Flashy” people like high-end materialistic things such as nice clothing or an expensive car. "Boring” people prefer the simpler things in life like spending time with their loved ones. This seems to be true when it comes to fantasy baseball,... Read More


Taking Out the Trash: Pitchers Who Should Junk Their Worst Pitch

Pitch mix changes can make or break a player’s season. That obviously goes for fantasy value as well as real-life. We've already seen how throwing an effective pitch more often could make a huge improvement a la Patrick Corbin. Sometimes pitchers just need to eliminate a pitch to see their numbers improve. Consider the following: Mitch... Read More


ADP Showdown – Trevor Story vs. Trea Turner

Pitchers and catchers have officially reported and position player workouts are getting underway, which means baseball season is officially upon us! Maybe you haven’t started prepping for your drafts, but fortunately for you, there have already been plenty of drafts, which means that fantasy players out there have already started dealing with tough draft position... Read More


Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher Statcast

Statcast metrics such as Barrels and Brls/BBE are great ways to evaluate a batter's performance, so it is only natural to assume that the metrics would be predictive for pitchers as well. As much as batters want to hit a Barrel every time, pitchers want to avoid them at all costs. Yet there is evidence... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Staff Rankings

Below you will find RotoBaller's 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, tiers and auction dollar values for the 2020 MLB season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Mixed, Head-to-Head, Points, AL/NL Only, Two-Catcher Top 2020 prospects, Dynasty leagues, Keeper values Export the rankings easily... Read More


Bases Loaded Podcast - All Things Fantasy Baseball w/ Nick Pollack (@PitcherList)

Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) is  joined by Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) and they discuss all things fantasy baseball! Subscribe to the Bases Loaded podcast, part of RotoBaller Radio's Podcast Network. Like and Subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune... Read More


Finding Combo-Player Values Using Z-Scores and ATC Projections

Towards the end of last season, I asked the question – “Draft Speed or Pound the Power?” Loaded in this seemingly simple query are two contradictory approaches – one for power and one for speed. Power Approach 1: Home run totals are dramatically up in baseball these days. Therefore, there are many power bats available... Read More


ADP Showdown - Whit Merrifield vs Austin Meadows

Spring training is officially underway, which means baseball season is upon us! Maybe you haven’t started prepping for your drafts, but fortunately for you, there have already been plenty of drafts, which means that fantasy players out there have already begun dealing with tough draft position decisions. The outfield position is deep as always, but... Read More


2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Third Base

Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft pick in order to keep a player into the upcoming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values". In the marketing world, Value can be defined as the extent to which a good or service (player) is... Read More


2020 Dynasty Leagues: Players to Sell (Premium Content)

As draft day approaches in dynasty leagues, the window to sell-high on a big name has never been better. The first days of spring training are a chance to cash in on players who may have hit their peak value before the 2020 season begins. Bartering is a matter of risk vs reward. You hate... Read More


Bases Loaded Podcast: Early Round Values

Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) is joined by Jorge Montanez (@Roto_Nino) and Zach Braff (@BraffZ) and they discuss early round values. They go through and highlight a few players that are going inside the top 150 in ADP that offer a great chance to return profit. Subscribe to the Bases Loaded podcast, part of RotoBaller Radio's Podcast... Read More


Second Year Pitcher Preview: Fantasy Baseball 2020 ADP Analysis

Host Anthony Aniano of RotoBaller Radio discuss the 2020 fantasy baseball season and keeps you updated with all the latest news and analysis Be sure to tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, every weekday afternoon from 1-2 PM ET, Saturday nights from 9-11 PM ET... Read More


Relief Pitchers to Target for Holds

Hold on... there are fantasy leagues that reward middle relievers, not just starters and closers? Yes, there are, and leagues that reward holds are one of the fastest-growing segments of fantasy baseball as real baseball continues to diminish the role of the starter in favor of building deep bullpens with multiple relievers that throw 95+... Read More


More Recent Articles

 

RB Opportunity Share and Impact (AFC East & North): 2019 Review

We wrap up with our coverage of each of the eight NFL divisions, discussing the teams that are part of them and the running backs that were part of those teams in 2019. To present those teams and players I use a set of easy-to-read charts: treemaps. The graphics will hold all of the players... Read More


Dynasty Price Check - Adam Thielen

Many of you have already begun planning and building your 2020 rosters. This includes best ball owners who have assembled teams in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are inspecting the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued your process of relentless roster evaluation. As... Read More


XFL DFS Lineup Picks For Week 3: The Checkdown

Check out this week's XFL fantasy football preview including game breakdowns, player analysis, DFS lineup picks and more for week three of the 2020 XFL season. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune... Read More


D.J. Chark - Dynasty Price Check

Are you ready for some football? If you are in a dynasty fantasy football league, you most certainly are! The time between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft is a prime opportunity for hardcore owners to evaluate their current team and prepare for their upcoming rookie drafts. We've already looked at young players like Courtland... Read More


RB Opportunity Share and Impact (NFC South & West): 2019 Review

We roll on with coverage of each of the eight NFL divisions, discussing the teams that are part of them and the running backs that were part of those teams in 2019. To present those teams and players I use a set of easy-to-read charts: treemaps. The graphics will hold all of the players of... Read More


Biggest ADP Surprises: Early Fantasy Football Mock Draft

RotoBaller fantasy football analysts Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano review the draft board from RotoBaller's 2020 Way Too Early Mock fantasy football draft. They look at early ADP, reaches, values, and surprises throughout the first 10 rounds. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us... Read More


XFL Week 2 - Quarterback Risers and Fallers

We previously looked at target and opportunity risers and fallers, based on the first two weeks of XFL data. Now, it's time to evaluate the quarterbacks, for better or worse. There are few known commodities, even among seasoned NFL fans, at the quarterback position in this league. Relative unknowns like Phillip Walker and Jordan Ta'amu... Read More


XFL Week 2 - Opportunity Risers and Fallers

We previously looked at target risers and fallers based on the first two weeks of XFL data. The XFL has made it past Week 2 and now we have eight games of data to analyze. No small feat, as nobody knew where this league was going just a few weeks ago. But here we are,... Read More


XFL Week 2 - Target Risers and Fallers

The XFL has made it past Week 2 and now we have eight games of data to analyze. No small feat, as nobody knew where this league was going just a few weeks ago. But here we are, just mere days from Week 3 matchups! With two dates already in the rearview mirror and plenty... Read More


NFL Draft Combine Preview: Quarterbacks

With the Super Bowl now behind us, it is officially NFL Draft season! It's time to speculate on draft picks for teams, who should land where, and which players should be valued over others. This also marks the unofficial start to the 2020 fantasy football season. Getting in the early preparation can give owners a... Read More


RB Opportunity Share and Impact (AFC South & West): 2019 Review

We roll on with coverage of each of the eight NFL divisions, discussing the teams that are part of them and the running backs that were part of those teams in 2019. To present those teams and players I use a set of easy-to-read charts: treemaps. The graphics will hold all of the players of... Read More


Dynasty Price Check - Anthony Miller

Many of you have already begun planning and building your 2020 rosters. This includes best-ball owners who have assembled teams in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are inspecting the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued your process of relentless roster evaluation. As the... Read More