Fantasy: 5-Minute Guide for surviving NFL postseason leagues
DEC 31, 2013 12:44p ET
You never get a second chance to make a first impression ... unless we're talking about fantasy football. In this realm, sweet redemption comes in the form of dominating the NFL postseason league of your choice.
Before you blindly accept the scoring rules, terms of competition and entry fees of any random league, though, allow me to break down the fundamental and strategic differences of standard postseason (or "longevity") leagues and weekly one-and-done (or "survivor") leagues.
For a listing of my standard-scoring positional rankings for Wild Card weekend, click here:
**You must pick your entire team before the Wild Card games begin on Saturday
**Your lineup shall remain unchanged throughout the playoffs
**The goal is to maximize the number of playoff games for each starting slot
Rules to Live By
1. It's all about the three-game quest
Before choosing a starters-only roster (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 Flex, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D/ST), ask these two crucial questions:
a. Are my preferred targets solid favorites to reach the Super Bowl or conference championship round?
b. Is each one a healthy lock for two, three or even four games?
If the answer for either one is no, then it's probably wise to ignore these short-term assets in longevity leagues.
Regardless of how some superstars may look on paper (like Aaron Rodgers, Keenan Allen or maybe even Drew Brees), it's essentially a wasted pick if they're not locks for two or three playoff games.
Case in point: Seven years ago, prior to the Wild Card round, I correctly pegged the Colts and Bears for the Super Bowl and subsequently loaded up on stars like Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai and Chicago's Thomas Jones and WR Bernard Berrian (18 TDs from 2006-08).
All told, the quintet produced 18 combined playoff games on -- easily enough to provide yours truly with a welcomed fantasy crown.
2. The 'opposite' strategy can be a difference-maker with quarterbacks
A large segment of longevity-league owners will choose Manning, Tom Brady, Andy Dalton or Russell Wilson at quarterback. It's seemingly one of the few no-brainer moves in this crapshoot-like process of building a playoff fantasy roster.
However, there is one concern: With everyone riding Manning, Brady, etc. during the playoffs, the potential to break free of the pack in overall QB points could be nonexistent for the first two or three rounds (remember: the Pats and Broncos have first-round byes).
Thinking out of the box, it might be beneficial to pursue passers like Andrew Luck, Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick, while taking the chance that Indianapolis, Carolina or San Francisco will advance to a conference championship (and beyond) ... and that Denver, New England or Seattle gets upended in the divisional playoffs.
The upshot: Few GMs would have Luck or Kaepernick playing three or even four games.
The downside: The potential of missing out on Manning, Brady or Wilson points -- for three games -- could be your club's ultimate failure.
3. Always factor in the elements before securing lineups
At the risk of sounding like a broken record from the regular season, weather should always play a role in starting picks.
All things being equal, I'd rather have a QB performing in a warm, comfy dome over one struggling in the wind, cold, rain and snow. But with the exception of Indianapolis (dome) and maybe Carolina (Charlotte), there aren't any other guarantees of ieeal-weather outings throughout the playoffs.
Bottom line: Check the NFL Weather Map before signing off on strategies involving cold-weather quarterbacks, receivers or kickers.
'Longevity' Dream Team
Rationale: Aim for assets who'll likely appear in three or even four playoff games.
QB: Peyton Manning
RB: Marshawn Lynch, Knowshon Moreno
WR: Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker
RB/WR Flex: LeSean McCoy
TE: Julius Thomas
K: Matt Prater
**You can pick a new set of players before all four playoff rounds
**However, you can only choose a particular player once during the playoffs
Rules to Live By
1. Stay one step ahead of the competition
Hypothetically speaking, let's say the Chiefs (@ Indy on Sunday) are the first ones bounced from the Super Bowl tourney. Consequently, this week serves as the only chance to use RB Jamaal Charles or receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Or, if you think this round shall be Andrew Luck's seasonal swan song, then by all means, play him over Colin Kaepernick -- and save Kaep for another day. (In that scenario, the 49ers knock off the Packers in Green Bay).
2. Maximize your opportunities
Fantasy owners should shoot for the moon in every playoff round. Try to maximize your scoring at every turn. Treat every Saturday/Sunday like it's the last stand of fantasy glory for a notable asset.
3. Don't be left holding the bag on Super Sunday
If you believe Manning and Russell Wilson will be the starting QBs on the first Sunday in February, it's imperative to keep one of 'em on the sidelines during the AFC/NFC playoffs.
'Survivor' Dream Team -- Wild Card Round
Rationale: If a player can only be used once during the playoffs, why not go with a stud who will come up big during Wild Card weekend? Why not side with a rushing wiz whose club might get ousted this week?
QB: Drew Brees
RB: Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy
WR: Jordy Nelson, Keenan Allen
RB/WR Flex: Ryan Mathews
TE: Jimmy Graham
K: Ryan Succop
At some point before Saturday, I recommend sitting down for five minutes and brainstorming the playoff winners, game by game, round by round. Something like this (my picks):
Denver over Kansas City
Cincinnati over New England
Seattle over San Francisco
Philadelphia over Carolina
Denver over Cincinnati
Seattle over Philadelphia
Denver over Seattle