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Playoffs By: Dan Dankert

“Playoffs? Don’t talk about the playoffs!” –Jim Mora

Hopefully, if you are still reading this column you know that the playoffs in most leagues start this week, and more importantly hopefully you made the playoffs in your league. In my league we have a 6 person playoff format where 2 people get byes, and luckily I was able to secure a bye. So I get to take this Sunday off.

The playoffs are a nightmare in my opinion. It’s a soft reset of the year, where anyone, as long as they snuck into the playoffs, has a shot to win the league if enough luck is thrown their way. For this reason, it’s time to look at ways you can get some of that luck on your side. The playoffs do not require skill. I will repeat this one more time because it’s very important, THE PLAYOFFS DO NOT REQUIRE SKILL.

Your chances of winning are slightly higher if you have skill, but ultimately the playoffs are completely out of your control. One unforeseeable event will dictate the playoffs and there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it. If you won the regular season congratulations, from my perspective you won the league, but because we live in America, a country that has an unhealthy obsession with playoff formats, you have to prove that you have the best team, twice. If you don’t manage to win the playoffs, no one will remember your undefeated season they will only remember that you lost in the second round of the playoffs.

This is true even in regular sports. Look at the Warriors last season. In my opinion they are the greatest team to ever grace the NBA. I don’t care that they lost in the finals to the Heat; that means almost nothing in my opinion. The Heat peaked at the right time, for seven games, whereas the Warriors peaked for 82 games. Look at the Patriots only a handful of years ago. They went 16-0 in the regular season and lost in the Super Bowl because one of the Giants players figured out how to catch a pass with his helmet.

As you probably have guessed I have been burned in the playoffs two of the last three years, and still haven’t made it passed the trauma of it yet. I can’t stand losing, especially when I did everything right to win and it’s taken from me because of horrendous luck, like having three players get injured in the first quarter during the fantasy football Super Bowl.

Despite for my utter rejection of all playoff systems it’s important to win them so that you get the respect in your league that you deserve. Here are some tips for making a deep run in the playoffs.

There are positions that are very team matchup dependent. They rely more on how the team is playing and their playoff picture situation than other positions. These are the defense, and kicker positions. Kickers can really take over if they get favorable matchups.

 

Mason Crosby- Here is a kicker who could come up huge over the course of the last 3 weeks. With matchups against the Seahawks, Bears, and Vikings in weeks 14, 15, and 16 respectively. Crosby is poised to have big weeks in all three games. The Packers offense is for the most part back on track, and while the offense is playing well, there will be times they march the ball down the field but can’t punch it into the end zone, especially against top notch defenses like Seattle and Minnesota. I’m not going to promise double digit performances, but if you aren’t confident in your kicker, and are looking for a competent replacement, definitely give Crosby a consideration. Crosby is especially fantasy attractive as Green Bay lacks a running game and against stout run defenses in Seattle and Minnesota, Green Bay might end up kicking quite a few field goals.

 

Bills Defense- Last week I talked about the matchups that LeSean McCoy has going down the stretch, and boy am I excited for that when I get back into fantasy action after my bye since I own McCoy in my league, and the Bills defense is in the same boat. The bills are the 11th best defense but teams will be dropping them this week as they don’t want to play them against the Steelers, especially since they scored -3 points against the Raiders, but with games against Cleveland and Miami in weeks 15 and 16, the Bills should be an easy pickup in most leagues and they should be able to have solid outings both weeks.

 

My next tip is to look for drops that shouldn’t be there. You aren’t going to find any hidden gems at running back or wide receiver this week. There aren’t players who peak in the last 3 weeks that haven’t already seen lots of volume and play time throughout the year. You might have a player like John Brown, go off for 20 points, but you can’t predict that and you shouldn’t play him. To elaborate on what I mean, there will be players who play a lot but don’t score who will have huge games, but since they are utterly unpredictable, those players shouldn’t be played.

It’s the playoffs, the best you can hope for is someone dropping someone they shouldn’t, this happened in my league for some reason as Sammy Watkins was dropped last week. Sammy has scored a whopping 17 points all year but he is coming off an injury and has huge upside in weeks 15 and 16 as the Bills play, you guessed it, Cleveland and Miami. Watkins was a huge part of Tyrod Taylor’s success last year and I fully expect that as the Bills continue to ease him back to full time, him numbers will grow and grow. With Watkins, as soon as the volume increases, so too will his production. Don’t start him however until he shows more tangible results.

My last tip is to study the situations your players and their teams are in. If the Cowboys lock up the 1st overall seed, they might not play Ezekiel Elliot week 16, I wouldn’t if I had the spot locked up. Knowing this would be a huge factor in your success. In fact I just grabbed Alfred Morris just in case this scenario happens, and I think it’s likely to happen. As you may recall in my piece on the Dallas Cowboys, the reason Ezekiel Elliot is having an MVP caliber season is because the Cowboys’ offensive line is the best in the NFL and Alfred Morris will likely score quite a few points behind that amazing line if Elliot is benched.

There are teams like Green Bay who are on the hot seat. They are currently out of the playoff picture but still have loads of talent on their roster, and they can still pick themselves up by their bootstraps and make it into the playoffs. You can expect higher than average production from teams like Green Bay and Pittsburg.

All I can do at this point wish you all good luck because luck is what will likely determine your success. Make the statistical best calls for your starts, and hope the rest falls into place. For the playoffs there is no recipe for success, there is no surefire way to win, even if you have the vastly superior team. All you can do is sit back and hope things fall in place. Good luck, have fun!

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