Those sharks fortunate enough to have made it to the postseason in their fantasy leagues understand that there is no longer room for error when editing their lineups. While setting your lineup for your initial playoff game, keep in mind this pair of strategies that I have found helpful on the road to victory.
Strategy #1: ASYS
Sharks should be intimately familiar with this acronym, which stands for “Always Start Your Studs.” Once you get to the fantasy playoffs, in most leagues, each game is “do or die.” When there is no room for error, it’s not the right time to try and dazzle your league-mates by playing your “sleeper pick of the week” in favor of a more reliable contributor, no matter how well that sleeper may have performed so far this season. Need more convincing? Consider this tale of woe:
The playoffs essentially started one week early for my buddy, who needed one high-scoring win to make the postseason. In the critical game, he sat his reliable stud quarterback Aaron Rodgers in order to play Brett Favre. “Favre verses the porous Broncos defense?!” “How can I go wrong?” he thought. Despite playing a formidable Panther defense, Rodgers threw three touchdowns for almost 300 yards. Meanwhile, the Jets pounded the ball on ground courtesy of a red-hot Thomas Jones, and Favre finished the game with an unimpressive stat sheet. He completed only 23 of 43 passes and didn’t throw a single touchdown. In the end, the decision to sit a stud to take advantage of a “favorable matchup” cost my buddy the opportunity to reach the playoffs this season.
During the regular season, if you had solid reserves, you might have been tempted to sit a guy like Aaron Rodgers if the matchup was ugly. You might even have had some success with this strategy, and it might have been worth the risk in a weekly matchup. Nevertheless, once you get to the dance, no matter how ugly it gets, I suggest playing your studs no matter what.
Strategy #2: Beware of the “Boom or Bust”
On Draft Day, I don’t necessarily shy away from “Boom or Bust” players. I even drafted the notorious Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (a.k.a. Santana Moss) in the sixth round in my biggest money league this season. However, when it comes to the postseason, I avoid (playing) these guys like the plague.
Take a look at the stats in your league, and you will likely see Redskins receiver Santana Moss directly above or below the Patriots’ Wes Welker. Who would you rather have during the postseason? The numbers would make it seem like a coin toss. On the contrary, for me, the answer is clear. Even though Moss may have single-handedly won it for you in Week 8 when he caught nine passes for 140 yards against the Lions, or in Week 2 when he caught seven passes for 164 yards against the Saints, when you must win every game and you can’t afford a single doozy, it may not be worth rolling the dice on a possible streak.
Of course, even though it’s a high-risk strategy, in some situations, slotting a “Boom or Bust” player in your lineup is worth the risk. If you are heavy underdog, a Santana Moss-like player may actually give your team a 25-point performance you need to have a chance against a team filled with guys named Peyton and Anquan. Evaluating the utility of this strategy for your team in the playoffs will require you to take a hard, objective look at your lineup.
To those of you who made it this far: congratulations, good luck and enjoy the postseason. For those of you who make it to the next round, don’t hold back on sharing the strategies that worked for you!