Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Playoff Run

By Paul Batts

How fast the NFL season goes by. It seems like just yesterday that we were deciding between Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers in the 6th round of our league’s draft.

Fast forward to the end of November and many of us are scratching and fighting for that last win to get our team into the all-important fantasy playoffs. Others are in cruise control after starting 9-2, 10-1, or even 11-0. Still others are looking towards next year with our dynasty teams that disappointed this year. The countless hours of reading, looking up stats, and analyzing match ups has all been spent with one thing in mind: the right to be named fantasy champion. Now is the time to really hunker down. Whether that means fighting for that last couple of wins or setting yourself up for week 16, this is where championships are won. With a lot of luck-and a little help from your friends-we can win the most important month of the season and all of that hard work will have paid off. I’m here to offer that little help and hopefully you will get the luck that you need.

The first thing that you need to do now is maximize your roster. There is almost always a little tweak that you can make that will get you the extra few points that can get you the win. Look at the things you don’t usually pay much attention to. Do you have the best defense that you could? Maybe your team is loaded at running back and wide receiver so you have been getting by with a low end kicker. Most fantasy football owners pay little attention to these positions, and for good reason, and you can use this to your advantage. Remember that you will be playing the best teams in your league once the playoffs start, a few points may be the difference between finishing in the money or missing out on bragging rights. For instance, it would be good to know that Oakland has the easiest schedule in the league in week 15 and 16 for kickers. Or maybe Lawrence Tynes was dropped in your league because he was on a bye in week 11. I know it seems over analytical-but remember-every point counts folks. Here are some kickers and defenses that you should look to acquire now:

Lawrence Tynes-#2 thus far and could end up #1 when all is said and done.
Sebastian Janikowski-Easiest playoff schedule
Jason Hanson-Decent schedule, dome team
Adam Vinatieri-Great schedule, dome team
Rob Bironis-Good schedule                         

If you have Chicago or Denver’s defense you will most likely not be shopping for a defense but otherwise you may want to look at one of these teams that have great match ups over the last four weeks of the season:

Green Bay

If you need a win over the next couple of weeks and don’t have the luxury of studs at every skill position you should look at players that can help you over the next few weeks. These guys are all owned in less than half of the leagues and could help you in the stretch run:

Colin Kaepernick-Dual threat quarterback
Jake Locker-High upside coming back from injury
Tim Tebow-Can produce top 10 numbers if he gets his shot
Jalen Parmele-Short term answer
Bryce Brown-Short term but talented
David Wilson-Needs an injury to produce
Shane Vareen-Can produce any week but will be inconsistent
Cedric Benson-Could help a lot in week 16
Ronnie Brown-PPR monster
Jackie Battle-Touchdowns only
Bilal Powell-Starting to get more involved
Bernard Pierce-An injury away from stardom-Ray Rice handcuff
Lance Ball-Could surprise in Denver
Justin Forsett-What you thought Brandon Tate was going to be
Brandon Lafell-Tons of talent but has been inconsistent
Donnie Avery-High powered offense with a good schedule
Davon Bess-Underrated
Mario Manningham- Inconsistent but has talent
Ryan Broyles-Starting to emerge
Julian Edelman-Is he the next Wes Welker?
Dwayne Allen-Has been helped by Fleener’s absence
Marcedes Lewis-Has talent but has been held back by Gabbert
Dallas Clark- Tampa has been looking up
Logan Paulson- Surprisingly serviceable after Fred Davis injury
Tony Moeaki- Talented but often injured but has started to produce

Any of these guys could help you win a fantasy championship if you need help at a particular position and a lot of them can help you next year if you are in a dynasty league.  It’s time to drop the dead weight from your roster. If you’ve been holding on to that extra kicker or  drafted a guy like Peyton Hillis too high and have been holding out hope-it’s time to let go.

One last thing that you have to remember to do is look at your opponents and potential opponent’s lineups. Is there a particular position that they are weak at? Sometimes it’s better to play keep-a-way with a particular position than to carry dead weight into the playoffs. In one league I have Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck on my roster and I need to win the last two weeks to secure my division. I noticed that I play the team I’m competing with for that spot in week 13.He has Eli Manning as his only quarterback. I decided to drop Michael Bush-a player I will never use-for Colin Kaepernick. I will never start Kaepernick- but neither will he-against me. It’s just smart team management. There are all sorts of scenarios like this that you can look at too maximize your roster and give yourself the best opportunity to win. Some will work-and some will not- but in the end, you have given it your best shot.

Thanks for reading and feel free to ask me on twitter if you have any questions.

Paul Batts

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