Eric Mack: Postseason success bears little resemblance to fantasy greatness - Sports Illustrated

NFL postseason success offers little clue to future fantasy greatness

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Unless you're an NBA or NHL junkie, you're finding yourself with a lot of fantasy free time. Here is a word of warning: Don't go basing your 2011 fantasy seasons on what you see in this or any postseason.

Go skiing. Shovel snow. Go on a vacation. Or, if you must, go spend more post-holiday time with your family.

It is an annual warning that needs to be reminded: What you see wins championships doesn't help you win in fantasy. Heck, it likely will hurt you.

Your fantasy Super Bowl might have been decided Sunday in some leagues, but fantasy football titles aren't won in January.

This guy with two thumbs and this keyboard fell into that trap. Remember the monstrosity of a postseason Shonn Greene had last year? He went off for two 100-yard games and 308 total yards with two scores.

The first two rounds of last year's playoffs are exactly one more 100-yard game than he managed this season. Those two TDs equaled his TD total of the entire 2010 campaign! Yes, really.

It was easy to buy into Greene. The Jets were a burgeoning title contender coming off their AFC Championship loss. They had a great defense, a young QB being brought along slowly, a hit show on HBO and a coach that wanted to pound the opposition into submission on the ground.

Thomas Jones? Gone. Incoming free agent LaDainian Tomlinson? Old and washed up. Greene was the way to some green. We saw him come of age in the postseason and he was going to make us some greenbacks in fantasy this year.


It never worked out for us. Our second or third-round pick left us out of the fantasy playoffs, all because we thought we were learning something for fantasy 2010 from watching the NFL postseason.


It wasn't just the circumstances we should analyze here. Everyone watched the same games we did. It seemed obvious Greene would become the Jets' workhorse, the one Arian Foster wound up being for fantasy owners. But the hype altered our perceptions of reality.

And the reality is: Fantasy seasons aren't won in January.

This wasn't limited to Greene either. Super Bowl champion Drew Brees wasn't even the fifth-best QB in standards leagues, much less worth the fifth-overall pick. And forget about the disappointments of Pierre(s): the Saints' Thomas and Colts' Garcon.

We saw some great potential (Greene) or drooled over the possibilities (Brees) and we overrated it because of that great stage it was displayed on. But the best fantasy picks are found where no one is looking: See Foster or Peyton Hillis.

There are some people still playing fantasy football with those gimmicky postseason games. They aren't the real thing, but like frozen pizza, even the imitation is worth a bite.

Let's go ahead and rank a top 10 of postseason games.

The best strategy here is to pick the players with the chance to play deep into the tournament. So, the stars on the top teams in the wild-card rounds should go early and often. You don't want to get stuck with a player who is one and done.

And, obviously, the Super Bowl teams will win your leagues, but if you forecast the wrong top seed, you can be guaranteed to fail.

Let's assume the Patriots and Steelers will make the AFC title game, with the Pats advancing to the Super Bowl. It is easy going chalk there.

The NFC is a bit more wide open. The wild-card Packers and Saints might be the most dangerous teams in the tournament. If they get to the Super Bowl, you could get four games out of their players.

So here is a top 10 for those leagues that draft just once and force you to forecast the whole tournament:

1. QB Drew Brees, NOHe has the easiest game of the first round. It should be a monster effort for him in Seattle.

2. QB Aaron Rodgers, GBThe only reason he isn't first is because he is a less of a sure thing to advance.

3. QB Michael Vick, PHIThe Eagles could lose to the Packers, otherwise Vick might be No. 1.

4. QB Tom Brady, NEYou won't get him in Round 1, but you have to be pretty confident getting him for multiple games, if not through the Super Bowl.

5. RB Rashard Mendenhall, PITIt is a QB-league, but Mendenhall figures to have two huge games in Round 2 and 3. He is the top RB choice.

6. RB Ray Rice, BALHe looks good for a couple of strong games, too -- unlike Jamaal Charles at Baltimore for just one game.

7. QB Peyton Manning, INDHe draws an elite defense in Round 1 and heads to the cold if he even makes it to Round 2.

8. RB Michael Turner, ATLYou shouldn't be confident in the Falcons beating the Saints or Packers, but at least Turner gets a home game.

9. RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis, NEThe Patriots love to run the ball in the postseason and go with BGE over Danny Woodhead.

10. WR Greg Jennings, GBThis is predicated on a pick of the Packers to win the NFC. Otherwise, slot the top WR from your NFC champion (unless you're picking the Bears).

It is easy to see the expectation here that QBs, not RBs, are the key to winning championships -- almost the opposite of fantasy.

We're going to assume you're not boning up shot sheets for basketball or plus-minus ratings for hockey and say it is time to pour your fantasy freak into baseball now. The same rule from above applies here.

Postseason heroes are fantasy disappointments. Here are some guys to be wary of for drafts this spring:

1. OF Cody Ross, SF (five homers)He epitomizes this. Five homers in the postseason and shouldn't be drafted in a standard mixed league. No, really.

2. SP Cliff Lee, PHI (three victories)The hype is huge and investing highly into last year's postseason stud arm rarely generates rewards over draft position.

3. CL Brian Wilson, SF (six saves)You should love Wilson, but the problem is everyone will now. Closers are always overrated in drafts.

4. SP Tim Lincecum, SFLast year was a disappointment ... until the postseason. That was a lot of extra load on his arm, which wasn't great most of the first half last season, remember.

5. SP Matt Cain, SFHe didn't give up an earned run all postseason! But you're still going to be buying a pitcher who has never won 15 games at a high premium.

Eric Mack writes contributes weekly for You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.