FANTASY PLAYS: Playoff leagues come with options; pick Pats
If you're missing fantasy football already because the NFL's regular season is over, there are options for the playoffs.
The games specifically designed for the playoffs come in a few different formats and on several sites, yet they share many common threads. Mostly, you want to take players you think will advance the furthest, putting up stats in the most games.
Knowing your scoring system and rules is essential before you get started. Different sites have different lineup variations and scoring.
Drafting looks like your regular season leagues but the player values are way different. In draft formats, the earliest picks should be quarterbacks who have strong chance of playing in the Super Bowl, and top players believed to have the best potential in playing in the most possible games in the playoffs. So Tom Brady should be a consensus No. 1 overall pick in many drafts because the Patriots are such a strong favorite to win the AFC. Aaron Rodgers will be second off the board because many players believe the Packers have a legitimate chance of advancing all the way from the wild card round to the Super Bowl.
The challenge later in drafts is to choose between more talented players versus who those on a team that could advance further. For instance, you may be faced with choosing between Odell Beckham, Jr., and Davante Adams. Beckham is a top 5 pick in seasonal fantasy leagues, but you may have to go with Adams if you think the Packers have a better chance of winning the NFC.
In any fantasy playoff league, the first step is to determine in your mind which teams have the best chance to reach the Super Bowl, and which ones can do so from the wild card round. New England seems to be the easy top pick to reach the Super Bowl, and Atlanta, Dallas and Green Bay should be the favorites in the NFC.
The Packers seem to be the obvious choice to have the best odds of playing in the most postseason games. Playoff experience would dictate Seattle as next in the NFC, which is more wide open than the AFC. An Eli-Manning led team with a solid defense such as the Giants can never be counted out. In the AFC, Kansas City and Pittsburgh would seem to be the best secondary choices after New England. Once you flesh out who you favor the most, you can build an ideal lineup.
There are also contest-style leagues in which you can only use a player once. So you may want to save your Patriots for the later rounds, and use top players from teams who may be one and done, or two and out, early in the postseason. So you can, theoretically, use Odell Beckham Jr. or Jay Ajayi this week without too much concern (unless you think the Giants and Dolphins will win).
For new players or those who like popular games, NFL.com has offered a free game for many years that gives multiplier bonuses each week a player is in your starting lineup. So if you pick Rodgers from the start, his point totals beyond the wild card game are magnified. But if he's eliminated, you replace him with no multiplier possibilities. And you can pick players on bye, banking on higher point totals once they start their playoff run. The National Fantasy Football Championships (NFFC) also runs a multiplier-style game.
MyFantasyLeague.com and RealTime Fantasy Sports run the Postseason Shootout, which has a $50,000 top prize. It's a 12-team draft style game with 20-player rosters for the entire playoffs, but you can't have more than two players from any team.
No matter the format, put a high emphasis on rostering Patriots, with Packers, Falcons and Cowboys being your next best options. The Seahawks, Steelers, Chiefs and Giants are all viable candidates to produce players that participate in more than one game. Only look for the safer plays from rosters of the Dolphins, Lions and Raiders. The Texans may play more than one game, but offer less upside on offense.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com