Are the playoffs in Fantasy Football a crapshoot? Yes, but we can make them less of one. How do we do that? By planning ahead and giving ourselves the most optimal matchups possible for those two weeks. For this column I am going to assume your playoffs are weeks 15 and 16.
There are basically two factors I want us to pay attention to; weather and quality of the opposing squad.
First let’s talk about weather. What is the best climate for big offensive numbers? Stupid questions for 500, Alex! Obviously we want warm weather or games played in Domes. To me this is a lot like golf. There’s a reason the lowest aggregate scores are shot on days when the weather is really nice- it’s easier! The same applies to throwing/catching a football. It’s just a lot easier when the weather isn’t inhibiting you. So our first principle is that when the weather is nice for both playoff games it makes it easier for our Offensive players to put up big numbers (and vice versa).
Next let’s talk about Defense. There is some fluctuation from year to year in terms of how good Defenses are. But overall if a Defense is projected to be very strong/very weak it’ll play out that way. Just like players projected to put big numbers typically do so more often than those ranked below them. So our Second Principle is in the playoffs we want our Offensive players matched up against Defenses that are probably not going to be very good (and vice versa).
The double-whammy is if we have matchups where our players are playing in weather that’s almost certainly going to be nice and doing so against a Defense that’s projected to be weak.
This combination is not nearly as difficult to find early in the year. Why is that? Because it’s a lot warmer in the beginning of the season than it is at the end. This is all stuff we already know. All I’m doing is placing value on it. I think it should matter.
Alright haters time for me to throw some stats out there. These are the matchups/performances during the playoff weeks by quarterbacks from last season.
Aaron Rodgers……………. Yards …TD’s…… INT’s.. QB Rating
@ JAX 278 1 1 87.8
@CHI 260 2 1 87.6
Comments: Rodgers bucked the trend with a solid outing at Chicago Week 16
DET 318 1 0 110.0
@JAX 364 3 0 140.7
Comments: Peyton was mediocre/not great in Fantasy last year until the end. But look at these matchups! Talk about cupcakes! Peyton won me my league last year. I know I’m not the only one.
MIN 270 1 1 78.9
@NE 30 0 0 42.4
Comments: The Minnesota matchup shouldn’t have been that tough for Kurt. If you had Kurt Warner in the finals of your league last year I don’t see how you could’ve won. Such a bad matchup.
@KC 346 2 1 96.4
@TB 287 4 0 136.7
Comments: Two schmohawk defenses here that Rivers picked apart dutifully. (He has really good matchups AGAIN this year)
@CHI 232 2 2 67.2
@DET 351 2 0 117.8
My guess is a lot of Brees owners were punched out by his lackluster performance in the first week of the playoffs. Another bad matchup. He worked wonders in that consolation game though!
Hours could be spent debating/discussing the intricacies of this. I have looked into it somewhat deeper than this and I will say I believe there’s a correlation. These stats alone were enough to convince me that what we all know (matchups matter) is even more important than I thought. Let’s move on.
For Defense we love cold, snowy, sloppy conditions. My rankings below take that in to account also. You’ll see that there are some quality Defenses playing Offenses that don’t project to be very good this season, and playing them at home in conditions that are going to be cold or worse.
We love it when our players have starts against teams that aren’t very good. Of the five “Most Favorable” matchups I listed below, four of them are also explosive offenses. If you own players on those teams you are more than likely going to have a huge advantage come playoff time.
My stance is that we ought to consider weather/defense matchups for the playoffs most heavily with Quarterbacks and Receivers. This will be my first season integrating this in to my strategy. It has been a way to break “ties” when I have tried to make decisions in drafting and trading.
Below I will least some the most/least favorable matchups for Offenses and Team Defense. For Offense I will name some players that might be affected by this.
Arizona (@ Detroit, home vs. St. Louis)
-Warner, Fitzgerald, Boldin
Indianapolis (@ Jacksonville, home vs. NY Jets)
-Manning, Wayne, Gonzalez, Dallas Clark
New Orleans (home vs. Dallas, home vs. Tampa Bay)
San Diego (home vs. Cincinnati, @ Tennessee)
-Rivers, Chambers, Jackson, Gates
Seattle (@ Tampa Bay, @ New Orleans)
Pittsburgh (home vs. Green Bay, home vs. Baltimore)
New England (@ Buffalo, home vs. Jacksonville)
Philadelphia (home vs. San Francisco, home vs. Denver)
Denver (home vs. Oakland, @ Philadelphia)
NY Giants (@ Washington, home vs. Carolina)
Pittsburgh (home vs. Green Bay, home vs. Baltimore)
-Roethlisberger, Hines Ward
Baltimore (home vs. Chicago, @ Pittsburgh)
-Flacco, Derrick Mason
Green Bay (@ Pittsburgh, home vs. Seattle)
-Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings
Chicago (@Baltimore, home vs. Minnesota)
-Cutler, Hester, Forte
New England (see Defense)
-Brady, Moss, Welker
Philadelphia (see Defense)
-McNabb, DeSean Jackson
Am I telling you to trade Aaron Rodgers for Matt Hasselbeck? No, of course not. What I am advocating is that we pay attention to the extreme deviations. There are a lot of tough decisions in Fantasy Football and the more information we have the better decisions we can make and the greater our chance of winning will be.