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……………. YardsTD’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

Peyton Manning

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.

Kurt Warner

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.

Philip Rivers

@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)

Drew Brees

@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.

Most Favorable

Offense:

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)

-Brees, Colston

San Diego (home vs. Cincinnati, @ Tennessee)

-Rivers, Chambers, Jackson, Gates

Seattle (@ Tampa Bay, @ New Orleans)

-Hasselbeck, Houshmandzadeh

Defense:

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)

Least Favorable

Offense:

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.

  1. Doc

    Doc says:
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    Hey all! I’ll be off vacationing in tropical upstate NY for a while. I’ll chime in with my iphone when I get a chance, but Drew and Hank and ya’ll can help each other get our lineups set to destroy the competition! Good luck and have a great opening weekend!

  2. dbhammel says:
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    Need to start 1: Ray Rice vs KC, McFadden vs SD, or Julius Jones vs StL. Im going with Rice vs the artist otherwise known as KC’s run defense, any thoughts?

  3. Josh says:
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    @dbhammel: I think you’re on the right track, I like Rice there too. In fact, I tried to trade for both Rice and McFadden in a league (to no avail) because right now my RB2 situation is pretty dire. Who do y’all think is the best of THIS bunch: Bradshaw vs. Wash, Felix da Cat vs. Tampa or Donald Brown vs. Jax? I also have LeSean McCoy and James Davis, but I doubt those guys are gonna be good plays in Week 1.

  4. Eric C. says:
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    James Davis was dropped in my league. Worth dropping Jamaal Charles, Chris Henry, or Mike Bell for him? Thanks

  5. mgeoffriau

    mgeoffriau says:
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    @dbhammel: I’ve got a similar decision except I’ve got 2 spots to fill, and have Ray Rice, McFadden, Jones, plus Mike Bell (against Detroit).

    Right now I’m leaning toward Ray Rice and Julius Jones. I think I want to see one Raiders game in the books before I rely on McFadden getting enough touches. Bell is tempting against Detroit but again, I want to see a real game out of him before I play him over a “proven producer” (blech) like Julius Jones.

  6. stumanji says:
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    @Josh: I’d play Felix.

    @Eric C.: I’d drop Charles for him (unless you have LJ, and even then I still might). Henry’s too intriguing to let go and Bell is pretty much a starter right now.

    @mgeoffriau: I’m not sure what games you were watching last year to make you think Jones is a proven producer. I guess that’s what the quotes are for. I’d play McFadden or Bell over Orange Julius in week 1.

  7. mgeoffriau

    mgeoffriau says:
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    @stumanji: It was slightly tongue in cheek…I know McFadden’s a much better talent than Jones, but I’m expecting Jones to get a higher percentage of carries than McF in Week 1, plus he’s playing against STL instead of a possibly decent SD defense.

  8. Brannon P. says:
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    I’m torn on who to go with for my flex spot this week and would love any insight…I have T.O. @ New England, Kevin Smith @ New Orleans, and Willie Parker vs. Tenn.. Any Suggestions?

    Im leaning towards T.O…I feel like the Lions will be playing from behind most of the game and may abandon the run, limiting Kevin Smith. Willie Parker never does very well against good run D’s, and the Bills will also probably be playing from behind and thus have to throw the ball (plus you know how T.O gets on Monday nights)

  9. herschel says:
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    week 1, 12 team ppr league:

    knowshon moreno @ cinci

    or

    mike bell vs detroit

  10. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @herschel: Bell. Knowshon isn’t 100 % and will split carries.

    @Brannon P.: Don’t overthink this. Smith is the every down back, he’ll still get 20 carries.

    @mgeoffriau: I’d pay attention to the news out of Oakland, but if McFadden is named the starter I’d go with him and Rice.

    @Eric C.: Drop Charles unless it is ppr.

    @Josh: Tough one. Good reports coming out on Felix. I’d roll with him.

    @dbhammel: Rice all the way.

  11. dbhammel says:
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    @Brannon P.: Tough call between TO and Smith for me. I guess it depends on what you need, a high risk/high reward guy like TO or dependable player in a matchup with likely less upside. I could see TO going off or getting shut down completely, whereas even if Det is way behind and abandons the run they’ll still have 20ish carries at least and if he gets lucky and gets a score smith should have a decent game, even if unspectacular.

  12. cincinnasty says:
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    So Mike Bell over Julias Jones. Both are good matchups but Detroit has a way of making opposing offenses look good.

    What about Bell over Willie Parker? Go with the matchup here?

  13. Brannon P. says:
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    @dbhammel: Thanks for the reply. I think Im going with T.O…I also kind of like having a player going on Monday night, which always gives you hope regardless of how Sunday went.
    Regarding your post on who to start between Rice/McFadden/Jones. I would go Rice/Jones. Last four games between SD/OAK – Oakland has combined for 297 yards rushing…thats 74 team rushing yards a game…for some reason San Diego just has Oakland’s number.

  14. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @cincinnasty: Parker is usually a dud against good D’s. I’d start Bell.

  15. Josh says:
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    @Doc: would you still choose Felix over, say, Hillis or Caddy Williams? I read somewhere earlier today about Hillis possibly getting goal-line carries for Denver, which is making me think he might be a safer play than Felix.

  16. dbhammel says:
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    @Josh: Id take Caddy of those 3. At least for now he is the starter, and Tampa should have a decent run offense.

  17. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    WR2 spot…do i go with anthony gonzalez (wayne is my WR1) or do i go with lance moore?

  18. Josh says:
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    I’d definitely say Moore if Wayne is your WR1. Just seems like too many eggs to put in one basket if you start Gonzalez, plus Moore has the better match-up.

  19. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    i’ve rolled with 2 WRs from the same team before (harrison and wayne) and it can work fine, especially with a pass heavy team like the colts. i would have preferred a different WR2 but i was at the tail end of the run and gonzalez was probably the last WR i felt relatively comfortable with as my WR2, but then i grabbed moore not too long later and also donnie avery after a few more rounds, so between the 3, i’m hoping 1 takes control of the WR2 spot.

  20. Randy says:
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    Well I had my draft (12 Team League). This year the scoring is a little different (RB’s and WR’s get 1 point for every 20 return yards) so I’m a little bit nervous. Anyway here’s my team.
    QB’s- Brady, Hill
    RB’s- Sproles, McFadden, Washington, Norwood, Cadillac, Bell
    WR’s- Boldin, Jennings, Harvin, Higgins, Cribbs
    TE’s- Carlson, Finley
    K’s- Akers, Carney
    DEF- Pittsburgh, Arizona

    Now which 2 RB’s and 3rd WR( I like Boldin and Jennings at 1 and 2) do I start? Projections say Sproles, Washington, and Harvin. But I like McFadden, Bell could start, Cadillac is starting and Higgins(probably will get a lot of returns against SD) and Cribbs are awesome returners and look to be playing more at WR… Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

  21. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @Randy: i think dmac has to be 1 of your starting RBs if only cause he’s the only one you got projected to get many carries. no idea for #2. sproles and washington are nice for returns, but they may not get 10 carries combined. is norwood returning kicks this year?

    as for WR #3, i guess higgins since he’ll get plenty of kick return opportunities, but i think harvin has better WR numbers.

  22. Randy says:
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    I believe Norwood is returning. No PPR and 1 point for every 10 rushing/receiving yards. Yeah you hit the nail on the head about projected carries. But here are the week 1 projections for RB’s from Yahoo.
    Washington 116 return, 27 rushing, 18 receiving Total points 12.93
    Sproles 108 return, 30 rushing, 19 receiving Total points 12.76
    Norwood 103 return, 21 rushing, 15 receiving Total points 10.35
    McFadden 40 rushing, 22 receiving Total points 8.16
    Bell 36 rushing, 5 receiving Total points 6.45
    Cadillac 38 rushing, 3 receiving Total points 5.78

    Harvin 63 return, 22 rushing, 25 receiving Total points 9.99
    Higgins 123 return, 16 receiving Total points 9.45
    Cribbs 130 return, 13 receiving Total points 9.45

    I kind of agree with the projections. TD’s are really tough to predict. It’s just weird not starting a starting RB. I really like McFadden but against SD I just don’t know. I think I’m going to go with Sproles and Washington. They’re projected to get more points than Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Ronnie Brown, Kevin Smith, Marion Barber, Brian Westbrook, Ryan Grant etc. in Week 1. It’s the return yards…

  23. The Gipper says:
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    Start Rice or Kevin Smith this week
    Thoughts?

  24. Sabakafest says:
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    Flex call – Fast Willie Parker vs TN or Housh vs STL? 1 ppr. Thanks!

  25. Drew

    Drew says:
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    @Sabakafest: Housh. But they are both good options.

  26. TonyD says:
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    Here’s my dillema fellas – who to start opposite M. Turner?? (PPR / 6pt TD /1 pt 10 yds / 10pt bonus for 100+ yds)

    Ray Rice vs KC
    Ryan Grant vs CHI
    Mike Bell vs DET

    Kinda leaning towards Rice at the moment but Bell vs DET looks appealing but I think Bush will get a lot of touches as well…

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