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In playoff fantasy football, predicting the correct number of games played for each team is paramount. This article, now in its sixth year, uses statistics to do just that. If you're unfamiliar with how my system works, click on any (or all) of the following links to the previous installments:
The end result of all this data collection and applied mathematics is an estimate of each playoff team's probability of playing exactly one game, exactly two games, exactly three games, or exactly four games. As an example of one such calculation, here's how it worked for San Francisco:
- They have a first-round bye, so they can only play three games at most. Therefore, their probability of playing exactly four games is 0.0%.
- Based on data from Football Outsiders and FiveThirtyEight, they have a 70.6% chance of reaching the NFC Championship game, which means they have a 29.4% probability of playing exactly one game (i.e., losing their first game in the Divisional Round).
- Similarly, based on data from Football Outsiders, FiveThirtyEight, and Vegas Insider, they have a 43.2% probability of playing exactly three games (i.e., making it to the Super Bowl).
- With the above probabilities of playing exactly four games, one game, or three games, we can calculate that their probability of playing exactly two games is 27.4% via simple subtraction: 100% minus 0% minus 29.4% minus 43.2% equals 27.4%.
EXPECTED PLAYOFF GAMES PLAYED
Below is a table showing these probability calculations for each of the 12 playoff teams, both in terms of normal rules (EXP G) and "Super Bowl counts double" rules (ADJ EXP G):
|Team (Seed)||P(1)||P(2)||P(3)||P(4)||EXP G||ADJ EXP G|
|Baltimore Ravens (AFC1)||12.6%||26.8%||60.6%||0.0%||2.48||3.09|
|New Orleans Saints (NFC3)||28.6%||28.8%||17.5%||25.1%||2.39||2.64|
|San Francisco 49ers (NFC1)||29.5%||27.4%||43.2%||0.0%||2.14||2.57|
|Kansas City Chiefs (AFC2)||25.0%||48.4%||26.6%||0.0%||2.02||2.28|
|New England Patriots (AFC3)||31.5%||50.9%||11.3%||6.3%||1.92||1.99|
|Green Bay Packers (NFC2)||51.8%||28.8%||19.4%||0.0%||1.68||1.87|
|Philadelphia Eagles (NFC4)||44.0%||38.2%||13.1%||4.8%||1.79||1.83|
|Houston Texans (AFC4)||36.9%||57.0%||4.3%||1.8%||1.71||1.73|
|Seattle Seahawks (NFC5)||56.0%||32.0%||7.9%||4.1%||1.60||1.64|
|Buffalo Bills (AFC5)||63.1%||29.3%||5.6%||2.1%||1.47||1.49|
|Minnesota Vikings (NFC6)||71.4%||20.3%||4.7%||3.6%||1.40||1.44|
|Tennessee Titans (AFC6)||68.5%||24.8%||4.3%||2.5%||1.41||1.43|
If there's only one sentence you remember from this article and apply to 2019 playoff fantasy football, it's this: New Orleans has as much of a chance of playing four games as every other playoff team combined (25.1% vs. 25.2%). This is why the NFC's No. 3 seed bests the NFC's No. 2 seed in the table with respect to expected games played.
PROJECTED PLAYOFF FANTASY POINTS
As always, I've used the expected game totals above to calculate the expected FFPC points for both standard (Points) and "Super Bowl counts double" (Adjusted Points) contests. They're displayed in the table below:
|Patrick Mahomes II II||QB||KC||35.6||40.3|
|Mark Ingram II||RB||BAL||33.2||41.3|
|Duke Johnson Jr Jr||RB||HOU||17.5||17.7|
|Willie Snead IV||WR||BAL||17.4||21.7|
|Ted Ginn Jr Jr||WR||NO||16.1||17.8|
|Will Fuller V||WR||HOU||7.9||8.1|
As was foretold by the expected games table, Saints players are most likely to provide playoff fantasy arbitrage, especially against opponents keen on drafting 49ers. Otherwise, due to Baltimore's status as the AFC's overwhelming Super Bowl favorite, being able to acquire the likes of Patrick Mahomes II, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce when they're undervalued is a rare opportunity.