For some of you, the playoffs start this week. For most of you, they start next week. For the select few who earned a bye, your path to the championship game likely begins in two weeks. The rest of you who didn't make the playoffs probably had something to do with bad luck or injuries (or both). Your chances for hitting pay dirt may have been derailed, but there are details to be learned so you can cash in next year. Hopefully, you have other leagues that fared better. For those of you with your eye on the prize, here are a few factors that reveal what it takes to win in the playoffs.
HOW TO WIN IN THE PLAYOFFS
10 KEY FACTORS FOR ADVANCING IN THE PLAYOFFS AND WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Balance - Have a balanced team where multiple players provide a consistent 20+ point total every single week. Most teams in the playoffs have three or more of these players who consistently provide these numbers. Consistency is the key to the stretch run. The big-game point performances are important, but it's the steady barrage of points from multiple players that will keep you alive each week.
2. Talent - Almost equally important as balance is having talented players who will give you that big point total that puts you over the top, even if you suffer a down week from one or two other players. A 30 or 35-point game from any given player is sometimes all that is needed to advance. Those performances tend to come from players ranked in the Top 5 at their position. Players like Patrick Mahomes II, Josh Allen, Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Justin Jefferson, Travis Kelce, etc can win a week for you by themselves. If your lineup includes two or more of these stud players, your chances improve dramatically.
3. Opportunity - You may not have one of the highest-scoring running backs or wide receivers in the game, but you can still get ample production from players who are thrust into action due to an injury, recent success, or both. Players like Christian Watson, Garrett Wilson, Rachaad White, Isiah Pacheco, James Cook, etc., come to mind here. There are also players returning from injury who will be factors in the coming weeks. Joe Mixon, Ja'Marr Chase, Mike Williams, Rondale Moore, etc. One player on the verge who could have a surprisingly productive playoff stretch is Romeo Doubs. The Packers have a favorable playoff schedule with games against the Rams, Dolphins, and Vikings in Weeks 15, 16, and 17. Green Bay has benefited from Christian Watson recently, but Doubs' hopeful return from an ankle injury may elevate him into flex status based on favorable matchups. All of these players mentioned above are primed for success simply because they are the right man for the job at the opportune time.
4. Game Script - There is a degree of luck involved with the game script because it's difficult to accurately predict how a game will go from quarter to quarter. Will there be garbage yards in the second half of a blowout? Will the game be a back-and-forth battle involving two strong offenses or perhaps teams who are known for having defenses that give up a lot of yards and points, like Minnesota, Miami, Detroit, Las Vegas, and Arizona? There have been several high-scoring games this year where both team's quarterbacks finished in the Top 10. The Raiders vs Seahawks in Week 12 come to mind as teams that fit into this category. Derek Carr passed for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Geno Smith topped 328 yards with 2 touchdowns. The game finished 40-34 thanks to Josh Jacobs' game-winning 86-yard run in overtime. The entire game was a perfect setting for fantasy production due to the back-and-forth nature of the game. As the league continues to evolve and stronger offenses become king, favorable game scripts are becoming more and more common. It's good to keep tabs on Vegas lines, particularly over/unders, as well as team totals. If an O/u is 46 points, but one team is slated to score 28 points and the other 18, it may not be a favorable game script for the offense on both sides. I'll touch on this a bit later in the article. It's difficult to have multiple players on your roster who have pristine matchups, so those that do, better come through for you when you need them.
5. Lineup decisions - Play your studs, but also play matchups. Often, your third or fourth wide receiver will be the one who saves your team thanks to a big game that likely was the result of a game script in his favor. Keep tabs on which teams are allowing the most passing yards, especially recently, and exploit them with a wide receiver that you may not usually start. If you can narrow that down further by targeting teams who tend to allow a lot of receptions to wide receivers, that's even better. All of this information can be found using tools or pages here on Footballguys.com. Defensive Game logs and fantasy points allowed are great for this information. Most of the time, your lineup decisions are down to one spot in your roster. Play the percentages and lean towards a player with a favorable matchup. It's also good to take note of which wide receivers will be faced up against an opponent's second cover corner, or if the top corner is injured, making a WR1 matchup against a backup that is more enticing. Some teams to target that have injuries in the secondary or general weaknesses that you can exploit include Philadelphia and Tennessee. Other teams are struggling against the pass, specifically wide receivers. Arizona has allowed seven touchdowns to wide receivers in the last four games. Minnesota is another to exploit, allowing an average of 347 yards passing per game since Week 10. Keep an eye on injury reports, but if questionable defenders are determined to be inactive on game day, these are the matchups that you want to exploit. Injuries in the secondary have definitely played a part in the success of the opposing team's receivers. Take advantage of them. Be aware and be ready to make the call. Projections aren't always right - we know this. Above all, go with your gut. One of the best feelings as a fantasy owner is taking a chance on a particular lineup decision and coming through with flying colors when others weren't as bold. Gather your intel and play your hunch. Be bold. When in doubt, ask others you admire and look up to. There is no shame in getting someone else's thoughts. Share your thoughts and your bold inklings. Most people love to help with lineup decisions.
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