With the completion of Week 17, the NFL regular season and redraft fantasy football leagues come to an end too. However, thanks to increasing popularity in recent years, learning how to play playoff fantasy football is becoming an intriguing way to keep the season going a bit longer. For those who already play in redraft fantasy football, you already know how to play in the playoffs, minus a few necessary changes.
There are several iterations of playoff fantasy football floating around the internet. Everything from best ball, head to head, and the most common being points leagues. The vast majority of fantasy aficionados are already likely familiar with all of these concepts. After all, fantasy is a somewhat simple concept.
One of the differences that need to be considered is the size of the league. While we typically play in 10 or 12-person leagues, the player pool is limited due to only having 14 teams to choose from for playoff fantasy football. The typical league size of six players is usually a good choice. For those who were just in a 12-person redraft, you can split it down the middle and create two different leagues to keep everyone involved.
Choose a roster size that won’t be overly difficult to fill based on league size
Roster size is the next step. A 14-player roster is a decent starting point in a six-person league, but it’s a somewhat personal preference. The same goes for roster construction. However, anything around your usual format works just fine. Drafting a team looking something like 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 4 WRs, 2 TEs, 2 Ks, and 2 D/STs will have you on the right track. You also don’t want to allow trading or waivers. We will get to this critical strategic component in a bit.
The main difference when learning how to play playoff fantasy football comes with the scoring.
A total points scoring format will likely be your best bet when setting up a league
Here is where we make the most significant departure from the norm when learning how to play playoff fantasy football. Where usually we play a head-to-head format, it’s not that simple in the playoffs. However, that also added a strategic element to the game.
By going to a total points format, all active players on your roster will accumulate fantasy points for each game they play. Here is where tough decisions have to be made and a bit of prognosticating. Players have to decide at the draft who they think will play further into the playoffs.
These contests run all the way to the Super Bowl. Choosing players on teams who can make deep playoff runs is integral to racking up enough points to win the title. When learning how to play playoff fantasy football, this is what can make or break a team.
This is also why I would discourage from having trading or waivers. It nearly defeats the purpose of the draft if you can go back out and get players who are still in the playoffs.
One thing to keep in mind is to be careful of snagging guys who could be out early. One player that comes to mind is Washington Football Team WR Terry McLaurin. No question, McLaurin is one of the best in the NFL. If this were just a Wild Card format, he would be a top-three selection at the position.
However, they are the 7-seed and matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unless Washington can knock off the Buccaneers, McLaurin is a one-and-done pick. The last two teams who made it into the playoffs with a sub-.500% record (2010 Seattle and 2014 Panthers) did both win a game for what it’s worth.
Unlike a regular league where you are typically streaming QBs unless you have a top option, they are at a premium in this format. With only 14 teams in the NFL playoffs, the list of elite options for fantasy gets reduced massively.
QBs will be the highest scoring person on your roster. With all players getting points, they need to be the priority. Players like Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers will likely be the first three picks off the board.
Don’t get put off by bye weeks when drafting
The NFL playoffs are different this year, with only one team from each conference getting a coveted bye week. Any players selected from the Packers and Chiefs on your team will give you zero this week. However, they are also the likeliest to make it to the Super Bowl, where they would then equal out that missed week.
Learning how to play playoff fantasy football introduces a new, fun way to play without the commitment of a 16-week schedule. It could make for a fun introduction to the game to get new players interested in this sport we love, thus growing the game to even larger heights.
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