The Playoffs are looming. In some of the biggest contests out there, the playoffs may be starting as early as next week which means maybe you should have thought a little more before drafting C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson, A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. They’ll all be on their bye and not a lot of help. But there are a few simple tune-ups you can do now to maximize your chances in the playoffs. During the season all you had to do was remain near the top of the standings. In the playoffs, you have to win every single week or you are just one of the most recent losers.
1. Check the Schedule – Aside from those players having a bye in week 12, you have to be aware of what each player will be facing in every week. Having the most advantageous matchups in week 16 is great but unless you get there it doesn’t matter. Use The Huddle’s Strength of Schedule Tool to determine the most best matchups using either standard scoring scenarios or a custom one for your specific league scoring.
2. Back Up your Backs – Are you comfortable with your roster? Realize that there is very little player development in the final weeks of the NFL’s regular season so your players “are who they are.” If you have marginal players that you realize you will never use, give their roster spot to the best back-ups for your team. Running backs in particular need to be ensured. Guys like Knile Davis (KC), Michael Bush (CHI), Montee Ball (DEN), James Starks (GB), Toby Gerhart (MIN), Bryce Brown (PHI) and Christine Michael (SEA) are worthy considerations as handcuffs for starters that you cannot afford to lose. Don’t dump a decent player for it but if you have a few marginal players you know you won’t use, swap them out for some running back insurance.
3. Double Up – Maybe you could afford to go through the regular season with only one tight end, defense and kicker. But it is always nice to have a choice and many fantasy leagues do not allow roster moves in the playoffs. Worse yet, what are you going to do when your kicker pulls a groin muscle in pregame workouts and cannot play? When your tight end succumbs to the cold and flu season suddenly on Sunday morning? If you have the roster room, always give yourself starting options. The last thing you want is to have a playoff game using fewer players than your opponent.
4. Consider Weather – Where are your players going to play? Are they inside a comfy dome or outside in the elements that can include rain, snow, gale force winds or theoretically falling fish from the waterspout over the Great Lakes. This is why it is always good to have options for tight ends and kickers. The worst of all is wind since it can negate a passing offense but we’ve all seen players struggle purely because of weather. It doesn’t matter if you believe in Global Warming or not. I just love a kicker playing inside a dome during December or at least playing in the southern or western states.
You must prepare your team and know exactly what to expect from all your players. Ensure that you have yourself covered for weather and injuries. Step through the weeks knowing that the first game is more important than the second. The second game is more important than the third. And the third game is why you play.
Best Schedules for weeks 14, 15 and 16
Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith- He’s struggled much of the year but at least he ends against the Lions, at the Vikings and then against the Bears.
Tony Romo – So long as weather doesn’t interfere, Romo will need to throw at the Bears, against the Packers and then at the Redskins.