Fantasy Football Playoffs: Lineup Review

It only took most of the season, but I had one of my best finishes ever on Fantasy Draft this past weekend.

I actually had success last weekend in the NFL Wild Card matchups as well, finishing 31st.

But this weekend, I was the closest I’ve ever been to cracking the top 10…

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While all three of my lineups placed, the lineup below is the one that almost got me to the winner’s circle.

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For the quarterback position in daily Fantasy Football leagues this weekend, the options were extremely limited.

I immediately ruled out Alex Smith. He averaged 217.9 passing yards per game during the regular season, and he only averaged 157 passing yards per game in his final three performances before facing the New England Patriots.

With how well the Chiefs’ defense was playing, Smith didn’t need to attempt a lot of passes. If that formula carries over for the 2016 Fantasy Football season, Smith’s ceiling will be extremely low once again.

If Ben Roethlisberger was healthy, I might have leaned towards him, but he was too risky because of his injury. And, it was hard to give him a starting roster spot with Antonio Brown on the bench.

I also wasn’t going to start Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers based on their reputations. Rodgers only had three games with 300 or more passing yards in 2015, and the Arizona Cardinals’ defense allowed the 11th-fewest Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks during the regular season.

The Carolina Panthers jumped out to a huge lead against the Seattle Seahawks, and Cam Newton didn’t have to be that productive for the team to win. I thought Newton was going to be limited in this game, but it turned out not being for the reasons I envisioned.

It still worked out that I avoided him, however, so sometimes it really is better to be lucky than smart.

That narrowed my options down to:

  • Russell Wilson
  • Carson Palmer
  • Tom Brady

I did actually use Wilson in one of my lineups, but I chose Brady for my two other entries.

During the regular season, the Patriots only averaged 87.8 rushing yards per game. But, Brady averaged 298.1 passing yards per game.

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With a healthy Julian Edelman returning to the lineup, it seemed reasonable to expect Brady to finish right around those passing totals. I thought players on the Cardinals could have a good game, but I just didn’t think Palmer was going to finish with great totals.

So even though it cost a little more to get Brady, it was worth paying up for the quarterback position in DFS with such limited options.

Let’s take a look at the running backs.

Fantasy Draft Running Backs

Because of his abilities as a dual-threat back and his guaranteed workload, David Johnson was seemingly the safest pick you could make at the running back position last week.

He actually did finish fourth in scoring for backs with 13.80 points, but that just shows you how shallow the position is in the playoffs.

C.J. Anderson was a risky move, but I didn’t think the team was going to rely on Manning to win this game. If the Denver Broncos’ defense could create turnovers and Manning could keep the game close, Gary Kubiak would lean on the run. It didn’t exactly work that way, but Anderson proved to be effective with his 15 carries.

Jonathan Stewart scored two rushing touchdowns the first time he played Seattle, but I didn’t want to base my decision on what he in just one game.

I added Stewart to my roster for two reasons:

  1. Because he hadn’t played since Week 14, I thought he would have a low ownership percentage.
  2. Stewart averaged 18.61 carries per game this season, so if he was healthy enough to play, it would appear that he would have enough work to have Fantasy success.

Stewart finished the game with 19 carries and was able to score two rushing touchdowns. My bet paid off, as he was the highest-scoring back on Fantasy Draft and was only owned by 14% of players.

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Fantasy Draft Wide Receivers

My bet that Palmer would heavily rely on Larry Fitzgerald paid off, but the rest of my wide receiver selection is where I fell short.

I left $200 on the table when building this lineup, but I still wouldn’t have been able to get Martavis Bryant onto my team. I would have had to figure out a spot to save money, but I foolishly didn’t have exposure to him in any of my lineups.

I bought into the revenge factor for Sanders, and I also placed too much emphasis on the fact that he caught 10 passes for 181 yards in his last meeting with Pittsburgh. Even if I didn’t think Manning was going to have the greatest game of his career, he still needed to throw the ball. I thought Sanders would be his favorite target and have a similar performance.

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For Bryant, I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I thought he had the potential to have a solid game with Brown out, but I also thought Big Ben may just target Markus Wheaton or Heath Miller more.

Doug Baldwin didn’t quite work out as I would have liked, but you can’t sit a player who has caught 12 touchdown passes in his last seven games. Even though Jermaine Kearse had more Fantasy points, Baldwin was still the better selection when I was building my lineup. Selecting Kearse would have just been picking a wild card.

Fantasy Draft Tight Ends

This was another position that was lacking in depth, but I didn’t have the money to pay up for Rob Gronkowski.

I still knew I had to pay up for a tight end, however, and I didn’t want to have too much exposure to Travis Kelce. As I talked about earlier, Smith wasn’t throwing for a ton of yards in his last few games. Even if Kelce caught a touchdown, he may only finish the game with two or three catches.

I was happy to land with Greg Olsen.

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Now, it would have helped to try and figure out a way to stack Gronk and Brady. Gronk scored 7.8 more points than Olsen, which would have allowed me to finish in 11th place. But again, that would have altered how this team looked, and I could always have made a mistake at some position when trying to save money.

Fantasy Draft Defense

This was pretty much a crap shoot since all the defenses are so tough and the offenses are so good for these teams, but I was hoping for more of the same from the Cardinals.

The Panthers ended up costing the same as the Cardinals, but the Panthers scored 15 points. Those extra 11 points would have put me in 10th place.

Since the price tag was exactly the same for both defenses, that was the opportunity I missed out on the most.

Conclusions on Fantasy Draft for the Playoffs

What I learned from the Fantasy playoffs is that some positions are just so scarce of talent that you have to pay up. So for the AFC Championship and NFC Championship games this weekend, you are once again going to need to pay up at the tight end position for either Gronk or Olsen. You will also need to pay up at the quarterback position, and I would select Brady.

Below are my other two teams that placed in the top 200. Thanks for checking out the article, and best of luck in all your games for the rest of the year.

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Categories: 2016 Fantasy Football, Fantasy Football

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