Fantasy Football

2020 NFL Playoffs Fantasy Football Primer

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The 2020 NFL playoffs are starting! However, that doesn’t mean Fantasy Football season has to be over. For those unaware, Fantasy Football can continue to be played during the NFL postseason.

If you haven’t played postseason Fantasy Football yet, give it a try. Or perhaps you have played before, but are trying a new postseason league this year. Of course, what format you play dictates what strategy you should employ and which players are the best bets to maximize that strategy. That’s my cue to enter stage right, given my experience in playing postseason Fantasy Football.

Yet just as there are a myriad of seasonal formats, there are infinite types of postseason fantasy football options. For example, I know a league who will use the 2020 NFL playoffs to determine the order of next year’s draft, but you can only use players on your roster at the end of Week 16. Obviously, that’s a unique twist!

However, I will go through three of the most popular formats. I will discuss what strategy works best for that format and what players need to be considered for this year’s 2020 NFL Playoffs to maximize your chances.

Feel free to disagree with me or hit me up with questions in the comments section. You can start a discussion with me on twitter too @markstrausberg

Because playing a little postseason fantasy football can help lessen those regular season bad days…so let’s get to it!

2020 NFL Playoffs Fantasy Football Primer

Format matters. Here are three that are the most common:

One and Done

In this format, you get absolutely no benefit if your player plays four games or one. You just want to make sure you nail the one big game he has!

In fact, you are better off if he has three touchdowns that day and doesn’t play another game this postseason.

As long as you get to the Super Bowl with a viable roster, that’s all that matters. Well, that’s assuming you have maximized player production to that point. Which of course is easier said than done.

Player Recommendations

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

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No question about it, the matchup is sub-optimal. New England gave up the fewest points to the RB position this year. Touchdowns are critical in this format and the Patriots gave up the fewest amount of rushing touchdowns than any other defense this year. Yet I am still going to recommend Henry in this format.

Why? For starters, look at the other teams in the playoffs. All of them are pretty exceptional in defending the run. The 49ers, Ravens, Saints, Vikings, Texans, and Bills all gave up a dozen rushing touchdowns or less this season. Even the overlooked Eagles allowed just 13 rushing touchdowns.

Secondly, look at the backfields the Patriots faced this season. Holding the Dolphins and Bills to under 100 yards rushing the last two weeks is nice, but let’s not forget they gave up 164 yards rushing to the now first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft Cincinnati Bengals.

The Patriots run defense might not be quite as good as their ranking.

And do you really want to fade the 2019 NFL rushing leader?

Should the Titans somehow upset both New England and Baltimore, it will be very nice to have Henry against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. But I’m willing to bet against that happening.

There is no other player in the Wild Card Round that I’m less likely to fade than Henry, especially in this format.

Dallas Goedert TE, Philadelphia Eagles

This year offers more fantasy options at the tight end position than last year. The first round, however? Not so much.

Of course many might suggest Zach Ertz instead, but I’m not sure how healthy Ertz will be this upcoming week:

Furthermore, I kind of like pivoting in the first round when we don’t know who is going to survive into the next week.

Meanwhile, Goedert has seen 22 targets in the last two weeks.

Many leagues require you to have one player from each team. Goedert is my favorite Eagle to own these 2020 NFL Playoffs.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

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Of the twelve playoff teams, the Titans, Saints and Texans have been giving up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks – in that order.

The Vikings might actually have more talent on both sides of the ball than three-quarters of the teams in the playoffs, but I just don’t see them getting to the NFC Championship, let alone surviving the first week.

Given the tough matchups on the AFC side, plus my desire to holster both Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, Cousins is my likely choice for this format.

Cousins might not excite you, and I know he has this reputation of throwing interceptions at bad times, but he only had six interceptions this year. That was his lowest mark in the last five years.

Yes, this season he didn’t even sniff the nearly 4,300 passing yards and 30 touchdowns he had last year, but let’s not forget that Adam Thielen missed at least five games this season. Thankfully, be ready for the playoffs.

Also, recall that Dalvin Cook left early in Week 15 and should also be ready to play. Cook will keep the Saints defense honest.

Don’t forget, Cousins had 300+ passing yards as a member of the Redskins the last time Washington was in the NFL Playoffs.

Sure, the Redskins lost, but we don’t care about wins in Fantasy Football and Cousins gives us what we do care about, especially in this format.

Ascending Multipliers

This format was made popular by NFL.com and rewards you for having the best players still playing during the Super Bowl.

Essentially each player’s score is multiplied for the number of weeks they have been on your roster. So it’s 4x the points for those players that are on your roster during the Super Bowl that were there from the start for playoffs.

Again, this strategy depends on your format.



For example, I have played this format many times but the commissioner of the league had payouts each week. That would change the strategy a little bit.

Let’s assume the league rewards the same as NFL.com does which is winner-take-all. Therefore, making it to the Super Bowl with the best players and being rewarded for doing so is far more important than any player’s one single game.

First, you have to decide which teams you think will make reach Super Bowl LIV.

You could always choose plenty of players from the #1 seeds, but you need to know that the last time both top seeds made it to the Super Bowl was 1993.

What I actually like to do is figure out who the popular options are and then intentionally fade those players.

Player Recommendations

Last year at this time I suggested fading the Patriots. To quote Mr. Dirks Bientley–I know what I was feeling, but what was I thinking?

This year, fortunately, the heart and head are in the same place. But we’ll get to that in a second.

My expectation is that many load up on the Ravens and 49ers. They are after all the “chalk”. But I am not wagering against the former for many a reason. The Ravens are not only the favorite to win the Super Bowl, but they are also the team that I want to win the Super Bowl. So even if I’m wrong, I’m not questioning what both the heart and Vegas sharps feel is the answer!

But another reason is the gap in the conferences. The Ravens are the top team in the AFC and then it feels like a large chasm.

Meanwhile, in the NFC however, there are at least four teams I could see representing the conference down in Miami. Therefore, I will fade the 49ers.

I will also fade the Packers because grabbing either means the loss of round one points in order to benefit from the 4x multipliers.

However, one could also ride one of the four teams playing in the NFC Wild Card round and should they make it all the way, receive even more points.

Therefore, I’m going to grab at least a handful of Saints. I Will obviously grab a couple Ravens as well. But my one-offs include Julian Edelman and hope the Titans don’t upset them.

The other option might be to grab a number of Seahawks, like Russell Wilson and his targets. The Seahawks are obviously one of the best bottom six seeds and have the potential to crash the Super Bowl Party.

Traditional

This format is a blend of the first two and has been around the longest. It’s actually the most similar to regular fantasy football.

Invite a bunch of friends together. My recommendation is at least eight, but no more than 12. Have a draft like you would for the regular season.

I know, scheduling can be a challenge, but since your rosters are not even ten players deep, it should only take an hour.

Suppose you each select 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 DST. If you want, include a couple of bench spots. You can be done drafting in less time than it takes Philip Rivers to get his kids up and ready for a family outing!

In this format, you have to weigh output versus the number of games. Sure, Mark Ingram might have three great games, but a running back that plays four playoff games could outproduce him.

Similarly, one game out of Derrick Henry might far surpass what any single 49ers RB does in three games.

Nailing a team that plays four games is key in all three of these formats, but correctly nailing it in this format is the most critical.

Your first pick will likely be whomever your first-round pick might be in a 2020 draft of the teams left: Michael Thomas perhaps in PPR format or Derrick Henry in standard scoring. However, don’t be afraid to draft a quarterback as your first pick either. Check out Joe Bond’s Playoff Rankings for his advice for your draft.

Quarterbacks get pushed down in regular seasonal fantasy football due to the large supply of quality quarterbacks. However, you are starting with only 12 true options. It’s much harder to replace a quality quarterback in this format of postseason fantasy football than regular fantasy football.

Player Recommendations

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

I would choose Lamar Jackson and not think twice about it. I‘ve been high on Lamar Jackson before the season even began. But now is not the time to jump off the bandwagon. He’s the obvious choice for MVP this year. He has one of the highest floors and the highest ceilings as well. Do I really need to go into more detail?

I might not take Lamar Jackson first overall in next year’s redraft leagues, but he should be the first overall pick in any 2020 NFL playoffs fantasy league.

Obviously, you need to nail more than just your first pick. And let’s be honest, there is no such thing as a “sleeper” in a postseason league draft, but one player that might not be drafted as a team’s WR1 you had better have on your radar is Titans rookie A.J. Brown.

A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

Brown has really come on at the end of the season. He is a serious contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year. But that’s not why I like him. He’s what I like to call a YAC-monster. See for yourself…

Other 2020 NFL Playoffs Player Recommendations

Finally, one other difference is that I would not necessarily wait until the last rounds to pick a kicker or DST.

If you like Will Lutz to play four games as the Saints go to the Super Bowl, you can’t wait until the last round to do so.

The same goes for any DST who gets four games during the playoffs. A lot of people are down on the Patriots but they still finished the season as the NFL’s number one defense, allowing the fewest yards and points per game.  You can’t just wait and hope you get them.

I’m not saying grab them in the third round, but if you like the aforementioned Lutz or the Patriots, I’d pick them before I pick my 5th offensive player.



One last thing: Whatever format you choose to play for the 2020 NFL Playoffs, be sure to enjoy yourself and good luck!


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About Mark Strausberg

Despite his youthful appearance, Mark has aged hundreds and hundreds of years due to soul-sucking and crushing near misses over his decades of both playing and writing fantasy sports.

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