I have two rules for those of you on your way to the fantasy playoffs:

1. Never second-guess your studs.

2. Back up those same studs.

It’s always a good practice to play those players who have gotten you to the playoffs, regardless of how they’ve done last week, or their matchups, or the fact that Uncle Jed has a “feeling” Julius Thomas isn’t going to do well this week. Even if Thomas only got you 2 points last week, there’s more upside to playing him based on his season stats than, say, a player like Scott Chandler, even if he has a “juicy” matchup during your playoffs. The only two reasons you might want to sit any of your studs is if they’re hurt, or if you have a suitable replacement stud on your bench. Of course if you have a stud sitting on your bench, that might be a problem anyway. You should play both of those studs all the time.

Speaking of studs, that’s where #2 comes in. If you have Marshawn Lynch, you need to go out and grab a hold of Turbin, his backup, because if he gets hurt where are you going to be? Searching the waiver wire and finding someone like Bernard Pierce or Joique Bell? If you’re playing in the playoffs, you can betcha playing someone like Pierce or Rashad Jennings might just be the end of your season. In most of my leagues the trade window is closing this coming Wednesday, so maybe you need to trade to help shore up your team. If you’re hurting at wide receiver because your wide receivers are hurting, and you have a plethora of solid running backs, maybe you trade two to get a solid receiver who has good matchups during the fantasy playoffs, someone like a Torrey Smith let’s say.

Then it’s time to do some analysis. Why is your team a playoff team? Did you lean on your running backs from week to week, or was it your quarterback who got you over the hump in more games than one? If you play against Rob Gronkowski in the playoffs do you have a tight end who has a good chance of getting in the end zone too, like Jordan Cameron? If not, try to trade for him. You want to be stocked as good as you can be at every single position. And then you have to hope you get lucky enough to have all of your players come through for you and that you advance.

In one of my leagues I have a quarterback issue. We’ve done well this year because I have Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy at running back, but my quarterback position has been a revolving door, with guys like Vick, Stafford, Foles (when he played Dallas — ick), Brady, and now Luck, playing the position, and that could be a serious problem come playoff time. So I’m working on a trade to try and get Flacco or Andy Dalton, who both have good matchups throughout the playoffs. If I have to face Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs I need to have someone playing for my team at the position who can at least keep me close, so one of those elites doesn’t beat me by himself. And that’s what you need to do too.

Now, if you’re hanging on the edge and you’re still not sure if you’re making the playoffs yet, that’s okay. There are teams like the one I just outlined who obviously are weak at one position, and odds are it isn’t the one you’re weak in, so make that trade and help yourself as well as them. Don’t worry about them getting stronger, because you have to be in it to win it, and your team will be getting stronger as well. Once you’ve definitely made the playoffs, then you can worry about those matchups, but until then it’s your responsibility to do everything you can to just get there.

Play like there’s no tomorrow, and hopefully there will be one.



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