It’s playoff time! Those waiver wire salad days should be long behind you, and your team should be primed to go far and even win your league’s playoffs. And yet some of you are still questioning your decision-making skills, even having gotten this far. A friend of mine is in one of my leagues, and she barely made the playoffs by winning the final game of the season. However, she made two tactical errors in the first week of the playoffs that she never should have made. She picked up Ladarius Green off of waivers and played him instead of Charles Clay. That was her first mistake. The second one was playing the Giants head coach. Those two mistakes cost her 26 points and, more importantly, a berth in the second round of the playoffs.
Repeat after me:
1. NEVER BENCH YOUR STUDS.
2. SET YOUR LINEUP AND DON’T WAVER LATE.
When I talked to my friend about what went wrong, she told me she got worried about Clay because of the matchup. Sure, Clay has had his ups and downs this season but there have been more ups than downs. AND he’s the premier tight end on the Dolphins. If a tight end is going to do anything on that team, it’s going to be him. On the opposite side, yes, Green had two weeks with great fantasy scoring, but he’s also had several zero-point weeks this season because he’s one of TWO offensive minded tight ends on his team. My friend also told me she almost didn’t play the Giants head coach but thought she would need the 10 points he would get if they won. Ouch. Instead, she lost five points in the process.
Decisions like the ones above can make or break your season, and after you’ve worked so hard to get to the playoffs, why would you want to crash and burn now? Here are some more rules to live by when planning for this next playoff week:
3. Don’t look at your fantasy playoff matchup or projections.
Seriously, too many people get hung up on projections when they’re only educated guesses, and if you’re in the fantasy playoffs your thoughts are just as educated, and your guesses are just as good. Like yesterday with Josh McCown, he was literally a no-brainer because of the matchup against the horrendous Cowboys defense, and because of the emergence of Alshon Jeffery as a legitimate stud to back up Brandon Marshall. If you paid attention all season that one was obvious. Just because your opponent might have had Peyton Manning didn’t mean you had to roll the dice on someone like RGIII getting ‘right’ and getting you your points.
4. Pay no attention to the “What has he done for me lately?” factor.
Now, when doing this, remember rule #1 first. If he’s a stud, don’t worry about the fact that he had issues last week. Odds are that things will even out, and you don’t want him on your bench when they do, especially not in the playoffs. When thinking about rule #4 think about those guys who aren’t studs but maybe have been playing like it lately. Someone like the aforementioned Ladarius Green might have been playing studly for two weeks, but don’t treat him like he’s a stud. While Jordan Cameron had done virtually nothing for a few weeks and you would have been tempted to sit him in favor of Green, like my friend did with Charles Clay. Look at his overall body of work during the season to determine whether or not he should be in your lineup.
5. Look at real matchups.
While you shouldn’t worry that your opponent has Jamaal Charles because there’s nothing you can do about that, you should be concerned with real world matchups that your own players face. Let’s say Ray Rice is facing a strong run defense this week (which he is), and he hasn’t been a stud this year (which is also true), you don’t play him, as simple as that. Don’t think that because he’s Ray Rice and he’s done great things in the past that it would translate into this matchup. Play someone who has a good matchup AND who has shown some consistency this year scoring fantasy points, like Pierre Thomas, who plays against St. Louis. And don’t talk to me about LeSean McCoy absolutely shredding the tough Detroit run defense this past Sunday. He’s LeSean McCoy, and he fits clearly under the first rule.
6. When in doubt, play the percentages.
Mike Wallace is not a stud. He played like one for two straight weeks and was in a lot of lineups this weekend when he got 1 fantasy point against the Pittsburgh defense. He wasn’t in my fantasy lineup, and he had been during the two previous weeks when he went off for points, and I’ll tell you why. Because Mike Wallace is the epitome of inconsistent this season and I didn’t want to have him decide my fantasy playoff fate one way or the other. So I played Anquan Boldin instead and got 9 points from him, helping my team to win. The percentages were there, he was playing at home, and with Crabtree back it took some of the pressure off. I was happy with my decision.
Don’t worry yourself into making stupid decisions, and don’t let the decisions you made last week affect the ones you have to make this week. Stay tuned for the next edition of Thursday Preview, coming soon!