Playoff Challenge 2015: Conference Round

We’re down to the final three games of the 2014-2015 football season, but these are also the most important games, and the final four teams. Isn’t it funny how the Colts made it here despite losing huge to the Cowboys down the stretch (when the Cowboys are gone), how the Packers made it even with a gimpy quarterback, how the Patriots got here after a huge turnaround (post-KC), and how the Seahawks made it back despite the odds? Now we get to see who goes to the Super Bowl, and that’s the biggest thing you need to think about when considering how to set your lineup for the Playoff Challenge this week.

For example, if you think the Colts will spring the upset you need to start T.Y. Hilton and Dan “Boom” Herron, but if your money’s on the Patriots the selection should be Julian Edelman and LeGarrette Blount. Likewise if you believe the Packers will prevail in Seattle go with Rodgers and Lacy, but Wilson and Lynch should be in your lineup if you think the home team will win. If both of your team selections make it into the Super Bowl (depending on how long they’ve been in your lineup) you could have bonus multipliers on every single player.

Here is the most popular roster on NFL.com for this week’s Playoff Challenge…

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As you can see, the majority of players on NFL.com are going with a “best player” approach vs. a “bonus multiplier” approach because if  Green Bay does indeed win then Marshawn Lynch will be out and they’ll have to pick another player at no multiplier for the Super Bowl. The same is true if Seattle wins as Lacy and Nelson will be gone and with them the bonus multipliers for those positions. The most bonus multipliers you have in your lineup the better chance you can win your Playoff Challenge league.

Now, there are two distinct strategies you can utilize here, depending on how well you’ve done so far with the players who have been in your lineup already. For example, if you somehow have a full slate of players who will already get you multipliers this week don’t change a thing. At the least those players will get you 3x multipliers for the conference round, even if their team loses. It’s worth it not to change them out in that case. But if you have lost players from the divisional round like Cowboys and Broncos players, or if you’re starting the round from scratch because you lost all of your players, you’ll have to be creative from now on.

If you’re in that second group you have to take risks in the conference round, and you have to avoid all those players above at all costs. Your job is to find a team no one is picking from, or players who aren’t being universally chosen. Odds are that there will be some surprises, and if you hit on the right ones you could make a comeback.

Here are some players who can help you if their teams win, but they’re under the radar so not many others will have use of their services:

  • Russell Wilson (14% starting)
  • Dan Herron (12% starting)
  • Shane Vereen (4% starting)
  • Robert Turbin (1% starting)
  • Randall Cobb (12% starting)
  • Brandon LaFell (6% starting)
  • Doug Baldwin (11% starting)
  • Coby Fleener (9% starting)
  • Luke Willson (2% starting)
  • Andrew Quarless (1% starting)

If you’re starting from scratch you have to take these risks because picking the most popular will only get you further behind, especially if they have good games, as others who have had them from the start will be getting bonus multipliers while you won’t. Also, check out your group’s selections. I made a spreadsheet that lines up all their choices, which helps me decide what I want to do, and how much risk I have to take at each position. Doing something similar would help you as well.

Good luck setting your lineups for the conference championships!

The Fantasy Ace

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