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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Fantasy Football Championship

Adam Filadelfo (@Frostt24) has some thoughts for you heading into what is probably your championship matchup... Enjoy!

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So you're playing in week 16 of the fantasy football season? This could only mean one thing: You're playing for the championship. Well now that you're here, what do you do? Since this matchup is winner-take-all, some owners approach championship week a bit differently than the weeks leading up to the fantasy football Super Bowl.  That got me to thinking, so I've got some things to share with all of you Brainiacs out there.

One thing fantasy owners tend to do is contemplate a player's  matchup too much. While a player's individual matchup can be a determining factor, make sure you don't over analyze it. You can end up outsmarting yourself in the end. For example, in week 14, Miami played Pittsburgh and going into the matchup, Miami was the third best team in allowing fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. In week 14, Steelers receivers scored three touchdowns versus the Dolphins. That was more than Miami allowed all season up until that point. Matchups should be a determining factor if owners are torn between two players ranked close together. Sometimes playing the matchups can backfire.

Another tip I like to adhere to is playing my stud players. These are the players that got you to this point and stud players should not be benched (pined) unless their teams have already clinched home field advantage throughout or said player is injured. You wouldn't bench a stud during the season so why bench them when it matters most? In week 14, the Saints played the Panthers who happen to be the team allowing the least amount of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks at under 12 points per game. If you sat Drew Brees in week 14, you left 35 fantasy points on your bench. This goes back to my first point. Sometimes playing the matchups works against owners.

Another rule that can work for fantasy owners or against them is putting your eggs in one basket or stacking players from the same team. In week 15, Denver played San Diego and most owners figured Denver would win the game. After all, the Chargers did allow 19.4 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, 17 points per game to opposing running backs, 26.6 points per game to opposing wide receivers and 8 points per game to opposing tight ends. In a PPR format, Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno and Julius Thomas combined for under 50 fantasy points. There were some fantasy owners with quite a few Broncos players on their team and now could be looking at going home this week. If a team does well, that strategy works for owners. In this case, it didn't work so well. A good time to employ this strategy is when you are the underdog by a wide margin and you need to swing for the fences knowing that if you don't take a big chance, you aren't coming out of your matchup with the win. Sometimes hedging your bet on multiple players from the same team is the best way to ensure you will get all the points from that team's best players. In that case, this strategy works.

Another very good move for championship week is one of the more sneaky and dastardly moves a fantasy owner can make but it may be one of the best moves as well. You may want to pick up a player or defense from the waiver wire even if you have no plans in using that player or defense. Do it just to block your opponent  from picking them up and using them against you. Doing this could mean the difference between winning and losing your matchup. Let's be honest. You won't be using your fifth or sixth receiver or running back anyway so why not use that roster spot to hold a player that your opponent needs or wants? Put yourself in your opponent's position. Who would you add if you were running that team? Those points are better suited on your bench than in your opponent's starting lineup against you.

Have you ever heard the saying "It's sometimes better to be lucky than good"? While there definitely is skill involved to playing fantasy football (and even more skill being good at it), there's also some luck involved. You can have the best team all season, score the most points in your league, earn a first round bye and still not win the championship. Sometimes a little bit of luck goes a long way. As a fantasy owner, all you can do is set the best lineup you can and hope you've done enough. You may have the better team going into your matchup but the other owner may get that "lucky" touchdown or their defense may come up with a "lucky" turnover that changes the outcome of your matchup. As much as fantasy owners study matchups, weather, etc, sometimes the fantasy football gods have other plans in mind. Remember, a lot goes into winning in fantasy football, but sometimes it's what you can't put in that makes the difference. The bottom line when playing fantasy football is to have fun. You cannot control what happens no matter how much data you have or how much research you put into each matchup. There's no need to make yourself crazy over it. I know it's easier said than done. We all want to win our league and brag about how we have the best team and how we're the team to beat going into next season but in the end, we all should have fun playing. Those of us that win our league will probably have a little more fun. Good luck heading into your championship game.