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Brady Takes the Top Spot: Staff Playoff League

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Ah, playoff leagues, where everyone starts with a clean slate. Those who already took home a league title have a chance at an even better season, while those who stopped checking their team in October get a shot at redemption. The RotoWire staff formed a playoff league and held its draft Tuesday of this week. Each participant has his own stories to tell from the season – anyone else lose a steak in Week 17? – but each also now has a new squad to cheer for. Like regular season fantasy leagues, the draft is key - hit your early picks, find a couple sleepers, and your team is usually successful. However, the manner in which our participants approached the draft varied a bit. While standard regular season draft strategy is to focus on players that will provide the best value on a consistent basis, those in playoff drafts need to consider expected games, short-term scoring potential, and finding a team to back. Four weeks go by a lot quicker than 17, so the draft is even that much more important in playoff leagues.

The RotoWire staff playoff league will be played in a points format, under standard scoring rules, with the following position requirements: 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR/TE, 1 K 1 DL, 1 LB, and 1 DB. There are no transactions, so the teams will remain the same the entire postseason. Draft results can be found at the bottom of the article.

After the draft, I solicited comments from our drafters regarding their strategy. The main factor was the number of games they expected a specific player to play. Players on teams that are expected to advance further typically went higher than players who play on teams that will likely be out early. For instance, Jamaal Charles finished the season as the third-ranked running back, yet he went behind four other backs in the playoff draft because most expect the Chiefs to lose their first game. Here’s all you need to know regarding expected games – six Patriots went in the first 26 picks; zero Seahawks were drafted. However, it’s important to remember that bye teams can only play a maximum three games. Thus, players on dangerous teams that play in the first round, like the Ravens, Saints, Colts, and Packers, have the highest game potential. But, they are obviously more vulnerable to lose since they will spend the rest of the postseason on the road. It’s unlikely that a team plays four games (but not entirely impossible), so expect three games to be the max for most players.

After the expected games were taken into account, a primary strategy centered on picking multiple players from the same team. Tim Schuler waited to see how the draft shook out and ended up backing the Falcons. Herb Ilk decided the Eagles would be his team even though he is a Packers fan – but he gets to stay on the island by admitting he should have went with Steelers rather than Eagles with his first two picks. Chris Liss (Colts), Jeff Erickson (Steelers), Peter Schoenke (Bears), and Derek VanRiper (Patriots), and both myself and Nate Lutterman (Packers) all ended up with at least four players from the same team.

Beyond those approaches already mentioned, Zach Sundelius decided to buck the team-backing strategy and look for players from multiple teams. He felt good about the Saints playing two games and made a great pick in Reggie Bush, who should see plenty of activity with both Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas on IR. Peter got burned by taking Thomas in the fourth round; and though Mario Puig selected Ivory in the same frame, his selection of Julius Jones in the fifth looks very smart at this point. Dan Roemhild had the second pick in the draft, and his main focus was a quarterback with four-game potential. He went with Drew Brees over Aaron Rodgers because the Saints are a bit safer going against Seattle in the first round (remember, no players picked). You will also notice that quarterbacks were taken with the first five picks because there were fewer of them available and they tend to be a bit safer. I decided to focus on touchdown potential when picking my team. Touchdowns obviously provide the most fantasy points, and though they are elusive, players on quality teams who rack up a lot of scores have the potential for big point totals throughout the postseason.

Lastly, play to win. Focus on players that will play the most games. Try to get behind a team if you can so that your players will still be playing when most others are already out. Don’t be afraid to go for the home run if you are debating between two players. In the end, only one person walks away with the title, so do everything you can to make sure it is you. And, if your favorite pro team is already home for the season, at least you have a team of your own to cheer for. Good luck!

Round Peter Dan Derek Kevin Mario Tim Herb Zach Nate Jeff Chris
1 T. Brady D. Brees P. Manning A. Rodgers M. Vick M. Turner L. McCoy B. Green-Ellis R. Rice B. Roethlisberger G. Jennings
2 M. Forte P. Garcon W. Welker M. Wallace A. Boldin R. White D. Jackson J. Flacco M. Ryan R. Mendenhall R. Wayne
3 D. Branch J. Charles D. Woodhead R. Gronkowski M. Colston T. Gonzalez J. Tamme R. Bush L. Tomlinson J. Knox J. Cutler
4 P. Thomas D. Mason A. Hernandez J. Kuhn C. Ivory J. Maclin M. Sanchez R. Meachem S. Holmes H. Ward J. Addai
5 L. Moore J. Mayo S. Greene D. Bishop J. Jones S. Graham B. Celek J. Harrison C. Matthews B. Jackson D. Bowe
6 G. Olsen D. Keller T. Cole G. Hartley R. Lewis P. Chung D. Akers D. Driver J. Jones J. Graham C. Woodson
7 J. Abraham A. Bethea R. Harper T. Polamalu H. Miller R. Mathis L. Timmons J. Peppers M. Crosby L. Woodley A. Vinatieri
8 R. Gould A. Brown J. Vilma E. Walden H. Ngata C. Lofton Q. Mikell D. Landry T. Heap B. McFadden D. Freeney
9 B. Urlacher B. Cundiff M. Bryant B. Edwards S. Suisham M. Jenkins J. Parker D. Lee T. Williams I. Idonije G. Brackett
B. Meriweather
J. Nelson
B. Tate
D. Hester
D. McCourty
M. Cassel
B. White
R. Succop
B. Raji
N. Folk
T. Moeaki

Please weigh in with your opinion about which picks you like the best, or the least, in the comments section below.