The Official FieldGulls Fantasy Football Thread. Week 14 Edition.

The first rule of Fantasy Football, you do NOT root for players against the Seahawks.

The second rule of Fantasy Football, you do NOT root for players against the Seahawks.

Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?!?

It is fantasy football playoff time for most leagues. If you've got a playoff structure, you're likely in it now. Oddly, I have 4 teams in 3 leagues, and in only one do I have playoffs right now. One league - I have an AFC and NFC team-plays a unique playoff structure that starts with the NFL playoffs. And my primary keeper league has no playoffs at all, but we do have a couple uniquely scheduled weeks. Let's discuss each of these as possible ways to improve your leagues in future years.

The Benefits of Having Playoffs

The biggest benefit of playoffs has to be the fact that crummy teams get in and still have a chance. Just like the proverbial winning "lady in accounting who doesn't watch basketball and picked her NCAA Bracket by color of the uniforms," a playoff format allows a team that couldn't get it going during the season to have one last shot at it. The downside, of course, is that year when you're three games up in first place and lose out in the first round of the playoffs, or 2nd week after your bye, to a much lower seed.

Solution? I always propose in "playoff leagues" that we put one half the winnings toward the regular season winner. If you won the regular season, you deserve more for a 12-2 record than a first round bye. You deserve some cash money, baby! But at the same time, a playoff structure does allow for teams that had bad luck or injuries to pull it together late in the season. And if you are in first going into the playoffs and actually win the whole thing? Fantastic, double your winnings! But this NEVER happens, by the way. I seriously don't think I've ever seen a number 1 seed win a fantasy football league.

In my "playoff league" one of these two teams is 11-2 with a 10 game win streak; the other is 7-6. You tell me which is which.

QB (play 1)

Team 1: Tom Brady

Team 2: Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan

RB (play 2)

Team 1: Arian Foster, Reggie Bush, Steven Jackson, Reggie Bush, Jackie Battle

Team 2: LeSean McCoy, Rashard Mendenhall, DeMarco Murray, Michael Bush

WR (play 3)

Team 1: Stevie Johnson, Nate Burleson, A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson, Pierre Garcon

Team 2: Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Williams, Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne, Miles Austin

TE (play 1)

Team 1: Jason Witten

Team 2: VernonDavis

K

Team 1: Nick Novak

Team 2: Stephen Gostkowski

Def

Team 1: Green Bay, Cincy

Team 2: Seattle

So, which team is which? The 10 game winning streak belongs to team 1; the 7-6 team 2 is mine. Also of note with fantasy football-teams I've played have scored 150 more points than his league low 1167 points, and he's only outscored me by 35 points, and most of those have been me making the wrong starts. So yes, in case you didn't get the memo, luck plays a huge part in fantasy football, and a playoff structure gives the unlucky one last chance to change their fortune.

No Playoff Structure

My keeper league is having the finest end of the season horserace in the history of our league. We do not have playoffs, given that we see too much variability and have chosen to reward year long excellence instead. In addition, in a fully developed keeper league, there is more a feeling that playoffs would restrict our league, not add to them. We do not have a trading deadline, and every year there are buyers and sellers as the season draws to a close.

We have two teams at 9-4, and three at 8-5. EVERY TEAM CONTROLS THEIR OWN DESTINY. So in a sense, we DO have playoffs, they've just already began. My team is generally considered the most talented, but we're 8-5 and due to head to head matchups, need to win out to win the whole thing. This would give us splits with every other "top team" and we would win the tie-braker based on total points (we lead the league there.) The crazy thing is, every game we play is against the other top teams-we played one last week and have the other three still to go!

Obviously, this league has 5 buyers and 5 sellers, and Tom Brady, Charles Woodson, David Akers and Antonio Gates are among the recent transactions, with the second division teams getting improved draft picks, young cheap talent (in our league, salary escalation makes keeping Brady and Gates in particular very problematic.) While we have controversy with trades, it seems to work pretty well for everyone.

But, one note on note having playoffs. Instead, in weeks 12 and 16, we have a "matchup week." As I've mentioned before, we pay for full manipulation of our league scoring and set up at MyFantasyLeague.com, and we can actually adjust the schedule. So in those weeks, we have matchups by standings. First place vs. Second, Third vs. Fourth, etc. I think it's a great way to alter the standings and have "bigger games" set up through the season. I'm pushing for another matchup week at week 8 as well.

If you can set your league up this way, it does a great job of allowing teams to determine their own destiny in the standings, without putting all the weight of significance on the end of the season when teams invariably are injured or sitting so-and-so for the real NFL playoffs. It is a more evenly balanced playoffs in a sense.

Playoff Playoffs

My other big money league is set up like the NFL; an NFC and AFC that do not play each other and are essentially separate leagues until the Super Bowl. The two conferences draft separately (though on the same date at the same time-TONS OF CONFUSION in that regard. (Two of every player in the NFL, and four "Mike Williams" available to be drafted, though two and a half are no longer viable fantasy options.)

Now, that league allows three keepers from year to year, and the playoffs are an entirely different beast. The league is based on regular season obviously. The playoffs are fully branched out exactly like the NFL playoffs, complete with seeds and byes just like the NFL structure. And they start as the NFL playoffs start. However, here's the uniqueness. The playoff teams have their own roster going into the playoffs, but just for the playoffs they redraft from the non-playoff teams before the NFL playoffs actually start. Then, each round you get to cannibalize from the team you defeat in the playoffs. But, you are not allowed to drop your own players, only add to your roster. But with 8 starters and 13 slots, there's a chance you won't have room on your roster to pick up someone, if too many of your players win in the first round.

It is definitely a fun original way to run a playoff structure, though a little chaotic and doesn't have enough to do with what actually happened in the regular season. While it pays off very well (100 per team, 28 teams in the league, winner gets close to 2k) I'd like it to be a half regular season champ payoff. Of course, I'm biased being that I'm 11-2 right now. In fact, that reminds me... in the next week or two, I need to start changing my 11-2 team into a more "playoff ready" team, as Vincent Jackson, Steve Johnson, and the Cincy and Detroit D's likely will not help me a bit come playoff time. But I also have Drew Brees, Arian Foster, and Jimmy Graham, so while I've got a shot in the playoffs, I'm definitely set up more for the regular season.

Fantasy Picks

Last week I was 2/3.

RB - LeGarrette Blount. 11 carries for 19 yards. Epic fail. That game surprised the hell out of me. TampaBay got absolutely owned in a game they really needed to win for playoff hopes to be at all realistic. Blount also got back in the papers off the field with some sort of unpleasant fan interaction. Given the team inconsistency and his own, consider shelving him for the rest of the year.

WR - Roddy White. 4/51 yards, TD. Success due to the TD in a strangely low scoring game. He did get 15(!) targets though, and the offense continues to lean on him more and more down the stretch.

QB - Matt Stafford. 408 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. Depending on your league scoring, he might have been a monster last week, or simply solid. Regardless, Matt Stafford is firmly established as a QB1.

Week 14
QB - Carson Palmer. Yes, he's playing Green Bay's D, which has been solid this year. But since taking over Palmer's shown the ol' gunslinger's mentality and is putting up numbers. Will he be perfect? No. but a 300 yard 3 TD 2 INT game is totally within reason, and that's not a bad game in most scoring formats.

RB - Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD has been remarkably consistent since week 8, with a TD in 4 of 5 weeks and well over 100 combined yards each week.

WR - I can't remember if I've mentioned Victor Cruz' name yet, but this guy has come out of nowhere to be a monster. He, Wes Welker and Jordy Nelson are all slot receivers that find themselves in the top10 ahead of more lauded names based on targets and breaking a ton of big plays. Look for one of the three of them to have at least one 50 yard TD reception this week. Personally, I'm hoping it's Victor since he's the only one I actually own in any leagues. But hopefully he's the only Giant to do anything effective. Yep. I'm playing that game. It's a fine line, but it's not literally rooting against the Seahawks, only against tangent threads of Seahawk benefit.

That's it for today. Monday goes without saying. As for Sunday, let's go Panthers, Vikings, Niners (yes, I threw up in my mouth), and Broncos (yes, threw up again), and Cowboys (ugh!). I can't believe I have to root for this many teams I despise this week.

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