October 9, 2010

Preparing for the Fantasy Football Playoffs

What’s that? Ah — Playoffs? Don’t talk about — playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game! Another game.

Ok Jim Mora. I'm sorry if I offended you. 

It might not be time to start looking forward to the playoffs, but if you have started 4-0 or 3-1 you might want to start looking at your lineup in terms of fantasy playoff schedules. There's nothing worse to see than your star running back going up against 3 tough competitors right when you need him to perform the most (I'm looking at you Rashard Mendenhall). If you were a Mendenhall owner last year, you would have been cursing his name if you made the playoffs, watching him only score 1 TD, and collect a pathetic 221 total yards over weeks 14-16.

But Ben, Mora's point still stands. Why in the world are you talking playoffs right now? Well, its to get the idea in your head for the coming weeks. If you wait until week 9 to start thinking about your playoff roster, chances are a lot of owners have already given up on their 1-8 teams, or will be looking to the playoffs as well, making them unwilling to deal guys with favorable schedules. So start planting the seeds for some of the guys below, it could really pay dividends.

The Good:

Packers (Wk 14: @ Lions, Week 15: @ Patriots, Week 16: vs Giants)
Its not as if the high flying Packers offense needed any more help but, well, here you go. After what should be a great match-up in Ford Field, they get two less than impressive defenses, in the Patriots and Colts. The only thing I worry about here is weather, but at least one of the games is in a dome.

Colts (@ Titans, vs Jaguars, @ Raiders)
The Titans and Raiders are respectable on the defensive side of the ball, except against the run. Oh, and the Jaguars are just terrible. Not to mention, it will be the Colts revenge game after losing a close one in Jacksonville this past week. So if you can get your hands on Joseph Addai, he could pay major dividends. And if you're a gambling man, take a chance on Donald Brown. Who knows what will happen injury-wise.

Raiders (@ Jaguars, vs Broncos, vs Colts)
Wow, the Jags, Colts and Raiders all come up again. All of these games should be very interesting to the fantasy community, even if they hold zero playoff implication. With how passing-centric the Broncos and Colts are (and how plain ole terrible the Jags' D is), it wouldn't surprise me if Bruce Gradkowski played a role in a championship or two. Each also allow quite a few yards on the ground (Enter McFadden/Bush). And if any of the Raiders' receivers finally start to shine, they could be golden in weeks 14-16.

The Bad:

Steelers (vs Bengals, vs Jets, vs Panthers)
The Panthers could be a tasty matchup, but who knows if you will get that far if you're a Mendenhall owner. The Bengals are rough against the run, and the Jets are flat out nasty. While some of the Steelers might carry you to the playoffs, the going could get tough once you get there.

Bears (vs Patriots, @ Vikings, vs Jets)
This situation works in reverse of that of Pittsburgh. Sure, Cutler and Co. might feast on the Patriots if their pass rush continues to be stagnant, but the teams that await are dangerous. I don't think I could pick two tougher teams on defense besides the Vikes and Jets. If you were to magically find your way to the championship with a lineup of Cutler, Forte or Knox, you'd better start counting your second place money, because that's all you're getting.

Patriots (@ Bears, vs Packers, @ Bills)
Well look who it is. Bill Belichick's crew have been mentioned twice on this list, and here they are. All 3 of the Pats' opponents boast deceptively good defensive crews. I know a New England running back won't be on most playoff rosters, but this schedule is all the more reason for them not to be. If you can survive a few mediocre outings out of Brady in the first two weeks of the fantasy playoffs, the Bills could be the shining light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, its also going to be Buffalo in January, so how much passing could really go on?