Preparing Your Roster for the Fantasy Playoffs

With the fantasy playoffs right around the corner, most teams are either fighting for their playoff spots,
locked in or just plain out of it. For those that are out of it, tough luck and here’s to a better 2018.

If your league is any sort of keeper league, look to trade away any higher-caliber players for some
keepers for next season. If you are out of it, you probably aren’t reading this article unless you are a true
fantasy football addict. In which case we applaud you.

As for the fantasy managers who are already locked into the playoffs, it’s time to prepare yourself for the
matchups ahead. Looking at week’s 14, 15 and 16 and making roster moves accordingly is going to be
the ticket to the fantasy championship.

Basic fantasy strategy would consist of a few things throughout the season, such as rostering one QB unless streaming, avoiding handcuffs and rostering one defense in any given week. When preparing for the fantasy playoffs it is best practice to move out some depth from your bench to make room for pieces neglected during the season. A backup QB, a contrarian defense and handcuffs are essential for negating risk when it’s win or go home.

The Backup QB:

More often than not, fantasy owners will be rostering just one QB throughout the year, rolling them out regardless of matchup. It makes sense not to bench Tom Brady in a bad matchup for a player like Josh McCown in a good matchup. The idea of getting a backup QB for playoff time is not to sit the stud who won all those games but to have insurance if that QB ever went down with injury. It’s an unfortunate reality that player’s bodies break down toward the end of the season and negating that risk by grabbing a backup is best practice. Heading into week 12 is the best time to begin this process because fantasy owners that need to win now are dropping those backup QBs. The higher end spot starts that weren’t available earlier in the season.  Below is a list of QB’s that should be targeted.

Quarterback Ownership % Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Ben Roethlisberger 86.2% Bal NE Hou
Jared Goff 78.2% Phi Sea Ari
Marcus Mariota 74.0% Ari SF LAR
Philip Rivers 62.5% Wsh KC NYJ
Tyrod Taylor 48.3% Ind Mia NE
Jameis Winston 46.1% Det Atl Car
Blake Bortles 23.4% Sea Hou SF


To be clear, handcuffs only apply to running backs. The theory that a handcuff WR is something we should consider is complete buffoonery (it worked for Sterling Shepard but his entire WR core had to be placed on IR for him to be a high-end option). For running backs, though, handcuffs and playoffs go together like peanut butter and jelly. Every playoff team needs insurance. Not every backfield has a workhorse back and not every RB has a handcuff. Here is a list of RBs that if you own you should look to picking up the handcuff.

Running Back Backup Ownership %
Leveon Bell James Conner 1.2%
Melvin Gordon Austin Ekeler 20.5%
Lesean McCoy Travaris Cadet 0.1%
Jordan Howard Tarik Cohen 47.4%
Christian McCaffrey Jonathan Stewart 61.7%
Jay Ajayi Legarrette Blount 66.2%
Carlos Hyde Matt Breida 8.6%
Joe Mixon Giovanni Bernard 27.9%
Leonard Fournette Chris Ivory 27.2%

Defense is a unique position. They fluctuate greatly depending on the opponent.  When selecting a defense, look to acquire some of these defenses below to help you in weeks 14-16. It may be hard to believe but the Browns defense will win people championships.


Defense Ownership % Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Steelers DST 72.4% Bal NE Hou
Panthers 62.4% Min GB TB
Chargers DST 52.5% Wsh KC NYJ
Saints DST 51.6% Atl NYJ Atl
Bears DST 39.6% Cin Det Cle
Bills DST 23.4% Ind Mia NE
Jets DST 4.0% Den NO LAC
Browns DST 1.2% GB Bal Chi

Follow Dare @DMaybury and at Fantasy Football Advice.

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