FPPC Playoff Challenge Entry
Jeff Ratcliffe takes you through his thought process as he puts together his roster for the FFPC Playoff Challenge.
FPPC Playoff Challenge Entry
If you didn’t quite get your fantasy fix in the regular season, there’s good news. Fantasy playoff leagues are becoming increasingly common, and they offer a wide range of formats from conventional draft to daily league salary cap and everything in between.
The folks over at the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) along with Footballguys.com have a particularly interesting format for their playoff challenge contest. For $200 you can take a shot nabbing a piece of their $500,000 guaranteed prize pool, which includes a $150,000 grand prize. You field a roster of 10 players – one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, two flex spots, a kicker, and a team defense. Scoring is PPR with tight ends receiving 1.5 points per reception, and all scoring is doubled in the Super Bowl.
There’s no draft to worry about. Instead, you pick your roster from the entire playoff player pool. This is a set-it-and-forget format, so your Wild Card roster is the lineup you roll with throughout the entire playoffs. Essentially, everything is very straightforward with one unique twist – you can only use one player from each team.
Obviously, this format present an interesting set of challenges, so I’m going to take you through my though process as I assemble my team.
Step 1 – Quarterback
In playoffs fantasy leagues, quarterback tends to be the most important position. Simply put, they score more than everyone else. It’s no surprise that last season the two of the leading scorers in the postseason were Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick.
Because we’re placing a premium at the position, I’m going to build my team around my quarterback selection. Since we use the same roster throughout the playoffs, it’s ideal to choose a player who is likely to play the most games. Making it to the Super Bowl is an obvious plus due to the doubled scoring.
My very bland Super Bowl prediction of Denver vs. Seattle suggests that Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson should be on my list of candidates. I also think there’s a good chance that Philadelphia and Cincinnati play three games, so we can include Nick Foles and Andy Dalton as well.
I’m not quite willing to lock any of these teams into three games, but I give Denver the best chance followed by Seattle. Cincinnati and Philly bring up the rear. For purposes of projections, let’s say Denver plays 2.6 games, Seattle plays 2.4 games, and Cincinnati and Philly play 2.1 games.
What we can now do with these numbers is take them and apply them Mike Clay’s average points per game projections for each of our quarterbacks and see who comes out on top:
It’s no shocker who leads the pack, but it’s still important we went through the exercise, as we will apply the same methodology at our other positions. Still, the choice at quarterback looks fairly obvious.
However, I’d be foolish to simply click on Manning and move on. There are a lot of Broncos worthy of consideration in this format. While I wouldn’t blame you for taking a long look at Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, Demaryius Thomas, or Wes Welker, the points gap at wide receiver or running back is not as significant as it is at quarterback.
The only other direction I might consider with Denver is at tight end with Julius Thomas. However, I still think there is solid value to be found elsewhere at the position that is closer to Thomas than the relative gap between Foles and Manning.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning
Step 2 – Running Back
We really could have gone to any position next (except for kicker), but I’m choosing running back because they touch the ball the most out of the FLEX skilled positions and tend to have a huge role in successful playoff teams.
This is a great year for running backs in the playoffs, as we have arguably the two best fantasy options available to us in LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles. They’re the early leaders in the clubhouse, but let’s apply our methodology and see what the results tell us:
As you can see, I included the Chiefs at 1.8 games, Pats at 1.9 games, 49ers at 1.9 games, and Packers at 1.3 games. And the survey says McCoy and Charles are the two best options. I really like both of these players, as they’re hands down the best offensive options from their respective teams and they both have a good shot of playing at least two games.
Running Backs: LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles
Step 3 – Wide Receiver
Let’s move on to the wide receiver position. My team now has players from Denver, Philadelphia, and Kansas City, but that does leave some interesting options at wide receiver. Here’s what the numbers say:
Without the Denver and Philly receivers, the talent pool certainly thins out a bit, but we’re still left with some strong options. A.J. Green tops the list and looks to be an almost automatic pick for one of our two wide receiver spots.
Julian Edelman also projects out very strongly in this format, but we still need to carefully consider what we want to do at FLEX. Shane Vereen is certainly and option, as is Frank Gore. The question is which is more advantageous, a combo of Edelman and Gore, or Boldin and Vereen? A close look at the numbers says the first tandem will score 60.6 points, while the second projects at 52.7 points.
Again, the numbers make my decision fairly easy.
Wide Receiver: A.J. Green and Julian Edelman
Step 4 – Tight End (and DST)
The talent pool is now whittled down to just seven teams – Seattle, San Francisco, Carolina, New Orleans, Green Bay, Indianapolis, and San Diego.
Since I’m not putting any stock in the Chargers, this essentially leaves us with four viable options at tight end – Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Zach Miller, and Vernon Davis. As I just mentioned, I’m already leaning toward going with Gore at one of my FLEX spots, but let’s just double-check the projections:
|Zach J. Miller||2.4||21.7|
While Davis does come out two points higher than Gore, we again have to weigh our options. Is it better to roll with Gore and Graham, or Davis and one of the Saints running backs? Likewise, Miller projects to play the most games, but Marshawn Lynch is looking like a superior FLEX option.
So that leaves us with Graham and Olsen at the top. There’s not much separating the two in this particular format, so again we need to consider what else we can use from the Saints and Panthers.
As I alluded to earlier, the Saints running backs are a risky proposition at best. Marques Colston is worthy of consideration at FLEX, but for me this comes down one position – defense. Up to this point, I haven’t paid any attention to my defense, but now our options are thin.
If I use Seattle and San Francisco at FLEX, I’m really left with Carolina and New Orleans as my only viable plays at defense. With both teams essentially projecting to play about a game and a half, the choice is clear. Carolina is the superior option, which makes Jimmy Graham my tight end.
Tight End: Jimmy Graham
Step 5 – FLEX (and kicker)
We have three spots to fill, and five teams remaining. While the pickings are pretty slim, there are some decent options still left on the board:
Mashawn Lynch stands out as the obvious best choice, but the decision at my second FLEX spot is much more difficult. The numbers say I should go with one of three receivers – Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, or Keenan Allen. However, I mentioned earlier that I was leaning toward Frank Gore here.
What to do?
This is one case where I’m going to go against what the projections are telling me. I know, I know. The “numbers guy” should practice what he preaches. I agree, but there are always exceptions to the rules.
In this case, I’m leaning toward the player who projects to play the most. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not high on the Chargers at all, which all but rules out Allen for me. I also believe the 49ers will beat the Packers, giving Gore the edge over Nelson.
That leaves me with one final decision – Gore or Hilton. While Hilton comes with the highest ceiling, he has also shown an extremely low floor over the last month of the season. Playing with fire in fantasy football can certainly be rewarding, but more often than not, you’re going to get burned. So I’m going to take the less volatile path and go with Gore.
Last and certainly least, we have the kicker. I have three choices left – Adam Vinatieri, Mason Crosby, and Nick Novak. Considering Crosby will be kicking a cinderblock in subzero temperatures, he’s out. Now it boils down to simply picking the better kicker, and the edge goes to the experienced veteran kicking in the better conditions. I may only get one game out of him, but Vinatieri is my best option.
FLEX: Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
So there you have it. My roster uses one player per team, with the exception of the Packers and Chargers:
Feel free to share your thoughts on the comments below. Think you can do better? Make sure you signup and play. The clock is ticking.
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor and resident IDP maven of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twitter – @JeffRatcliffe.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.