To Stash or Swap: Week 2 in Fantasy Playoff Challenge

Ryan McKee looks at week 2 in NFL.com's Fantasy Playoff Challenge and determines which players you should hang onto from last week and which you should swap.

| 2 years ago

Ryan McKee looks at week 2 in NFL.com's Fantasy Playoff Challenge and determines which players you should hang onto from last week and which you should swap.

To Stash or Swap: Week 2 in Fantasy Playoff Challenge


ty-hiltonThis article is part of a playoff series based on NFL.com’s Fantasy Playoff Challenge. If you missed my article from last week, you can catch it here. I recommend at least a rough skim of it to brief yourself on the rules of the game as well as an overview of the strategy that I’m employing.

We’re a quarter of the way through the postseason and the field has been reduced to 8 teams. The favourites had a much needed week of rest, while the underdogs gained some much needed momentum. And let’s not forget this wicked weather, destined to play a key role in the weeks ahead!

So let’s dive back into the analysis. The purpose of this article is to determine how best to set your lineup to maximize your points. We have one week of data and some multipliers in effect, so let’s look at the 3 possible scenarios you are in at each position and the best strategy to use going forward.

SCENARIO 1: You rostered players who were on a bye last week

This is the simplest scenario. In this instance, you’re keeping these guys no matter what. Remember that these guys will accumulate 2x their fantasy points this weekend. Making a switch now would require you to pick up someone at a 1x multiplier. Considering that the bye teams were and are still the favourites to at least advance to next week, you’d be wise to sit tight.


SCENARIO 2: A player you rostered last week has been eliminated

Another simple scenario, as you have to pick up somebody else. Here are the breakdowns of each position with their season average multiplied by their likelihood of advancing (based on weighted DVOA).

Player Season Avg
Conf Semis (1x)
 Conf Final (2x)
Super Bowl (3x)
Total
Prob
(DVOA)
Weighted
Total (DVOA) 
Prob
(Betting)
 
Weighted
Total (Betting)
QB                  
Wilson 20.7 20.7 41.4 62.1 124.2 41.6% 51.7 52.4% 65.1
Manning 31 31 62 93 186 40.3% 75.0 58.5% 108.8
Brady 19.9 19.9 39.8 59.7 119.4 37.0% 44.2 25.0% 29.9
Newton 22.5 22.5 45 67.5 135 27.9% 37.7 18.2% 24.6
Kaepernick 20 20 40 60 120 17.4% 20.9 26.7% 32.0
Brees 27.3 27.3 54.6 81.9 163.8 13.1% 21.5 12.5% 20.5
RB                  
Lynch 15.1 15.1 30.2 45.3 90.6 41.6% 37.7 52.4% 47.5
Moreno 14.8 14.8 29.6 44.4 88.8 40.3% 35.8 58.5% 51.9
Ridley 9 9 18 27 54 37.0% 20.0 25.0% 13.5
Vereen 10.9 10.9 21.8 32.7 65.4 37.0% 24.2 25.0% 16.4
Blount 7.7 7.7 15.4 23.1 46.2 37.0% 17.1 25.0% 11.6
Williams 9.4 9.4 18.8 28.2 56.4 27.9% 15.7 18.2% 10.3
Gore 11.3 11.3 22.6 33.9 67.8 17.4% 11.8 26.7% 18.1
WR                  
Tate 7.7 7.7 15.4 23.1 46.2 41.6% 19.2 52.4% 24.2
D. Thomas 14.2 14.2 28.4 42.6 85.2 40.3% 34.3 58.5% 49.8
Decker 12.2 12.2 24.4 36.6 73.2 40.3% 29.5 58.5% 42.8
Welker 10.6 10.6 21.2 31.8 63.6 40.3% 25.6 58.5% 37.2
Edelman 8.9 8.9 17.8 26.7 53.4 37.0% 19.8 25.0% 13.4
Boldin 10.1 10.1 20.2 30.3 60.6 17.4% 10.5 26.7% 16.2
Crabtree 6.9 6.9 13.8 20.7 41.4 17.4% 7.2 26.7% 11.1
Colston 8.3 8.3 16.6 24.9 49.8 13.1% 6.5 12.5% 6.2
Hilton 8.7 8.7 17.4 26.1 52.2 8.1% 4.2 12.5% 6.5
TE                  
Miller 5.3 5.3 10.6 15.9 31.8 41.6% 13.2 52.4% 16.7
Thomas 10.8 10.8 21.6 32.4 64.8 40.3% 26.1 58.5% 37.9
Olsen 7.4 7.4 14.8 22.2 44.4 27.9% 12.4 18.2% 8.1
Davis 10.9 10.9 21.8 32.7 65.4 17.4% 11.4 26.7% 17.5
Graham 13.6 13.6 27.2 40.8 81.6 13.1% 10.7 12.5% 10.2

Two key things to point out: First, in terms of the probabilities, we’re looking at probability of reaching the Super Bowl. You’re going to fall off the pack if you pick guys that will only win this weekend and then falter during the Conference Championships. Despite having a player eliminated last week, you can still pick a player that will get you a 3x multiplier in the Super Bowl, but that needs to be your aim.

Second, I’ve introduced a few new columns – specifically, I wanted to consider the betting lines and see how they deviate from DVOA. So I took a popular offshore betting website and took their odds for each team making the Super Bowl. That way we can compare both values to get a clearer expectation of success.

Quarterback

Peyton Manning’s numbers are just too strong to bypass him. Averaging 31 fppg, he may only play this week and next and still finish with the most QB fantasy points this postseason. I’ve read about San Diego being a tough matchup for Denver this season, but the safest pick you can make – both from a probability point of view and a total points point of view – is Manning. Set it and forget it.

Running Back

Using either DVOA or the betting line, it’s obvious that you should take Marshawn Lynch or Knowshon Moreno until either one proves otherwise. However, the New England 3-headed monster is intriguing if one of them got the bulk of the work and you knew who it would be. Here are the total touches by game for each of the Patriots backs since Week 11:

Shane Vereen – 9, 18, 15, 15, 5, 3, 5

LeGarrette Blount – 10, 2, 12, 9, 12, 16, 24

Steven Ridley – 13, 4, IA, 9, 8, 15, 12

Looking at these numbers, you’d surmise that Blount is the safest bet to lead the team in touches. But looking at his fantasy points each of those weeks, it’s clear he cannot be relied on for elite production:

Blount – 4.9, 1.3, 10.4, 7.4, 5.3, 19.6, 30.9

Again, the safe route still lies with Lynch and Moreno.

Wide Receiver

Similar to last week, you’re better off picking Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker than to hope someone like Michael Crabtree or TY Hilton can continue their level of play and make a long playoff run.

Tight End

Also similar to last week, Julius Thomas is your best bet for now. The rest of the tight ends are fairly evenly rated though, so if you really aren’t buying Denver, then Vernon Davis is your next best option.


SCENARIO 3: Keeping an underdog from Wild Card Weekend vs flipping him for a favourite

Here is where things get interesting. If you happen to choose a winning player from last weekend, you’re now faced with deciding whether to keep him or drop him for a player on a better team. It’s a difficult decision as keeping the guy on your roster gives you a 2x multiplier. But what good is it if he’s an easy out in the Conference Semis? Let’s look at each position individually.

Note: there are far too many combinations of players to consider so for the purposes of this article, so I’ll only look at players you are most likely to have rostered from last week (sorry if you somehow rostered Donald Brown). We’ll incorporate their points last week but for future weeks’ projections, we revert back to their season averages. Finally, to determine the alternative player, we’ll choose the best case scenario player – so Manning at QB, Lynch at RB, etc

Quarterback

In this case, you either rostered Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick, Philip Rivers or Andrew Luck, but since Rivers did so poorly last week and has such a low chance of advancing, we’ll just look at the other 3.

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Luck/Luck/Luck/Luck
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
  42.7 43.2 64.8 86.4 237.1
Luck/Luck/Luck/Manning
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
  42.7 43.2 64.8 31 181.7
Luck/Luck/Manning/Manning
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
  42.7 43.2 31 62 178.9
Luck/Manning/Manning/Manning
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
  42.7 31 62 93 228.7

 

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Brees/Brees/Brees/Brees
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
  17.8 54.6 81.9 109.2 263.5
Brees/Brees/Brees/Manning
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
  17.8 54.6 81.9 31 185.3
Brees/Brees/Manning/Manning
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
  17.8 54.6 31 62 165.4
Brees/Manning/Manning/Manning
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
  17.8 31 62 93 203.8

 

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Kaepernick
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
  25.2 20 40 60 145.2
Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Manning
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
  25.2 20 40 31 116.2
Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Manning/Manning
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
  25.2 20 31 62 138.2
Kaepernick/Manning/Manning/Manning
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
  25.2 31 62 93 211.2

In both of these instances, it appears better to switch to Manning. However, this is taking the best alternative scenario – essentially that the best statistical QB goes all the way. The rest of the QBs (other than Brees) average between 19.9 (Brady) and 22.5 (Newton) fppg. So taking the 22.5 number in place of Manning’s 31 fppg and you get a much different outcome:

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Luck/Luck/Luck/Luck
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
  42.7 43.2 64.8 86.4 237.1
 
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
Luck/Luck/Luck/Newton 42.7 43.2 64.8 22.5 173.2
 
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
Luck/Luck/Newton/Newton 42.7 43.2 22.5 45 153.4
 
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
Luck/Newton/Newton/Newton 42.7 22.5 45 57.5 167.7

 

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Brees/Brees/Brees/Brees
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
 
17.8
54.6
81.9
109.2
263.5
Brees/Brees/Brees/Newton
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
  17.8 54.6 81.9 22.5 176.8
Brees/Brees/Newton/Newton
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
  17.8 54.6 22.5 45 139.9
Brees/Newton/Newton/Newton
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
  17.8 22.5 45 57.5 142.8

 

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Kaepernick
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
  25.2 20 40 60 145.2
Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Manning
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
  25.2 20 40 22.5 107.7
Kaepernick/Kaepernick/Manning/Manning
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
  25.2 20 22.5 45 112.7
Kaepernick/Manning/Manning/Manning
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
  25.2 22.5 45 67.5 160.2

Without Manning‘s outlying numbers, it appears better to hang onto your QB rather than make the swap. So if you truly believe Manning can go all the way, then make the swap now because you’ll appreciate the 3x multiplier in the Super Bowl. But if you have any hesitation, hang onto who you have.

Running Back

The only player worth considering is Frank Gore, as the other RBs from last week are highly unlikely to perform well enough and/or long enough to have value.

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Gore/Gore/Gore/Gore
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
  13.7 22.6 33.9 45.2 115.4
Gore/Gore/Gore/Lynch
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
  13.7 22.6 33.9 15.1 85.3
Gore/Gore/Lynch/Lynch
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
  13.7 22.6 15.1 30.2 81.6
Gore/Lynch/Lynch/Lynch
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
  13.7 15.1 30.2 45.3 104.3

This one ultimately comes down to whether you think the 49ers can make the Super Bowl. If you feel confident in them, then it’s not a bad play to ride Gore all the way. But anything less than that and you’d be far better off going with Lynch or even Moreno. Ultimately it’s as simple as asking yourself which of those 3 RBs you think will go the furthest and putting that player in your lineup.

Wide Receiver

The only player that may be worth considering in place of Thomas or Decker is Hilton, due to the massive head start he has after that huge performance last week.

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Hilton/Hilton/Hilton/Hilton
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
  34.4 17.4 26.1 34.8 112.7
Hilton/Hilton/Hilton/Thomas
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
  34.4 17.4 26.1 14.2 92.1
Hilton/Hilton/Thomas/Thomas
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
  34.4 17.4 14.2 28.4 94.4
Hilton/Thomas/Thomas/Thomas
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
  34.4 14.2 28.4 42.6 119.6

It would appear that your best move is to flip Hilton now. He did post a 15.5 fp game in Week 17 but prior to that he went 6 consecutive games with less than 8 fp. Unless you really believe Indy can make a run AND that Hilton will remain an elite weapon throughout that run, you’re better off sliding over to the Broncos WRs.

Tight End

This one is very interesting. Many of you would have rostered Jimmy Graham last week and he did help you in advancing to the next round. The problem is that he did relatively nothing despite a plum matchup against a porous Eagles secondary. Others may have rolled with Vernon Davis, so we have 3 stud TEs to consider for the rest of the postseason.

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Davis/Davis/Davis/Davis
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
  9.7 21.8 32.7 43.6 107.8
Davis/Davis/Davis/Thomas
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
  9.7 21.8 32.7 10.8 75
Davis/Davis/Thomas/Thomas
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
  9.7 21.8 10.8 21.6 63.9
Davis/Thomas/Thomas/Thomas
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
  9.7 10.8 21.6 32.4 74.5

 

Player(s)
Wild Card
Conf Semis
Conf Final
Super Bowl
Total
Graham/Graham/Graham/Graham
1x
2x
3x
4x
 
 
4.4
27.2
40.8
54.4
126.8
Graham/Graham/Graham/Thomas
1x
2x
3x
1x
 
  4.4 27.2 40.8 10.8 83.2
Graham/Graham/Thomas/Thomas
1x
2x
1x
2x
 
  4.4 27.2 10.8 21.6 64
Graham/Thomas/Thomas/Thomas
1x
1x
2x
3x
 
  4.4 10.8 21.6 32.4 69.2

Remember that these tables don’t factor in the probability of Graham or Davis advancing, but they outline all of the different outcomes so you can weigh your decision accordingly.

In the case of both Graham and Davis, you’re probably better off hanging onto them. With Graham, your worst case scenario (Graham losing this weekend) only produces 5 fewer points than making the swap to Thomas before this weekend. But in the meantime, you also get the potential upside if Graham advances another week or two. The Saints are big underdogs, but it’s a small enough price to pay to stick with the game’s top TE.

Davis is a bit of a closer call, as the worst case scenario in keeping him produces 10 fewer points than switching to Thomas. The middle scenario – SF winning this weekend but losing next – results in a push. That would seem to suggest switching to Thomas is a safer bet, but the 49ers are more likely to advance than the Saints are, so I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to continue rolling with Davis. It’s a close call though.


One final thing to consider is that these tables aren’t perfect. For example, they don’t factor in situations where you continuously select a player who gets eliminated, but it’s clear that would be the worst outcome for your fantasy team.

But this breakdown should lend insight into your more pressing questions ahead of this weekend. We should have some great games to watch this weekend and then we’ll do this all over again with new stats and considerations. See you next week.

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