Fantasy Football 2012: 3 Keys to a Successful Playoff Stretch Run

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Fantasy Football 2012: 3 Keys to a Successful Playoff Stretch Run
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We've hit the 11th week of this year's fantasy football campaign, and as Thanksgiving draws near (when Thursday games are supposed to be played, as opposed to every stinking week), the playoff picture is beginning to become clearer.

For some unfortunate teams that means that there's little left but to play out the string, as whether due to injuries, a poor draft or just plain old bad luck the best that some teams can hope for at this point is playing the role of spoiler.

Misery does love company, after all.

However, the majority of fantasy squads are either making plans for the postseason or locked in a dogfight for a playoff spot, and once you've accomplished your first goal of reaching fantasy football's second season here are a few tips to ensure that it wasn't all for naught.

 

1.) Sacrifice Depth for Upgrades

It may well be that part of what got you into the playoffs to begin with was the depth on your roster and your ability to weather the storm once injuries hit.

However, at this point in the season that becomes less of a concern, and if your trading deadline has yet to pass don't be afraid to sacrifice some of that depth to bolster your starting lineup. The sorts of two-for-one or lopsided deals that may seem like lunacy at the midpoint of the season can be brilliant at this juncture, especially if it nets you a stud with a favorable schedule in the fantasy playoffs.

Andy King/Getty Images
If you can overpay for a stud...DO IT. No point in Keeping Players you can't Start.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the Aaron Rodgers owner in your league is scrambling for a playoff spot and has a glaring hole at wide receiver, a position you're deep at. Sending that owner Matthew Stafford and Vincent Jackson may feel like overpaying (it is), but if you have another wideout to plug in, you just made your team better and avoided a weekly "who do I start" issue that will only make you crazy anyway.

 

2.) The Future...What Future?

 This tip is geared towards owners in keeper or dynasty fantasy football leagues, where draft picks for 2013 and beyond can be exchanged now.

Many fantasy owners, even during successful seasons, are reluctant to deal these picks, afraid that they'll damage their future in order to gear up for a playoff run.

Simply put, so what if you do? Given all the variables in any given season, there's no telling when you'll have another opportunity to hoist the trophy, and it's not like that pick you're giving up is all that good to begin with. Win now, and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

 

3.) Lock Up a Defense for the Playoffs

If, like me, you're the type of fantasy owner that rotates defenses off the waiver wire, then as soon as you have a playoff spot sewn up acquiring a defense with favorable matchups for the fantasy postseason should become a priority.

 

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The Patriots' D may be Awful NFL-Wise, but their matchup for Fantasy Championship Week isn't.

Of the defenses that are readily available on most waiver wires I might actually advise considering a tandem of the New England Patriots and, believe it or not, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Stop laughing. Yes I know that the Jacksonville defense has been a fantasy non-factor for most of the season, but frankly that doesn't matter now. All you need is one (or two) good starts.

The Jaguars have a pair of very favorable matchups to kick off the playoffs with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins (two teams that combined to score three points on offense in Week 10), and then when the Patriots come to town in Week 16 you can simply flip the script and go with the visitors.

If starting a defense that ranks dead last in fantasy points right now is a little too bold (or crazy) for your tastes, then consider carrying multiple defenses that will allow you to field matchup plays like the Buffalo Bills (at home, in the elements, against the St. Louis Rams in Week 14), the Cleveland Browns (at home against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14), or the Oakland Raiders (at home against the Chiefs in Week 15).

In short, the depth you're sacrificing on offense affords you roster spots for matchup defenses. Avail yourself of those defenses, while at the same time denying your opponent the opportunity to do the same.

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