15 Pitfalls to Avoid Heading into the Fantasy Football Playoffs

Alex Dunlap@AlexDunlapNFLContributor INovember 22, 2012

15 Pitfalls to Avoid Heading into the Fantasy Football Playoffs

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    Take note and listen up. 

    If you are reading this, you are likely primed for a run in your fantasy league's playoffs, or are at least hoping to make it in. 

    As the 2012 NFL regular season enters its final quarter, the pitfalls that abound for fantasy owners multiply. Do not fall victim, and read on. 

Don't Stall on Your Waiver Claims

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    My radio co-host Byron Lambert and I went out and got fried chicken last Tuesday night. 

    He was on his laptop when I arrived at his house, the place from which we would eventually head to the restaurant. San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree had been dropped in one of our fantasy leagues. He is hurting at WR in this league due to Greg Jennings and other catastrophes I'm sure he could talk all day about. 

    Byron had noticed Crabtree being dropped, and started thinking aloud regarding which Donald Brown-level RB (of which he had many) should be dropped to acquire him.

    We left before Byron made his decision, and he never got around to it. Another owner (with lower position), made the claim.

    Byron lost in Week 11 by a margin that could have been covered by the difference in production between Crabtree and Laurent Robinson, his last-minute waiver Hail Mary.

    The moral of the story is to be decisive in your waiver targets, and when you have an idea in your sights, set things up to make it happen right then. We are all very busy people and sometimes life gets in the way.    

Check Weather Reports

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    It's getting to be that time of year where weather can effect your fantasy players. 

    Snow is not entirely detrimental to any one particular element of most NFL offenses, but seems to bring at least some level of degradation in overall fantasy production. Usually among second- and third-option WRs. 

    As it starts getting colder, fantasy owners of players on teams along the Eastern seaboard and through the Midwest should be on extra alert about the weather conditions.

Understand the Motives of Your League Mates

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    Your friends are not your friends in fantasy football as you enter the playoffs. 

    Do not talk with friends in your league about your waiver moves, your ideas, or your general thoughts on the state of the league. No subject related to the NFL should broach your everyday conversations among peers.

    You are at war and you must view these individuals as impostors and charlatans. The trade deadline has passed in most leagues, meaning there is no viable reason to be having these sorts of discussions with the competition.

    Know your enemy and hold your cards close to your vest.   

Do Not Depend on Any of the Following Players

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    These are the guys who will not lead you to a fantasy championship as part of your week-in-week-out starting roster. Now that most trade deadlines have past, and with the bye weeks over, your squad should be fully intact as the entity it has developed into. For better or for worse.  

    None of the following players should be depended on as weekly starts. 

Do Not Depend on Dez Bryant

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    Dez Bryant. 

    This guy is a trip, and being in the business of trying to project what he is going to do is no easy task. On one side of the coin, he is a physical freak, on the other side he is an enigmatic dumpster fire.  

    The Dallas Cowboys have one of the easiest schedules to end the fantasy season, and things are finally seeming to "click" for Bryant.

    My issue is, I've seen things "click" for short spans with Bryant before. He has a short attention span and it shows in his sloppy play and mental mistakes.

    Bryant came into 2012 never having had a 20-point fantasy game in standard leagues. He has now done so twice in his three-year career, but his 2012 production has been very off and on. Bryant represents a solid option in your flex position moving forward, but he is not a true fantasy WR2 until proven otherwise.

Do Not Depend on Larry Fitzgerald

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    Arizona Cardinals rookie QB Ryan Lindley is a nice young man. I met him at the Senior Bowl. A tall young man, as well. 

    This is ridiculous. Things have gone from terrible to worse in Arizona and Larry Fitzgerald's fantasy owners will feel the brunt of it.

    If you look at his game log, you will see, Fitzgerald has been nothing more than a WR3/flex plug-in for 2012 fantasy purposes and will remain that way.

    The Arizona offense is simply not operating at a level conducive to advanced professional play at the WR position. 

Do Not Depend on James Jones

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    When you think about the players you like to depend on, you think of guys like Adrian Peterson and Reggie Wayne in 2012, even Calvin Johnson. 

    I like rolling into the playoffs with players who are not dependent on unpredictable TD scoring to account for their fantasy outputs. 

    James Jones is the epitome of the opposite. Jones is dependent on touchdowns for over 50 percent of his scoring, leading the Top 50 fantasy WRs in this very risky category. 

Do Not Depend on Steelers WRs

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    Until Ben Roethlisberger gets back into the lineup for the Pittsburgh Steelers, you might as well consider any piece of that passing game to be third-tier or worse. 

    This is terrible. Charlie Batch? He'll probably develop an instant connection with Plaxico Burress to make things even more difficult to sort out. 

    Mike Wallace has had some lucky, freak-TD action in recent weeks, but it has by no means come via the type of offensive production or setting a fantasy owner can reasonably count on.  

Do Not Depend on Dwayne Bowe

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    He's done in KC.

    The Kansas City Chiefs are in utter disarray and if you were Dwayne Bowe, would you care about this season? 

    I don't want a guy on my fantasy team who plays for an offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll, who I struggle mightily to understand. 

    I don't want a guy on my fantasy team who does not want to play on his current NFL team. 

    I don't want a guy on my fantasy team who does not know who his QB will be from week to week, and whose QB will likely end up being Ricky Stanzi for the fantasy championship. 

    Oh yeah. I also don't like to depend on a WR like this, going into the fantasy playoffs, for one really obvious reason: He hasn't really been that good. 

    Dwayne Bowe should be in flex consideration, nothing more. 

Do Not Depend on Any Saints RB

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    I can yell all day, but just take a look at the snap counts

    This whole thing is a mess. Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory carry the ball any time they are in the backfield with one TE on the line of scrimmage. Darren Sproles has yet to return from a broken hand and Pierre Thomas is just as pedestrian a fantasy option as ever. 

    Same as the rest. All bench plays to make against great matchups, nothing more. 

Do Not Depend on Joe Flacco

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    If Joe Flacco is your fantasy QB, you have likely noticed this, but if not, please listen.

    This guy is terrible on the road. At home, he's a fantasy QB1, no question. Away, Flacco is awful:

    Fantasy points in home games this season (standard leagues): 22.9, 31.4, 28.2, 15.9 and 35.2.

    Pretty good right?

    Away games: 15.6, 10.8, 12.1, 11.8 and 8.1.

    Terrible, and a pretty clear pattern to me. You can't trust Joe Flacco heading into your fantasy playoffs.  

Do Not Depend on Reggie Bush

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    So much for the NFL rushing title. 

    Bush has been horrible enough as of late to make many a fantasy owner throw the remote control at their screen. If you are serious about a playoff run, start getting serious about finding some stop-gap RB2s on the waiver wire.

    Bush has had dream matchups and still managed to either not take advantage of the opportunity or get in the dog house of Dolphins HC Joe Philbin. When your head coach is a detail-oriented perfectionist who seems like the Larry David of NFL coaches, you can't fumble. 

    Bush is a very risky RB2 moving forward for fantasy purposes. 

Do Not Depend on Shonn Greene

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    You aren't in the playoff hunt if you have depended on this guy, but Bilal Powell gave us two more reasons not to last Sunday with his double touchdown-vulturing affair. 

    Greene's 10.3 points per game average in standard leagues is skewed by an outlier 34-point Week 6 explosion that he will never, ever duplicate. Ever. 

    Other than that, he is a 6-10 point guy. Greene has produced under 7 fantasy points in 70 percent of his 2012 performances and under 5 fantasy points in 40 percent of them. 


Do Not Depend on Antonio Gates

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    Gates may be healthy, but the Chargers offense is anemic minus an unlikely emerging stud in Danario Alexander. 

    Antonio Gates is universally thought of as one of the best tight ends in the game, and he was one of the original group of athletic, pass-catching TEs that led to an NFL migration toward this prototype in order to exploit the Cover 2. 

    Gates has been far from dependable this season, however, and a major disappointment to fantasy owners outside of three decent games. Gates has scored under three points in 2012 standard leagues 40 percent of the time and under five points 70 percent of the time. 

    Not a guy you want to roll into the playoffs with. 

Give Respect to the Fantasy Gods

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    The fantasy gods are real and their omnipresence is even more apparent as the postseason lingers within eyeshot.

    Do not brag about your team; be humble. Realize that your fate is out of your hands once you have submitted your starting roster. All you can do as a fantasy owner is put yourself in the best possible position you can to win.

    The rest is up to them. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, once you set your fantasy lineup, leave it.

    Don't even think about it. Don't be the guy who refreshes it every 30 seconds because everything is out of your hands and now operates in the realm of the fantasy gods. Realize this and accept that their chosen outcomes, for better or for worse, will be final.

    The fantasy gods tend to reward those who enjoy the game for what it is.