Critical Fantasy Football Advice for Dominating Your 2010 Playoff Matchups

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2010

Few players have burst upon a fantasy football scene like Peyton Hillis, who has gone from free agent fodder to must-start fantasy stud this season.
Few players have burst upon a fantasy football scene like Peyton Hillis, who has gone from free agent fodder to must-start fantasy stud this season.Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

It was one of those moments. A sports radio host asked me during an on-air segment what my best advice would be for people who find themselves in their respective fantasy playoffs.

Knowing the audience wanted some epiphany that would help them decimate the competition and cruise to a big pay day, my advice was fairly anti-climatic.

Keep it simple. Overthinking a start/sit can be fantasy suicide in the playoffs.

An example? Last week, I was one win away from clinching a playoff berth in my 12-team dynasty league. Wanting to nail down a slot in the worst way, I started evaluating my team, and then re-evaluating. I was looking for any way to find an advantage.

Not thrilled with the fairly pedestrian stats out of Rashard Mendenhall, especially in a PPR league, I was nervous about his matchup with Baltimore. Meanwhile, Mike Goodson was blazing hot for Carolina, a PPR savior and playing an overly mediocre Seattle squad.

I had myself convinced I should start Goodson over Mendenhall. Until I got some unbiased opinion from a trusted colleague who helped rein me in. While Mendenhall scored just two points more than Goodson last week in our league format, every point counts in a close fantasy matchup.

So how do you keep it simple? When evaluating who to start and sit, don’t overthink yourself. A few pointers to consider:

1. Start your studs. This is probably one of the hardest pieces of advice for me to swallow. I personally hate to follow blanket advice when so many variables can affect who you should or shouldn’t start. However, after 13 weeks of football under our collective belts, it is easier to determine who the “studs” are now.

Once upon a time, Frank Gore was considered a fantasy stud and Peyton Hillis a fantasy nobody. No one in their right mind would have considered starting Arian Foster over Chris Johnson.

Trying to get cute by catching lightning in a bottle may help you eke out a win one week, but playing in that frame of mind won’t provide you with consistent success. Not to mention the mental anguish and ulcers you’d acquire wondering if James Starks vs. Detroit will net you more fantasy points than Adrian Peterson vs. the New York Giants.

2. Keep current on player news. Doing your homework in school usually leads to better grades … doing your homework in fantasy football can lead to more wins. Every week, there are players facing various forms of injury and staying on top of who may or may not play (or who will be at less than 100 percent) can help you determine the best course of action when choosing a starter.

There are a number of sites that provide up-to-the-minute player news. Most fantasy servers, such as Yahoo and ESPN, put info in a little bubble next to your player’s name. However, I prefer going to the source for the most reliable information. This includes scanning the player updates at and factoring in information from various major sites’ ranking lists.

3. Stay on top of matchups. This can be trap advice if you allow matchups to supercede common sense or makes you bench a stud in favor of a lesser player with a better matchup. However, if you have two fairly equal options for one starting position, going with the better matchup will, most of the time, produce the best results.

This is especially true in lesser positions, such as fantasy defenses/special teams. Squads like Tampa Bay have some sweet playoff matchups and should be on every owner’s radar screen.

4. Get unbiased advice. This saved me from starting Goodson over Mendenhall last week, and can be a lifesaver when you’ve convinced yourself to jump out of an airplane without a parachute.

Advice and feedback from others on your team’s specific start-sit issues is a good way to stay the course in terms of starting the best possible players without personal biases or frustrations clouding the issue.

The more advice you get on a sticky start-sit issue, the better. It should give you a larger sample size of which player makes the most logical sense and also makes it easier to pull the trigger on a start-sit that may not be an emotionally popular one for you.

At, we provide unbiased opinions on such matters. Feel free to leave a message in the comments below about your specific start-sit dilemma, or post it at our interactive forums.

Fantasy football playoffs can be an extremely exciting way to cap off a successful season. Good luck in your fantasy playoff matchups, and, as always, stay deadly!

Need help setting your Week 14 fantasy lineup? Check out my positional rankings for this week: QB | RB | WR | TE

We've started posting our free game-by-game fantasy projections. Check them out as we post them: IND@TEN | CLE@BUF | GB@DET | NYG@MIN | CIN@PIT | TB@WAS | ATL@CAR | OAK@JAX | SEA@SF | STL@NO | MIA@NYJ | DEN@ARI | NE@CHI | KC@SD | PHI@DAL | BAL@HOU

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