Fantasy Football Week 13:Set Yourself Up to Maximize Your Playoff Chances

John MillerCorrespondent IIINovember 30, 2011

Victor Cruz has become a better fantasy option than Hakeem Nicks for the remainder of 2011
Victor Cruz has become a better fantasy option than Hakeem Nicks for the remainder of 2011Al Bello/Getty Images

Week 12 was glorious for some fantasy owners and absolutely gut-wrenching for others. The unpredictability of fantasy football is exactly why so many people enjoy it so much. You never know what you are going to get, for better or worse.

That's all of the living in the past that you get now. This is about as "Crunch Time" as it can get. Your fantasy football playoffs are no more than two weeks away. At this point in the season, you can easily define your fantasy football team as fitting into one of these three categories:

  • Out of playoff contention
  • Competing for a playoff spot
  • Already clinched a playoff spot

That's it. If you're out of it, you should still run your team like you are trying to win every week. But don't go cutting solid starters just to take wild long-shots, such moves could affect the outcome of your league.

If you've already clinched a playoff spot, not much else matters. You need to figure out if you can change your seeding to improve your playoff match-up, obtain a bye or earn additional cash.

Once your team is locked into a spot, you should begin planning for the playoffs, if that means losing a game or two at the end of the regular season, so be it.

That might mean picking up additional defenses, or even making acquisitions to prevent your playoff opponent from improving his team the week he plays against you.

If you're competing for a playoff spot, nothing else matters. You need to calculate exactly what you need to do to win the playoffs. Do you need to win the rest of your games? Or just one more game? Do you need to score a large number of points? Figure out your scenarios. Look at the schedule for your league and try to project the outcomes for the teams you are vying for playoff spots with.

In most cases, you're just going to want to win the rest of your games. That is the safest and best way to ensure not only making the playoffs, but obtaining the best playoff seeding possible. Now you have to use your best judgment here. If you're say 80 percent sure that you are going to make the playoffs, you can probably just keeping doing what you've been doing.

But if you need to win at all costs, that means that you just get to the playoffs, and worry about that when you get there. All that matters is winning the next game or two to make it into the tournament. As we saw in Week 12, anything can happen. Individuals can come out of nowhere to carry playoff teams to victory. It happens every year.

Your only job is to get to the playoffs. The only players on your roster that matter are the players that you intend to start for the remainder of the regular season. You're not in a position to carry a backup QB, TE, DST, that you're not going to use. If you are carrying backups at these positions, it is to BLOCK you opponent(s) from gaining their services. You need to pickup whatever DSTs, IDPs, flex options, etc that you will need for the rest of the regular season RIGHT NOW.

Whatever roster spots you have left you should use to play as much defense as you can. If your Week 14 opponent only has the Redskins DST (vs. Patriots) you should absolutely pick up as many of the best Week 14 DST options as you can.

If your Week 13 opponent is weak at QB because he lost Matt Schaub, don't leave any good options out there for him on the waiver wire. Winning is all that matters at this point.

And don't be afraid to ignore names and concentrate on who has been performing lately. For instance, you would absolutely start Victor Cruz over Hakeem Nicks or Mario Manningham. You absolutely would start Laurent Robinson over Dez Bryant or Miles Austin.

Just because you've been starting a player every week, doesn't mean that you're obligated to. At this point, a player's total points for the season are meaningless to you. All that matters is how many points they will score this week and the next.

Win, or go home. It's such a simple concept, and it's why you will be on the edge of your seat watching the Redzone channel on Sunday or as you constantly check your iPhone for score updates. But remember to enjoy it. Don't beat yourself up if it doesn't go according to plan.

Trust me, starting Mike Tolbert over Roy Helu in Week 12 looks pretty bad in hindsight. At least I didn't have to play against the guy who had Cedric Benson, Marshawn Lynch and Beanie Wells. Oh wait, I did. At least I didn't trade Beanie Wells to my opponent. Seriously? Yep, I did that too. But that's in the past. All that matters is winning this week.

Thanks for reading. Have anything to add to the discussion? Please use the comments feature below. Questions are welcome, but please be as specific and detailed as possible.

Good luck to all of your teams this week.

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