Anything can happen.
But how do we make it happen?
That’s the question we have to ask ourselves as we head into a fantasy football championship.
Well for my final article of the year, I’d like to share a championship story that may help with the answer.
It was week 15 of 2015. I had made it to the championship game of my home dynasty league against my fantasy nemesis Adam. But there was a problem; his team was infinitely better than mine on paper. Let’s just a take a look at the rosters.
Even if you don’t play in leagues with individual defensive players you can instantly recognize that I was a heavy underdog.
So why in the world did I start such a bad lineup? Was my team really that bad? Well, the truth is that I limped into the playoffs at 7-6. I had lost several players to injury and was just trying to piece together a team.
After staring at my horrible lineup for way too long, with a defeated sigh, I clicked submit knowing I was almost definitely going to be defeated.
By the end of the early Sunday games my team was down by 75 points and I was already dreading the inevitable trash talking from my good friend Adam.
But wait! I still had Antonio Brown and David Johnson. I chuckled as I thought of the outrageous games they would both have to have for me to even have a sliver of hope.
If you don’t remember what Antonio Brown and David Johnson did that week let me refresh your memory. Antonio Brown grabbed 16 receptions for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. And then David Johnson decided to run for 187 yards, catch 4 balls for 42 receptions, and score 3 touchdowns.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as I stared at the championship score with time expiring on the Monday Night Football game. My horrible team had done it! I took home the championship and still send my buddy Adam a video of the ridiculous David Johnson run against the Eagles from that week every once in a while.
Okay. So what does that have to do with building a championship-winning team? Just like I’ve been saying for the past three weeks in my “Fantasy Playoffs Playmakers” series, it takes the right mix of playmakers.
Antonio Brown and Philip Rivers (my QBs were bad) had been my studly starters that carried me to the championship game already. There was no benching them, regardless of the fact that neither had elite matchups on paper.
Believe it or not, Tim Hightower, Denard Robinson and Randall Cobb had been my faithful flexes on offense. Plus Derek Wolfe, Malcolm Smith and Telvin Smith had been really reliable for my defense.
My homerun hitters were where I really needed to close the gap. I whiffed with Danny Amendola. But David Johnson (who came on strong late) and Jamie Collins at linebacker were major difference makers.
My studs overachieved. Two out of my three homerun hitters absolutely blew away expectations. And finally, my faithful flexes did just enough to fill in the gaps.
The final score?
201.8 to 172.96.
Scroll up and look at those rosters again. Then look at the score. Then scroll up and look at the rosters again. And then look at the score just one more time.
Anything can happen.
Don’t give up. Take some calculated risks with some homerun hitters if you need to. But always make sure you trust your studs and your faithful flexes.
Not familiar with my terminology? Haven’t been reading the Fantasy Playoff Playmakers series? Let me remind you.
Homerun hitters are players that you may have picked up off the waiver wire. They’re players that may have confusing levels of usage amid their team’s offense, but offer amazing upside. Homerun hitters may be the riskier play, but could very well be the difference when you need it most. Why would you need to use homerun hitters if your team is good enough to make the playoffs? Well, your team is probably decent if you made it to the playoffs. You probably have plenty of trustworthy playmakers. The problem is that so does every other playoff team. In fact, they may have an even stronger roster than you do on paper. How do you differentiate yourself in the playoffs? You choose the right homerun hitter at the right time.
Faithful flexes are players that are just simply reliable. They don’t have to sit in your “flex” spot necessarily. They could be your RB2 or WR2 as well. Faithful flexes generally have steady target or carry floors that can be counted on, with a decent amount of healthy upside. Faithful flexes are generally playmakers that have gotten you to the playoffs with their consistency. Maybe they aren’t the sexiest fantasy football assets out there, but when push comes to shove you can just trust them. Don’t overthink things just because it’s playoff time. You don’t need a roster full of these guys, but having a few helps ensure your fantasy floor at the most crucial time.
Last, but definitely not least are the studly starters. Studly starters are nearly always your early round draft picks that have absolutely carried you to the playoffs. If you didn’t draft them early, they’re at least players that have established their mix of incredible talent, massive upside, and reliability in a safe amount of touches. At the very least, they’re players you drafted early enough that you probably don’t have a better option. But wait, why would I not start one of these guys? Well, not every stud playmaker has an easy fantasy playoffs schedule. Odds are that you’ll consider benching a stud throughout the upcoming weeks. These are players that you just don’t bench at this point. If you do, they’ll respond with a 30-point performance that will haunt you until your dying day.
I’m not going to go into detail this week on why to start each player here. If you own them, you’re aware of their matchups and what you’re up against. But these are 24 players that I’m trusting this week to make the difference in the fantasy championship.
LeGarrette Blount (New England Patriots)
Ty Montgomery (Green Bay Packers)
Tim Hightower (New Orleans Saints)
Kenneth Dixon (Baltimore Ravens)
Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Tyrell Williams (San Diego Chargers)
Taylor Gabriel (Atlanta Falcons)
Ted Ginn Jr. (Carolina Panthers)
Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts)
Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers)
Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati Bengals)
Golden Tate (Detroit Lions)
Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins)
Julian Edelman (New England Patriots)
Kenny Britt (Los Angeles Rams)
Lamar Miller (Houston Texans)
Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints)
Latavius Murray (Oakland Raiders)
Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)
Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos)
Amari Cooper (Oakland Raiders)
A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals)
I hope this helps you in your championship matchup(s). Also, if you have start/sit questions just use our Fantasy Authority rankings or reach me on Twitter @FF_TravisM.