I’m pleased to announce that both the Bluff City Rooster Dogs and the Pulled Pork Mafia (my fantasy teams) are participating in the playoffs. It’s likely that your playoffs start this week and to many that means the only decisions they will make are start/sit related. However, despite the passing of the trade deadline roster transactions can be a crucial component in postseason success. The way you shape your roster for the playoffs should be strategically different than regular season management. Here are some guidelines to follow.
Don’t Waste Roster Spots
Always make sure your roster has a full compliment of eligible players. Don’t just keep a player who is suspended (Fred Davis) or on IR (Sidney Rice, Fred Jackson) because you don’t see anything you like on the waiver wire. Something is always better than nothing.
Players You Can Use
Mining for potential was fine early in the year but the likelihood of finding a diamond in the rough you can actually use is low. At this point your main goal is to be as prepared as possible for injuries. You want guys who already have the opportunity, not the 5th wide-out on a bad team who you liked in college.
Handcuffing is the practice of owning the backup for your best players, usually a running back. It’s a legitimate strategy but with some caveats. It only makes sense if you would play the backup in the event the starter went down. In addition to that, the handcuff needs to be talented and play behind a strong offensive line. The beauty of the fading concept of feature backs in the NFL is that we have actually gotten a look at what their backups can do. Handcuffs are normally reserved for the best running backs in the league so here are the top backs (non IR) in standard scoring and whether you should handcuff them.
LeSean McCoy- Yes
The drop off from McCoy to Ronnie Brown is huge but Brown is still worth having because of the run friendly nature of the offense.
Ray Rice- Yes
This is a similar situation to McCoy. Rickie Williams isn’t what he used to be but would still be worth having for the touchdowns he would score.
Arian Foster- Yes
This one is probably irrelevant. Ben Tate is the best handcuff in the league but is already owned unless you play with a bunch of idiots.
The Jaguar offense is all MJD. His success is due to elite talent and nothing else. None of the backs behind him on the depth chart have looked good in their limited work.
Adrian Peterson- Yes
Like Tate, Gearhart is almost surely owned in your league already.
Ditto on Marion Barber, should already be owned. This is a good example of why you handcuff. Barber isn’t a fraction of the player Forte is but he can get it over the goal line. Hopefully, if you’re a Forte owner you already had Barber.
Michael Turner- Maybe
Tough to say who would be most valuable Atlanta back if Turner were to go down. Pick one if you want.
Lynch isn’t as skilled as MJD but the situation is comparable. The Seahawks don’t have anyone capable of taking over the load. Also, the Seahawks schedule gets brutal for a runner after this week.
Ryan Matthews- Yes
There is a small chance Tolbert has been dropped in your league, if so go get him. He has proven valuable in a starting role
Frank Gore- Yes
Gore has a history of injury and we’ve seen Kendall Hunter’s skills. If you own Gore you need to own Hunter.
Defense and Kickers
If you don’t have an elite version of either, play the matchups. Don’t stand pat just because your defense is mediocre. Look for a good matchup and make the swap. If you can afford the roster spot, play a week ahead with your defensive pickups since others in your league are likely using the same strategy.
If one of your league mates forgot to handcuff and their starter goes down make sure to pick up the backup. If you have waiver priority use it to block a potential future opponent from improving his team.