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FFPC Playoff Challenge Strategy Guide

By Jared Smola 12:01pm EST 1/1/20


Someone’s gonna take home half-a-million bucks in the FFPC Playoff Challenge. So why not you?

It’ll take some serious skills to beat out the 6,499 other entries, though. That’s where this article comes in. Let’s talk some strategy — and then work through how to build a winning roster.


The Rules

The 1st step to taking down this contest is understanding the rules. You can read ‘em all here … but these are the important points:

  • Select a 10-man roster of the following positions for the entire playoffs:
    • 1 QB
    • 2 RBs
    • 2 WRs
    • 1 TE
    • 2 Flex
    • 1 K
    • 1 DST
  • You’re only allowed to choose 1 player from each team
  • FFPC scoring rules (1 PPR for RBs and WRs, 1.5 PPR for TEs)
  • Points are doubled for players in the Super Bowl


Prioritizing Teams

The fact that you can select just 1 player from each team diminishes the importance of figuring out who will advance in each round of the playoffs. Even if you think Baltimore will win it all, for example, you can’t load up on multiple Ravens.

But that doesn’t mean figuring out who will advance isn’t important at all. We want to prioritize the highest-scoring players from the 2 teams we think will make it to the Super Bowl. The next highest priorities should go to the teams we project to play the most games. We’ll also need to choose 2 teams to not pick any players from.

To help with our Super Bowl pick, let’s take a look at the current Vegas odds to win each conference (courtesy of the DraftKings sportsbook):


AFC:

Ravens -110

Chiefs +200

Patriots +600

Texans +2000

Titans +2500

Bills +2600


NFC:

49ers +140

Saints +240

Packers +375

Seahawks +1200

Eagles +1400

Vikings +1600


The Ravens and 49ers are the favorites to win their respective conferences — but the Chiefs and Saints aren’t far behind. The safe bet is to prioritize 2 of those 4 teams.

Those 4 teams also figure to be the most popular Super Bowl picks in the FFPC Playoff Challenge, though. So you might opt to differentiate your roster by looking elsewhere.

I don’t believe in the Packers, but Vegas has them as the 5th most likely team to reach the Super Bowl. I think the Seahawks and Eagles are interesting options to make a run. And you’d get 4 games out of their players if they do.

Beyond your Super Bowl pick, you’ll want to decide who will advance in each round to determine how many games each team will play. To help with that, let’s look at how the playoff teams stack up in a few different analytics-based rankings:


FiveThirtyEight’s Elo Rating

1. Ravens
2. Saints
3. Chiefs
4. 49ers
5. Patriots
6. Packers
7. Vikings

    9. Titans

    10. Eagles

    11. Texans

    14. Seahawks

    15. Bills


    Football Outsiders’ DVOA

    1. Ravens

    2. Chiefs

    3. Patriots

    4. Saints

    5. 49ers

    7. Vikings

    8. Seahawks

    9. Titans

    10. Packers

    11. Eagles

    13. Bills

    19. Texans


    Football Outsiders’ Weighted DVOA (more emphasis on recent games)

    1. Ravens

    2. Saints

    3. Chiefs

    4. 49ers

    5. Titans

    6. Patriots

    7. Vikings

    9. Seahawks

    10. Bills

    12. Eagles

    13. Packers

    23. Texans

    The metrics agree with Vegas: The Ravens, Chiefs, 49ers and Saints are the best 4 teams in football.

    The Patriots fare well in the season-long metrics but interestingly drop to 6th in Weighted DVOA. The Titans, New England’s 1st-round opponent, jump up to 5th in Weighted DVOA.


    Picking Players

    Once you decide who will advance in each round and ultimately meet in the Super Bowl, it’s time to start selecting your players.

    In a vacuum, you want to select the highest-scoring player from each team. But you also need to fill each of those rosters spots. This is where prioritizing the teams you expect to advance comes into play. For example, you’ll likely want to choose your K and DST from teams you’re projecting to play just 1 game.

    You should also be factoring in the opportunity cost of each selection. For example, maybe you believe Drew Brees will out-score Lamar Jackson. But is picking Brees and missing the chance to use Michael Thomas or Alvin Kamara worth passing on Jackson for a guy like Mark Ingram or Mark Andrews?

    Now you start to get an idea of the strategy involved here.

    With all that said, let’s run through the potential selections from each team. To help with that, here’s where each defense ranked vs. each position in Adjusted Fantasy Points allowed through 16 weeks.


    AFC


    NFC


    I’ve listed the teams below in rough order of how I’ll be prioritizing them and ranked the players on each team.


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