On the surface, the FFPC Playoff Challenge is simple. Pick a team at the start of the playoffs and whoever has the most fantasy points after the Super Bowl wins. But upon closer examination, this is a very unique format which dictates some unique strategies.
* Points scored in the Super Bowl count double.
* There is no draft. Select a team of 10 (QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, FLEX, K, D) while using a maximum of one player from each playoff team.
* FFPC scoring is in effect, meaning full-PPR for RB/WR and 1.5-PPR for TE.
* Out of the $1.12M prize pool, $500K goes to first. Second place gets just $50K. It’s even more top-heavy than most DFS contests.
Editor’s Note: The FFPC is hosting two different Playoff Challenge contests. The first is a $200 buy-in with $500K to first. The second is a $35 buy-in with $100K to first. You can read more about them here. You can get $25 off your first $200 contest (new accounts only) by using the sign-up link above. Limited to (1) promo per household.
For this contest, we have to adjust our thinking. This is not the same as a DFS GPP (guaranteed prize pool tournament) and it’s not a season-long fantasy contest.
In a DFS GPP, the optimal strategy is to roster correlated players from the same game, with a significant benefit to you if the player is less popular.
In traditional season-long fantasy, we want to own the players that will score the most points over the course of the season. There is no consideration at all to ownership, as each player is only owned by one manager.
But in the FFPC Playoff Challenge, the optimal strategy shifts. We are looking for correlated outcomes based on game results, with a moderate benefit to owning players who are less popular. The lack of salary cap makes this less important than in DFS tournaments, as it is somewhat rare in non-injury situations for a player like Ted Ginn Jr. to outscore Michael Thomas straight up, especially over the course of multiple games.
What becomes critical is mapping out which teams you think will win games, and making reasonable picks based on these scenarios. As an obvious example, it wouldn’t make sense to play Kirk Cousins and Michael Thomas on the same team. You know one of these teams will only play one game since they are playing each other in the Wild Card Round, and you’re going to need at least two, and likely three (or more) games from your quarterback to win a 6000+ entry tournament. If you assume the Vikings wildly exceed expectations and make the Super Bowl, getting only one game from Michael Thomas isn’t a good strategy when he will be one of the most popular players in the field and you can gain leverage on the field by avoiding using a high-scoring position on him. You could instead use your Saints selection on a lower scoring position like Tight End, Defense, or to be ultra-contrarian, avoid Saints players all together.
The Super Bowl is critical as fantasy points are doubled in that game. It will not be possible to win the tournament without having the top scoring player from each team in the Super Bowl (or very close to it depending on the matchup). There is leverage to be gained by rostering reasonable fantasy players from teams who are somewhat unlikely to make the Super Bowl but can put up points if they get there.
Contrarian is good, but don’t get crazy. Contrarian might be picking Sony Michel at RB and hoping the Patriots running game gets going, they win a few games, and he scores 5 TDs in the playoffs. Crazy would be drafting Rex Burkhead and hoping that the Patriots make a somewhat unlikely deep run, Sony Michel gets hurt, AND Rex Burkhead is the highest scoring Patriot on the roster, even ahead of James White who would also see an expanded workload in that scenario. It theoretically could happen, it’s just so unlikely that we don’t think it’s +EV.
Some positional notes:
QB — Lamar Jackson will be the runaway highest owned QB for good reason. If the Ravens win two games, he’s overwhelmingly likely to be the highest scoring QB in the playoffs. It’s even possible for him to be the highest scoring QB by playing just two games, depending on what else happens. It’s a tough fade when the Ravens project to play the most games of any team in the playoffs and their QB is the highest scoring player at his position by 5+ points. If you think a team playing in the Wild Card Round can make the Super Bowl, there will be a ton of leverage over Lamar, especially if that team is from the AFC.
RB – The top point-per-game RBs are all on teams that are somewhat to very unlikely to play in the Super Bowl. Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry would need a near miracle to get to the Super Bowl, while Aaron Jones has a decent chance. Damien Williams is a somewhat under the radar pick on a team with a reasonable shot to play three games.
WR – Michael Thomas is in a similar position to Lamar Jackson, being by far the best fantasy WR with the second-highest projected games played. Still, there are at least three players (DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams) who could reasonably outscore Thomas in the same amount of games played, and more who almost certainly will if their teams play 3+ games and NO gets bounced early. We don’t view Thomas as a “must,” but if you’re fading him, you need to think through the scenarios that need to happen for you to not need him. You’d almost certainly need the Saints to play a max of two games, less than our team mean projection.
TE – There’s a lot of firepower at the top here. We don’t think it makes sense to go too far off the board at this position. For example, if you think Houston wins a couple of games, you’ll almost certainly want Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, or even Will Fuller — not Darren Fells. Still, don’t be afraid of some of the second-tier TE’s like Dallas Goedert, Jacob Hollister, or Jonnu Smith. Those players could lead their team in non-QB scoring in “one-and-done” scenarios, making them a valuable asset. Or, if for example you think the Eagles can win a game and the 49ers and Chiefs are one and done, it’s reasonable to think Goedert could become a “must” at the position to have a shot to win. We think it’s important to note that drafting Mark Andrews at TE only makes sense if you think the Ravens don’t make the Super Bowl, it seems extremely likely to us that if the Ravens play three games you will need Lamar Jackson to win the tournament.
K – We don’t think you should let kicker dictate your roster in any meaningful way. It’s unlikely that a kicker will be the highest scoring player on a team winning multiple playoff games, so you’re aiming for a team that plays one or at most two games and kicks a few FG’s.
DEF – Similar to the kicker position, you’re going to want what will likely be higher scoring offensive players over the stretch of a couple of games rather than a team defense. Accordingly, we aren’t putting too much emphasis on defense selection. We should at least note that theoretically having a defense on a Super Bowl team that has an outlier game (say 20+ points) worth double points could be critical to winning and extremely contrarian. That scenario would likely take a few low-scoring offensive games heading into the Super Bowl followed by a blow-up defense game, and we aren’t sure it’s even +EV to shoot for.
We have posted plenty of content to help with your selections: Positional tiers with player notes, overall top-50, Projected Games by Team, Utilization Trends, Silva’s Matchups, Thursday night show. You can find it all from the home page.