Fantasy Points managing editor Joe Dolan runs a playoff contest with his friends that employs the “one-and-done” or “use ‘em and lose ‘em” format.
The premise is simple: you pick a lineup from the entire available player pool every week (in this format, I reluctantly include kickers and defenses to make lineups bigger). The goal is to score the most points throughout the entire playoffs. But you can only use a player once. So you can choose to use Josh Allen in the first week of the postseason, but he’s unavailable the rest of the way.
It’s a really deep and interesting way to play because you have to maximize your scoring every week. Yes, saving players is important. But you can’t just use scrubs from teams you project to lose every week because you need to score the most points overall to win the grand prize. On the flip side, you can load up on points in the first round, but you may be doing so by eliminating players who are going to advance deep into the playoffs, which gives you a very limited player pool the rest of the way.
With that in mind, here are the strategies our staff are using in the contest in the first round.
Lineups are 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 PK, 1 DST, and 2 WRT FLEX. Scoring is PPR with 4 points per passing TD. Return TDs — but not yards — count.
Dak Prescott (Dal) — I initially had Jalen Hurts here, but the winds in Tampa are problematic, and I didn’t want to go into this weekend with no Cowboys on my roster. I think the 49ers have a good chance to beat them, which would eliminate any Cowboys from future consideration, and Dak’s boys can put up numbers even in a loss against a shorthanded 49er secondary.
Josh Jacobs (LV) — Jacobs has looked very good in the second half of the season, with at least 90 yards from scrimmage and/or a TD in six of his last seven games played. I think the Raiders will be able to keep this game close enough for him to get a solid workload, and he has a good shot to find the box.
Elijah Mitchell (SF) — Dallas’ biggest weakness has been surrendering big plays in the run game. Mitchell has been a virtual guarantee for 20-plus carries when healthy, doing so in each of his last five games (four wins and one loss). This game is the tightest line of the entire weekend, to boot.
Damien Harris (NE) — I’m picking the Pats to lose in Buffalo, but if they have any shot at all to win, it will be on the strength of their ground game.
Hunter Renfrow (LV) — I am taking a risk and saving Cooper Kupp for next week, so I have to get the other slot-heavy target hound into my lineup. I do project that Cincinnati advances to next week, so I need to get Renfrow out of the way now.
Tee Higgins (Cin) — However, I do still want a piece of this Bengal offense. With Ja’Marr Chase likely seeing a good bit of Casey Hayward and Tyler Boyd locked down in the slot by Nate Hobbs, Higgins is a huge beneficiary. I still can use Chase next week, too.
Deebo Samuel (SF) — Again, I think the Niners are an extremely live dog this week, but I cannot miss my opportunity to play the most electrifying player on this Wild Card Slate. I expect he’ll be the highest-rostered player in the contest this week.
Zach Ertz (Ari) — I could have gone with George Kittle here, but I actually think Ertz is safer. The Rams are so thin at safety after losing Jordan Fuller that they signed 37-year-old Eric Weddle after two years out of the league, and their corners should be good enough to slow down AJ Green, Christian Kirk, and Antoine Wesley on the perimeter.
D/ST and Kicker
Kansas City (DST) — Vs. Big Ben. Next.
Daniel Carlson (LV) — Probably the best kicker in the playoffs, in a relatively high-scoring environment.
Dak Prescott (Dal) — Lots of great options this week but I settled on Dak in the weekend’s highest totaled game. He comes into the postseason with three consecutive games with 24+ FP and 12 combined TDs in that span.
Joe Mixon (Cin) — I wanted to get a piece of Cincy’s offense this week, and Mixon is in a great spot against a Raiders’ defense he torched for 30/123/2 rushing when these teams met in late November.
Chase Edmonds (Ari) — I’m rolling the dice with Edmonds and hoping that James Conner doesn’t play — he’s looking awfully questionable despite Kliff’s GTD tag. I’m guessing most people won’t want to wait out this situation and I can always pivot to Sony Michel if Conner is going to play a big role.
Josh Jacobs (LV) — I’m flipping to Jacobs with news that Conner is back at practice on Saturday morning.
Cooper Kupp (LAR) — Kupp isn’t guaranteed a second game and I’m not leaving this contest without using the NFL’s fourth receiving Triple Crown winner.
Deebo Samuel (SF) — I’m hoping this game turns into a shootout with Dak and Lamb on my roster, and Deebo can certainly help with his 14 TDs and his league-best 18.2 YPR.
Diontae Johnson (Pit) — The Steelers are the most likely one-and-done team — they’re +500 to beat the Chiefs — and he’s a near-lock for volume with 5+ receptions in 15-of-16 games.
Amari Cooper (Dal) — I’m stacking Dak with Coop with CeeDee Lamb in a mini-funk — his FP has fallen in six straight games. Coop has seen 7+ targets in four of his last five games and the 49ers are giving up the 10th-most FPG to the position.
Rob Gronkowski (TB) — I’m guessing Darren Waller will be the most popular play at TE this week so I’m going to use my Gronk bullet this week. He has seven catches, 10 targets, and 115+ yards in two consecutive games without Godwin and AB in the lineup, and the Eagles are allowing a league-high 17.4 FPG to TEs.
D/ST and Kicker
Kansas City Chiefs and Harrison Butker — The Steelers have the lowest implied team total on the board at 16.75 points (and a decrepit quarterback) and the Chiefs have the highest implied team total at 29.25 points.
Kyler Murray (Ari) - This should be the only Cardinals playoff game and with the highest over on the board, Murray is likely to both throw and run in bunches to keep the Cardinals close.
Josh Jacobs (LV) - Purely a volume play, we have Jacobs projected as the RB3 in Wild Card weekend, and he’s had a combined 94 touches over the last 4 weeks (23.5 touches per game).
Elijah Mitchell (SF) - The Cowboys can be vulnerable to chunk plays on the ground, and Mitchell is coming off back to back games with 20+ touches. RB1 volume in the 49ers likely only playoff game.
Joe Mixon (Cin) - While I’m banking on the Bengals to win (fingers crossed so I can use Burrow and Chase in subsequent rounds), this is more about starting off with a blowup performance against a horrendous LV rushing defense that allowed 27.3 FPG to RBs in the regular season (3rd most). Mixon also posted 30/123/2 last time out against Las Vegas in November.
Diontae Johnson (Pit) - The Steelers are almost a guaranteed one and done, with the spread now at 12.5. Provided he doesn’t exit the game for a random injury, Diontae should see double digit targets.
Deebo Samuel (SF) - Deeeeeeeeebo! He’s arguably the most electric player out of everyone playing on Wild Card weekend and in the likely chance that the 49ers lose, no way I’m missing out on an opportunity to get 8/110/1 receiving and 4/35/1 rushing from him. (Yep, that’s my prediction.)
Hunter Renfrow (LV) - The Raiders are 6.5 point dogs on the 3rd highest total of Wild Card weekend.
Rob Gronkowski (TB) - As an Eagles fan, I am very well versed in how awful their LB corps is against elite tight ends (17 FPG allowed, most in the league). Even in a sloppy weather game, Gronk should absolutely feast as the co-number 1 passing option.
D/ST and Kicker
Daniel Carlson (LV) - Best kicker in the playoffs and likely a one-and-done. Give me 2 FGs and a few XPs and I’ll be happy.
Chiefs DST (KC) - The Chiefs-Steelers game has the 2nd lowest implied total out of the whole weekend and it could get ugly in Big Ben’s last game in a Steelers uniform.
Kyler Murray (Ari) – Easy choice since Cardinals could be one-and-done and the other elite QBs aren’t in blowup spots. Dak would be my second choice.
Josh Jacobs (LV) – Locked-in rushing volume + could see a spike in targets as 6-point underdogs. Jacobs is averaging 5.3 receptions in losses and just 2.3 receptions per game in wins.
Najee Harris (Pit) – Again, locked-in volume.
Darrel Williams (KC) – Averaged 19.1 FPG in games when CEH did not play.
I will swap off one of Harris / Williams for Chase Edmonds if it looks like James Conner is out.
Cooper Kupp (LAR) – No way I’m not using Kupp here. Over the last five weeks of the regular season, Arizona got tattooed for the third-most receptions (77), fifth-most yards (927), and a league-high in TDs (13) by opposing wide receivers.
Deebo Samuel (SF) – Again, no way I’m not using Deebo. Has 21/399/1 receiving (29 targets) and 34/162/3 rushing over his last five games.
Amari Cooper (Dal) – Contemplated using Chase or Higgins here, but I’ll go Cooper for a little short stack with Deebo. Has 25 targets over the last three weeks while Lamb has just 11.
Darren Waller (LV) – Had a season-high 116 yards vs. Bengals back in Week 11 and Cincy’s TE defense has only gotten worse since then. Allowed the most receptions (8.2) and second-most yards (95.4) per game to TEs over the last five weeks of the regular season.
D/ST and Kicker
Chiefs D/ST – They should be the most popular one-and-done D/ST for good reason.
Greg Zuerlein (Dal) – Fourth-highest team total, indoors, was the No. 5 kicker in FPG.