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2021 Postseason Fantasy Formats

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2021 Postseason Fantasy Formats

Hey, I get it.

I had a successful fantasy football season. I took down an NFFC league with Graham Barfield and Tom Brolley. Graham and I won the first ever Hall of Fantasy League. I won my second FLEX Leagues championship belt. But I will still be left with a sour taste in my mouth because I got Ja’Marr Chase’d and Davante Adams’d in multiple leagues in Week 17. You can manage a team perfectly all season and run into a Week 17 buzzsaw, dampening your earnings. You want a second chance.

On the flip side, you could have been one of the lucky fantasy players who just watched the points pile up from Chase. You want more.

Fortunately, the NFL isn’t done playing! And you don’t have to be either if you can gather up some buddies and play fantasy football in the postseason. Now, things have to be different given the scale of the playoffs, and though the NFL is in its second season of expanded playoffs — 14 teams — you still have a lightened player pool and a shorter schedule. Regular ol’ head-to-head fantasy football just doesn’t work.

So what can you do? It turns out, quite a bit!

Note: You can set up most of these formats at MyFantasyLeague.com. This is NOT a paid article, but simply an informational one letting you know where you can still play. I will not be covering EVERY place you can do playoff fantasy, but there are multiple.

Snake Draft

Simple enough. Fantasy Football Draft Day is still one of my favorite days of the year. While I can do best-ball drafts at the drop of a hat any time I want, there’s still something special about pounding a few and sniping your pals.

With a snake draft, the rules are just the same as your typical fantasy league, but total points is the scoring format for the whole playoffs, and there are no waivers or trades. And simply picking the best players isn’t going to cut it. You need players who are good and are going to play multiple games. So you want to try to get as many players on your team who will play three or more weeks — which is easier this year than in years past with only one team getting a bye in each conference.

But given this format, Josh Allen — who is playing on opening weekend — could in theory be much more valuable than Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, if you draft Allen with the expectation he’ll be winning games the first two weeks but the Bills get upset, your entire draft could go in the tank.

In leagues like this, I often take an all-or-nothing approach — I want to stack one or two teams I think have a good shot to advance to the Super Bowl so I can maximize my scoring potential. Finishing middle-of-the-pack should be the last thing you want to do. I’ll swing for the fences with the acknowledgment I might strike out.

DFS

Duh. The DFS sites aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to rake in the big bucks with these short but high-profile fantasy slates.

One-And-Done

This is my favorite way to play playoff fantasy football. It’s what we’ve done for years for our SiriusXMFantasy host contest up at MyFantasyLeague, and this year I’m organizing one for me and my buddies.

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, to pick on Josh Allen again, you can choose to use him 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 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.

A good lineup for this format, with the expanded 14-team field, is: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DST. And trust me, by the end of the playoffs, you’ll be starting some guys you don’t want to be.

If you get enough interest in your league, you can even reward for most points scored per week, with other associated prizes.

One-Per-Team

This is another popular format. In years past, there would be 12 players on a roster. This year, it’d be 14.

You get to pick one player — and only one player — from every playoff team. Most total points wins. Talk about strategy. In this format, a high-scoring kicker could be one of your best players, and every position is important. From teams you think will lose early, you want guys who can absolutely blow up in one game.

Check out this roster format, for instance:

2 QB, 4 RB, 4 WR, 2 TE, 1 PK, 1 DST

On the surface, it might seem easy! Of course I’m taking Patrick Mahomes. OK … but then you can’t use Travis Kelce. And if you don’t take Kelce, good luck finding two great TEs you feel good about. If you take Stefon Diggs, you can’t use Josh Allen. If you take Davante Adams, say goodbye to Aaron Rodgers. And if your contest is big enough, creating variance in your lineup could be key to a championship. Do you have the cojones to fade Deebo Samuel (who would probably be the highest-rostered player in the contest)?

Hold ‘Em

This is a format our friends at The NFFC use, with a $40 entry contest for those who want to dip their toes in, and a $200 contest for those with experience and those who want to cannonball into the water. Each contest is capped at 2000 players.

The rules are a little more complex than the above options, but there’s an extra layer of strategy that high-stakes fantasy players love. The premise: your scores rise with the longer you keep a player on your roster.

However, you can only pick one player from each team in Round 1, two max from each team in Round 2, three max in Round 3, and four max in Round 4 (the Super Bowl).

12 players score points using standard NFFC scoring (6 points per passing TD, etc.). This year, that means you’ll be leaving off players from two playoff teams. In Round 1, everyone scores 1x the points. In Round 2, if you have six players that are on winning teams, you get 2x of their scores. Everyone you lost in Round 1 can be replaced in Round 2, then so on, but those new players start at 1x. Each round a player stays on your roster their scores multiply (so 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x).

The key is to find the top scorers from the potential Super Bowl finalists and then add good players each week. So Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers might be the two QBs you pick in Round 1, even though they might not even play. You take a zero in Round 1, but those players automatically get double points in Round 2. Get the top players on your initial roster in Week 1 as well and then keep adding key players in Round 2, like Davante Adams and AJ Brown.

It sounds simple enough, but the QB on the sixth-seeded team can sometimes be the winning play. Eli Manning did it twice, while Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger have also done it. Our guy Greg Ambrosius says: “it's crazy, but shit happens in the playoffs and with 2000 teams you need some crazy plays to win it all.”

Here are the printed roster rules:

Owners must manage a team of 12 players throughout the playoffs to accumulate the most league points.

All starting rosters must be finalized five minutes before that weekend’s first playoff game. No lineup changes will be allowed after that first kickoff.

Transactions are unlimited each week. After week one of the playoffs, you can pick up new players to fill out your playoff roster.

First Round of Playoffs:

Owners will initially complete their roster by selecting one player from each team that qualified for the playoffs (12 of the 14 teams, that is).

Second Round of Playoffs:

In the second round as teams are eliminated from the playoffs, owners can have as many as two players from the same team on their team’s roster.

Championship Round of Playoffs:

In the Championship Round, owners can have as many as three players from the same team on their team’s roster.

Final Playoff Game:

In the final playoff game, owners can have as many as four players from the same team on their team’s roster (for a total of 8 players as rosters shrink for only this week).

Joe Dolan, a professional in the fantasy football industry for over a decade, is the managing editor of Fantasy Points. He specializes in balancing analytics and unique observation with his personality and conversational tone in his writing, podcasting, and radio work.