Playoff Strategies

Some leagues finish up this week and go into aplayoff format to determine their champion. Here are some basic guidelines forthe teams still in the hunt.

The first strategy is to determine if you reallyhave a shot at the playoffs. Figure out all of your scoring scenarios - whetheryou play by rotisserie rules or head to head style. If you are on the brink,attempt to make a last minute deal or waiver claim to bolster your weakerpositions.

If playing strict rotisserie scoring, the questionyou must ask yourself is how many points can you gain in certain categories? Ifthe categories are tight and ten or fifteen RBI's will gain you a few points,you are in business. However, if you are fifty RBI's behind the next team thenyou can't expect to gain many points. If it appears that the categories aretight enough to gain some points, perhaps playing for '98 is in your interest.

Project your best-case scenario. Based onpredicting your best possible outcome in each category. Add up the possiblepoints you could gain in a best-case scenario. Then divide that best casescenario number by half to get a realistic gain. Usually owners are toooptimistic about their team and how much they can gain. If you, for example,have 40 points and project your best-case scenario as 60 points, take the20-point gain and divide by half for 10 points. Realistically you will have 50points. Evaluate this number and see if it puts you where you want to be atseason's end. If 50 points did not put you in the hypothetical money or nearit, then play for 1999.

If you make the playoffs, a new consideration iswhat full-time players will miss significant time after August 31, in lieu of ayounger prospect on a rebuilding team or a team that has locked up their owndivision. You must take this into account when setting up your playoff roster.When in doubt, put your best players in, without regard for playing time.

Don't forget to study the pitching rotationseither, especially in the head to head format. Start all of your aces everyweek of course, but flip flop all the others to make sure you get two startsfrom the back of you rotation. This is extremely critical to make up extrapoints in the volatile pitching department. Be careful though, this strategycould backfire in the rotisserie category scoring if your marginal starters gethammered twice in that week. If you are close in ERA and WHIP, back off. If youare way down in those categories, go for it.

Another way to improve your team for the playoffsis to acquire players from a team out of contention or who is rebuilding fornext season. You may have to mortgage your future to win now. Always think inthose terms. Worry about next year… next year. There are so many factorsinvolved in a trade that it is difficult to give good advice. Most fantasyplayers are worried that the trade is not even and are afraid of getting"ripped off." Well, in some cases it is okay because a trade cansometimes hurt your opponents more than yourself.

A final concern is the injury rehabs and youngerplayers expected to see a significant increase in playing time in September.The critical thing to remember about players such as these is the unpredictablenature of their performance in the playoffs.



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