The 2011 NFL Regular Season is over and with its conclusion came the end of the Standard Fantasy Football Season, but that doesn’t mean all the fun has to be over. You may have seen commercials advertising the various Fantasy Football Playoff Leagues associated with popular sports websites, as these commercials seem to run continuously. If you enjoyed the Regular Season, but didn’t fare so well, Playoff Leagues provide Fanagers in need of a little vindication the arena to get it. There are, however, critical differences between Regular Season and Playoff Leagues that Fanagers should be prepared for.

First of all, let me break down how the Playoff League works for those of you who aren’t familiar with it. The Playoff League lasts only 4 weeks starting with this Saturday’s opening of the Wild Card Weekend and continuing through the Super Bowl. Fanagers select their roster of players 3 times during the Playoff League prior to: Wild Card Weekend, Divisional Weekend, and finally Championship Weekend and the Super Bowl. Unlike the Regular Season, Playoff Leagues lock your rosters for the final 2 weeks of competition, requiring you to think ahead to the Super Bowl when compiling your Championship Weekend roster the week before.

The way players are selected will also be new to Fanagers used to the standard waivers system of acquiring players. Playoff Leagues are similar to Auction Leagues in that players are assigned values (salaries) and Fanagers must pick their roster without going over a preset salary cap. The roster for Playoff Leagues consist of 8 players (2 Quarterbacks, 2 Running Backs, 2 Wide Receivers, 1 Tight End, 1 Kicker) and 1 team Special Teams/Defensive squad, which is smaller than that of the typical Regular Season League roster mainly due to the smaller number of teams actively playing in the Postseason.

It is important to know how your Playoff League is scored, because it may not be the same scoring system used in the Regular Season. Most Playoff League scoring is as follows: 6 points for a rushing or receiving touchdown; 4 points for a passing touchdown; 3 points per field goal; 2 points for passing, receiving, or rushing 2-point conversions; 1 point for extra points made; 1 point per 10 yards rushing or receiving; 1 point per 25 yards passing. Various point values are also assigned to Defensive and Special Team statistics, including return yards and points allowed to the opposing offense.

There are key differences in scoring unique to Playoff Leagues that Fanagers should be aware of if they want these extra points. Many Playoff Leagues include an extra statistical category that adds points to your Special Teams/Defense position if the team unit that you have wins their game.

You should also check to see what differences there may be in scoring between the individual websites that you use. For example, the Playoff Challenge gives Fanagers the opportunity to maximize their points scored by adding additional points for players kept on your roster for consecutive weeks. So, if you have Drew Brees on your roster for back to back weeks, his scoring total each week will be multiplied by the number of weeks he has been on your roster.

Moreover, the way that bye weeks influence Fantasy play differs in the Playoff League. For example, if you add a player to your roster with a bye during the first round, you can play them next week and still get the additional points for being on your roster for consecutive weeks, even though the player did not play the prior week. However, you could also choose to wait until after the first-round bye week to pick up the same player because his contract value will not change before Divisional Weekend. This way you can be guaranteed of having several viable options to choose from next week, allowing you to play the best match up available this week. Conversely, if you think a player’s value will increase throughout the postseason, it might be a good idea to go ahead and lock them down at the lowest price now and save yourself some cap room to fill your other positions.

But after all of this, the overall objective remains the same in both the Regular Season and the Playoff Season: fill your roster with the players that you think can score you the most points each week. This requires you as a Fanager to make the same judgment calls you made throughout the season – or not, based on your regular season success. 🙂