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Playoff Primer: Beating the Odds

It’s that time of year again! Christmas trees, lights on the house, eggnog, and bliss. And oh yeah, it’s fantasy football playoff time!

We here at Dynasty League Football are a unique breed of fantasy GMs. We believe if you put in the work, you’ll reap the rewards. Since we go about business year round, we are always trying to get ahead of the competition by scouting next year’s crop of talent. We then make trades in the offseason to acquire picks and/or players to help bolster our depth and fill gaps in our roster.

Then comes draft day.

We all hope we land the next super stud player to help propel our team to the top. Landing such a player is every owner’s dream. After the smoke has cleared from the draft, it’s on to the regular season. Finally! It’s time to put your team to the test, run them through the gauntlet so to speak.

The season is long, but it feels oh so short. You have made more trades, you’ve picked up key free agents off the waiver wire, and by the grace of God you have made it through the year with no major injuries.

Things are looking good.

All the pieces came together, you faced all challenges and you have defeated all comers.  You are now sitting atop the standings and have locked up the #1 seed for the playoffs.  The stars have aligned for your team all year long – no one can stop your juggernaut team from steamrolling in the playoffs. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and in a few short weeks, you will be hoisting the trophy in the air, looking at the freshly engraved name of your team, rejoicing as you are now immortalized as one of the greatest teams in your leagues history!

That sounded good, right? That would be the case in a perfect world, but this is the world of fantasy football, things here are as unpredictable as the stock market.  It’s all just a big gamble anyways, isn’t it? Well, any good gambler knows the odds, and since you are rolling the dice once again in the second season of fantasy football, you might as well know the odds.

I broke down some numbers I received from the members here at DLF, and I compiled stats from 67 years worth of fantasy football seasons to give you a little look at what it means to be the top seed in your fantasy playoffs.

This is what I found…

Out of the 67 seasons of fantasy playoffs I researched, the #1 seed has won it all just 17 times.  That gives you top dogs out there a 25.4% chance that you are going to win it all, not too bad considering there are usually five to seven other teams in the playoffs trying to accomplish the same feat.

Every year is different. In 2005, 60% of the top seeds won the championship, marking the most successful year for #1 seeds. In 1996 and 2003, no top seeds won the championship, but the sample size was small, so I looked at the 2008 season and out of 14 leagues, only 1 top seed won the championship. At a 7% win rate, that was the lowest of all the years – not too inspiring.

I then broke down the chances of top seeds winning it all in odd and even years, these numbers were more compelling. In even years, the #1 seed won it all 7 times out of 39, giving the top seeds a relatively low 17.9% chance of taking home the trophy, while conversely, top seeds in odd years won 10 out of 28 possible championships, doubling the chances of the even year top seeds at 35.7%. That is good news for you guys out there with the top seed in 2011, an odd year.

The last two seasons have given us a 35% win rate for top seeds too, so you could say the trend is more top seeds are winning because they have compiled superior talent over the years and the disparity of talent amongst the teams has grown, giving some teams a competitive advantage. You could also say this year will see more underdogs win it all, because there hasn’t been a down year for top seeds since 2008, and they are due for a letdown in the playoffs. Interpretation is up to you.

Like I said before, every year is different, and 2011 will undoubtedly be different as well. You can say there is no rhyme or reason any one team wins it all.  It’s all about luck for the most part, but whether you are that top seed or if you’re just a team that qualified for the playoffs at the last minute, you have to be excited that the playoffs are here and that you have made it.

We as fantasy owners all strive to put together a team for the ages, but the bottom line is if you don’t win it all, then it’s back to the drawing board in preparation for a championship run in 2012. Whether the odds are in your favor, or if they are stacked against you, the one thing we as owners hope for is a chance. If you are lucky enough to have made the playoffs this year, you have that chance.

So get ready for the madness that is fantasy playoffs. Set your lineups, cross your fingers, and let the games begin!

Latest posts by Chris Rosenlund (see all)
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Ben Smith
10 years ago

Good stuff Chris!! Keep up the good work!!

10 years ago

Good info –

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