Forget Joining an Office Pool, Try a Playoff Fantasy Football League Instead!


The dynasty fantasy football season is over, which, quite frankly, is a huge bummer. The season just seemed to fly by and was over in seemingly no time. Maybe it is just the fact that I’m getting older, but this season felt like it was the quickest yet.

However, what if, also like me, you still have an itch to set lineups and face off against another owner, at least for another month or so? Maybe you want to try to earn some of that money back that eluded you in the regular season, or maybe you want to try to add to any winning you were able to secure. No matter the motivation, there is still a lot of football left to play, and that means there is an opportunity to play fantasy football as well.

While it might not exactly be dynasty fantasy football, I have a solution to scratch that itch that is, you might say, “dynasty adjacent”. For those of you unaware, or new to the concept, fantasy football does not have to end when the season ends, a growing number of fantasy football fans now also play in NFL Playoff fantasy leagues.

That’s right, you can play fantasy football well into January and, if you are lucky, even to kick off February and the Super Bowl. Trust me, as a reader of this site, you will love watching your team put points up against an opponent way more than hoping both teams gets a safety at some point in the game because you randomly ended up with the 2-2 square in the office pool.

Like regular-season fantasy football, there are several styles and formats to choose from. Some formats will be familiar to many of you if you have played fantasy for even a minimal amount of time.

Playoff leagues can be offense only, IDP, best ball, division-less or broken up into several conferences or divisions. However, there are several formats that are generally exclusive to playoff leagues so as to account for fewer NFL teams being available in the playoffs than in the regular season. Those formats vary in terms of how you acquire players, how you play them and how set in stone your team is.

I’ve dabbled in several formats over the past decade and each have their own unique charm. Here are a few of the more popular formats:

  • Draft Once – In this format, all players on any playoff team are available for you to add to your squad. Players are usually “drafted” via adding them to your roster. Multiple copies of each player exist and can be on multiple teams. Once all teams have been drafted, players are locked and can not be added in subsequent rounds of the NFL playoffs.

The trick to winning one of these leagues is to load your team up with players from the teams you think will make it to the Super Bowl. However, there is something to be said about avoiding players from teams on a first-round bye as well as those players are at a bit of a disadvantage. Many leagues, no matter the format, will require owners to roster a minimum and maximum number of players from each team appearing in the playoffs, making Draft Once league a bit more difficult in nature.

  • Play Once – Teams in this format are free to add any player in the playoffs for each round. The twist in this format is that each team can only opt to start any given player once in the playoffs. For instance, if a team played Tom Brady in the Conference Championship round and New England advances to the Super Bowl, that team may not play Brady in the Super Bowl.

Obviously, the trick to winning these leagues is to select players early who have advantageous matchups but whom the owner believes will be eliminated at some point in the playoffs, saving elite players for deeper rounds so the team can continue to accumulate the most points possible.

  • Limited Replacement – Somewhat of a hybrid format, teams in this format begin the playoffs by drafting their full team. With each subsequent round, owners may add a number of players to replace players already on the team’s roster. Owners can replace players who have been eliminated from the playoffs or players who the owner believes will be eliminated soon or may not perform as well as another available player. With each passing round, the number of players an owner can add will reduce, usually by half. For example, after the first-round owners might be able to add eight players, in the second round, four, in the third round two players, and prior to the Super Bowl, owners may only add a single player.

This format requires some additional strategizing as the number of players an owner can replenish their roster with starts to become restrictive. If an owner has depended too heavily on a specific team advancing, only for the team to be eliminated with several players now no longer available for the owner to start, tough decisions have to be made by the owner. If three starting players have been eliminated but the owner can only add two players this round, that owner may have to forego starting a player that week.

These formats are all very fun for differing reasons, based on the strategies I outlined. From a purely personal standpoint, I try to join at least one league in each of the aforementioned formats because of, as I mentioned earlier, their unique charms and the thought you have to put into how you build and adjust your team as the playoffs progress. Also, the offseason already feels way too long as it is, why make it even longer for choosing to forego another month of fantasy football?

If you have yet to experience a playoff fantasy league, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. I’ve found a great deal of enjoyment from trying these unique formats and I hope you will as well. You might even be able to win a little extra money so that the next time you get the 2-2 square in the office pool, it won’t sting nearly as much.