Most fantasy football sites use the same formula for determining player rankings in the draft:
Estimate the final stats at the end of the season.
Input the league’s scoring system.
Voila! Rank the players by the total number of points.
Seems like the best approach, right? Wrong.
Getting into your league’s playoffs is great, but winning  the playoffs is the ultimate prize. That’s where the money is. Make sure your draft rankings reflect the importance of having strong playoff matchups. For rankings that place more value on playoff fantasy points, download your custom draft cheatsheet.
Let’s compare two wide receivers: Mike Evans and Jordy Nelson. Mike Evans has an average draft position (ADP) of 22 and projected to score 166 fantasy points this season. Jordy Nelson has an ADP of 17 and projected to score 176 fantasy points this season. Jordy is expected to score 10 more fantasy points throughout the season, but what about your league’s playoffs?
Nelson has really tough matchups during the playoffs. Even though Chicago is not a tough matchup, Seattle and Minnesota boast two of the stingiest passing defenses in the league. Evans has the easiest playoff schedule in the league. He gets to play the leaky New Orleans passing defense twice and nearly-as-bad Dallas. Evans should outperform Nelson in the playoffs by a total of 18 points (6 points/game), while Nelson should outperform Evans in the regular season by a total of 28 points (~2 points/game).
The Big Question: If you draft Evans over Nelson, you’ll sacrifice 2 points/game during the regular season in order to gain 6 points/game during the playoffs. Should you do it? YES – all day long!
To demonstrate why, let’s assume you draft and start seven skill players (2 RB, 3 WR and 1 TE). Let’s also assume that for each player you drafted you chose to sacrifice 1 point/regular season game (13 points total during the regular season) in order to gain 4 points per game during the playoffs (12 points total during the playoffs. In the regular season you’ll be sacrificing 7 points/game, but in the playoffs you’ll be picking up an advantage of 28 points/game! Overall you’ll be losing 1 fantasy point per player (7 points total) throughout the entire season.
While it varies by your league’s scoring system, the standard deviation of a team’s total weekly score is ~20-25 fantasy points. Without getting too technical this means that +/- 7 points per game is not a big deal, but +/- 28 points per game is a big deal.
Bottom Line: Playoff matchups matter...a lot. More often than not they make the difference between winning and losing championships. Make sure your draft cheatsheets reflect the importance of having strong playoff matchups.