H2H Playoff Strategies

You play to win the game.

Owners have messed and fussed the entire year (or years) to get to the playoffs. Now it is time to win it all. Every player on a playoff roster needs to be able to help the team in some way. Prospects may need to be dumped for players getting playing time. Don’t drop Bryce Harper if in a keeper league, but you need to make a decision on the your keepers for next season. Get a good idea of these keepers and the rest of the players on your team are then expendable.

Know your and your opponent’s weakness and strengths.

I have made the playoffs in one league and I will win the weekly categories of hitter walks and pitcher strikeouts. I haven’t lost these categories all season. My opponent should not be looking to pick up these categories. Instead they should be looking at Holds, Saves, HR and SB. These categories they have a chance to win.

To get an idea of where the battles are going to be fought, a couple of areas need to be looked at. First, I would look at the entire season rankings of stats, Roto style, and see where each team stands. Does the other team dominate Saves? Maybe compete in Wins then. Also, I would go back over the last few weeks and see how each team compares in various categories. Look to see if there was any significant changes to their team over that time. Did the team trade one of its closers for a power hitter?

Find the categories of contention and try to gain some advantage in them. Are you both close in steals and few extra could make the difference? Are they punting saves and a couple more SP/RP starters will help you win the K and Win categories?

Playing time is more important than talent.

The playoffs are not the time to go chasing after the next big thing being called up from the minors. With 7 of the 10 categories in basic H2H being counting stats, an owner needs players on the field. Also, make sure to check to see if any of your current player’s playing time has changed because of a player being called up.

If you have the win, don’t lose it.

Adjust as the week goes on by holding onto gains in certain stats. If an owner has a huge early lead in WHIP, Saves and ERA, remove the starters if the innings limit as been reached. Just coast with these values until the end of the week and concentrate on winning the batting stats. For example, feel free to drop a pitcher to make sure you have an extra catcher for off days.

Final games of the season.

Right at the end of the season, an owner can game the system with little recourse. If in a non-keeper league, dump pitchers once they have thrown their last start. Depending on what categories are needing help will determine which pitchers are picked up. If Wins and Ks are needed, pick up as many pitchers starting the final days. If you need to improve your ERA and WHIP, look for some good quality relievers to fill the vacated spots.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Eric Dykstra
10 years ago

It also helps if you’ve already built a playoff-quality roster.
I’m in a 16 team 6×6 league with obp and slg (instead of avg) and holds.

I have more runs than anyone by 80, more HRs by 75, more RBIs by 100, the highest OBP by 7 points, and the highest SLG by 40 points. I’m top 5 in HLD, ERA, and WHIP.

As long as I stream pitchers (we have 2 SP adds per week limit) enough and win Ks and Wins; I should win from here on out with a little luck.

Now for my tip: Add Jim Johnson if you need quality innings (ERA/WHIP). He’ll probably pitch 4-5 innings per week from here on out, and should post a ~3.00 ERA and ~1.2 WHIP.

another know it all
10 years ago
Reply to  Eric Dykstra

Interesting… Please, tell us more

Eric Dykstra
10 years ago

Fine mr snark, here is some more advice for those worse than me at fantasy baseball (all 10 of you)

Ackley, Lawrie, Trout, and Goldschmidt are all really good, widely available options.

Don’t be afraid to pitch mediocre pitchers against the Mariners, Astros, and other terrible offensive teams (I have Eric Surkamp and Brad Lincoln going tonight).

juan pierres mustachemember
10 years ago
Reply to  Eric Dykstra

i felt that you did not provide enough minute details for me to wholly comprehend how good you are at fantasy baseball.

Tom B
10 years ago
Reply to  Eric Dykstra

How do you get into the playoffs without a playoff quality roster?

10 years ago
Reply to  Eric Dykstra

Why all the sarcasm? Nails actually gives some decent if long-winded advice. I’m checking out Jim Johnson right now.

Eric Dykstra
10 years ago
Reply to  DJG


With the young Oriole pitchers all struggling mightily, there has been talk of moving Johnson into the rotation. He’s done a fair share of two inning outings throughout the season, and a couple three inning outings this month.

The one advantage non-closing relievers gives you is ERA/WHIP, but the impact is usually small due to their limited innings. That’s why relievers like Johnson can be useful for teams that are either satisfied with their performance in or punting the counting stats.