NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge: Super Bowl XLVIII awaits

Did your fantasy football season end before you were ready to hang up the helmet and pads? Were you one of those poor souls who rode Ray Rice all the way to the postseason, only to have him crush your championship hopes and dreams with a 4.1-point stinker against the Denver Broncos in Week 15? Well, NFL.com has the perfect solution for your fantasy football blues.

Welcome to the NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge!

The NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge takes all of the thrills and excitement of the postseason and wraps it into a fantasy football package that could take you all the way to Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J.!

There are four postseason rounds in this game: Wild Card, Divisional, Conference and Super Bowl. You will be required to set a starting lineup that consists of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense/special teams unit from the postseason rosters for each of the four rounds. Keep in mind that there is no draft, so you can select your ultimate postseason team in each round.

If your player's team wins in the Wild Card round, you have the option of keeping that player active in the Divisional round or starting another player in his place. If you retain that player from the Wild Card round, which is advised, you'll receive double fantasy points in his Divisional round game, triple points if that player reaches the Conference round and so on. Should you replace a player you had active in the Wild Card round, however, that new player isn't eligible for double points until the Conference round (assuming his team advances).

You're also allowed to start players in the Wild Card round that have byes. Why would you do this, you might ask?

Well, it's all part of the strategy. If you think the Atlanta Falcons, who have earned a first-round bye, are the team to beat in the NFC, you can start Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones in the Wild Card round. While they will receive no points in that round, those players will be eligible to have their points doubled in the Divisional round and tripled in the Conference round. In the event that Atlanta does reach the big game, you would get quadruple points.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to select the most productive players who will advance the furthest in the postseason. It's also very important to accumulate points with the same players from round to round. As a result, starting a fantasy superstar like Robert Griffin III, for example, is a risk because the Washington Redskins could be one and done in the NFC postseason.

Also keep in mind that should the team of a player you have selected in the Wild Card round be knocked out, you are allowed to replace him with a player whose team is still alive. Your new starter would not be eligible to have his points doubled until his team wins a game, however. So throughout each round, you will be able to field a complete fantasy roster. That's important to remember.

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Now it's time to take a look at the scoring system. The NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge uses NFL.com Fantasy default scoring, which awards four points for passing touchdowns, six points for all other touchdowns and one point for each 25 passing yards and 10 rushing and receiving yards. It also rewards two points for all two-point conversions, three points for all field goals regardless of length and one point for all extra points.

On defense, points will be rewarded for touchdowns on returns by punt, kickoff, fumble and interception. Other categories include interceptions, fumble recoveries and sacks. Points will also be handed out dependent on the number of points allowed by the team defense/special teams unit. In a twist that could tack on extra points, defenses will also be rewarded an additional five points per game if their team wins. And remember, all of these values could double, triple or quadruple depending on how many weeks in a row you start the same player!

The NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge is all about your prowess and skills as not just a fantasy football general manager, but also as a real football prognosticator. As we all know, picking games in the NFL can be more than a little difficult - history proves it.

Since 2000, eight different teams (New York Giants - 2011, Green Bay Packers - 2010, Arizona Cardinals - 2008, Giants - 2007, Indianapolis Colts - 2006, Pittsburgh Steelers - 2005, Carolina Panthers - 2003, Baltimore Ravens - 2000) that played in the Wild Card round have reached the Super Bowl. Six of those teams won it all. If you started Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and the other prominent members of the Giants last season, chances are you had a lot of success in the NFL Playoff Challenge. Why? Because you had your points doubled, tripled and quadrupled as the G-Men advanced through each round. In fact, that is the ultimate example of the scenario you'll want to predict in your quest for fantasy playoff dominance,

So there you have it - you now know the rules and some of the strategies involved in finding success in the NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge. Now it's up to you to join and accept the challenge!

Who knows, you might be on your way to Super Bowl XLVIII!

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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