Looking for another challenge to quence your fantasy football thirst? Well, here at NFL.com we have just what you need.
The object of the NFL Playbook Challenge is to choose three players (QB, RB, WR or TE) each week that you think will produce the most fantasy points based on the provided scoring system. However, you are allowed to select a player just once for all 17 weeks. So if you decide to use Tom Brady in New England's opener against the Bills, you can't use him again for the remainder of the season.
The scoring system rewards one (1) point for each passing yard, rushing yard and receiving yard for all non-rookies. However, there are no points for touchdowns. Players who are identified as rookies receive two (2) fantasy points for the aforementioned categories.
For example, say you decide to start LaDainian Tomlinson against the Raiders in Week 1 and he records 105 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards, you would earn 150 fantasy points at the running back position. However, if you choose to start Beanie Wells against the 49ers in Week 1 and he finishes with 85 rushing yards and 35 receiving yards, you would earn 240 fantasy points (120 points X 2).
The NFL Playbook Challenge also includes four "bonus" weeks, during which time all accumulated fantasy points are doubled. Those bonus periods occur in Weeks 3, 8, 13 and 17.
Let's say you decide to start Clinton Portis against the Rams in Week 2 and he records 120 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards, you would earn 340 fantasy points. If you start rookie Knowshon Moreno against the Browns that same week and he finishes with 85 rushing yards and 15 receiving yards, you would earn a total of 400 fantasy points (100 points X 2 X 2).
Much like traditional fantasy football leagues, playing the matchups will be very important in the NFL Playbook Challenge. But since you can only start a player once for the entire season, you need to be smart about using the most valuable players (Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, etc.). In fact, it makes much more sense to start them during those bonus weeks if at all possible, since you'll receive double points.
Of course, starting rookies in those bonus weeks is also a smart move, since you're getting quadruple-point production for their on-the-field success. In fact, I might not use prominent rookies like Moreno or Chris Wells until they have a favorable matchup in one of those four bonus weeks.
Because you're using only 17 quarterbacks, 17 running backs and 17 wide receivers, there's no reason to take a "stretch" in a given week. In fact, you should be using as many prominent players as you can at the most opportune times. Sure, you'd love to start Peterson right off the bat and a weak Browns run defense. But rather than start him simply because he's a superstar, use him in Week 8 (a bonus week) against the Packers (26th vs. run, 20 rushing TDs allowed last season).
Remember, though, it's also a good idea to use most of the studs before the final week of the season. Teams tend to sit down or limit their stars in Week 17 if a postseason berth and seeding has already been established, so it's important to keep tabs on late-season postseason battles and scenarios.
NFL.com's top five fantasy players
As a point of reference, write down which 17 players at each position you'd like to use to start based on NFL.com's player rankings. Player values will of course change during the course of the season, so that list could become a bit altered.
However, it's hard to envision a scenario where you wouldn't use Brees, Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler and Donovan McNabb throughout the season at the quarterback position. The other seven quarterbacks will be the best of the rest and used based on favorable opponents.
In an effort to get you started for the season, let's take a look at Week 1.
Brees has an incredible matchup against the Lions, but you might decide to sit him until Week 8 (a bonus week) against the Falcons. The Dirty Birds finished an unimpressive 21st in pass defense last season. Brees has also averaged 301 passing yards in his last five starts against Atlanta, so he's found success against them in the past. If that's your preference, consider Aaron Rodgers vs. the Bears (30th vs. pass), Matt Schaub vs. the Jets (29th vs. pass) or Carson Palmer vs. the Broncos (26th vs. pass) in Week 1.
The best running backs to use based on the matchups include Pierre Thomas vs. the Lions (32nd vs. run), Tomlinson vs. the Raiders (31st vs. run), Matt Forte vs. the Packers (26th vs. run) and Maurice Jones-Drew vs. the Colts (24th vs. run). As we look at the wide receiver position, it's hard not to love Larry Fitzgerald against the 49ers. In his last three home games against them, the talented receiver has posted a combined 335 yards. Greg Jennings vs. the Bears (30th vs. pass), Marques Colston vs. the Lions (27th vs. pass) and Chad Ochocinco vs. the Broncos (26th vs. pass) are also solid options for the first week of the season.
With the help of these strategies, you should be able to build the best possible threesome each week. Who knows, you could be on your way to winning the grand prize...a five (5) day, four (4) night trip to South Florida to attend Super Bowl XLIV!