Review: NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge

At the end of last season a friend invited me to join his fantasy playoffs league. Playing fantasy football during the real playoffs sounded fun and I signed up right away. The league was hosted on the NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge site. This was my first time playing on an NFL owned fantasy site and here’s my review.

What Is The NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge?

The game is simple. Choose players to start for each round of the playoffs. No draft. No budget. Your team is ranked each week based on points scored within your league (the site calls them groups) and overall against all players. The player ranked #1 overall after the championship round wins a trip for two to next year’s Super Bowl. Sweet prize for a free game.

Once registered using an NFL.com account, you can join or start a group. You’re able to join multiple groups if you want. Groups can be public or private; and have a group message feature.

The site has a dark background and uses a lot of fancy graphics for its user interface. It looks cool and the graphics are similar to graphics during the NFL game broadcasts. A very different look and feel than Yahoo, which is the provider I normally use.

The “My Picks” screen has a row for each playoff round that shows your roster for that round. Clicking on a roster slot opens a player selection menu. The user interface here was a little clunky. The player listings only displayed 5 or 6 players at a time and you have to page through the list. The graphics don’t allow you to right click and open the player info in a new tab so comparing players required more steps to go back and forth then it should. The player info available in the site is limited and seemed stale. There were few injury updates or other analysis like Yahoo provides in their fantasy football games. Plan on using other sources for most of your player analysis.

Each roster slot has a big picture of the player selected along with their team logo and other info. You can look at other group members’ rosters to see who they started once that round’s games have started and rosters are locked. After the game, you can click an info icon on each slot to see a break down of the player’s score and a list of the top 5 scorers for that position.

How Does The Scoring Work?

The scoring is typical of the default scoring rules most games use with two exceptions.

The first and biggest difference is the points multiplier bonus that’s based on how many times you’ve started a player. The multiplier equals the number of times in a row you’ve started him. The fancy graphics include an indicator on the player’s picture of their multiplier for the round. Starting a player on bye during the wild card round counts. This is one format where starting players on bye can be a good thing and adds an interesting strategy element.

This means that if you start the same player in all 4 rounds, you’ll get 4 times the points he scored in week 4.  You would also get twice the points in round 2 and 3 times the points in round 3.  That’s a huge scoring advantage if you can accurately predict which teams will advance into the later rounds. For example, Tom Brady scored 27 fantasy points in the Super Bowl. Everyone that started him all 4 weeks (including his week 1 bye) would’ve gotten 108 points (4 x 27) in the championship game! That’s almost as many points as my whole team scored in round 4.  I went Green Bay heavy in the conference finals and only had two players with multipliers in the championship.

The second scoring difference, which I didn’t notice until I re-read the rules while writing this review, is that the Defense gets an extra 5 points if their team won the game. That’s a new scoring rule to me and 5 points is very generous. One or two points would be more reasonable. I suspect it’s so high because the NFL expects high scoring playoff games where the winning defense could get hit with negative fantasy points for giving up too many real points to their opponent even when they won. Oh well, combined with the 4x bonus, this rule gave me an extra 20 points from the Patriot’s defense in the final round.

Final Thoughts On The NFL Fantasy Playoff Challenge

Overall, this was a fun way to keep playing fantasy football during the NFL’s post season and try out a new scoring feature with the point multiplier. I wouldn’t want to play a whole regular season using their user interface, but it was tolerable for 4 weeks and I’d play it again.

There are probably other sites that host fantasy leagues during the NFL playoffs. This was the first one I’ve tried and will look for others to compare against next season.

If the NFL wants to improve the site, they should focus less on the graphics and more on providing better player info and improving the UI.

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