It's week 16 - finally.  The championships are here (for most of us).  Money is on the line (for some of us), and we're still digging for some last minute advice (for a few of us).   'Tis the season for shopping, and waiting in lines, and spending money we don't have.  But 'tis also the season for us fantasy ballers who have put in time, effort, money, and smack talk all season for this one wonderful weekend of football.  Bragging rights and some hard earned cash are at stake as we roll towards the conclusion of the fantasy season.  PFS has been on a small hiatus from the blog- family ALWAYS comes first - but don't think we haven't been putting in some research, giving advice, and checking stats in the wee hours of the night in preparation for this weekend.  We want to jot down a few things we learned over the past few weeks and share those insights with you in hopes that we can give you that edge to win your fantasy league this week.  We saw some crazy things happen over the past couple of weeks - hopefully they didn't cost you the win - but as Matthew Berry put it best - "(A loss) comes in stages".   You made it this far, so give yourself a pat on the back, but as my grandfather always told me "never rest on your laurels."  Keep digging for news.  Keep looking at stats and matchups to see if there is a player you should start over another this week.  Take heed to what we have to say here.  We've seen all to many 1 point losses, MNF chokes, TNF regrets, and managers simply fumbling the ball on the hypothetical 1 yard line.   Good luck.

(Almost) always start your stars in the playoffs.  They are the ones who got you here in the first place.  It generally shouldn't be a tough decision to make.  Don't try and get fancy.  We just recently passed into the finals after the manager facing us had some Tomfoolery backfire in his face.  Granted, we beat him by 48 points, but he started Josh Freeman vs. the Saints over Tom Brady vs. the 49ers.  Freeman put up a measly 5 points, while Brady posted 30 points.  Needless to say his team put up 124 points in the loss (with 91 points on his bench.)

If your star goes down - find the most consistent replacement available and plug him in.  We lost Gronkowski weeks ago, and luckily for us, Greg Olsen was sitting on the wire.  We snagged up Olsen, and haven't stopped looking for a more suitable Gronk replacement since.  While Olsen certainly helped us get into the playoffs, we didn't necessarily feel as if he was a top 10 TE.  So we kept our eyes peeled, and when Heath Miller hit the wire (frustrated owner dropped him when Roethlisberger went down,) we didn't hesitate to snag him up as well.  We didn't need a 6th string RB, so we instead rolled with 3 TE's while Gronk healed.  We plugged Miller into our lineup last week, and he paid dividends with 19 points to Olsen's 8.   

Don't be afraid to roll with a consistent player, even if he isn't a star.  We made several trades in our league to secure some stud starters, but that left us a bit thin at one of our WR positions.  After dealing away guys like Stevie Johnson, Vincent Jackson, and Reggie Wayne to strengthen our RB core (Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, and Malcolm Floyd), we had a hole in our #2/3 WR slot next to Megatron.  After shopping the wire for a reasonable bench WR, we settled on TY Hilton way back in week 11.  He didn't have the star power of a Dwayne Bowe (who we just couldn't start),  but was certainly similar to a guy like Floyd.  We played Hilton over Floyd weeks 13, 14, and 15, because of matchups, and he has rewarded us with 34 points over those three weeks.   Now, we call Hilton our starter - our #2 WR - after the Floyd injury.  And we aren't afraid of him hurting us this week vs. the Chiefs. 

This next point goes hand-in-hand with the above statement.  Don't get too confident with a flash-in-the-pan starter; you could wind up burning yourself like we did in another league.  Bryce Brown, a name who has probably passed through several angry managers mouths in the last two weeks, absolutely killed us in our big money, 12 team league.  We skated into the playoffs as the #6 seed, by going 5-1 over the last 6 weeks of the season.  We were facing a team that we had just beaten (easily).  We had been employing Steven Jackson and DMC/Reece as our RB's, and when Shady McCoy went down we had to jump at the opportunity to grab Bryce Brown for some depth.  We plugged in Brown during weeks 12 and 13 (played the matchups/injuries), and he rewarded us with 57 points and helped us get into the big dance.  During the week 14 playoff matchup, we benched Miles Austin and went with Brown, DMC, and S-Jax.  We lost by two points, thanks to Browns lousy 1 point effort.  The lesson learned here is that there was really no need to start Brown.  We got "fancy".  DMC was healthy, S-Jax had a good matchup, and Austin had started every other game this season for us.  We would have won had we started Austin (or 50% of the players available on waivers for that matter.)  Shame on us.

Kickers really do matter in fantasy football.  And for a couple of different reasons.  During the week 14 playoff matchup we rolled with Phil Dawson as our kicker.  We had recently dropped Zeurlein (his leg died a few weeks back,) and while Dawson put up a solid 12 points, three of the kickers we were looking at put up at least 2 points more than Dawson.  Those 2 points would have won the week for us, had we pulled the trigger.  And now onto the second, and most frustrating reason.  The manager we faced started Jason Hanson as his kicker.  Now I'm sure a few owners out there will forever curse Jason Hanson and Jim Schwartz for their week 14 play-call.  With 7 seconds left in the Sunday Night Football game (7 SECONDS!), and the Lions down 10 points (10 POINTS DOWN), Schwartz elected to kick a 34 yard field goal and then try for the onside kick and touchdown.  It was 11 p.m. on Sunday night; we had all but secured our win.  Then the kick.  A 34 yarder to put the Lions down by 7.  I mean, 7 seconds will never be enough time for a field goal, onside kick recovery, and scoring touchdown drive.  The game was over.  But Schwartz had to beat us.  He had to kill our fantasy football championship hopes.  We lost by two points.   Had our opponent started another kicker, we may have won.  Had Schwartz not gone for the pity-points in a losing effort, we would have won.  Had Hanson missed that FG, we would have won.   Fantasy sports is such a fickle game, reliant on not only your own personal decisions, but of those made by others.  We hope you didn't lose your playoffs to Jim Schwartz this year.  For Christmas, I asked Santa for a Detroit Lions hat - so that I could drive over it with my car (forward and reverse for good measure), cut it to shreds, and light the pieces on fire, while I read the news of yet another Lions loss and missed opportunity to make their real-life playoffs. 

We wish our readers a safe, happy holiday season in the coming weeks, and we wish our readers the best of luck in their fantasy football playoffs.  We hope our readers come back for some fantasy baseball advice (its just around the corner!).  And hopefully nobody is playing against Jason Hanson.  He could ruin your week.

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