In most leagues, playoffs are beginning this week; in those that start Week 15, many teams are effectively starting the playoffs early, needing to continue winning just to make the final four/six/eight. I had my first confirmed elimination in one of my leagues this past weekend, losing the sixth seed to a team with an identical record who had a better cumulative point total for the season... by ONE point. Just goes to show how important making good decisions can be down the stretch; my team tanked bad this week and his team put up a monster total, giving him just enough to lock it up (barring any scoring corrections over the next two days). In every other league I'm either in or still have a shot to get in with one week of regular season to go.

A bit of advice down the stretch: know the backup running backs who are going to get touches because of injuries to the starters. Most teams have been worn down by attrition, in fantasy and in real life, and this can work for you. If you have a flex spot, find a running back to fill it, they're far more consistent than all but the best receivers. Laurence Maroney and Joseph Addai are probably long gone, if they were available to start with, but guys like DeAngelo Williams, Jerious Norwood, Justin Fargas, and Sammy Morris are in many places still out there. If you're lucky, you might find a Marion Barber, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ladell Betts, or Brandon Jacobs to fill in a starting spot. And if a starter goes down this weekend, be the first guy to go grab his backup, which can both help your team and deny a playoff opponent from replacing his fallen starter. Do this even if you don't need to start the player, because you never know when one of your key players will go down. Around this time I usually like to cast off backups at positions with only one starter, especially on defense and at tight end. For example, I'm rolling with Baltimore the rest of the way; KC is the only opponent that scares me offensively and I think we'll be fine there. If you've got a team like Baltimore or Chicago, forget the backup and use it to grab up the best available skill position player. Only keep two guys around if they're roughly even and you need to play matchups. Note that you shouldn't do this with quarterbacks, even if you have an auto-start like Peyton Manning, because it's generally harder to grab a competent backup if the starter goes down (the loss of McNabb stranded a lot of people late in the season this year). But with defenses no one injury can remove them as an option, and with tight ends losing one of the elite options will almost always leave you with a bunch of average joes available anyway; don't waste a roster spot on someone who doesn't stand out over the top guys in free agency. And if you were keeping two kickers, ditch one, even if their names are Vinatieri and Vander... uhhh... Gould.

Good luck to everyone who's still got a chance for a title.