Expected Playoff Games Played

Projected playoff fantasy points based on expected number of games played.

In playoff fantasy football, predicting the correct number of games played for each team is paramount. This article, now in its sixth year, uses statistics to do just that. If you're unfamiliar with how my system works, click on any (or all) of the following links to the previous installments:

For each playoff team's probability of advancing to each round, I used data from FiveThirtyEight, Vegas Insider, Pro Football Reference, ESPN, Pro Football Focus, and Football Outsiders.

The end result of all this data collection and applied mathematics is an estimate of each playoff team's probability of playing exactly one game, exactly two games, exactly three games, or exactly four games. As an example of one such calculation, here's how it worked for San Francisco:

  • They have a first-round bye, so they can only play three games at most. Therefore, their probability of playing exactly four games is 0.0%.
  • Based on data from Football Outsiders and FiveThirtyEight, they have a 70.6% chance of reaching the NFC Championship game, which means they have a 29.4% probability of playing exactly one game (i.e., losing their first game in the Divisional Round).
  • Similarly, based on data from Football Outsiders, FiveThirtyEight, and Vegas Insider, they have a 43.2% probability of playing exactly three games (i.e., making it to the Super Bowl).
  • With the above probabilities of playing exactly four games, one game, or three games, we can calculate that their probability of playing exactly two games is 27.4% via simple subtraction: 100% minus 0% minus 29.4% minus 43.2% equals 27.4%.


Below is a table showing these probability calculations for each of the 12 playoff teams, both in terms of normal rules (EXP G) and "Super Bowl counts double" rules (ADJ EXP G):

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