1. DO Have a State-Of-The-Team Meeting… With Yourself
We’re at the quarter-mark of the NFL season, which means we’re even more than 25% of the way through most peoples’ fantasy leagues — not everyone gets to make the playoffs, you know. (PLAYOFFS???) That means it’s time for you to put aside your record and figure out whether you’re team is a) good or b) not good. If it’s b), then you need to do something about this.
An anecdote: in the BuzzFeed league, my team is 1-3. At first glance, it would seem that this is bad, and I have major problems that I need to assess. But that isn’t really the case. I’m currently second out of 14 teams in points against, and fourth in points for; long story short, I’ve so far been really unlucky. I’m pretty confident with the personnel on my squad, so I’m going to hold steady without making any huge moves and hope that my record will come to reflect my actually pretty good performance. However, if you’re 1-3 and at the bottom of your league’s points-scored standings, you need to consider taking a risk and trading for players that you think will blow up in the second half of the year. You’re not going to win as is, so you have nothing to lose.
3. DON’T Panic
It’s still early. DON’T FREAK OUT, MAN. If you’re 1-3 or 2-2 and you think your team has talent, hold tight, start paying closer attention to matchups, and grind out some wins. If you’re 0-4 or 1-3 and you’re roster is comprised of Eli Manning and seven Yodels, take risks on the waiver wire and work toward making your team a little better every week. There are very few teams that have 0 good-to-great players, and the key is to surround those bunch-scorers with guys who won’t give you goose-eggs.
5. DO Remember That Receivers Are Boom-And-Bust
I don’t have any proof for this, but in 2012, the boom-and-bust receivers seem to be dominating fantasy production. Let’s look at the top 10 guys: A.J. Green, Roddy White, Brian Hartline, Dwayne Bowe, Torrey Smith, Victor Cruz, Calvin Johnson, Miles Austin, Andre Roberts, and Brandon Marshall. Before the season, few fans of teams that don’t play in the AFC East/NFC West had probably even heard of Hartline and Roberts, and yet, there they are, near the top of the league in points scored. How? Well, Hartline had a 11-point performance in Week 2 and a 31(!)-point performance last week; Weeks 1 and 3, he only scored 9 points combined. Roberts dropped 23 points against Miami and 12 Week 1, then notched 14 total in three other games. The only two of those ten players who has managed three or more double-digits games are Green (fantasy’s best receiver this year) and Austin; everyone else has done it with two big games and two small ones. So keep cool if one of your big WRs drops the ball (HA HA HA) one week; he’ll probably bounce back.
7. DON’T Start Any New York Jets
Darrelle Revis is hurt, taking the Jets’ D from top-five to bottom-ten. And now Santonio Holmes is hurt, depriving the team of its one and only dynamic weapon on offense. Remember how a few weeks ago, I said to not ignore top players on bad offenses? Yeah, that doesn’t count here. Anyone who’s watched the Jets over the last few weeks knows that Sanchez has the confidence of an injured baby antelope, and that receivers like Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, and Chaz Schilens are NOT going to be able to take advantage of Holmes’ absence to become #1 guys. The ONLY, and I mean ONLY, player on this offense who could conceivably be worth starting is Dustin Keller, because he actually has talent; there’s also the possibility that, by the end of the year, Bilal Powell wrests the starting RB job from the slower-than-star-death Shonn Greene. Until then, STAY AWAY.
Also, if you have a Houston Texan on your roster, play him this weekend. They might win by 55.
9. DO Take A Wait-And-See Approach To The Buffalo Bills’ Backfield
If you have either C.J. Spiller or Fred Jackson, and you can afford to let them sit on the bench this week, you should. With both players having recently returned from injury, it’s a little unclear how Buffalo will use them in tandem; even after missing basically an entire game and being half-used in another, Spiller’s still tied for second in the league in fantasy points, which means that it’s unlikely Buffalo will return to its Jackson-over-C.J. approach that began the season. However, who knows what’s going on in Chan Gailey’s busy little head, and this week the team has San Francisco’s brutal defense to contend with, meaning that, even if both players perform well, they’re unlikely to do too much damage. This way, you can see what Buffalo’s strategy will be without having to risk missing out on a huge game. It’s a win-win! (Unless you lose.)
11. DON’T Get Running-Back Complacent
So you’ve got a starting running back. You’re super-excited about your starting running back! He gets 20 carries a game, and he doesn’t fumble much, and his team seems to really, really like him. How quaint. There’s just one problem: he sucks. Just because a guy is RB1 on his team doesn’t mean he should be RB1, or RB2, or even a flex play on yours. The best example of this right now is BenJarvus Green-Ellis, whose best trait last year — a TD nearly ever game, despite low yards per carry — has gone away, leaving a back who posts lines like 17 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown, or 26 carries for 82 yards and no touchdowns. Cincinnati’s strength lies in its great passing offense, not its running game. Similar guys are the Jets’ Shonn Green, who has 68 carries on the year and only 24 fantasy points to show for them — seriously, that is disgusting — and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin. (Yeah, I know.)
13. DO Make Sure Your Defense Is Actually Good
One thing that people forget to pay attention to is their defense/special teams situation — they draft a unit at the beginning of the year and run with it, only making adjustments when the bye week shows up. But that’s a place where you can end up dropping 10 points every week — you have a squad that never scores above 5, and even occasionally sees negative points, when others are occasionally scoring in the double-digits and never LOSING YOU POINTS. I already mentioned the Jets’ D as an example of this, but other top-drafted defenses, particularly the Eagles, Steelers, and Giants, have been underachieving as well and are still owned in a ton of leagues.
15. DON’T Sleep On The Ginger Cannon
Andy Dalton is destroying everyone. He has three straight weeks of 20+ performances, and somehow he’s not even owned in like, 5% of leagues! I just have to assume that those leagues are populated by dogs who can’t use computers. But yeah, Dalton’s a legit QB1 now, and if you have him sitting on your bench, start him or flip him; if you need a QB, try and talk someone into trading him to you. The only other passers I’m as excited about right now are RGIII, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Aaron Rodgers. Dalton is top of the pops.
17. DO Make Sure You Play A Kicker
BYE WEEKS ARE HERE! That means, one week, your kicker is going to secretly be unavailable. Don’t forget to pick up another one, you clown. (If you have two kickers on your roster, you’re also a clown. Just grab one off waivers.)
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