Fantasy Football 2012: 5 Critical Strategies for 1st Month After Your Draft
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The wings and beer hangover is gone, your lucky jersey has been laundered and your fantasy team is ready to take the field.
The fantasy season opener is upon us, but as the GM of your fantasy team, your responsibilities are just beginning. Here's what's next.
Watch the Waiver Wire
I used to sit in a cubicle for eight hours a day, and I was an unstoppable fantasy football force. Then I left the cubicle. Now, I sometimes forget to check and see what underperformer gets cut in Week 3 by an impatient owner, or I forget what day waiver claims are processed and I miss those season-altering early-season pickups.
Pay attention, and don't hoard your waiver priority. This isn't fantasy baseball. If you see a player out there that you believe can help you win, don't be cute and hope no one notices he's there. Go get him.
Don't be insulting, or a trade spammer. But, if Calvin Johnson puts up two catches for 35 yards on Sunday, offering his owner someone like Pierre Garcon accomplishes nothing, save for annoying your prospective trade partner, no matter how big a day Pierre might have had.
But, if over the first two weeks, a triple-covered Megatron puts up five catches for 79 yards for someone else's team, and Larry Fitzgerald puts up 13 for 140 and 2 TDs for yours...offer the trade. Why not? It's not insulting, and you never know.
Every trade doesn't have to be a blockbuster, nor do you have to destroy your league-mates with lopsided deals. Incremental upgrades matter, and maybe your fellow owners do not regard their players as positively as you do.
Is picking up other fantasy teams' backup RB...
(Bonus trading tip: If you have extra bench slots some weeks, load up on backup running backs. David Wilson is worth a LOT if Ahmad Bradshaw limps off the field in the third quarter Wednesday night.)
Since the previous two items count on other owners in your league overreacting, this may go without saying, but let's just throw this out there: do not yourself overreact. Trust your draft for the first three weeks, at least.
Some guys are slow starters, or are rustier than others, or run into defenses early on that turn out to be better than the preseason prognosticators would have had you believe. (This goes both ways: I don't care what John Skelton or Ryan Tannehill do the first couple weeks. I'm not picking up either one.)
Speaking of Handcuffs
Review your roster. While you don't have enough bench spots to roster the backup for every guy on your team—if you do, get in a real league—you should look at depth charts and think about pickups in situations where there is a clear and talented backup to your starter. While Randy Moss is a solid choice as a lottery ticket, Reggie Bush owners should be using that space on Daniel Thomas instead.
That said, I'm not a big proponent of backup QBs, if you have a stud. You can and should have two if you own, say, Alex Smith and RG3, because you're playing matchups. But, if you spent a top-three pick (or $62) on Aaron Rodgers, having Carson Palmer on the bench for the whole season wastes a roster spot, especially early in the season.
This goes double since QBs are protected by the NFL's new rules that essentially limit defenses to playing two-hand touch with them. If Aaron goes down for significant time, you are done. And, since you will never start that "backup" over Rodgers, you just need a bye-week guy. Don't waste the spot the whole season. This is a fantasy team, not a real team.
Plan for the Future
In one of my leagues, I made a trade within an hour of the draft ending. I have made no secret of my thoughts on Kenny Britt this year, and he was drafted five spots before I intended to take him. I expressed my feelings on this theft during the draft, and took Torrey Smith in the spot I had marked for Britt.
After the draft, my fellow GM realized he had left himself with a bye-week problem in Week 6, and offered to flip Britt for Smith. We did.
There are two lessons from that transaction. One, I got the player I wanted at a fair price because I had made my interest known. Two, the GM that traded me Britt had plenty of time to solve his Week 6 issue, because he looked down the road for issues early.
Had I not wanted to make the deal, he would have had six weeks to solve the problem. If he didn't look to the future, he might have had to cut a player he wanted to keep in order to field a full roster in Week 6.
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