10 Last-Minute Moves That Can Still Keep You in the Fantasy Football Title Hunt

Alex Dunlap@AlexDunlapNFLContributor INovember 14, 2012

10 Last-Minute Moves That Can Still Keep You in the Fantasy Football Title Hunt

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    You are not who you were, and you are certainly not who you're going to be. 

    Not after reading this.

    Or this.

    If you are 4-6, 5-5 or even 3-7 in your fantasy football league and are willing to consent to treatment, the clinic is open. I have already begun a subtle form of neurolinguistic programming that will aid in your rehab toward championship contention.

    As the fantasy football regular season winds down, I think it's time for a reality check. Read on for some last-minute moves that could save your chance at victory.

Trade Marshawn Lynch

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    If your team has a 5-5 record or worse, you cannot afford a loss.

    I own Marshawn Lynch in a league that has not been kind to me in 2012, leading to the 4-6 record (and must-win situation) that I am currently staring in the face. 

    In this league, I also happen to own New York Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw, who is on bye—as is Andre Brown, a player I picked up in Week 3 as Bradshaw's handcuff. Things have become clear to me about this situation, and I have started Brown in front of Bradshaw for the last two weeks.

    This squad also rosters Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson, who has been concussed and will not go Thursday night. Did I mention that I own Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden in this nightmare RB scenario as well?

    Your situation may not be as dire as mine at the running back position for Week 11, but one fact remains: Beast Mode will not score you one fantasy point this week, as he is on bye. Hopefully, he doesn't go back to Oakland for any drunken joyriding during the week off.

    But he's back in Week 12, right?

    Well, yes. At that time, he faces the following schedule that will not matter to you one bit if you pick up a seventh loss in his Week 11 absence:

    (Matchups provided are via my matchup system.)

    Week 12 at Miami Dolphins: My fourth-worst matchup for opposing fantasy RBs.

    Week 13 at Chicago Bears: My sixth-worst matchup for opposing fantasy RBs.

    That gets us to the fantasy playoffs. Beast Mode has proven he is matchup-proof, but no player is bye-week-proof. A bye followed by this schedule is awful. If you are facing a must-win situation, you need Lynch off of your roster.

    I would recommend you doing what I did yesterday in the league I have referred to through this slide: Trade Lynch away for the player in the next one.   

Acquire C.J. Spiller

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    The Buffalo Bills are in disarray. 

    GM Buddy Nix thinks he is going to get canned.

    Citizens of the greater Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area are praying he is finally right about something.

    Nix is acting in ways and saying things that would indicate to some that he may be contemplating retirement as an out. In addressing questions about how horrible QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is, Nix said, "I don't wanna leave here without a franchise guy for the future in place."  

    That, to me, gives a very powerful and subtle indicator; an acknowledgement of "the end" as a thought in his brain.

    I thought the franchise guy was the guy he gave a $59 million extension to? Great. Let the guy who made that move pick the next "future of the franchise" before he retires. What a mess. 

    Bad for him, and the organization as a whole, but great for fantasy owners of C.J. Spiller. Nix seems to be firmly behind head coach Chan Gailey, and Gailey has been catching consistent heat about the fact that the offense simply runs better when Spiller is more featured. 

    Fred Jackson is terrific; he is awesome. For a 31-year-old back, his ability is of freakish, Willis McGahee-caliber status. It's unbelievable and gives me slim hope we may be able to enjoy Adrian Peterson for at least a handful of future good years.

    But Spiller is better than Jackson, and when the Bills involve Spiller consistently, we have seen what happens. To end 2011, and during this season when Jackson was out, Spiller was going to go off. Chan Gailey understands that a GM who has given him a vote of confidence is standing on shaky ground, and he's going to let him loose, finally.

    It took a Fred Jackson concussion on a short week to make this succession happen, but it seems to be happening. Spiller's a guy I want on my squad from here on out. He faces a tough test on paper against Miami in Week 11, but ask Chris Johnson about those guys. After that, it's Jacksonville and Indy.

    Things should be getting rolling in a very Spiller-favorable timeshare with a returning Jackson once the fantasy playoffs arrive.

Work the Waiver Wire

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    My take on a few of the hot names on the wire or free agency this week:

    Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints: Looked like a Beast Mode Jr. on the big Week 10 run and has made big plays in two straight weeks, but I was concerned when I looked at the snap counts and saw he only played 10 plays in Week 10. Faces my 13th-best RB matchup in Week 11. 

    Marcel Reece, RB Oakland Raiders: Should not be on you waiver wire and was starting for you last week if you read my columns. If he is sitting on your wire like an unclaimed, precious silver and black jewel, by all means, change that. 

    Taiwan Jones, RB Oakland Raiders: Worthy of a look this week after what I said would be an unproductive debut. He may have been dropped in your league by the genius who started him last week. Something tells me he breaks off a big play against New Orleans, but Jones is merely an upside gamble-play until proven otherwise. He's a fumbler, and the staff will continue to be conservative with him. 

    Danario Alexander, WR San Diego Chargers: Has never been healthy in his career, but while he is, I'm rolling with him. Alexander is a player whose "potential" we have heard about for years now, but have never seen in the NFL due to his tender, tender knees. Here in Big 12 country, the (formerly Big 12) Missouri product is a well-known name from his 2008 campaign.

    I like how he played against a very physical rookie in Bucs CB Leonard Johnson last week and was certainly glad to be starting him in one league in which I own Jordy Nelson, who was both hurt and on bye. Vincent Brown may have to compete for a job once again when he returns.

Don't Look Ahead

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    Quit it. 

    If you are 5-5, 4-6 or 3-7, the most important thing is this week. Then next.

    No win this week, no more season. People with hungry kids aren't putting money into their IRAs. This is survive and advance.  

    Cross whatever bridge is next when you get to it. If you get to it. It will make planning for the next step during your monster run to end the season all that much more fun. It's also the only way you have a chance.  

Consolidate Bench Depth into Equity on Your Starting Roster

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    This is a holy commandment of fantasy football during the stretch run. It is like splitting aces or doubling down on 11. 

    Your flex guys are the primary suspects to look at here. Do you have three of them who give you a monster headache every week? If so, you are not playing this thing right. 

    Package two of them to upgrade at another position and take the risk with your flex depth. There are a wealth of productive flex-play candidates on the waiver wire should the WR2 or RB2 you consolidated your two flex players for goes down. 

    I won in a league last week in which I was starting Danario Alexander and Donald Jones at my WR2 and flex.

    I'm telling you, it's juke-and-move right now if you're on the ropes.  

Drop Your Dead Weight

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    Get Greg Jennings off of your roster for the love of humanity.

    Pierre Garcon has returned to practice for the first time in ages this week, but I'm not holding my breath.  

    These guys have killed you all season if you are an owner in an IR-less league who has been holding onto them. 

    You could have been getting double-digit monsters for a lot of the season out of Cecil Shorts had you realized this earlier. 

    I'm honestly becoming a bit concerned about Aaron Hernandez as well.

    So much about being a successful NFL player, from what I am told, is getting into it with the opponent early on, finding out how the opponent is going to attack you physically and then responding within the parameters of the play. If you are hesitant coming out of the blocks, it's like getting thrown in jail and giving your oatmeal cookie away at dinner on your first night.

    You've sealed your fate. You will never eat an oatmeal cookie ever again in that cell block.  

    You worry about lingering effects of high ankle sprains with these fast-cut, fast-twitch players to begin with, but especially in offenses which dictate them being more than a one-trick pony. Hernandez goes heads-up against almost every player on the defense in any given game when healthy and will be a serious risk for re-aggravation upon his return. 

    I'm not recommending dropping him until we know definitively about his availability, but if he misses yet another game in Week 11, I would recommend considering other ways in which his roster spot may be used if you are 5-5 or below.

    If this is the case, trade him for a peanuts-type RB like Joique Bell.    

Vulture Valuable RB Handcuffs Just Prior to Kickoff on Sundays

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    This is a way that winning fantasy owners utilize the roster space they have created by consolidating bench depth into starting equity for the stretch run.

    Don't grab these players early in the week. Early in the week, grab the "hot" waiver guys. Make your decisions about whether or not to start them, then drop them at the last minute if they do not make your starting lineup.

    This keeps the player from getting picked up by a needy league mate.

    In the dropped player's place, roster your pick of any of the following high-value RB handcuffs:

    Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks

    Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens

    Michael Bush, Chicago Bears

    Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings

    Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

    Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs

    Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos

    Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers

    Sometimes you have to be ahead of the curve. If the starters in any of these offenses go out with injury, you have a stud RB on your hands. If they don't, then you just drop the player when waivers run again. It's the time of year where hits are starting to stick with these workhorse runners.  

Make Your Kicker and D/ST Slots Useful

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    There are 20 to 30 valuable points to be had weekly out of these two positions off of waivers while many owners stand idly by as the team defense and/or kicker they drafted underperforms. 

    Anything less than 10 points out of either your kicker or your defense should be unacceptable. It should hurt your feelings to see that happen. Think about those positions like running backs, with nowhere near the positional scarcity. In any given week, any one could go off.

    Take advantage of the knowledge that is out there and make good pickups at these positions. It is where you stand to gain the most against the competition if played correctly.

    If you would have just Googled around for "Week 10 waiver wire" articles last week, you may have found my radio co-host recommending Denver, Dallas and Tampa Bay. At least one of the three was available in every league I play in, and all three went bananas. All it took was looking it up.

    I say it all the time, but I'll say it again: If football is a game of inches, fantasy football is a game of decimal points. They are there to be had. 

Don't Leave Your Trades Open During the Games Sunday

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    This is the oldest trick in the book.

    You should be trying to trade like crazy in this final week before the trade deadline hits, but remember to never put yourself in this position:  

    One owner receives a trade from another and does not accept or reject the trade during the week. He sets his lineup on Sunday, seeing the trade in his queue, and decides to "let it sit" in case of injury.

    It doesn't sound like that successful a strategy until Darren McFadden suffers a high-ankle sprain and the conniving, sniveling weasel of an owner accepts a trade in which he sends a freshly injured Darren McFadden your way.

    Winning owners know to not fall prey to this scheme and to not employ it. There are certain unspoken rules in fantasy football. We are governed by a body larger than our collective selves, as I detail in the next slide...  

Give Respect to the Fantasy Gods

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    You may think this is a joke, but the fantasy gods exist, and do they ever. 

    You will be amazed at the effectiveness of this strategy and general life-sentiment its implementation entails: 

    Put in your work, and put yourself in unique positions to thrive—possibly hard-earned positions that nobody else has thought of.

    Then leave it. It's out of your hands at kickoff.

    The fantasy gods seem to reward those who enjoy the games.