Four games. Maybe five.
That is all you have left of your 2011 fantasy football regular season. Amazing isn't it? It feels like the season kicked off last weekend.
Unfortunately, it wasn't. In reality, we are entering the back stretch of your season, so it's time to honesty assess where your fantasy team is at right now.
Let's make it easy. There are three basic groups of teams at this point in the season:
OUT OF THE RUNNING: (0-9, 1-8, 2-7, 3-6)
FIGHTING FOR YOUR PLAYOFF LIFE: (4-5, 5-4, 6-3)
A LOCK FOR THE PLAYOFFS: (7-2, 8-1, 9-0)
We can make it even easier. Today, I'm not really talking to the owners who are either OUT OF THE RUNNING or A LOCK FOR THE PLAYOFFS. If you're out of it, I'm sorry. Continue to set your lineup and start keeping an eye on players for next season. Maybe do some weekly contests.
If you're basically a lock for the playoffs, keep doing what you're doing. You can afford to make roster moves designed to help you in the playoffs.
I'm speaking to the owners that are FIGHTING FOR THEIR PLAYOFF LIVES.
Sure a team with six wins is in a better spot than a team with only four wins. But it really doesn't matter. The later in the season it is when you suffer a loss, the tougher it is to recover from.
Right now, you have to train yourself to not look past this week. You cannot shy away from a player because he has a difficult schedule during the fantasy playoffs.
You have to win this week. You have to win next week. That doesn't mean you should trade Ray Rice for Reggie Bush because Bush appears to have a better matchup this week.
What it does mean is that you've run out of time to wait on players. Jahvid Best, Miles Austin and even Darren McFadden? They aren't going to help you make the playoffs.
And if you don't make the playoffs, it doesn't matter if these players are back and playing at a high level. If that means you have to take less than you would want back in trade, so be it. Unless you're in a keeper league, all that matters is making the playoffs.
At this point, it's going to be tough to trade for an elite, every-week starter. Not impossible, but tough. So you have to explore other options. We are looking for players with favorable matchups in the near future. Ideally, these players will under-valued right now.
MATT HASSELBECK (@ CAR, @ ATL, vs TB, @ BUF, vs NO)
There is nothing sexy at all about Hasselbeck's fantasy value—but he's been consistent and he has a nice upcoming slate of matchups.
MARK SANCHEZ (vs NE, @ DEN, vs BUF, @ WAS, vs KC)
Sanchez has been better than you think. He didn't do much against the Bills in Week 9 because he didn't have to. Sanchez has plenty of weapons on offense and the upcoming schedule offer multiple favorable matchups.
TONY ROMO (vs BUF, @ WAS, vs MIA, @ ARI, vs NYG)
The emergence of DeMarco Murray has caused Romo to attempt fewer passes, and it has worked out well for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys have the potential to be an explosive offense and Romo still has top-five fantasy QB upside. The injury to Miles Austin and his recent performances have depressed Romo's value. Now is the time to buy before he lights up the Bills' secondary in Week 10.
MAURICE JONES-DREW (@ IND, @ CLE, vs HOU, vs SD, @ ATL)
Jones-Drew is another player who you can get for less than his statistics would suggest. The Jaguars have been awful on offense, but MJD is still running hard and seems to be perfectly healthy.
He has two excellent matchups the next two weeks, and I expect the Jaguars to lean heavily on him.
MARSHAWN LYNCH (vs BAL, @ STL, vs WAS, vs PHI, vs STL)
Lynch owners are probably trying to sell after his Week 9 performance, and the price shouldn't be too high with Baltimore on the schedule in Week 10.
After that, Lynch has four straight favorable matchups.
BENJARVUS GREEN-ELLIS (@ NYJ, vs KC, @ PHI, vs IND, @ WAS)
The Patriots' backfield has been in flux, and having the Jets on the schedule in Week 10 could seem intimidating.
However, Green-Ellis is still the RB you want in the New England. He will get the carries when the Patriots have the lead and he will get the carries at the goal line.
After a few lackluster games, his value should be at a season low.
Which Cowboys WR will score more fantasy points during the absence of Miles Austin?
LAURENT ROBINSON (vs BUF, @ WAS, vs MIA, @ ARI, vs NYG)
Miles Austin is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a hamstring injury, and Robinson is the direct beneficiary. He seems to have better chemistry with Tony Romo than Dez Bryant does.
It is entirely possible that Robinson is the No. 1 fantasy WR in Dallas while Austin is out.
BRANDON LLOYD (@ CLE, vs SEA, vs ARI, @ SF, @ SEA)
Lloyd is clearly the No. 1 target in the Rams' passing game, and he has been targeted heavily in every game he has played as a Ram.
The return of the Sam Bradford and the soft upcoming schedule only add to Lloyd's value. He could return top-10 fantasy WR stats for the rest of the season.
BRANDON MARSHALL (vs WAS, vs BUF, @ DAL, vs OAK, vs PHI)
You also might find some Marshall owners who are trying to sell after Marshall had a good game and finally found the end zone—and I would be buying.
Marshall literally is the Dolphins' passing game, and he will be one of the most heavily targeted WRs in the league. Other than a Week 14 matchup with the Eagles, the upcoming schedule is very favorable for Marshall.
FRED DAVIS (@ MIA, vs DAL, @ SEA, vs NYJ, vs NE)
Sure, Davis had a tough week against the 49ers, but he is all that the Redskins have in the passing game. Davis will put up solid TE1 numbers for the rest of the season, even if he doesn't score a ton of TDs.
You should be able to find owners who are ready to sell, especially if they already have another option at TE.
JAKE BALLARD (@ SF, vs PHI, @ NO, vs GB, @ DAL)
If you don't know about Ballard by now, you should. He has become Eli Manning's safety blanket, and he is an excellent red zone target. He is probably more valuable in PPR leagues, but he's worth starting in all formats with his excellent upcoming schedule.
The nice part is that Ballard is either a free agent or somebody's backup at TE. That should make him fairly easy to acquire.
Thanks for reading. Have anything to add to the discussion? Please use the comments feature below. Questions are welcome, but please be as specific and detailed as possible. Good luck to all of your teams this week.
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