Fantasy Football Truths
The mind of a fantasy football nut: The weekly torment of lineup decisions in aForte & McFadden world
So how are you doing in your fantasy leagues? Any shot at the playoffs?
As for me, I’m in four leagues. I’ve already clinched the playoffs in one but would like to improve my seed, and I can clinch a playoff spot with a win in another. In a third league, which doesn’t have playoffs but rewards teams for total points and best record over an entire season, I have an outside shot to at least get into the money. In the fourth league, I’m 3-8-2, so that’s not happening.
That means that I’ve got big games in three leagues coming up, which means that I’ve got big decisions to make in those leagues. At this point in the season, there are no byes, so your roster should be stacked up with legitimate options for each position. That also makes things a bit harder when you’re making choices.
I thought this week I’d give you a peek into my decision-making process, with the hopes that it will help you when it comes to your tough choices.
TEAM 1: 8-5 record, third place, playoffs clinched
My big problem here is that my star running back, Matt Forte, went down, which means that I’ll be shorthanded heading into the postseason. I’ve got him handcuffed with Marion Barber (as long as he doesn't keep fumbling and going out of bounds when his team's trying to run out the clock), which will ease the blow somewhat, but I’m still not going to get the explosiveness that Forte could have provided.
That actually factors into my decision-making at the receiver spot. Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones are no-brainers, and Lance Moore has been hot enough to keep in the lineup, but I need one more. Since I’m lacking that big-point potential at running back, I need it at receiver.
That eliminates Jabar Gaffney, who’s been steady but doesn’t ever go off for a huge game. That leaves the choice down to Arrelious Benn and Titus Young (yes, it’s a deep league.) I’m worried that Young will suffer some blow back from his personal foul penalty, so Benn gets the call, as the Bucs, when they do look his way, tend to do so on fly patterns.
The ironic thing with my team in this league is that my choices at quarterback are Michael Vick and Cam Newton. Who would have thought that I’d be picking Newton at this stage of the season, and it would be the easiest choice of all?
TEAM 2: 8-4-1 record, second place in division, win clinches a wild card berth
This team has been carried by Aaron Rodgers all year long. I’ve gotten sporadic production at running back from LeGarrette Blount and Ryan Mathews, and my No. 1 receiver, Roddy White, spent the first part of the year in a funk. It’s a good example of how a great quarterback can cure a lot of fantasy ills.
My decision here again comes down to the last receiver spot, in this case the aforementioned Lance Moore against Michael Crabtree. This shows how a league’s depth and scoring system can affect decision-making. This league offers one point for every 10 yards receiving, meaning that Moore, a low-yardage guy who scores, loses out to Crabtree, who has been hot and can go off.
TEAM 3: 7-6 record, fifth place, just a game out of second and two back of first
The good news is that I’m playing the first-place team, which means that I can make up a lot of standings ground with a win. The bad news is that this team has been ripped apart by injuries (Darren McFadden, Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson,) which has made making lineups an adventure.
I’ve got to pick two backs, three receivers or tight ends and a flex out of the following group: DeMarco Murray, Beanie Wells, Roy Helu, and McFadden at running back, Johnson, A.J. Green, Mike Wallace, Aaron Hernandez, Pierre Garcon, Torrey Smith, and Brandon Lloyd. When you’ve got a bunched-up group like this, the best way to start is to eliminate some guys first.
Lloyd and Hernandez, netiher of whom have a lot of big-game potential, have to go first. McFadden, one of the slowest healers in medical history, is not a consideration. In fact, CBS says he has a Lisfranc injury (the same injury as Schaub's) and could be out for the year.
Johnson will be out for a while too, since the Texans need him healthy for the postseason. Wallace and the red-hot Green are in at receiver. I also like Smith.
At running back, I’ve been burned by my reluctance to start Helu (126 yards against the Patriots) and it won’t happen again. Murray also gets the call.
That leaves Garcon versus Wells for the last spot.
Those examples show all of the variables that go into picking starters at the most important time of the season. Nobody said fantasy football was easy. What lineup choices do you regularly struggle with?