Fantasy Football University: Mid-Season Strategies

Scout Fantasy Sports gives you the third edition of Fantasy University. Learn how to manage your roster after drafting your squad.

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Now that you have learned the basic rules of Fantasy Football and have drafted your team, it is time to cover how to manage your squad throughout the season.

Although drafting a solid team is crucial to championship success, you simply cannot stop there. This is not Daily Fantasy Sports. Fantasy Football is a season-long commitment. There are several moves to make once the season begins in order to improve your team.

Monitoring talent on the waiver wire and completing beneficial trades are the most obvious ways to capitalize at the expense of your opponents. Lastly, setting your optimal starting lineup is very important but not as easy as it might seem.

WAIVER WIRE

This is quite obvious but if one of your players suffers a season-ending injury, drop him right away in favor of a healthy player with some upside. Don’t be that guy who refuses to drop his star player just because he likes seeing his name on his roster. That is how you lose and that is how you lose fast.

Adding your star’s backup (or handcuff) can be huge, particularly at the running back position, where the most injuries seem to occur. In 2014, Houston Texans running back Arian Foster suffered a hamstring injury during Week 2 and was unable to play in Week 3 against the New York Giants. Owners raced to the waiver wire to add his backup, Alfred Blue, who played quite well in Foster’s absence, rushing for 78 yards on just 13 carries. However, a few Foster owners protected themselves by drafting or adding Blue at the beginning of the season. With an injury-prone player such as Foster, rostering his backup is a low-risk, high-reward move. If you don’t need him by the end of the season, simply drop him. However, if your star gets injured, his backup could save your season.

Don’t be afraid to take risks on the waiver wire as long as the person you are dropping has very limited upside. The player who comes to mind from the 2014 season is Odell Beckham Jr, who did not play in the first four games of the year because of a lingering hamstring injury. During his NFL debut in Week 5, he scored a touchdown but didn’t gain many yards. In Beckham’s next game, the Giants’ No. 1 wide receiver, Victor Cruz, tore the patellar tendon in his right knee, ending his season. Although Beckham struggled in his second game, fantasy owners took a risk and added him, knowing that he would see a huge increase in targets due to Cruz’s injury. Those owners were rewarded with a player who became the best fantasy commodity for the rest of the season. It is all about risk analysis.

Be prepared for injuries, depth chart changes, suspensions; basically anything can happen in fantasy football. That is why it is so important to draft solid backup players at each position. However, sometimes a player you draft turns out to be a huge bust. Scouring the waiver wire is a great way to find talent to back up one of your studs. Not only will you fill a glaring need on our roster, you may also prevent one of your opponents from improving their roster.

STREAMING DEFENSES AND KICKERS

This is a pretty common strategy in Fantasy Football. Depending on which defense and kicker you draft, it might be worth replacing them on a week-to-week basis depending on their matchups. If you have a decent defense but there is another one on the waiver wire with a matchup looming against the worst offense in the league, it can sometimes be beneficial to make the switch. Defense and kicker are the most difficult positions to predict in Fantasy Football, and the point differential between the one you took in your draft and one you picked up off the wire is often negligible by the end of the season. Therefore, streaming those two positions is smart because you aren’t necessarily gambling on your player, you are gambling on the opposing team not playing well, which is easier to predict.

TRADING

Assess your roster. At what positions are you lacking depth? What are your strongest positions? What are your weakest positions? These questions are important to answer when moving forward with trade proposals.

Be patient with your stars. Don’t try to trade one of your first two draft picks early in the season, especially when you are offering them at a discounted price. Usually, the top players will return to form if they struggle through the first few games.

Make sure you do your research before accepting or proposing a trade. In a deal where you think you are getting the better player, you need to make sure that you are actually improving your lineup at the same time. Let’s say that in your 2014 league, your starting running backs are studs such as Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray while your starting wide receivers, Eric Decker and Rueben Randle, are a little shaky. If an owner offered you Alfred Morris for Randle, would you accept? If your WR3 is dreadful, your RB3 is decent and there is no FLEX position in your league, this deal is not worth accepting even though you are definitely getting the better player. Morris would sit on your bench behind Forte and Murray while your wide receivers would get even worse. You always have to think about how a trade will affect your lineup.

However, if this trade is proposed to you, talk to those owners in your league who need a running back. See if you can swap Morris for an even better receiver than Randle. This is called a three-way trade. If an owner agrees to give you DeAndre Hopkins for Morris, the deal is definitely worth it. You would basically be upgrading from Randle to Hopkins at wide receiver.

One great strategy is to propose trades to owners who are stacked at a specific position but thin at another. If you lack a quality starting quarterback, look for a team with two great QBs. Send that owner your QB and another player in exchange for one of their studs. Since they already have another top-notch QB, that owner will be more likely to accept the deal.

For example, in 2014, Tom Brady was undervalued in many drafts so some owners ended up with both Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Let’s use my previous scenario and say you are stacked at running back with Forte and Murray. Your RB3 is Rashad Jennings, and your QB1 is Colin Kaepernick. If the owner with Brady is thin at the running back position, propose Kaepernick and Jennings for Brady. This way, you still have your great starting running backs and you upgrade at the QB position. It’s a win-win situation for both teams. This is an example of a two-for-one offer, which is often a great strategy when trading.

If you have a player who overachieves dramatically one week, it might be a smart to sell high. If you believe that player won’t produce as well for the rest of the season, try to trade him while other owners are still going on and on about how well he played last week. On the flip side, if there is a struggling stud who you think will rebound, see if his owner will part ways with him for a good but not great player in return.

If you are going to make the postseason, you may want to try to trade for a player with an easy schedule during the fantasy playoffs, which are commonly Weeks 14-16. Always keep strength of schedule in mind.

Lastly, don’t be that guy who proposes a bunch of unfair trades. You cannot get a superstar for nothing.

OPTIMIZING YOUR STARTING LINEUP

SCOUT Fantasy’s weekly rankings, game weather, matchup difficulty, player health, previous performance against an opposing team and other recent trends are significant elements to factor in when attempting to optimize your starting lineup.

Although you always want to start your stars, you also want to analyze each of your players’ matchups. If your WR2 is going up against the toughest secondary in the league, you may want to consider starting your WR3 if he is facing a much more forgiving defense. Now, making such a change depends on the talent and production differential between those two players. If your WR2 is a stud and your WR3 is much worse, you might want to stick with your more consistent option regardless of whom he is facing that Sunday. For example, if you drafted Antonio Brown and Julio Jones with your first two picks last year, you know you are not going to bench one of them based on their matchup. Remember: Always start your stars unless they are injured. And always make sure that everyone in your lineup is suiting up on game day.

Remember, SCOUT Fantasy offers you at least a dozen tools to help you with your Fantasy Football roster, from matchup analyzers to weekly rankings and a whole lot more. Make sure you use the top rankings website in the industry when attempting to become the champion of your league.

Matt Brandon
About Matt Brandon 26 Articles
Matt Brandon has been dominating Fantasy leagues for over ten years and specializes in Fantasy Basketball and Football. Since being introduced to Daily Fantasy Sports in September of 2014, he has taken down a few big tournaments and continues to play on DraftKings. Matt bleeds blue for his New York teams and is a huge Giants, Knicks, Mets and Rangers fan. As Managing Editor of Scout Fantasy Sports, Brandon publishes all content to the site, writes NBA and NFL content, assists in customer service, manages draft facilitation teams and is responsible for other critical behind-the-scenes functions.Brandon was born and raised in the New York area but has traveled all over the country in his 27 years of life. Brandon attended Northeastern University before transferring to SUNY Purchase where he studied sports journalism and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Following graduation, he wrote for FF Swami and Fantasy Pros before ending up with Scout Fantasy Sports. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattBrandon21.