First, it’s time to re-examine your roster strategy.
With bye weeks coming to an end after Week 12, Fantasy owners need to change their strategy when it comes to bench spots. Through the season’s first 12 weeks, the bench of any successful Fantasy team is used to add depth, stash high-upside players and plan for bye weeks.
At this stage in the season, barring injury, your every-week starters aren’t missing any more games. In a perfect world, you won’t even have to adjust your lineup going forward. Since planning for bye-week replacements is no longer a priority, the sole purpose of your bench should be to stash high-upside players. You know, players that you might actually start.
For example, if you own DeMarco Murray, Andre Ellington and Lamar Miller there is absolutely no point in stashing a mediocre veteran RB such as Chris Johnson. It might have been worthwhile to own CJ0K as a bye-week replacement, but you’ll never start him at this point. However, a high-upside handcuff, such as Joseph Randle, will crack your starting lineup if Murray goes down.
We already know what the 2014 version of CJ0K can do on his best day, and it’s not good enough for Fantasy owners. Toby Gerhart, Shonn Greene, Donald Brown, Darren McFadden, Pierre Thomas and any Panthers RB are examples of players that won’t start for successful Fantasy teams. There are plenty more, but these scrubs come to mind. Don’t roster any of these guys over someone who could actually emerge as an asset under the right circumstances.
At this point in the season, owning the direct backup to your stud RB is more important than ever. A lot of owners don’t believe in “handcuffs,” and I respect that. But if your RB1 plays on Monday Night and is a late scratch, owning the replacement could salvage your entire Fantasy season. Bench spots are valuable and should be used strategically. Stashing the backup to your best player is significantly more important than rostering a journeyman veteran.
This doesn’t only apply to running backs. Are you really ever going to start a Brian Hartline-type mediocre receiver? The answer is no. Even if you lose a starting WR to injury and need a replacement, you can find a similar player on the waiver wire. The Hartline-type WR is taking up a bench spot that should be used on someone with a chance to impact your team.
To simplify things: drop all the garbage on your bench and pick up a few lottery-ticket type players.
- Jordan Reed is officially banned from Fantasy consideration in the Flood household. The guy just can’t stay healthy. He’s the Derrick Rose of mediocre tight ends.
- Jerick McKinnon can’t catch a break. The guy has the skill set to be an elite Fantasy RB at some point, but loses every TD opportunity to vulture Matt Asiata. McKinnon finally received good news when Adrian Peterson was suspended for the remainder of the season, but that barely lasted 24 hours. Now McKinnon owners have to worry about Ben Tate’s presence on the team.
- All season, I’ve been reminding anyone who would listen that “Isaiah Crowell is the most talented RB in Cleveland,” and that “talent eventually separates itself” in position battles. Well, Tate is out of the picture and Crowell should be able to hold off Terrance West. Crowell should emerge as a must-start Fantasy option down the stretch and could easily turn into a trendy early-round pick entering 2015 drafts.
- If I have to choose between Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard this week… I’m going Hill.
- I was Brandin Cooks’ biggest cheerleader entering this season and he made me proud through 10 games. His season-ending thumb injury is unfortunate, but don’t forget about him when drafting next season.
- Owners who invested a second-round pick in Julio Jones appear frustrated, and rightfully so. Jones hasn’t scored a TD since Week 3 and doesn’t have double-digit receptions in a game since Week 5. Yes, he’s been underwhelming, but that could change at any moment. Jones is healthy and receives the targets to explode on any given week.
- I’ll never trust a Patriots running back and that includes Jonas Gray. He won’t even touch the football when you have a crucial Fantasy matchup and need to rely on him.
- Le’Veon Bell owners who were stashing LeGarrette Blount for handcuff purposes don’t need to waste time with Dri Archer. He’s too small to see a significant workload if Bell goes down.
- If you’re in a league that uses a FAAB for waivers and doesn’t allow Sunday morning add/drops, do yourself a favor and roster a backup QB. Imagine losing a critical Fantasy matchup because your QB is scratched during pregame warm-ups and you don’t own a backup? The same logic can be applied to TE, too, but getting zero production from your TE won’t cripple you like a donut from the QB position.
- It’s already clear that Charles Sims is going to be an extremely annoying player to own.
Questions? Hit me on Twitter @briansflood