Commandment VII –
Thou shalt watch your players and monitor injuries.
Injuries are a normal part of real football, and they are an inevitable component of fantasy football, as well. Each and every week you will need to monitor your entire team and watch the injury reports.
Many fantasy football website hosts have the capability to notify team owners about the injury status of their team’s members. Make sure you have yours set to allow the notices to be sent, make sure you have the correct email address listed, and, finally, make sure you pay attention when those seemingly endless streams of emails arrive in your inbox.
One popular strategy to deal with injuries is to use what is known as “handcuffs.” My take on handcuffs is unconventional. Handcuffs is a term that designates players who are second or third on the roster after the real team’s starters. Handcuffs are often used throughout a football game to relieve the starter, give the starter a break, or for specialty roles such as a goal-line running back. I don’t like them, in general. If you have a stud player, the handcuff for that stud is, by nature, probably not a stud himself. If he was, he’d be starting and not acting as a backup, in many cases. That being said, I have used handcuffs and used them successfully. I just hate to tie up a slot on my roster with a player that I would not start unless and until something serious happened to my starting player.
I would rather have a decent secondary option to use in the event something bad happened to my stud starter. The other benefit of this strategy is that you are not tied to two players with identical bye weeks, as you are with a starter and his handcuff.
If you are the owner of a player who is placed in Injured Reserve, meaning out for the remainder of the season, and you are in a redraft league, dump that dead weight. You cannot hold over the injured player next season, and he’s not coming back. First, obviously, get him out of your starting lineup. He is not going to play. He’s out for the season. Deal with it. Then, get him off your roster, and, if you need a replacement to fill the same role, pick up the best available player off the waiver wire.
If you don’t need to fill his vacancy immediately, you have a lot more flexibility. In fact, you are actually in a very good position. You can scour the waiver wire and pick up the best available player from any position, either hoping to trade him away later or with the intention of using him yourself down the road. If you have an injury prone player in your starting lineup, you might use the occasion to scoop up a fill-in should your starter go down with an injury.
Or, you might want to grab somebody off waivers just to prevent your competitors from grabbing him. There’s nothing wrong or unethical about keeping a potential starter sitting on your bench because you’ve got a better option starting. You never know. Your stud starter might get hurt and you’ll need to use that guy you thought was just filling a bench slot.
So, you need to keep up with the players on your roster(s). This, then, is perhaps the greatest benefit to subscription services. Many offer monitoring of players, providing you with instant news and updates on injuries. If you are able to jump quickly and grab a backup player off the waiver wire before the rest of your league owners even know the starting player is injured, you can often get a soon-to-be valuable player for next to nothing.
Don’t be the guy who starts a player you know for sure will not play that Sunday. In many pregame shows on Sunday morning, players will be listed as probable, questionable or doubtful. If you don’t have a better option, go ahead and start the player listed as probable. However, if you’ve got another option at all, replace the players listed as questionable or doubtful. If you don’t have another option, you’re kind of stuck. You’ll have to devote a little time on Sunday morning to monitor your players and their injury status. That’s part of the investment you’ll need to make to build a winning team. Suck it up.
The situation gets tricky when dealing with players with late games in that your other options might have already played, so can’t be substituted in. There is not much you can do about that, especially when your players are slated to play Sunday night or Monday night. Your pool of potential replacements is tiny. If that’s the case, you might be forced to roll the dice and roll with your injured player in the hope he can indeed play in the game, at least in a limited capacity. But if your player scheduled to play a Sunday or Monday night game is listed as doubtful, get him out of your lineup immediately, so that you at least get some points for that roster slot.
Keep an eye on injuries, and be ready to make roster moves if necessary.