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COUCH TOMATOES: Playoffs are coming–What do I do?

Warning: Reading this column about fantasy football can be hazardous to your health. If you cannot handle humor and satire, mixed in with a few juicy tidbits of NFL facts, this may not be for you. But if you are ready—read on my friends.

All of a sudden we are looking at Thanksgiving on the upcoming calendar and when those turkeys start squawking it means the fantasy football playoffs cannot be too far behind. For about half of us, the playoffs look like a solid prospect, or at least we still have a good opportunity. Generally, the haves/have nots divider is that teams with 5-4 records or better are looking hopefully at making the playoffs. Sub .500 teams are waiting until next year.

Traditionally that means that those winning teams fiercely compete down the stretch and one eventually wins the big prize at season’s end. The others traditionally throw in the towel and sulk about yet another bad year. In a redraft league that is pretty much our only options. In keeper and dynasty leagues there are advantageous moves available to both winning teams and losing teams as well.

Here are some steps everybody should be taking now to lock up either a 2016 playoff spot and/or to improve our 2017 fantasy draft results.

 

Playing to win with this week’s Couch Six Pack

1) We all probably have a wasted roster position or two on our teams. Take a look and you will likely be able to find some guy who has been injured and or that you have been waiting and waiting and waiting some more for his return. Of course, there’s the hot sleeper that is still doing just that, sleeping. Many were one week wonders and for some of them we are just wondering why? Players with prolonged injuries and underperforming draft picks and waiver wire pickups that are just not performing simply need to be cut. Going into Week 10 with each and every roster slot being crucial for a playoff run we need to have lineup possibilities, not dead weight.

This is not a game of sentiment. If you have Tony Romo, it is OK to cut him. Any dead weight means all dead weight. If you have had a guy for six years, or you are a fan of his team, if he is not earning his spot on your roster, cut him and pickup that guy from wherever. You may not have heard of him, but if he is a productive fantasy scorer, who cares?

2) The next step is to review the free agent market. I have seven teams, so yes, I know what a bleak picture that is. On the surface, there is nothing, but look a little deeper. We all think Colin Kaepernick is worthless as a fantasy QB, regardless of any political stances he may take. When I see the available players he is often there and psssst, don’t say it too loud, but he has had some not too shabby fantasy weeks. He sure beats having someone like Trevor Siemian of late.

Looking at RBs you will find a changing scene week after week. You hear stories of Doug Martin and Thomas Rawls returning next week. Are they really? How healthy will they be? Getting 50% of their normal productivity is not a great expectation when every win is essential for playoff aspirants.

The WR pool keeps growing each and every week as someone new has a breakout game because another WR went down. Look at what has happened in San Diego. Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman have pretty much emerged from nowhere in 2016. However, if you were paying attention the last few games in 2015, you would have noticed them. Williams did nothing until Week 17. Playing fantasy football is like reading a book to the very last word. You never know what you will find.

3) One way of predicting the availability of free agents is by projecting injuries. We mentioned Rawls and Martin above. There are plenty of others out there. Starks is supposed to be back in Green Bay. Latavius Murray returned recently in Oakland. What happens if others go down? Who backs up Gurley or Gordon? Both have been dinged up recently. Are their backups available?

We see WRs who clicked with one QB having no chemistry at all with the current one. What about Cameron Meredith? He was a beast for a couple weeks and now he is quiet? Will Cutler find him?

4) This week is oftentimes the last call for trading. You have one last chance to switch players around a bit. Give your buddy that extra RB for a decent WR or QB. Call the guy that has two top QBs and find a quick replacement for Case Keenum. For some reason, trading like this is a lost art. When you look at alternatives on the waiver wire you can readily see why trading is preferable.

5) In keeper or dynasty leagues you have a real opportunity now that you will not have at the end of the season when trading starts again. With the scarcity of healthy players, players like Duke Johnson, Tyrell Williams and even Ty Montgomery have an inflated value that they will not have later.

You can demand higher prices and in many cases will get close to what you ask for. With advancing and having an opportunity to do what many would consider to be crazy moves, the time is right leverage-wise to extract some great draft picks for 2017 and 2018. In a keeper league where you can only keep 1-4 four players, this is particularly advantageous. What good does your #6 keeper do you now? You are out of the playoffs and he is in demand by competing teams. If you are losing this year, why not get an advantage for next year?

You also have players that are closing in on the end of their careers like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and other studs close to hitting the age wall at their positions like Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, Steve Smith and many others. Basically, any healthy lineup-viable player can help people. This is a good time in a dynasty league to stock up on extra 1st and 2 round draft picks.

So don’t just sit back and take defeat so bitterly. This is a time to attack or build for 2017, not to simply retreat from 2016. A champion is always making the best of a situation. Draft parity is a way of to even everything out among relatively equal teams. The trick to winning is making your team more equal than the others.

6) One other thing I like to do as the season progresses is to hoard players. If I have seven RB slots on the team, why not have seven potential starters? If I have several fringe players and maybe one stud left it gives me an advantage. If there are 12 teams and there are normally about 80 rostered RBs and let’s say about 1/3 of them are no longer available, that means that the demand for starters is going up. If you take players out of circulation you will have a dual effect of making your team stronger, while keeping other teams weaker.

When we play fantasy football we are so busy with our teams that we forget about the football game as a whole. Be sure to remember that the answers to our fantasy football questions can usually be found within the numbers. And if all else fails, feel free to ask me. You can reach me at mnease23@yahoo.com. All fantasy football questions are welcome.

Good luck! Have fun!

About Mike Nease

Mike Nease is a member of the FSWA and has been playing the game since 1985, while also writing about it since 2001. Over the years he has sampled about all the playing scenarios that fantasy football offers, including re-drafter, keeper, dynasty, auction, IDP and salary cap leagues. He and his wife Bonnie reside in West Chicago, IL You can contact Mike at mnease23@yahoo.com anytime and during the football season follow him @mikeinsights.