Friday - Jan 22, 2021

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KEEPING AHEAD: Decisions, Decisions

Well folks, here we are.

The semi-finals. The Final Four. The make or break moment.

All year we have been working, analyzing, and striving to figure out just how we plan to win; relentlessly pursuing trades, scouring the waiver wire, and putting out the best lineup we can each week. This, for many of you, is the culmination of six-plus months of research, and, despite how unfair it may seem, it all comes down to one week’s worth of games.

The question is (and trust me, it’s a doozy): will you choose the correct lineup?

Try to explain fantasy football to someone who has zero idea about the game and inevitably the question comes up of “well, how do you choose who to play?” From a novice point of view it is a valid question, and to the veteran sharks in the room, you probably almost chuckle at their naivete, muttering something along the lines of “well that’s where the projections come in” or “you just know” or “by watching the games.”

But let’s be honest for a second…it is hands down the worst part of fantasy football, right?

Let’s imagine your playoffs started last night. All year long you have ridden the fantastic play of Keenan Allen and his league-leading targets and now you have a Thursday Night special against the woeful division opponents in the Raiders. Throughout the bad matchups in the middle of the year, you have survived and are poised to lock in your stud wide receiver for the most important game of the year and you barely take a second glance. Until…

There are rumblings of a Keenan Allen injury. Suddenly you get a bit nervous. Surely it’s not a big deal right? He’s played through pain in the past. But it isn’t ideal. Still, if he plays for the Chargers, he plays for your fantasy team. Until…

Mike Williams shows up on the injury report too. And Austin Ekeler. Suddenly, the entire Chargers offense looks a bit worrisome. Maybe Justin Herbert won’t have his weapons, maybe they will be on a snap count if they play. Still it’s the Raiders and he’s gotten you this far. Until…

The inactive list comes out before the game. Whew – Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler all active and ready to go. You watch the pregame coverage and the camera even focuses on Keenan Allen stretching and he yells into the camera “Don’t sit me!” which, to you, is about as clear of a sign as ever that you are making the right call having him in your lineup. Until…

Keenan Allen barely sees the field throughout the game. Multiple shots of him standing on the sideline, helmet on, do little to soothe the ache in your stomach wondering if he will get in the game, if he will extend beyond his 100 catches on the year. You pace and curse and yell and beg the Chargers to put him back in the game, to save your season, to not start the playoffs on such a low note. Until…

The game ends and Keenan Allen finishes with a measly 1 catch for 17 yards. That’s it. Under 3 points in a PPR league when he received 147 targets throughout the year. Disaster most definitely not avoided.

So what went wrong? Did you make a mistake in trusting him? Should you have done something…anything…different?

The simple answer, even with the benefit of hindsight, is no, you did not make a mistake. Let me tell you why.

When choosing your lineup, there are multiple factors that you need to consider and consider strongly. They are, in order:

  • Year long production – Has the player produced for you all year?
  • Injury status – Is the player active and ready to play?
  • Matchup – Does the player face anything other than a top five defense/defender?
  • Weather – Are the weather conditions suitable for their game?
  • Options – Do your other options at the position score less on average?

In every scenario, with every lineup, you have to consider each of these five factors every time you think about starting or sitting a player. Think of the above metric as a point system, with one point given to a “yes” answer to each factor. Let’s conclude then that anything above a score of “3” is considered “startable” and a score of “4” or “5” is absolute slam-dunk no-brainer territory.

By this metric, Keenan Allen was an absolute starter last night. Is that any comfort to you today? Probably not. But it does speak to some of the decisions you may have this weekend as you ready yourself to set some lineups. Will you make the perfect calls? Probably not. But there is nothing wrong with following the patterns and trends that have gotten you here and trust me, it would feel much worse to have sat Keenan and had him go crazy than what you ended up with.


Read on for this week’s Hits, Holds and Folds…

About MJ Brown

MJ Brown has been an avid fantasy football keeper league enthusiast and player for over a decade. A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, MJ delivers weekly content on multiple platforms, bringing a combination of advice, humor, and tips to keep your team at the top of your league.