Thursday - Jan 28, 2021
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KEEPING AHEAD: Week 1 – Setting Your Lineup

I’ll let you in on a secret: I hate setting my fantasy lineup every week.

Now, as an avid fantasy football enthusiast, one who admittedly thinks about this stuff way too much (ask my ever-patient wife), and literally spends hours each week writing about strategy, you’d think that I not only enjoy setting my lineups, but that, over the years, I’d actually gotten pretty good at it.

To that I say no, and a big, fat, resounding NO.

Frankly, setting your lineup each week is a stress-inducing, second-guessing forming nightmare that will either leave you shouting your genius or lamenting your every decision come Sunday. Do you play the guy on Thursday? Which RB2 do you sit? This quarterback or that quarterback??? Every fantasy player weekly wrestles with these thoughts and decisions.

But fret not. I got ya.

Kind of.

DO … trust your studs. Listen, this is Week 1. Everyone (sorry Von Miller) is healthy and ready to go. You drafted a team of studs, you paid a quarter of your auction budget for one player, but suddenly you are concerned about Mike Evans because he is playing against New Orleans? Stop it, though he is injured so keep an eye on that situation.

DON’T … try to be the smartest guy in the league. Yes, we know you picked up James Robinson a month ago. Yes, we are all impressed with your fantasy acumen. But trusting your Mensa-pick rookie for a bad team against a good defense does not start you 1-0. Be satisfied that he is on your bench and move along.

DO … consider the opponent. There are cases in which the opponent looks so perfect, so ripe, that you just have to go for it. Jimmy Garoppolo is not many people’s idea of a QB1, but do you know what he did against Arizona last year? He shredded Arizona. Annihilated Arizona. He had 741 yards and EIGHT touchdowns. Ya, sign me up.

DON’T … be surprised if some of those juicy opponents got better in the offseason. I know this seems crazy, but these NFL teams do try to improve every offseason and just because Arizona was horrid against the pass last year, it has added pieces to try to improve upon that. This is partly why metrics like Strength of Schedule don’t mean a whole lot at this point in the year – we simply don’t know yet the amount of improvement each team has made (or not made … looking at you, Jacksonville) in the offseason.

DO … trust in your sources. Look, you come here to for a reason. You are a shark. You put faith in our writers and analysts to do the homework, crunch the numbers, and provide you every week with projections and rankings of every relevant player in the NFL. Going with your gut is admirable, but it’s okay to let us do some of the heavy lifting.

DON’T … search the web for the one weekly ranking that just so happens to confirm what you are already thinking. I say this, because I’ve been guilty of it. Years back, I was absolutely certain that Donte Moncrief was the correct play over DeSean Jackson. Every website and ranking told me I was nuts. But I was so certain that I kept doing Google searches of these two players until I found some obscure site that no longer exists that had Moncrief ranked several spots higher than Jackson. That confirmed it for me and I set my lineup accordingly. Jackson scored 30-plus fantasy points that week. Moncrief scored zero. Nada. Zilch. I lost by one point. I’m not bitter.

DO … be willing to spend on waivers next week. Since I probably won’t get the opportunity to talk to you before your next waivers process, let me give a gentle reminder that great players can still be had right now on the waiver wire. Be willing to dip into your fantasy budget or sacrifice your waiver position if you see a player on Thursday/Sunday/Monday who pops.

DON’T … go crazy on waivers. Remember Laurent Robinson? Don’t be alarmed, most people don’t. But a few years ago he went bananas in Week 1, causing fantasy owners everywhere to spend like mad trying to acquire his services. While it’s fine to be willing to go after a player that explodes in the first week of the season, understand that similar production may not follow in the coming weeks. Want proof? Last year John Ross torched Seattle in Week 1, collecting seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns. That was one-quarter of his total receptions for the entire year.

DO … promise yourself, right now, as you read this, to have fun this weekend. We have had a horrendous start to the year, no doubt. But, if you are even remotely like me, this coming weekend is your holiday, and live NFL action is just about the best present you could open. Yes, you may start off 0-1, someone will probably get injured, and you definitely should have picked that one guy up off waivers before the weekend, but so what? THE NFL IS BACK. Enjoy it.

DON’T … freak out and stress. No championships are won or lost in Week 1. Even in the worst case scenario, we have a long season ahead of us and lots of games to still be played. Take note of certain performances, continue to improve your roster, and be ready to hit the ground running in Week 2, regardless of how Week 1 went.

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.