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FANTASY COACH: The Value of a Bench Spot

I knew I would take a loss in Week 8 last year even before the season started. Almost half of my team was on a bye that week. It didn’t help that players I had picked up to fill in became injured, and that the waiver wire was slim pickings. All in all, it was a total blank.

Luckily, I learned from it. I realized there are two major things to consider when drafting and setting your lineup – who you play, and who you don’t. We spend so much time planning on who we play that we forget there are other players to consider who patiently wait for their time in the spotlight. Today’s article isn’t so much about who specifically to play, but a general strategy regarding your choices.


I’ve never been a big fan of handcuffing running backs. They can’t all be Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams. If the workhorse running back goes down, there’s always a mad grab for the backups (if no one has taken them already). But is it worth it? Should you draft someone who might sit on your bench the whole season, taking up space? I don’t think so. There are plenty of running backs by committee, and selecting one or two from different teams would be a better play than to fill two spots with handcuffs to your starting running backs. Besides, if the workhorse goes down, it doesn’t guarantee that the backup will be at the same level. You could lose out on valuable players and valuable space.

Bottom line: Depend on dependable running backs, not handcuffs.


Planning Ahead

If you’re in contention for a playoff spot, or already sealed up a spot in the middle of the season, picking up players who will have favorable matchups during Weeks 14-17 (when the playoffs usually occur) is a great strategy. This will set you up for any problems (i.e., injuries to big-name players, big-name players declining in their play) you may face in the weeks before the playoffs. Even though these players might not see any playing time during the playoffs, it’s not a bad idea to have them there. Also, if there are other teams in your league that need that one special player to get themselves into the playoffs, a nice trade could be worked out.

Bottom line: Plan ahead for the playoffs for the big payoff.


Favorable Matchups

Building off of the last section, planning ahead in terms of schedules is a good strategy. For example, let’s say you think Chicago will have a subpar season this year. Since Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit play Chicago twice during the season, it might not be a bad idea to snag two of the defenses (preferably the Green Bay and Minnesota defenses). That way, you have four games of a fairly solid defense playing against a poor offense. Or, take a Baltimore and Cincinnati defense to play against Cleveland. Either way, find a not-so-good team and exploit that team with the teams against which they play twice. This also extends to offensive players. Finding players who play better against certain teams could lead to more wins and a winning season.

Bottom line: Play against the teams rather than with the numbers.

About Adam Conner