On most of my fantasy football rosters, I draft a solid core of players. Then I make sure I have a solid line of reserves or backup players, in case of injuries to my starters. But, after those needs are fulfilled, I try to keep one roster slot filled with a player or defense to which I have little attachment.
Of course, you need to evaluate your own roster and make sure you have enough bench slots to leave one filled with a “throwaway.” A normal number of bench slots hovers around eight. That allows a backup quarterback, a couple of backup running backs and a couple of wideouts, along with a reserve tight end. I normally would try to grab another running back, since that position is extremely injury prone, and wide receivers tend to rise and fall throughout the season and can be grabbed off the waiver wire if necessary.
So, you’ve got one roster slot left on your bench. How do you fill it? If there is a standout player you’ve had your eye on since the earlier rounds of the draft, go ahead and snag him. There is no harm in that. In fact, he might be a diamond in the rough. However, maybe you’re out of ideas or you simply don’t like any players left. That is your throwaway.
Go ahead and pick up an extra defense or take a shot on a rookie running back. But keep in mind you probably won’t be holding onto that guy or defense forever.
Your kicker should be someone who plays in a dome and who has a late-season bye week. Your defense should also have a late-season bye, and not the same one as your kicker. This allows you some time to grab a replacement kicker off waivers after that replacement has had his bye, so you don’t miss a beat. The same holds true for your defense. If you have a late-season bye, you can go ahead and grab a replacement off waivers after the replacement defense has enjoyed its vacation. However, let’s say you really like your defense and don’t want to let it go. Or let’s say your defense is great and has an early bye. Use your throwaway roster slot to pick up a replacement off waivers, use it during the bye of your preferred defense and drop the replacement defense the following week, immediately following the game.
For what other purpose can you use your throwaway? Probably the best purpose for which to use this throwaway slot is to pick up that superhot player off of waivers. Especially once your defense and kicker situation is handled regarding conflicting bye weeks, you are wide open to play with your throwaway slot. Go ahead and try to jump the gun and grab a guy before the rest of your league has even heard of him. Or, pick up that guy your competitor cut a bit too hastily. You are, in essence, gambling. It doesn’t cost you anything, though, and, because your throwaway is of little value to you, you don’t feel deprived when you drop him. It’s not going “all in,” but rather dropping a quarter into a slot machine. Low risk/high reward is the name of the throwaway game. So go ahead and get yourself a throwaway.