Fantasy 411: Here’s the Only Way to Win Your Fantasy Football League

  • DeMarco Murray

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    Don’t overthink: play your studs

    If you were fortunate enough to make it to the final weeks of fantasy football season, odds are you have a couple guys who led the way. Whether it’s workhorse DeMarco Murray, Aaron Rodgers’ sniper arm or Antonio Brown’s reliable mitts, there’s probably at least one or two guys that are responsible for your ascendance.

    Not to hit you with advice that reeks of Captain Obvious, but remember who got you there. Maybe there’s a guy you picked up on waivers that has a favorable matchup against a doormat, and you feel like he’s a safer bet than one of your studs, who is locked into a battle with a playoff team. I understand the mentality, and if you want to roll the dice on what looks like a good opportunity, I won’t stop you.

    But you pay a premium for top talent in the draft and through trades for a reason; you’re not plucking guys like Dez Bryant out of thin air. If you’re going to go down, go down while putting your best players in the lineup instead of trying to get cute. At least you’ll be able to say they just didn’t perform, instead of lamenting your own foolishness while studs rack up points on the bench.

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  • A.J. Green

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    Prepare for the worst: Have a backup plan for injuries

    Everyone has at least one player they rely on that is constantly on the mend. Even the brightest of stars have seasons where a nagging injury lands them on the injury report from week to week, a headache for any fantasy owner, let alone a good one.

    There’s no reason you shouldn’t be prepared for this occasion. By this point in the year, you should know who you’re going to roll with in crunch time; the clear-cut starters should have made themselves apparent. That means your bench shouldn’t be trying to cover as many bases as possible, and should be used instead to focus on your biggest trouble spots.

    For instance, do you have Andrew Luck at the helm? Forget keeping a backup around for him. Drop whoever you have on standby and make sure you have protection for the running back with a hammy problem. Protect your tight end that just tweaked an ankle. Whatever you do, make sure you aren’t caught with your pants down because you didn’t prepare for an injury.

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  • Kenny Stills

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    Grab Kenny Stills if he’s still out there

    If you were choosing young Saints wideouts heading into the season, Brandin Cooks probably would have been your guy. The rookie caught major buzz in training camp and was beginning to show why as his rookie campaign wore on. He was a major asset in PPR and his speed made him a threat to score every time the ball was in his hands.

    Unfortunately, his season is now over, which has opened up more opportunities for another young Saints receiver, Kenny Stills. The second-year man showed promise during his rookie season and stepped up big time in the first game since Cooks went down, turning in 98 yards on eight receptions on Monday Night Football.

    Investing in Saints receivers is a tough sell at this stage of the game, but if you were relying on a rookie – even one as exciting as Cooks – to lead you to the promised land, your depth at wideout was probably suspect to begin with. Take a shot on Stills.

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  • Terrell Suggs

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    Unless you have a dominant defense, target the bad teams each week

    I told you to rely on your studs, but there’s an exception to that rule. Unless you have a top of the line defense, your day one D/ST unit is probably not going to last you all season. The randomness of the NFL from year-to-year results in surprise performances from both a positive and negative perspective. It’s easy to forget now, but the Patriots used to be one of the most reliable options on the defensive end – that’s changed as the team shifted identities while led by Tom Brady.

    Rather than relying on a single team to get you through these final weeks, consider the option of “streaming” your defense, picking up the best choice available on the waiver market for a given week. Take a look at who is playing the Jaguars, the Bucs, and Washington – or another bad team of your choice, that is available to be had off the wire. Many fantasy defenses that have been strong throughout the year will have to go up against divisional opponents, so get behind a more average group that gets to feast on a better matchup.

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  • DeMarco Murray
  • A.J. Green
  • Kenny Stills
  • Terrell Suggs

Everyone thinks they can be a winner when they sit down for their fantasy football draft in August – why else would you sign up? Unless you’re in a dynasty/keeper league, the beginning of each fantasy season allows us all to wash our hands of the season before. We get to say goodbye to injured stars and disappointments and pick a new crop of studs to lead us to victory. That feeling of newness and competition drives the hysteria.

But if we’re being honest, only a select few really have a chance to win the fantasy title. You might get away with squeaking out wins during the regular season – match-ups are everything – but once you have to stand toe-to-toe with the other contenders, you aren’t going to be up to the task without a stacked squad.

Maybe you got to the big dance without a fully loaded team, and you’re wondering what you should do. If you took my advice on how to win in fantasy basketball this season, you should be doing pretty well for yourself already, and be willing to accept a few words of advice on how to get it done in another fantasy sport.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you any advice on how to draft – that ship has long since sailed, and your top-of-the-line talent is likely locked in, barring a waiver wire miracle. We won’t let that deter you from winning the ‘ship, it just means we have to get a little creative in the process. Here’s the Only Way to Win Your Fantasy Football League.

Follow Kyle on Twitter at @kyleneubeck

image via Andy Lyons/Getty Images