Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football
Section XI: Deciding Who to Start and Who to Bench
Posted 6/16 by Will Grant, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
OK, you've selected your players, analyzed your strengths, grabbed a couple
free agents, pulled a trade or two and now you're ready for Game 1. So you glance
down at your roster and try to decide who is going to give you that all-important
first win. Here are a few tips on how to ensure that your team not only notches
its first win, but also keeps you in every game, even against the league champion.
Know Your Deadlines
This is the single most important piece of information when determining your
lineup from week to week. All the research and breaking news in the world won't
mean much if it's too late to change your lineup. It is critical that you know
when your starting lineup is frozen.
It may sound silly to state this as the most important rule, but you will be
surprised at how often it is missed. During the course of the regular season,
someone will forget that there's a Thursday game, or that their stud RB is off
this week. By the time they realize their mistake, it will be beyond the deadline,
and they'll start someone who is off, or sit someone who they should not have.
On Wednesday of each week, grab the schedule and glance at it for a few minutes.
Make note of any Thursday or Saturday games that may be scheduled that week.
Also note which teams are off that week. Compare these teams with your roster
players and make your changes early. As the deadline approaches, adjust your
lineup as necessary.
Know Your Studs
Another simple rule that sometimes is overlooked. If you've got the #4 RB in
the league, but they are facing the #1 Run Defense in the league, do you bench
them for someone else? No way! Not unless you're lucky enough to have 3 stud
runners on your roster. Your stud players are the guys who will be there week
in and out for you. These guys always find a way to contribute. They might not
chip in 200 yards and 4 touchdowns every week, but even against the toughest
defenses, these guys can have an impact. Never sit your studs unless they are
Know Your Matchups
The key to posting solid numbers week after week is to put the best team possible
on the field. If you can correctly determine your highest scoring player at
every position (100% scoring efficiency) you'll win most of your games. It sounds
simple, but it's really not. After every loss, you will probably be able to
look back on your roster and see a guy who would have won the game for you,
if only you had started him.
The key to putting the best team on the field is to look at the opponents of
all your players. Is your backup RB playing a team with a weak run defense?
If so, you might slip him in as your #2. Is your backup QB playing a team with
a banged up secondary? You might want to start him this week. Is your starting
kicker playing outside in the rain or snow? You might want to start your backup
instead. Knowing who your players are matched up against can really help maximize
your scoring each week.
One very important thing needs to be mentioned here. NEVER bench your stud
players because your backups have an easier opponent. It is a VERY BAD idea.
Don't do it. Always start your stud players. This can't be stressed enough.
Know your Intangibles
Here are a few other things to consider when rounding out your lineup.
- If your league allows flex positions, always start the players who average
the most points each week
- If one of your players is on a hot streak, take a chance and move them into
the starting lineup in place of your #2 guy.
- If everything else is equal between 2 players, start the one who is not
listed on the injury report. Some points are better than none.
- As the deadline for your lineup approaches, check for breaking news about
injured players. Was your starter downgraded on the injury report? Was a player
injured at practice later in the week? A last minute change in the injury
status of a player can leave you with a guaranteed zero from one of your starters.
Avoid this if you can.
Follow these simple rules, and you will find that your team will be competitive
week after week. Pulling out one or two close victories during the regular season
can boost you into the playoffs, or give you a higher overall rank at the end
of the year.