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Hit Your Deadlines
Whether it's claiming players on the waiver wire, making a trade, or inserting someone into the starting lineup, everything has a deadline in fantasy football. Knowing your players' schedules is paramount to ensure you don't get stuck with a big fat zero in your starting lineup because you didn't realize your injured receiver was out and his game started on a Thursday night.
Make a note of your roster's schedule every week, taking particular notice to players who play on Thursday or could be out because of a bye week. Make sure you submit any waiver claims before waivers are run, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. Most leagues have trade deadlines that fall on a date during the regular season, usually in November. After that, no trades are allowed; be mindful of that as well.
Some weeks are going to be tougher for players than others. Whether it's a running back slamming into the wall that is the top rushing defense or a quarterback swarmed by the league-leading sack master, bad matchups ruin fantasy scores all the time. Conversely, even the worst running backs can have a good day against a sieve of a defense. The key here is to optimize your weekly starting lineup based on matchup data.
Fair warning, though -- there is a temptation to get cute when it comes to matchups. You may be tempted to bench your star running back because his offensive line is banged up and the No. 4 rush defense is coming to town. Unless there is an injury involved, though, benching your star is probably not the optimal move. Unless you have a replacement that's above expected value (EV), that running back is still going to have a lot of opportunities to score fantasy points. It doesn't matter if he averages 2.8 yards-per-carry if he gets 21 carries, catches five passes, and scores a goal-line touchdown.
Beyond your studs, though, there are plenty of nuances when it comes to matchups. If you have two players close in value vying for one starting spot, you can use their matchups to break the tie. If your fourth running back is going to see a swiss cheese defense, it might be better to start him over your third receiver in the flex spot.
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 No. 2 guy.
- If everything else is equal between two players, start the one 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 a player's injury status can leave you with a zero from one of your starters. Avoid this if you can.