Half Season Fantasy Review and Rest-of-Season Tips
Just make it to the playoffs.
Winning your league is always the preferred outcome, but sometimes reality won't’ bend to our will. Injuries have left some of our teams in a lurch. Bye weeks have forced us into making suboptimal roster moves. Some of our elite performers have had down performances on the same week our opponent’s players have monster games. Just for reference, here are some of Week 8’s top performers:
- Matt Moore (QB12)
- David Montgomery (RB7)
- Miles Sanders (RB9)
- Chris Conley (WR9)
- Diontae Johnson (WR11)
- Ryan Griffin (TE1)
As expected, right?
We enter the season with either high draft grades from Yahoo! or a roster filled with our favorite playmakers. Even that sleeper you were certain would hit. But after eight weeks, those dreams of laughing at your league mates as you take down the championship have given way to frantically bidding all your remaining FAAB on Jaylen Samuels and Ryan Finley. Don’t be embarrassed. Well, maybe a little. With the final stretch of the regular season in front of us, it’s time to take a hard look at your roster and our league standing to see what we can do to make it to the playoffs.
So, we’ve brought the team back to talk strategy. Using a similar format, we’ll break down a few scenarios for fantasy managers to consider moving forward. Whether it be through trading, savvy waiver wire moves, or even just having patience with your current squad may yield the strategy that gets you through the regular season. With that, let’s turn it over to the team for their thoughts.
Playoff Lock: 8-0 or 7-1 (Jennifer Eakins, @themondaymommy)
Undefeated or just one loss are pretty sweet spots to be in no matter how you spin it. You’ve survived the first five weeks of byes unscathed and are thinking you can probably just chill and cruise your way to the postseason. Well, maybe so, but I wouldn’t recommend getting too comfy.
Injuries and the remaining byes can come at you pretty fast, so being prepared for the rest of the schedule including the playoffs is paramount, so that you don’t pull a Patriots from 2007 and go undefeated in the regular season, only to lose the big game.
Looking at our Hot Spots tool can provide valuable info in the form of a color-coded visual of teams' remaining schedules. Week 10 is super close and there are a whopping six teams who get to rest, so be sure to get ahead of that if needed. Next, take a look at your positional players and what their schedule looks like from Weeks 14-16, which should be your league’s playoffs unless you play in a wonky format league.
If we look at running backs first, these are the teams with the best schedules during that time frame, so that you can either look to pick someone up or make a deal before your league’s upcoming deadline. The numbers for each team represent their schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing backfields per contest through the first eight weeks.
There are plenty of Patriots backs to roster, although picking the right one from week to week can be tricky. Fantasy managers may be fed up with David Montgomery, and of course, the committee in Philly makes their backs easier to pry from owner's lineups.
When it comes to the wideout position, here's a look at the players with the juiciest contests throughout the fantasy postseason, so that you have a better chance of keeping that sweet win streak alive.
Sterling Shepard could be a guy to go after since he's been sidelined and perhaps a victim of out of sight, out of mind to those hanging onto him. With Carolina so spotty, their wideouts may be easily acquired before we know exactly which Cam Newton will return to the field. Once again, we see Philly in the mix and grabbing DeSean Jackson or even Dallas Goedert, since their tight end schedule is cushy too, could provide benefits to your roster long term.
If you have the room on your bench, another strategy that could pay off is to secure a handcuff or two, not necessarily for your current players. As we get closer to the end of the season, players start to wear down and are even rested by their own coaches in preparation for the NFL playoffs. Having someone like an Alexander Mattison or a Jeff Wilson Jr. could pay off big time in those final few weeks.
Must-Win Every Week: 5-3 or 4-4 (Chris Allen, @ChrisAllenFFWX)
Every Sunday turns into a full-day sweat. Each win is a nail-biter and each loss is an abject disaster. Being stuck in the middle is a rollercoaster. Actually, a treadmill is probably a more apt comparison. You're making moves, but not going anywhere in the standings. However, there are a couple of things to consider.
“Review your roster after both wins and losses”
I talked about reviewing your roster in the previous article and that still holds true. For review:
- In Losses - Were there significant differences between projections and actual totals? Can those differences be traced to a decrease in opportunity?
- In Wins – Was it a concerted effort (high scores across the board) or were one or two outlier performances required?
We’re deep into the season and the teams have fallen into their own respective trends regarding snaps, targets, and touches. Using our Snap and Target tools, I can quickly review a player’s output over multiple weeks to make a logical decision on if I should continue to start them. For example, let’s look at Larry Fitzgerald.
He finished Week 1 as WR10 in PPR leagues but has slowly trended downward since the beginning of the season. Christian Kirk’s three-week absence allowed Fitzgerald to maintain a 21% target share, but that plummeted to 12% in Week 8 upon Kirk’s return. On a short week against San Francisco who's ranked first against quarterbacks and receivers in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed, he doesn’t have to be started. We can’t look at draft cost (i.e. the Sunk cost fallacy) or early-season performances as indicators of future performance. Short, recent windows should be weighted more in our evaluation as injuries, offensive adjustments, or time, in the case of Fitzgerald, play a role in their production. In both wins and losses, we should continue to review player usage and identify downward trending players ahead of time. Some can be placed on our bench. Others can be traded.
“If you’re looking to trade, trade for players who have already had their bye.”
Trading while in the middle of the pack may seem like the ultimate gamble. Teams at either end of the spectrum have less to lose. They’re giving up lesser assets or swinging for the fences. With so much to consider in a trade, not being able to use them soon shouldn’t be one of them. Trading for a better player should already be a pre-requisite. Trading for a player that’s already had their bye should also be a part of your calculus. Every week is important. Every win is needed. Using both our starters and bench assets, the optimal move is to look for players to acquire who will provide an impact and can become mainstays in our lineup for the rest of the season.
Marlon Mack sets up as a decent example. The Trade Evaluator tool has Mack valued at 113 ‘points’. Indianapolis has already had their bye and Mack has maintained a 73% share of the backfield touches throughout the season. He's a reasonable trade target on a team that’s passing at the fifth-lowest rate, which gives the Colts back plenty of volume. His playoff schedule is a concern (@TB, @NO, vs CAR), but the process for evaluating potential trade targets has multiple facets. Fantasy managers are encouraged to use the noted tools to find assets they can move and continue to push for the fantasy playoffs.
Ready to Tap Out: 2-6 or 1-7 (Justin Edwards, @Justin_Redwards)
Let’s face it, we’re in a bad spot with these 2-6 and/or 3-5 (or worse) teams. We’re gonna need some luck to pull out of this mess. Before we make too many drastic moves, make sure you’re looking at your “Points For”, or alternatively, the “Power Rank” tab on My Fantasy League. This will give you a good idea if you’ve just been unlucky - by scoring lots of points in high scoring affairs - or if 2-6 is closer to your “true” record. If that lowly record really is your “true” record and this is a Dynasty league I would be doing whatever I can to trade away the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green, Adrian Peterson, etc. for any draft capital I can muster.
Now, we’re here to focus on bettering our position in a redraft league, so let’s run through some steps that can help us string together some wins and sneak into the playoffs. First off, find players on your team with easy playoff schedules and difficult immediate schedules. As mentioned previously in this article, 4for4’s Hot Spots tool is incredible or projecting who has the lightest opponents for the fantasy playoffs. Sadly, that tool not going to do you any good because, at this point, you’re on the outside looking in. Although it’s never fun to help teams that are already doing great, we’re going to need to talk to those teams more or less guaranteed to make the playoffs, and see if they are willing to take on Browns, Jaguars, Giants or Redskins players who have a difficult set of opponents before a cake schedule in Weeks 14 - 16. Some sneaky offenses to target for players in return are Bills, Bears, Jets and Raiders assets, all of whom have very good matchups over the next three weeks and all of whom have their Bye out of the way.
If no trades prevail, hop on the waiver wire and make sure it’s not picked clean. Even if your waivers have already run this week, make sure late news didn’t change someone into a usable fantasy asset, for instance; Chris Conley, Josh Reynolds or Ryan Finley in a 2QB/Superflex league. Considering your team is very likely subpar because of injury luck, make sure you’re bringing our companion articles with you while you scour the waiver wire. We have specialized streaming articles for QB, TE, D/ST and K.
If player moves don’t seem to be an option, then the only thing we’ve got left to do is some self-scouting. How efficient have you been when setting lineups? Have you been starting deep threats in games with 40 mph wind? Have you been plugging in running backs who aren’t used in the passing game when the opposing defense is a pass funnel? When in doubt about who to start, make sure you’re using 4for4’s Snap App and Player Touches App to ensure that your fantasy assets are seeing the field at a high percentage and getting opportunities while on the field.