Strategy topic of the week: is win-loss record the best way to evaluate your fantasy football team?
Since we're now past the halfway point of the fantasy football regular season, most fantasy owners have a pretty good feel for whether their teams are legitimate contenders for the championship or candidates for the first pick in next year's draft.
Of course, there are a number of teams currently in fantasy football purgatory whose fate is yet to be decided. Sure, wins and losses are the ultimate determinant of whether our teams qualify for the playoffs, but many fantasy owners have tales of teams with great regular season records that were upset during the playoffs by a team with an inferior regular season record. How do you minimize the probability of having your team suffer a similar fate? The key is to evaluate your team regularly and objectively throughout the regular season, making trades and waiver wire transactions when necessary.
There will always be an element of randomness in fantasy football. Theoretically, it's possible for a fantasy team to have the highest points scored total for the season, yet lose every game because its opponents' teams put up a high score each week. Conversely, it's also theoretically possible for a fantasy team to have the lowest points scored total for the season, yet go undefeated. Thankfully, both of these scenarios are extremely unlikely to occur.
You can take steps, such as starting some players whose fantasy performance is likely to have a high positive correlation with the performance of your opponent's key players. For example, if your opponent starts Aaron Rodgers, then you might start Jordy Nelson, who otherwise may not be in your lineup. However, attempting to employ this strategy week after week is a time-consuming and ultimately frustrating exercise.
The best gauge of your team's relative strength is the total number of points it has scored. If your team is 7-0 or 6-1 and is leading the league in points scored, you're obviously in good shape. However, if your team is 5-2 or 4-3, yet ranks in the bottom half of your league for total points scored, chances are you've been somewhat lucky so far, and you can't rely on that continuing to be the case for the remainder of the season.
If your team falls into the latter group, you still have some work to do if you expect to even qualify for your league's playoffs, much less win the championship. Scour both your fellow owners' rosters and the waiver wire for opportunities to improve your roster.
Even if your team is currently sitting pretty, it never hurts to look for opportunities to upgrade your bench in case one of your key players is lost to injury. You'll have plenty of time to rest on your laurels after you win your league's championship.
Players you'll wish you hadn't started this week
QB: Tom Brady (@ Pittsburgh), Matthew Stafford (@ Denver), Matt Schaub (vs. Jacksonville)
RB: DeAngelo Williams (vs. Minnesota), Bernard Scott (@ Seattle), Pierre Thomas (@ St. Louis)
WR: Percy Harvin (@ Carolina), Michael Crabtree (vs. Cleveland), David Nelson (vs. Washington)
TE: Ed Dickson (vs. Arizona), Brent Celek (vs. Dallas), Jake Ballard (vs. Miami)
DEF: Dallas (@ Philadelphia), Washington (@ Buffalo), New England (@ Pittsburgh)
K: Neil Rackers (vs. Jacksonville), Matt Prater (vs. Detroit), Adam Vinatieri (@ Tennessee)
Players you'll wish you had started this week
QB: John Beck (@ Buffalo), Tim Tebow (vs. Detroit), Andy Dalton (@ Seattle)
RB: Delone Carter (@ Tennessee), Knowshon Moreno (vs. Detroit), Reggie Bush (@ NY Giants)
WR: Jabar Gaffney (@ Buffalo), Antonio Brown (vs. New England), Nate Washington (vs. Indianapolis)
TE: Evan Moore (@ San Francisco), Daniel Fells (vs. Detroit), Jared Cook (vs. Indianapolis)
DEF: Seattle (vs. Cincinnati), Cleveland (@ San Francisco), Jacksonville (@ Houston)
K: Graham Gano (@ Buffalo), Rob Bironas (vs. Indianapolis), Shaun Suisham (vs. New England)