We are now past the halfway point of the NFL season, which means Fantasy Football playoffs are fast approaching.
If you’ve already locked up a spot in your league’s playoffs, now is the time to pray for your big producers to stay healthy.
And if you’re still in the hunt, it might be time to try smooth-talking an already eliminated owner into a trade that will put you over the top.
No matter your current position, asking yourself these questions will be the five Fantasy Football tips for the rest of the season that will help take you to the top.
1. Who’s Left On The Schedule?
A big thing to consider if you are free agent shopping is a team’s schedule down the stretch. While a soft matchup this coming week might earn you a bunch of points in the short term, there might be better pickups available if a player in question faces a murderer’s row of opponents after that.
For reference, OnlineGambling.com.au (an extremely popular online sportsbook where you can bet on every NFL game and virtually any other sport you can think of) keeps a remaining strength of schedule list. Based on the Super Bowl winning odds of the teams left to be played, the teams with the easiest schedules remaining are the Patriots, Steelers, Bills, Falcons, and Seahawks; while the teams with the most difficult remaining schedules are the Eagles, Chiefs, Rams, Ravens, and Buccaneers.
2. Who’s Filling In?
This is obviously important no matter the time of the season, but staying on top of the injury wire and picking up the guy behind the injured one on the depth chart can spell the difference between winning and losing.
A great recent example of this is Bengals WR A.J. Green. Green has scored the fourth-most points of any receiver this year and his season likely looks to be over after a hamstring tear in Week 11. While his injury might officially be the death knell for Cincinnati’s playoff chances, it doesn’t have to be for yours. The passes that would have gone to Green have to go somewhere else now, and if you’re in a big league without better options available rookie receiver Tyler Boyd (owned by just 5% of players) might be worth a shot.
3. Who’s Young And Eager?
It’s not rare this time of year to see younger players start receiving more snaps. This could be due to normal starters getting hurt, teams eliminated from the playoffs wanting to give younger players more game experience, or coaches wanting to rest their stars up for the playoffs. Any which way, it can be a boon for fantasy owners.
A small list of players that would fall into these categories would be Cameron Meredith (Chicago, WR, 8.8% ownership), Wendell Smallwood (Philadelphia, RB, 4.7%), Malcolm Mitchell (New England, WR, 0.5%), Adam Thielen (Minnesota, WR, 2.5%), and Tyreek Hill (Kansas City, WR, 25.9%).
4. Who’s Up For Sale?
In most leagues, the trade deadline is looming. While this is a good way to shake up your roster by avoiding the waiver wire, it can also be used as a tactic to weaken rival owners’ squad by presenting them with a deal that looks good on paper, but will likely pay off more in your favor.
Keeping point #1 on our list in mind, try and offer up as trade bait players that have had good seasons but face tough matchups in their remaining games. For instance, Washington RB Robert Kelley is one of the hottest names in fantasy right now after his 30+ point performance against Green Bay in Week 11. But in the next four games he faces the Cardinals, Eagles, Panthers, and Bears, four teams that allow few points to RBs on average compared to the rest of the league. A casual player might think getting Kelley is a steal, when in reality it will be hard for him to reproduce the output he had against the Packers.
5. Who’s My Competition?
Whether you’re in a money league or not, fantasy football is essentially gambling: you are risking something (playing certain players and making certain roster moves over countless other possibilities) in hopes of a desired outcome (a win and bragging rights). And what do the most successful gamblers do? They take emotion out of their decisions.
While at the beginning and middle of the season we’d argue that the most important thing is to develop a team of consistent point producers and not worry about what everyone else is doing, at this point in the year we choose to renege a little on that statement. Sometimes the best offense is a good defense, and if your opponent (even if it’s your best friend) just lost their star TE, why not use your #1 waiver wire spot to grab the hot hand they are likely going to try and pick up? After all, this is fantasy season, and you have the rest of the year to make up and be real friends.
Photo Credit: Redskins.com