It is finally here for some of you, your fantasy football championship week. Fourteen weeks and endless hours of draft preparation have brought you to this point. Unfortunately with big games comes big pressure, and the wrong decision can result in an early exit and an offseason of depression.
Don’t over-analyze - There is a reason you have gotten this far in the fantasy football playoffs. Stick with what got you here. The most common mistake for first-time championship players is to over-think your game. For example, you own Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks are playing the Arizona Cardinals this week. You start Lynch no matter what. Especially this season as no defense has been consistent for fifteen games.
The worst words you want to hear before you play your running back are Cardinals. Yes, the Cardinals have shutdown the run
for most of the season and are first against the run in fantasy football. Yes the Cardinals have given up only 4 rushing TDs all season. However, are you really going to shut down someone as hot as Marshawn Lynch in your championship week for someone off the waiver wire? Are you going to sit down Drew Brees just because he is playing the Carolina Panthers? Now if you are sitting there with comparable backups on your bench you may and I stress may want to consider it. However, the moral here is not to panic. Stick with the money guys who brought you to the dance, especially if you don’t have any suitable backups on your bench. Strange things can happen, just ask anyone who played against Jamaal Charles last week.
Skip the waiver wire - There is no reason you should even think of playing the waiver wire game. Yes Matt Cassel is tempting, but can you really trust an offense like the Vikings at this point? I look at it this way when it comes to playing guys in fantasy football at this point in the season. It comes down to, who do you trust? If there is a gem flying around your waiver wire, I’d grab him only to keep him away from your opponent. But I’d have a hard time resting my championship hopes on someone that has been hanging around for most of the year on the wire.
Go with a running back in your flex position - I have always had a rule which has cost me on some weeks, but has won me more games in the long haul. My rule of thumb is always start a running back in the flex position over a wide receiver. I don’t care if you have three great receivers. One of them has to sit for the running back. Remember what time of year we are in. It is the winter time, and this is the time of the year where most teams will be running over passing in outdoor weather.
Of course this is subject to change if you have no true starting running back to start in the flex while you have a great receiver sitting on your bench. At the same time, you know a running back is going to get his carries. Whether he scores or not, he is going to get double digit carries depending upon the offense. The wide receiver you want to play could be easily shut out. I’d rather take 7 points from a bad running back than 0 from a wide receiver.
Beware of fuzzy fantasy football statistics - This is something that could get you into big trouble if you don’t do your homework. There are a lot of writers and websites that give you fantasy stats such as average points a team gives up to tight ends, quarterbacks, etc. Read the stats closely.
Most of these websites are giving you seasonal stats. My rule of thumb is to look at a team’s last four-five games. For example, the Minnesota Vikings are ranked as one of the best bets for running backs by most fantasy sites. Those same “experts” will yell and scream to play your running backs against the Vikings. What they don’t tell you is that over the last four games, the Vikings have only given up one touchdown to opposing running backs. A lot of those fantasy football sites use seasonal stats and while the Vikings may have been shredded a few times, they aren’t the “give me” that most fantasy experts would lead you to believe they are. The same can be said for the Jaguars, who have greatly improved their defense over the last few weeks. These fantasy websites can be a great guide, but do your own homework. Remember this is the championship game and chances are your opponent is up to his neck in stats. Be prepared and you’ll be fine.
Go with your gut -
This goes for the playoffs and regular season. I have been there. Your gut is telling you one thing but all of the “experts” or bloggers are telling you another. At the end of the day this is purely a guessing game for all of us. Nothing is ever a sure thing. Strange things happen in December whether it is weather, injuries, or coaches on the hot seat, or just flukes. Your gut is what got you to the championship game in the first place. It is okay to accumulate as much information as possible and use that towards making your decision. I just wouldn’t make a decision purely based off of something you hear or read that completely goes against your instincts. The only one who has accountability this week is you. Remember that.
So there they are, a few dos and don’ts for fantasy football championship players. Hopefully you followed some of my advice this season and had some luck in your league (and better luck than I had in some of my others). Good luck in your championship, and welcome to the big dance.
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