So, after three weeks your starters have produced a goose egg of serious proportions. That’s right, you are 0-3. Your best friend/new worst enemy is sitting pretty at the other end of the spectrum, a brilliant-hued 3-0. His squad just stomped yours to death last weekend and his jeering has you about ready to stomp on his face. Get a grip – quickly. All is not lost.
Sometimes our fantasy football plans simply don’t work out the way we drew them up. Perhaps your superstars have been injured, or they just plain suck so far. Maybe you have been forced to face the top-scoring team in your league each week. Or possibly you have been the victim of a few hit-and-run fantasy muggings, perpetrated by opposing superstars. It all happens. So, let’s examine some of the cold, hard facts of fantasy football and determine what, if anything, to do about it.
Cold Hard Fact #1: Top players can supernova on you at any time
This just in – LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander are pretty good. All sarcasm aside, it is obvious that top performers often have good games and occasionally explode for a fantastic performance. If you happen to have been on the receiving end of such a burst, then your team likely lost that week. And, if you have been subject to detonations each week, then it is very possible you are winless. Maybe you have simply had the misfortune of watching these guys go off:
Willie Parker - 209 yards, 1 TD
Larry Johnson - 121 yards, 2 TD
Jimmy Smith - 130 yards, 2 TD
Keenan McCardell - 123 yards, 2 TD
Donovan McNabb - 342 yards, 5 TD
Thomas Jones - 158 yards, 2 TD
Stephen Davis - 77 yards, 3 TD
Terrell Owens 143 yards, 2 TD
Daunte Culpepper - 300 yards, 3 TD
LaDainian Tomlinson - 220 yards, 4 TD
Shaun Alexander - 140 yards, 4 TD
Steve Smith - 170 yards, 3 TD
Brandon Lloyd - 142 yards, 2 TD
In one of my leagues the guy I was playing against started the Baltimore Ravens defense last weekend, even though they were on the bye. But it didn’t matter, because he had LT in the lineup. Tomlinson was almost able to single handedly hang a loss on my squad with the sick 50+ fantasy points that he accrued on Sunday.
Frosty Hard Fact #2: Your top draft picks/auction buys could fail simultaneously
For a variety of reasons, not all players picked to be stars in a given season deliver on their promise. Some that ultimately do live up to their billing take a while to be worthy of the designated starting fantasy slot. Last week I wrote about the abysmal fortunes of many of the NFC North’s fantasy players. They aren’t the only ones stinking up the joint. Imagine this scenario after three weeks of the season: You take Peyton Manning late in round one, snag Kevin Jones in round two, and follow that up with 3 rd-round selection Javon Walker. Looked great on paper, but it has proven not so prescient in reality.
If you had two or more of the following players pegged as starters, you likely are losing:
Eric Moulds/Lee Evans
Duce Staley/Jerome Bettis
Freezing Hard Fact #3: The schedule does indeed sometimes screw you over
It is entirely possible to have your team scoring well, but encounter a stretch of matchups when you constantly go up against one of the top-scoring owners in a particular week. Unfair as this scenario seems, it is one of those quirks that cannot be avoided. This is why some leagues favor the point system. Still, there is not much that is more satisfying than actually dispensing of a fantasy coaching foe, so when you get sucker-punched by these conditions, simply roll with it the best you can and live to fight another week.
Three Courses of In/action
What are our choices when we are forced to deal with the above circumstances? There are three options to choose among. We can play the victim, trust our instincts or make some changes.
Whine and Complain – If you wish to throw in the towel, this is the option for you. You can move on to other interests and talk about what might have been. Whenever someone complains that you haven’t changed your lineup in three weeks you can hand them print-outs of your early close losses, and bemoan your fate.
Stand Pat – It can be a wise move to weather the early storm. By the law of averages, you should (though it is by no means guaranteed) soon have your share of favorable matchups. Have a little faith in yourself, and decide to dance with who you drafted.
Be Proactive – If it’s clearly broke, fix it. To get in some games, make an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your team, and then go about trying to add strength to your squad without giving up much firepower to your subset of starters. For instance, perhaps you have someone successful at QB, but also have a good player on the bench. It would behoove you to trade that second QB, who will only play if your guy is hurt or on the bye, You might be able to add that third starting WR. Or you could scour the waiver wire, dropping players who are injured or ineffective to take a chance on some other players who are posting decent statistics each week.
Hire Joe Levit for corporate or client appreciation events at fantasyfootballspeaker.com. His fantasy football columns appear on SI.com and thehuddle.com. Joe, a PFWA and FSWA member, writes about the NFL for patriotsinsider.com and is a fantasy football analyst on radio. He is the creator of the Sleeper League and FF Hold ‘em League concepts.