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Late Season Fantasy Thoughts
David Dorey
December 4, 2008
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These are some highlights reprinted from David Dorey's columns in USA Today this week.

Defense Wins Fantasy Championships

The old axiom holds true even in fantasy football but for a different reason. The team defense required in your weekly lineups is not only a source of fantasy points; it also is a prime area for using the waiver wire AS a difference maker. Your league has likely stripped out all those running backs, quarterbacks and such but chances are there are still a few defenses there that could benefit you in your drive to the title.

In your fantasy playoffs you must win every week and that requires squeezing out every possible point. One way is to carry an extra defense that may be an average unit but with a great matchup might net you significant points for that week. The Steelers, Ravens and Titans are all top notch defenses in terms of talent but even their matchups dictate how good they are for the week - and you cannot afford to have a bad week.

There are four teams which always give up maximum points to opposing defenses. Look no further than any team playing against the 49ers (NYJ, MIA, STL), Lions (MIN, IND, NO), Bengals (IND, WAS, CLE) and Rams (ARI, SEA, SF) for great weekly matchups. Those four teams likely allowed more fantasy defense points than the best defense scored in your league. If you only grabbed a waiver wire defense each week that faced one of those four teams, you could have led your league in defense points. Matchups always matter and in the playoffs, they are everything.

A few defenses stand out as appealing for the next three weeks when leagues are conducting their playoffs. Check to see if they are available in your league and if you have the roster room to carry them for an important advantage when you need it most.

Colts - Still available on most waiver wires and yet their next two games are at home against the Bengals and Lions. Run, do not walk, to your waiver wire for these matchups. Even week 16 in Jacksonville could be decent.

Cardinals - This week against the visiting Rams is reason enough to want the desert swarm but hosting the Vikings the next week can be a productive start as well. Final week in New England means you need another defense as well.

Jets - Already a productive defense that gets to play in San Francisco against the Martz-inspired turnover machine and home against the struggling Bills could end up better than the trip to Seattle in week 16.

Make sure you are ready for the playoffs and let your defense win championships.

Learn from Your Bad Season

No one learns much from a championship season (besides how annoying you can be) but the worse your season ends up, the more you can learn from the experience.  Sure, you could be the guy with the horrific schedule who pairs up against the league high scorer each week but there could be other reasons why everyone was happy about your season but you.

It’s Never Last Year - Grabbing top players from the previous season is not bad, but expecting the repeat of a career best mark is unrealistic. Did the team change or the schedule get worse? Derek Anderson had a cakewalk last year and was benched against a brutal 2008 schedule. Roethlisberger threw 32 touchdowns because no one could rush it in last season. The Steelers fixed that and made Big Ben just average. Always beware of any player coming off an unusually high career best season.

Patience is Not a Virtue – How long did you hold onto that wide receiver that was underperforming? Maybe spending a third round pick on Braylon Edwards made it hard to bench him but with all wideouts – it is all about the team around them first and then how they are doing. Edwards had the double whammy of a struggling team and an inability to catch most passes. Receivers are inconsistent anyway so don’t suffer through more than a few unproductive games before reconsidering your starting lineup. Receivers are going to be sensitive to the weekly matchup as well so look

Churn Don’t Burn – Did you constantly try to improve your roster? Players like Matt Cassel, Tyler Thigpen, Lance Moore, Mewelde Moore and Mark Bradley are currently on many teams heading to the league championship and not one was likely drafted in any league. Take the chance, grab them early and see what happens. The team you drafted was like unfinished furniture. Only the waiver wire can really bring the shine to your roster.

Only one person can win a league but every other team owner can try to learn why.  And next year – you get to be the annoying guy.

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