Can we get back to football?
I don’t want to address what happened yesterday, because this isn’t the place. All I’ll say is this: if you think that there’s no way something can happen, clearly, you are wrong. I, for example, think that there’s no way I can fall out of the fantasy playoffs now with how my team is trending. But clearly, I am wrong. I’m going to have to keep working every week, keep studying and analyzing and fighting every week, to keep winning matchups and earn my way in.
Because luck turns, doesn’t it? I’ve been phenomenally lucky so far. No major injuries. Rookies that might have gone either way becoming superstars. Players that weren’t supposed to be elite stepping up and crushing it. Getting my best performances from my studs on the weeks when I absolutely have to have them, when I’m weakened by byes and facing my toughest foes.
But the other shoe will drop eventually, you’d think, right? Somebody will come up with a major injury, or somebody in my league will make some trade that puts my team to shame, or some other players will get hot and mine will just fade into obscurity. Some challenge, some bad luck, has to be coming my way at some point.
Maybe it’s my writer’s brain thinking of the season as a narrative and anticipating a third-act crisis. But I feel it coming. Don’t you?
I mean, just look at last week. You can look at the score and see 121, see my huge margin of victory, and think what a badass I am at this fantasy thing. Or you can actually look at my team, look at my week, and realize that I phenomenally mismanaged that heavy bye week. Cutting Robert Woods, who at least had a role in Buffalo’s offense, for second- or third-string guys on weaker teams was a huge mistake. The guys I did pick up were horrendous. Even my good decision, picking up Marcus Mariota, wasn’t that good a decision. Yes, he was as good as I knew he could be, but I had 25 QB points on my roster already, and I cut him. I cut Tyrod Taylor. Sixth round draft choice. Got no value for that. Just cut him.
Go back further. I mismanaged this bye week in the leadup. I knew that A.J. Green and Julian Edelman had the same bye week, so it’s not like my thinness at WR in Week Nine took me by surprise. But I didn’t pay attention to the fact that it was Jamison Crowder’s bye week too. “I’ll be okay, I have a pretty high-scoring WR riding my bench, I’ll just plug him in.” Except wait, no, he’s out too. I should have been thinking ahead for this – not just trusting that the guy I needed was going to be waiting for me on the waiver wire on the week where I needed him, but planning ahead to grab him before I needed him and keep him around for his moment to shine. That’s how I wound up scraping the bottom of the barrel for TEs in Week Six and for WRs in Week Nine. I can’t have that happen going forward, and I need to be thinking about what plans I’ll put in place.
Fortunately, I only have two more byes to get through, and I do have those plans in place. This week it’s Frank Gore’s turn for a vacation, and next week it’s Melvin Gordon who sits out. I think Gore could bring back good value as a trade chip, but I need him at least through Gordon’s bye, so that idea is put on hold for at least two weeks. The plan is to have Elliott/Gordon as my RBs this week, and Elliott/Gore next week. Gore won’t be the flex either week, so in that spot I will play whoever from my bench cast has the best matchup and affords the best chance to score. Probably this will be a WR, as that’s mostly what I have on my bench at the moment, but I have a spare TE and a spare RB in there too, so maybe it’ll be one of them that gets the nod.
Which, by the way, on that note? It’s time to admit that Brate is the TE I want playing for me right now. Not because I don’t still like Kyle Rudolph, but because Brate’s outscored him for the last two weeks (aka the entire time I’ve owned him). Brate’s got a bigger role on an offense that’s doing more right now. I did pick him up looking towards his value at the end of the season. It’s time to admit that that time is now.
Then there’s that extra RB, Paul Perkins. I’ve talked about him in the last few weeks as a sentimental hold, a good luck charm but not a contributor. But a funny thing happened after the Giants’ bye week. They had Week Eight off, and they came back in Week Nine with an expanded role for their rookie running back. He wasn’t the official starter, but he had the same number of touches as the guy who was. I’m encouraged by what ESPN Fantasy’s take on him is after Week Nine:
Maybe he will have fantasy value after all. Maybe I will get to play him. He’s still not going to overtake the three behemoths I have ahead of him on my depth chart, probably, but what if one of those guys goes down with an injury? It’s scary to think about. But I have to prepare for things to go wrong. So I’m reassured to have Perkins waiting in the wings to help me if I ever need him.
Or what if Elliott’s such a killer RB, and his team does so crazy well (as they’re doing so far), that they start resting their starters at the end of the season to prepare for the playoffs? That wouldn’t even be bad luck, it’s good football management, but the effect on Team BlueAndGold would be the same, and it would affect me during my potential championship run. If Elliott sits out a week at the end of the season, or just has his role diminished to save his legs for the postseason, I can see the scenario where I need someone to start ahead of him. I have to be preparing for that possibility.
I can’t be caught flatfooted again like I was last week, with two players that I’m forced to start because I have no backups for them, and one of them has a really risky matchup, and one of them is probably going to sit out with an injury, and I have to scramble for anyone with a pulse and a WR designation. I need to use my bench to build options for myself.
So. I’m still streaming defenses, and I wish I didn’t have to, but it’s where we are. If I saw anybody that was reliable season-long hanging out on the waiver wire, I’d try to nab them, but it’s not likely that one like that is going to come up again. (I missed getting Minnesota, in case that wasn’t made clear by my playing the Bills last week.) Instead, since I can’t have the Denvers and New Englands of the world, I just have to hope I can keep finding somebody worth playing on the waiver wire every week. Thankfully, every week there’s somebody okayish playing somebody terrible, and that’s all I really need.
This week, it’s… the Texans.
Wait – those Texans? The ones I just cut?
They get Jacksonville this week. Sign me up for that.
The Bills get cut to make room for the Texans. And that leaves me with two other very droppable players: the two WRs I started last week.
Now, do I need to replace them? No. Whoever I pick up with those roster spots won’t get played this week. Maybe they won’t play for Team BlueAndGold at all.
But should I replace them? You’re damn right I should. If I can find options with long-term value, if I can find guys who might come into good matchups as the season goes on and might make good plays down the road, if I can find guys who could fill in or even take over for my starters if it suddenly came to that, I need to pounce now while the pouncing is good.
Guys whose recent performance means they shouldn’t be on the waiver wire at all, and yet somehow they still find themselves there.
Guys like John Brown (WR, Arizona) and Rishard Matthews (WR, Tennessee).
At least, that’s who I tried to get. But the downside of moving to the top of my league is that it’s moved me to the bottom of the waiver order. And you can pretty well assume, any guy that I’m able to spot on the waiver wire as a good player, someone else can spot too.
So yeah. My Rishard Matthews pick didn’t make it. But John Brown did, and now I’m considering using him at the flex in Week Ten.
And I still have the very cutable Brian Quick on my roster. He gets to stay for the moment, on sufferance, since he is a Ram. But in the next day or two, I’ll keep thinking about it, and I’m likely to cut him when I decide who it is I’d like to cut him for.
If you have any suggestions, send them my way. I’d love to hear them. Even a player at the top of her league clearly needs all the help she can get.
Because if the past twenty-four hours have taught us anything, it’s this:
There are no guarantees.