Heading into Week 6, you might find yourself at the bottom of the barrel in your fantasy football league. In this week's FantasyInsiderOnline.com Fantasy Football Report, we focus on a strategy that can lead to added fantasy points for your squad in the coming weeks. There's still at least 10 more weeks or so left in your fantasy football season before the playoffs. Maybe you won't be able to finish atop your league, but the main focus here should be making it into the fantasy playoffs because we know anything can happen from there on out. And don't turn your head if your team is already on a dominant path, since this strategy can only benefit your fantasy football dynasty.
Throughout this article, we'll try to provide some current examples on certain players. However, don't focus on the "names" and "numbers" in this piece they are only used as examples to illustrate the method. Instead, focus on the concept of how to acquire the right players that will add some crucial points to your bottom line score week in and week out.
First and foremost, you need to see how you stand relative to the rest of the pack, most notably, whoever is sitting at the top of your fantasy league. The idea here is to get an average of the points certain teams are putting up on a weekly basis. Let's say thru five weeks, your team has an overall total of 330.0 fantasy points (or 66 points per week). The team currently in first place has an overall point total of 410.0 (or 82 points per week). This tells you that, on average, you need to make up 16 total fantasy points on any given week in order to make that push for the number one spot. Now, making some trades and key pick-ups off waivers won't add 16 extra points to your fantasy total each week that's unrealistic. So, the main point here is that this number simply gives you something to shoot for. Remember, if you're in the lower tier of teams in your league right now, don't panic you're main goal in the long-run should just be to make the playoffs.
Take the same approach with your starting lineup. Forget about byes this week for a minute, and gather together your best squad with the players you have. Average out each players' points over the first five weeks (NOTE: Don't forget to take into account whether your players have had a bye week or not!). For example, let's take Baltimore Ravens RB Jamal Lewis thru Week 5, Lewis has accumulated 35 total fantasy points (using standard fantasy scoring). That comes out to be an average of 7 points per week. Not really doing it for you if you have him slotted as your #2 RB, right?
Take a look at the other teams in your league. A good point here is to try and zero-in on other struggling team owners, who probably will be more likely to make a move than those sitting pretty in the top 3. Maybe there's a team out there that has a third running back on its roster that isn't being used on a consistent basis by the team owner. For instance, Minnesota Vikings RB Chester Taylor 56 total fantasy points at this point. Taylor is averaging 11.2 points per week. In this scenario, if you were to acquire Taylor, and place him in your starting lineup, that'd be roughly a 4 point swing! With this one move, you've cut down the overall gap from 16 points per week to 12.
Now that you've targeted a player, how can you make a deal work? Well, in most cases, this may involve a two-for-one deal. Perhaps the owner with Chester Taylor is a little weak at the tight end position. Meanwhile, you have Cleveland Browns TE Kellen Winslow sitting on your bench for the remainder of the season because your #1 TE (let's say Alge Crumpler) has already had his bye week. Of course you risk the chance of being left with nobody if Crumpler goes down with an injury, but when trying to move up the ranks, you might have to take some chances. Initially, you may want to undershoot the deal and see if your opposition will trade Jamal Lewis for Chester Taylor straight up. At times, a player's "name" alone (i.e. Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, etc.) can be that outside factor helping a trade to go thru.
Obviously, there's no definitive answer to whether a trade will be successful or not. However, sitting tight with your players and hoping they live up to all the preseason hype won't win you a fantasy championship. It is crucial to be keen to what other team owners may be willing to give up, as well as where they may need a little help. You might think to yourself, "What can four extra points per week REALLY do for me?" But, if you recall last week's column, the main overall goal in managing your fantasy team is to maximize your point scoring. If that means you're able to make a deal that will get you a few extra points each week, then do it!
In using this strategy, it is important to take into account a couple of outside factors, such as the aforementioned "big names". Someone like New Orleans Saints WR Joe Horn has a well-known name and an aura of being an upper-tier receiver though his numbers in 2006 (271 yards and no TD's) haven't been up to par. A player's "name" alone can be added value when looking to shop around your league. Also, take a look at players' split stats meaning how they perform in the first half (Week 1 thru 8) versus the second half of the season (Weeks 9 thru 16). Typically, a player like Baltimore Ravens WR Derrick Mason, for example, outperforms his first half career stats by almost 1,000 total yards and 10 TD's more in Weeks 9 thru 16 so, you may want to rethink about cutting ties too early with certain players.
PATRIOTS FANTASY REPORT
With the bye week upon us in New England, let's take this opportunity to look back at the first five weeks of Patriots Fantasy Football. First, we turn our attention to the man that commands the field... QB Tom Brady. Now, in general terms, Brady isn't known as a "fantasy" quarterback. Yes, there might not be a better leader when it comes to the NFL - he has heart, toughness and a will to win. Just look at the three Super Bowl victories in his first five years as the Pats starter under center. Brady isn't a huge "stats guy"... he just wins games. However, in 2006, Brady has been putting up some great numbers thus far, even with a depleted receiving corps. Currently, he ranks in the top 5 NFL quarterbacks for TD passes (8), and has thrown for more than 1,000 yards with a passer rating of 82.6. Not bad for someone that isn't typically known as a "stats guy". In terms of fantasy football, this performance has led to Brady being ranked 7th overall amongst NFL quarterbacks for fantasy points (using standard fantasy scoring).
Which rookie running back has given your fantasy team the most points in 2006 so far? Reggie Bush? No. DeAngelo Williams? Sorry. The answer: New England Patriots rookie phenom Laurence Maroney. Many people overlooked this former Golden Gopher in last year's class of players entering the 2006 NFL Draft. And who would have ever thought that the 21st overall pick, who would be splitting time with veteran RB Corey Dillon, would firmly establish himself as a premier back in the opening weeks of this season? Maroney was only drafted in 40% of fantasy football leagues (according to Yahoo.com), so if you were able to pick him up off waivers, you ended up with the huge steal. A perfect fit in a RB/WR open slot on your fantasy squad, Maroney ranks in the top 15 fantasy backs thru Week 5 with 409 total yards and 3 TD's already.
As was expected this season, TE Ben Watson has become one of Tom Brady's favorite targets in 2006 leading the team with 211 yards receiving. He ranks fourth in the league for receiving yards amongst fantasy tight ends, and in the top 15 for total fantasy points. Though he has yet to find the end zone this year, Watson is a solid back-up fantasy tight end. The guy has a huge "up side" because of the lack of a true #1 WR in New England, and he's liable to get hot at any point during the season.
Overall, the Pats have a decent amount of top-shelf players that could really help your fantasy squad
and with a 4-1 record so far this year, how could they not? Other notables include the New England DEF/ST (currently ranking 11th overall for fantasy defenses), newly acquired WR Doug Gabriel (129 yards receiving and 2 TD's in his first three games with the Pats) and even veteran RB Corey Dillon (a good back-up RB to have on your roster). The next five weeks of this season should have some favorable match-ups for New England fantasy players. Other than Indianapolis (which could end up being a shoot-out leading to big fantasy number), three of the next five opponents have losing records (a combined 5-10), with defenses currently ranked in the bottom half of the NFL.
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