Clichés. Oh, those clichés. Why do they exist? Well, in their most basic form because they are colorful ways of telling people what they should do in their lives. Warnings, I guess. Like…well, “practice what you preach.” Hmmm…I didn’t do that this week. How about what Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet said: “To thine own self be true”? Well, in week 4, I didn’t do that either. All weekend, all I could think of was in Sherlock Holmes, Game of Shadows how the audience is left constantly trying to figure out the game Professor Moriarty is playing while Sherlock seems to always be one step ahead. It is unfortunately within that inner conflict that the mind is allowed to do things like start Sidney Rice coming off a two TD day instead of Greg Jennings who has yet to hit pay dirt and had a new QB. Like Professor Moriarty says: “You see, hidden within the unconscious, there is an insatiable desire for conflict. So, you're not fighting me, so much as you are the human condition. All I want to do is own the bullets and the bandages.”
Well, I am laced in bandages this morning. Of course, I could hear the age old clichés of “nobody’s perfect” & “everyone makes mistakes”. These are just the kind of clichés that breathe life into it being ok to make mistakes. Well, I will use another cliché as the exclamation point here…
“Fool me once...shame on you. Fool me twice...shame on me.”
So, fooled by not following my own rules, I figured that I should take a look at the moves I made and why. Then, we will examine the SMART system’s ‘M’ for management so that all of you don’t make these mistakes. Here are my worst plays this week. In three of the four, I have partners and they agreed to them. Wow.
- Sidney Rice over Greg Jennings in a non-PPR - Rice had two TD performance in week 3. Seemed to be getting in sync with Wilson. Jennings had 3 catches in two of the three games and ZERO TDs. Cassel was the new QB. They were playing in London. Started him in week 3 and left two TDs on the bench with Rice and his healthy knee.
- Denarius Moore over Julian Edelman in a non-PPR - Edelman had not done a lot in the red zone since week 1. You can count on 7-8 catches each week, but it was a non-PPR. Moore scored in two of the three games he played in and with Matt Flynn starting for the hurt Pryor; I got caught in the hype and played Moore. Blunderiforous.
- D’Andre Hopkins over Greg Jennings or Danny Woodhead in a PPR - One week wonder in Hopkins who will get better and this may make sense in week 10, but right now, he has only done it once when Andre was on the bench in that stellar overtime success.
- Terrence Williams (in for Miles Austin) instead of Mike Williams, Robert Woods or Jericho Cotchery – Toomuch thinking on this one. I have done crazy things like this and had them work, but only when I didn’t have other good choices. We had three good ones. We should have known better.
- Ryan Broyles over Anyone this week - I did it. I bought into the hype. Now I was playing him over Vincent Jackson, but I saw dozens of pundits buy into the hype here. I was asked on twitter on Sunday about whether to start Marlon Brown or Broyles…I said Brown.
The ‘M’ in SMART is for Management
So that brings us to what to do to get better. Always go back to YOUR rules. For me, that is the SMART system. For the most part in the published version from 2003 that was republished earlier this year, we stick to the draft for the ‘M’ in management. Well, there are a number of rules that my co-host, Glenn Colton and I live by when we play during the season:
Make EVERY Move That Makes Your Team Better
Making moves that make your team better sometimes means that it looks to others like you did something wrong. Accept criticism if it helps you to win championships or quite frankly have more fun. I will sometimes make a marginal trade that helps someone more if it gives me a better rooting interest. Likely won’t change the outcome of my season and makes it more fun on Sundays…I am in.
Watch Playing Time and Injuries
I am always opportunistic when looking at improving my fantasy football team. Check the injuries reports to see who was hurt and then who will be playing instead of them in the coming weeks. Make the moves with your last roster spots or backups.
On most of my teams, I have kickers that can be cycled. If you have Prater, Gostkowski or Bryant, you are not cycling kickers. If you have just about anyone else, you are looking for match-ups each week. What you want to look at more than anything else is the weather. Other factors to look at is how often their team is taking field goals; how many points the opponent gives up each week; how many points their team scores on average; red zone percentage for TDs so that you can see how many easy FGs they will get. I factor these things in, not with a formula, but just eyeballing. Changing kickers when you can get a couple of points is critical.
Cycling defenses is all about the opponents. This year, targeting the New York Giants opponents and the Jaguars opponents has been successful for me. When those are taken, getting a defense in the Top 5 points on the waiver wire with the best match-up is the way to go. You are not cycling if you have the Seahawks, Chiefs, 49ers or Bears. All other defenses are up for grabs in my opinion.
Plan Ahead - BYE weeks
As the BYE weeks get started, it is important to plan ahead. Take a look at when your key players go on BYE and look to the free agent pool for players that fill that void with good match-ups. Often times I only have one QB or one TE. When that is the case, 2-3 weeks before their BYE, I open a roster spot for the best available player in the week that my QB or TE has a BYE. Often times, I grab that player in his BYE week or watch for who is dropped because they are on BYE. I saw Greg Olsen, Jermichael Finley and even Eddie Lacy fall into the pool this week. Dive in and get them.
Plan Ahead - Playoffs
I usually wait until 6 games are in the books since by then you can really figure out what defenses simply won’t get better and remove statistical anomalies like the Ravens week 1 performance versus the Broncos. Right now, it looks to me that since the Lions play the Giants & Eagles in two of the three playoff weeks that their players are targets for big days. David Akers, Lions DT could end up in the pool during their BYE week in week 9. When trading, you can target Bush, Megatron, Broyles and Stafford. More teams will emerge, but the Lions seem obvious after four weeks.
Never Give Up – You Never Know
I am 1-3 in more leagues than I like to be at this point. Some leagues from bad plays like the ones above. Some leagues from bad luck or injuries. Some leagues from having a bad draft. No matter what, I keep trying to get every point I can. Three years ago, I was working at NBC Sports Group and playing in the NBCFFL. Rick Cordella, former GM of Rotoworld.com was my partner in the league. We got beat every week in every imaginable way. We scored well, but always got beat by a couple of points. Before we knew it, we were 0-9. Every week, we made every move we could to improve and played for the fun and to spoil things for others. We won four the next five games with making moves from the best waiver wire position mostly cycling kickers and defenses. When the season ended, we thought it was fun to go on a run and laughed about being 0-9 and being the “fantasy” guys. In a weird twist, the last wildcard spot was filled by most points and we squeaked in. We ended up winning it all. Never EVER give up.
Trade from a Position of Strength
There are a couple of simple rules in trading that you should heed to make your teams get better each week.
- Always Get the Best Player - When trading or counter offering, it is common for me to trade two for one or even three for one to make sure that I get the best player in a trade. In all cases, you want to trade from strength. If you have five good WRs, then you can safely trade two of them with a running back for Adrian Peterson. You will fill in for your three WRs BYE weeks with waiver wire pick-ups. No matter how deep the league, it is always better to have Adrian Peterson.
- Look for Desperation - When people lose a good player, they sometimes feel they have to make a move. For instance, find owners who drafted against the SMART system and have Ridley, David Wilson, MJD or even now the injured Run DMC. Look for a trade where you can give them value to replace and you will get something good PLUS the hurt player who could return to form as Ridley/Wilson surely could.
- Sell High but Don’t Always Buy Low - It is always nice to say that you are someone who buys low and sells high. Great. Good for you. But when you buy low, do you pay for the low value with equally low value or do you pay more than you should to feel good about buying low? Big question. Big names NEVER go at buy low prices. I always look to take my best performing lower round picks and turn them into underperforming more talented players. Some good examples would be to trade your TE say Jermichael Finley with your 4th WR who is over performing…say Kendall Wright/Denarius Moore/Brandon LaFell type for Rob Gronkowski. Gronk owners are getting frustrated with how long it is taking to get on the field, but he will be Top 5 TE as soon as he does.
Don’t Be Fooled By the Chess Game
So we learned a lot this week. Don’t think too much…meaning always play better talent over matchups or hype in the fantasy media. Also, your opponent’s lineup is irrelevant. If he is playing Brady, you should not start Edelman over Brandon Marshall to offset Brady’s passing. I have seen that mistake many times. Make your moves. Score as many points as you can. Plan ahead for BYE weeks and the playoffs and Championships will come. Like Sherlock Holmes said in Game of Shadows: “First, pillage the nest. Clip wings. Now, blunt his beak. Crack eggs. Scramble, pinch of salt. Touch of pepper. Flip the omelet. Additional seasoning required. Breakfast is served.”
Play Hard; Never Say DIE; and Eat Your Opponent for Breakfast!
Rick Wolf, Co-Host of Colton & The Wolfman - Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio Rick Wolf is a leader in the fantasy sports industry. Wolf is a founding Board Member and one of only fifteen FSTA Hall of Famers including Bill James and Matthew Berry. Wolf’s career accomplishments include starting the fantasy sports division at SportsLine USA that became CBS SportsLine, incubating Rotoworld to become the #1 fantasy sports news site, and spearheading the sale of Allstar Stats/Rotoworld to NBC Sports in 2006. With college friend and fellow Hall of Famer, Glenn Colton, the team has won 7 expert titles in baseball and football. Twitter: RickWolf1
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Rick Wolf is a leader in the fantasy sports industry. Wolf is a founding Board Member and one of only fifteen FSTA Hall of Famers including Bill James, Ron Shandler, Glenn Colton and Matthew Berry. Wolf is the Co-Host of Colton & The Wolfman every week on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio. With college friend, Glenn Colton, he has won three LABR Expert baseball titles and four FSTA Expert football titles. Twitter: @RickWolf1
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