Admit you have a losing team.
You walked away from your fantasy draft feeling high as a kite and maybe even pulled a Rodney Ruxin and rosterbated to your picks.
Suddenly, C.J. Spiller is being outperformed by the seemingly ancient Fred Jackson and can’t run “until he throws up” because of a bum ankle, David Wilson promptly goes from Tom Coughlin’s doghouse to a potentially season-ending neck injury, Colin Kaepernick is too busy losing bets to Russell Wilson and eating Mighty Wings to be “Kaepernicking,” and Rob Gronkowski and his forearm have yet to see the field.
And that’s just the start of it. If your early picks are dragging you down to a losing record or even have you at 0-6, it’s time to admit your supposed dream team is nothing more than a fantasy nightmare.
Make the trade.
Start by recognizing your dead weight and clean house. Did you invest heavily in Matt Ryan and the Falcons, believe that Larry Fitzgerald would prosper with Carson Palmer throwing him the ball, or that Dwayne Bowe’s contract would offset Alex Smith’s checkdown ways?
Well, it’s time to give up on those pipe dreams and move on. You’re hoping they had a good Week 6 (sorry, Matty Ice owners), to which you proceed to sell immediately. Otherwise, you’re selling or packaging them for 75, 50, or even 25 cents on the dollar?
The point isn’t getting fair value for players you may have chosen in the early rounds of the draft, it’s about getting players that can make an immediate difference for your team. Would you trade Maurice Jones-Drew and Vincent Jackson, players likely drafted in the 3rd or 4th rounds, for Knowshon Moreno, likely picked in the late rounds or even as a free agent? In a heartbeat.
Scout the waiver wire.
Once you’ve consolidated your roster, it’s time to start dipping heavily into the waiver wire. The combination of injuries and bye weeks means players inevitably emerge from the weekly free agent pool. Does Garrett Graham become a TE1 with Owen Daniels on IR?
Can Zac Stacy turn into Alfred Morris for rest of the season? Do Keenan Allen or Vincent Brown become the beneficiaries of a Chargers offense that has no choice but to pass the entire game? Do Percy Harvin or Shane Vereen return in time to make a fantasy impact on your team?
By the halfway point, you have a fairly good idea of the favorable team matchups; certain trends are easy to pick up (D/ST streaming against Blaine Gabbert & Brandon Weeden, WRs against the Giants and Eagles, RBs against St. Louis and Detroit, etc) while others are more difficult to pick up (red zone play-calling trends, target breakdowns, metrics, metrics, metrics).
Always remember, you’re not the only one shuffling their line-up and players do get dropped to create roster spots. Take advantage of both player streams and then…
Back in 2011, I took over my friend’s 10-team work league after he’d started 0-4 with a team featuring (as far as I remember) Peyton Manning, Matt Cassel, Arian Foster, Tim Hightower, Miles Austin, Mike Williams, Nate Burleson, Eric Decker, Jermaine Gresham, Jets D/ST, and Mason Crosby; Manning’s neck famously kept him out that year, Austin dealt with hamstring issues after his amazing overtime game against the 49ers in Week 2, and Hightower tore his ACL in Week 5.
Needless to say, beyond Arian Foster, his team was in rough shape, but after picking up Victor Cruz and Laurent Robinson, streaming Greg Olsen and Jake Ballard with Gresham, having an RB-stacked team drop Willis McGahee during his Week 6 bye, and riding a quarterback carousel of Rex Grossman and Alex Smith, we rode a 9-1 record the rest of the way to a 3rd place finish.
It goes without saying that Victor Cruz and Laurent Robinson’s 2011 hot streaks and the presence of Tim Tebow during Willis McGahee’s first year with the Broncos helped turn the tides of a seemingly hopeless season.
Sometimes, a perfect fantasy draft is all it takes (i.e. I’m dealing with a friend in my league who drafted Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Peyton Manning, and Jordy Nelson and picked up Julius Thomas off waivers). Other times, you need to go out on a limb and strike gold.
In 2012, another friend was playing in a 10-team league where he’d started 0-6, with a team that featured Tony Romo, Mark Sanchez, Fred Jackson, Shonn Greene, Rashad Jennings, Roddy White, Brandon Lloyd, Mike Williams, Nate Burleson, Rob Gronkowski, Jets D/ST, and David Akers.
After replacing Sanchez with Andrew Luck, adding Vick Ballard and Jonathan Dwyer to work around Shonn Greene, Pierre Garcon and Josh Gordon to support Roddy White and Mike Williams, Adam Vinatieri to supplant an inconsistent Akers, Brandon Myers to back-up Gronkowski, and picking up the Patriots D/ST off waivers, suddenly, a once Jets-heavy team is able to finish the rest the season at a respectable 6-8.
At some point, thoughts of a championship run are slowly replaced with the idea of earning back your buy-in to placing at all. You’re not going to have it every year and understanding that will help soothe many of your fantasy woes, but maintaining a competitive edge means that even in your team’s worst moments, you don’t allow your team to succumb to the pits of last place.
Nothing brings down a fantasy league more than an owner who doesn’t play positions, uses injured players, or colluded in order to give players a winning edge. Fantasy football should always be fun, but don’t turn it into a joke at the expense of your league mates. Take your pride into account and build some confidence to take into next year.