Editor’s Note: The Member Corner articles come from a group of writers selected from our Writer’s Contest we had a few months ago. These writers all showed great interest in having their work posted and we’re excited to offer them the ability to do that. Keep in mind all the articles in the Member Corner are not edited by DLF, nor do they always necessarily reflect the collective opinions of us. However, we have approved these writers because of their ability and passion for writing. We hope you enjoy this whole new revamped section of DLF!
Definition of Diligence: the constant effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything.
Diligence is the key to winning fantasy football. Those teams that are the most consistently watching, studying, tinkering with their roster week to week, beginning to end, get the most out of their team. Tried and true no matter the league, format or group of owners, the cream always rises to the top. No matter your team’s situation, being one step away from being an expansion to being the favorite to the win the league, being diligent will increase your chances against your competition.
There are three areas owners should be diligent in during the season:
Free Agency, Setting Lineups and Trades
There’s nothing worse than being the owner that had waiver wire priority and didn’t use it. Michael Vick and Cam Newton were waiver wire wonders after Week 1 in 2010 and 2011 respectively. There is no excuse for not being active waiver wire. Most league’s transactions are free, and if in auction leagues the first couple weeks is where you should spend the majority of your auction money on these players as they can carry you throughout the season as well as be this year’s star. Looking is free, and the great owners work their magic through free agency.
Evaluate Players Differently
If you want different results than you have had, you need to do some things differently. Finding those diamonds in the rough can be easier if you are looking in the right places. Only looking at box scores, watching highlights of games and the few nationally televised games like everyone else in your league you are going to be targeting the exact set of players.
To differentiate you from the rest of the league, research some advanced stats, such as targets for snap counts of players. Targets are how many times a player was thrown during the game to and snap counts let you know how many snaps a certain player was on the field during the game. These types of snaps can let you in on trends of emerging players potentially weeks before other owners will catch on. Take for instance Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh – if you looked at his target counts early last season, during the first 4 weeks he was 8.25 targets per game converting 3.75 of the targets into completions averaging around 56 yards per game. Those consistently high target numbers would lead you to believe he should continue to improve and that Ben Roethlisberger trusts him to target him that many times and a sign to take a waiver wire flier on him. He has a down week 5 and 6, and then breaks out for all fantasy football owners to see in week 7 against the Cardinal for 7 catches for 102 yards on 9 targets.
For snap counts, ProFootballFocus does a good job tabulating the snap counts for players letting you know what percentage of the time they were on the field. For this you can glean how coaches truly plan on using (or not using) certain players in their offense or defense.
High Upside Bench
Look for high upside keepers in free agency to fill your available bench spots. Focus on players that are primed for a late season breakout or if your team is focusing on next year, ones that could be elite players if there is an unfortunate injury or offseason free agency defection. Players are much cheaper on the waiver wire then trying to trade for them in the offseason.
The waiver wire has always been the hot bed for the next man up when a starter gets hurt. Research injury reports after the games before making your waiver wire choices. This can help you pick up the next DeMarco Murray or CJ Spiller.
Nurse the Injured back to Health
Every year, players get dropped because they are injured for multiple weeks or put on the IR. There is a new rule this year, that each NFL team can put 1 player put on the IR and then reactivate them during the season. Follow the recovery of certain impact players (especially if they can be upgrades during playoff weeks) and if necessary pick them up a week early before they get back to playing to beat all your league mates to the punch.
Pounce on Bye Weeks
Bye weeks are a pain, having your stud QB, RB or WR have to sit and play sub-par talent in their place for a week can cause major havoc on the waiver wire. Decent players can be dropped during bye weeks, as well as Top tier, TE, DST and Ks. Always look out for these types of drops on the waiver wire. If you have to sacrifice a week to pick up an impact skill player or elite TE/DST/K strongly consider you options (depending on where you are in the playoff race), because the TE/DST/K positions win and lose fantasy leagues every year and elite options at those spots can put you over the top.
Set Your Lineup Early and Often
Always set your lineup, the worst thing that can happen if you go all week thinking you are going to update right before game time, and something happens and half your lineup is on bye week or have poor matchups after the 1pm games start. Make a habit to set your lineup preliminarily early in the week and make adjustments as free agency additions/subtractions are made as well as injury news comes in.
Read Injury/Inactive Reports
Injury reports are sometimes the most misleading items that NFL coaches use to keep other teams in the dark (as well as fantasy owners) about the true health of their players. Follow the injury reports right during and after the week’s games. Read the input from beat writers to decipher the coach speak if your star player or if you need to start the next man up on your bench. Most importantly a diligent owner must read the inactive reports one hour prior to every game as this is the real truth if your players will be playing or not.
As you get to know your other league owners, you can generally tell who are the owners who are serious fantasy football owners and which of the ones that may slip up and forgot to set their lineups or monitor injuries/bye week properly. Use this knowledge to your advantage. If you are playing a team that isn’t setting their lineup properly, keep QUIET and enjoy the automatic wins those positions. If you see a lazy owner playing your main competition, alert them to their mistake and perhaps give them some ideas of who pickup in that player’s place for this week’s matchup.
Be Active (Offer, Offer, Offer)
When I say be active, I mean be active and initiate trade contact. Put out feelers and league wide emails to declare you needs or your potential players you are interested in trading. Don’t spam the league continually, but let it be known you are ready to wheel and deal. The weakness of most owners is their needs and availability of players is not clearly communicated to the rest of the league. You can use that to your advantage and be the team making the deal that everyone wishes they had made. Leave no stone unturned.
Relationships are Key
Get to know your fellow owners in the league. No matter if the league you are in made up of old college buddies or a league full of complete strangers, it is important to have a relationship with your other owners to be able to execute trades. Trade can be done with complete strangers, but I find the owners I know best and/or have a good open communication relationship with I am more successful at getting fair and creative deals done. Also remember people would rather do deals with owners they like rather than owners they do not like. Don’t the be league braggart putting down all the other league owners as those owners will not be as receptive in fair trades that would help your team win.
Go for the Win-Win
When making trade offers, always communicate how the other owner wins in the trade should be a common practice in the initial trade contact. Communicating how they win in the proposed trade works two fold. First, it opens up a dialog between you and other owner to work on a deal and secondly, this is sets the expectation that you are looking to make a FAIR trade with their team and not screw them over. Worst thing that you can be considered as an owner is a hustler, since all owners will be on their guard when making future deals thus making it hard to find a fair trade.
Don’t be afraid to stand your ground
In trade negotiations, don’t be afraid to stand your ground or feel like you have to give in to anyone’s ridiculous trade demands if you happen to be low on depth at a particular position. People tend to value their own players more than you do. Some of the best moves I ever made were the ones I didn’t make. So if the price is too high, don’t feel pressured to execute the trade.
Creative Trade Scenarios
Creativity with your trade offers can allow you as an owner to get deals done with where other owners can’t. Evaluate your roster and the rest of the teams in the league when making offers you can try some of the angles I have used to get trades done.
- Multiple for One – Trading multiple players for one can be a tricky one. It can be a very annoying trade offer if an owner tries trading 2 or 3 waiver wire players for an established star.
- Multiple Side – If you are the one trying to trade multiple players for quality players, ensure you have enough depth to make up for the loss of multiple players? Are you getting the best player in the deal?
- Single Player Side – Will these combination of players be better than the one great player and players you currently own or waiver wire players?
- Injured for Production – For teams that won’t make the playoffs or able to win the championship near the trade deadline, try scouring the injured stars of teams looking to win it this year, sometimes you can get a great player at a cheap price.
- Build for the future – Evaluate players that could have a great impact next year and trade for them or picks with your non-keeper productive or aged players. Always remember in the NFL the careers are so short for players the window of them being productive is small. Continually building with youth and turning over experienced players for potential or future picks can give you the edge to build your team or keep your team competitive.
- Experience – In the same vain, depending on the league, your window to win the championship can be very small. If everything is breaking for your team to win it all, go for it. You will never know if you will be the same position in the next couple years. Trading for aged production with picks or young potential players that won’t make an impact this year can be a way to increase your chances to win a championship.