If you followed my advice since April, you’re surely sitting atop your league, probably thinking about who you’ll be facing in week 15. (No need to check; I assure you, each of my predictions was spot on.) Congratulations! But this article isn’t for you. Just be sure to set your lineup this week. Even though you’ve clinched a bye, you owe it to the integrity of the league to play as if this week matters.
If you haven’t been following my advice, I’m not sure I feel like helping you now. I mean, I guess I’ll root for you to hold onto that last playoff spot, but it’s really your fault for putting yourself in this position. Still, I have a few more tricks to pass along. What can I say — I’m a giver. Please pay attention this time, for your own good.
It’s no secret that the best team doesn’t always win. You may remember (though you probably don’t), in August I showed you the average underdog’s odds of taking home the title:
Just by showing up, you give yourself about a one-in-nine chance of winning it all. But it doesn’t take much to improve those odds. You just have to recognize that, relative to the title favorites, your team isn’t that good.
Good teams have it pretty easy. Sure, they might pay attention to matchups, but really they’re just trotting out the same studs that got them a free pass to week 15. Bad teams have to fight for it — and sometimes they have to fight dirty. Here’s how to fight dirty:
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Root for Injury
Hey, I warned you this would be dirty. Most of us aren’t really going to root for injury, but you should be putting yourself in a situation to benefit from your opponents’ misfortunes. You know what’s better than watching that smug 11-2 team lose Adrian Peterson just before the playoffs? Watching that smug 11-2 team lose Adrian Peterson just before the playoffs and knowing that you have Matt Asiata on your roster. Assemble as large a motley crew as you can fit on your roster — Asiata, Tre Mason, Charles Sims . . . heck, Tim Hightower if your league is deep enough. But don’t do it indiscriminately: scout the top teams’ starting running backs and pick up the guys who will take over if those guys go down. You’re not looking just to improve your team; you’re looking to improve your team at the expense of your likely opponent.
If you have deep enough benches that all starting quarterbacks are rostered (and a trade deadline), go after the NFL backup to one of the top team’s quarterbacks — especially if their QB2 is bad or injured. You’re not going to play Drew Stanton or Derek Anderson, but sticking your opponent with a zero at quarterback makes you suddenly the matchup favorite.
Double Down on Ugly
A good quarterback-receiver combination is volatile, but productive. But let’s be honest, you don’t have a good quarterback-receiver combination; if you did, you wouldn’t have read this far. You’re probably trotting out Brandon LaFell as your second wide receiver each week and trying to decide whether to stick with Russell Wilson or pick up Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. That’s OK. Let’s work with what you have.
When you’re the underdog, volatility is your friend. If you can’t afford high-performing volatility, you have to settle for “is this the week?” volatility. And I have just the pair for you: Matt Stafford and Golden Tate. Stafford is a high-end QB3 in points-per-game by most scoring systems. And Tate is . . . whoops, I’ll have to increase the per-page results . . . there he is, WR50 in points-per-game. That’s less than ideal. But the good news is Stafford and Tate are cheap. And the better news is they face New Orleans and San Francisco in weeks 15 and 16, respectively. Those are some juicy defensive matchups.
If you can’t manage the Stafford-Tate stack — or you’re a Green Bay fan still bitter about Tate’s touchdown “catch” from 2012 — you can use the same concept on a different pair. The Alex Smith–Jeremy Maclin pairing is similarly priced and with similarly good playoff matchups. Plus, if your opponent has Charcandrick West, you may steal a touchdown from him. Whatever you do, don’t roll out your same old mediocre quarterbacks and receivers. At least get a mediocre quarterback-receiver pairing from the same team, preferably with a decent playoff schedule.
Trade for a Team Defense — Maybe Two
OK, before you hate-tweet me (@julesdynasty), remember that you wouldn’t be in this situation if you’d followed my advice earlier. Now it’s time to sacrifice your dignity and start shopping for team defenses. Your leaguemates will laugh at you, as they should, but every point matters, and this may be one of the cheapest advantages you can buy.
Aim high: Seattle and St. Louis both have tasty playoff schedules. If a non-contender is rostering one of these units, you might be able to get it for a 2016 third. If not, check out Rotoviz’s Streaming D App, or just go find an NFL schedule and look for the teams that figure to be big favorites in weeks 14, 15, and 16 (bonus points if the opposing quarterback is Case Keenum or Blaine Gabbert).
Just this week, I traded a late 2016 third and a late 2016 fourth for the Houston and New England defenses, plus a mid-to-late 2016 fourth. Why? This team is very likely to earn a bye, and I want to “stream” defenses against Tennessee. Sure, I got a few jabs in the league chat when I traded for two defenses in a row, but if I increase my title chances by one percent, those trades are worth it.
When I was growing up, my favorite athlete was Indiana University utility man A.J. Moye. Unless you’re a Hoosier (or maybe a Duke fan who regrets not having yet another NCAA title), you’ve probably never heard of him. He was a stocky, undersized, underskilled kid with a hardscrabble background. And he was a delight to watch.
Moye exploited every advantage he had — brains, toughness, tenacity, and sometimes just plain old good luck. His greatest moment was blocking a dunk attempt by Carlos Boozer in the final minutes of Indiana’s upset over #1 Duke in the 2002 Sweet Sixteen. Boozer had a full seven inches on Moye, not to mention about 50 pounds. But it didn’t matter. Moye says he anticipated the dunk and outjumped Boozer. And that’s true. But a simple fake from Boozer, and Moye would have looked like a fool. Moye’s decision had a low chance of success and a high risk of hilarious failure, but more importantly, it was basically his only chance of stopping Boozer. And it worked.
So, yeah, your team’s not that good, and you’re probably going to lose. But don’t be afraid to lose ugly, because winning ugly is the best chance you have.
- Dynasty Capsule: Miami Dolphins - January 26, 2019
- Dynasty Capsule: Buffalo Bills - January 21, 2019
- Dynasty Capsule: Carolina Panthers - January 21, 2018
A – J – MOY – YAY!
the greatest block shot in hoosier history , with the current state of hoosier hoops a quagmire , thanks for scratching that itch brian . Moye was one of my all time favorite hoosiers as well.