For many fantasy owners, Week 16 is the culmination of everything that you’ve been working toward over the last 4+ months. Most fantasy football leagues will crown a champion this weekend and the pressure to make the right lineup decision can be intense. Here are few things to keep in mind as you submit those starting lineups for the last time.
Don’t Bench Your Studs
This might seem like common sense, but it’s easy to get paranoid about a potentially bad matchup or enamored with a guy that just had a big week on your bench. While it’s important to consider matchups when setting your championship lineup, don’t be the person that benches Marshawn Lynch because he is facing Arizona’s top-ranked rush defense. Additionally, don’t make a rash decision just because one of your studs is coming off a bad week. It’s easy to be frustrated with Demaryius Thomas after last week’s four-catch, 45-yard performance, but he’s one of the reasons you have gotten this far in the first place, so don’t give up on him now. If you lose because some guy you hadn’t heard of until this week has a big game while on your bench – I’m looking at your Matt Asiata – you’ll get over it. But if you let a championship slip through your fingers because you got too cute with your lineup, you might never forgive yourself.
But What About Last Week?
Week 15 was highlighted by big fantasy performances from unexpected places. The top quarterbacks of the week included Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Matt Flynn. The aforementioned Mr. Asiata came out of nowhere to score three rushing touchdowns. And the top fantasy scorer from the NFL’s most prolific offense was… Andre Caldwell?!? Such a strange week might make you even more inclined to plug in your latest waiver wire pickup in place of a more established player, but in most cases you should probably avoid the temptation. That trendy pickup can just as easily play like Jacob Tamme – one Week 15 catch for 9 yards – instead of Asiata or Caldwell.
Know When to Fold ‘Em
While I cringe at the idea of benching a player that has been productive for you most of the season, it’s important to distinguish between the guy you took early in the draft and a legitimate fantasy stud. Players like Ray Rice, C.J. Spiller, and Trent Richardson illustrate my point. You may already have bumped these guys from your starting lineup, but if you’ve been holding out hope, now is a good time to consider your alternatives. It’s possible that you don’t have a better option this week than Rice and he could certainly have good game against the Patriots, but I wouldn’t be afraid to bench him in favor of someone like Zac Stacy, Rashad Jennings, or maybe even Jordan Todman. If everything that you’ve seen from a player is telling you that you don’t feel comfortable with him in your championship lineup, you owe it to yourself to move on.
Go With Your Gut
When all is said and done, you’ve obviously done something right this season in order to make it to a fantasy championship game, so keep doing what has worked for you. As you are setting your lineup for the last time, don’t overthink things too much. Don’t second-guess yourself. And make the picks that you can live with even if the outcome doesn’t turn out in your favor.
Self-described fantasy degenerate that has been participating in fantasy sports leagues since the spiral notebook scoring era. If you can make a fantasy league out of it, I’m in.