Entering the back half of the season, now is the time that some teams will start looking ahead at the playoff weeks. During the initial draft I, for one, never worry about strength of schedule when I choose my team. It’s too impossible to predict how competitive teams will be before the season starts, and I’d much prefer to draft guys who I think will help me win games immediately. But with 8 weeks under our belt, we know for certain which players are studs or duds, and for all those guys in between we know which match-ups will help them swing one way or another.
Some teams (like my friend Winter Hill Gang) are in desperate need to win games now, and they should still not be worrying about playoff schedule. Those of us who are on solid ground in our leagues should start making all decisions with playoff weeks in mind. (Trust me, I’ve made the mistake of under-thinking playoff weeks in the past.)
For example, right now I’m 6-2 in 3rd place in a 14 team league. Eight teams make the playoffs, and the guy in 9th place is 3-5. It would take a pretty big disaster for me to miss the playoffs. (Please, god, Drew Brees is a good man–keep him healthy!) Right now it’s the two guys ahead of me and the guy in 4th place that scare me most; though, of course, any other team could go gangbusters one week in the playoffs and kick me to the curb. So, between now and then, any roster move I make is only done with consideration to where that leaves me in weeks 14-16. What does this mean?
Don’t Pounce on Trendy Picks – For example, just because all the gurus say to go out and pick Javon Ringer, that doesn’t mean I’m going to blindly bid a lot of FAAB money to get him. However, considering I’m still kicking myself for letting him go after WHG neglected to take him on Sunday, AND considering he faces Indy in Week 15, I think he’s worth spending some money on. But it I’m considering another playing who has unfriendly match-ups in Weeks 14-16, I won’t spend a dime on him. I’d rather either a) save my money and be able to bid high on guys during the playoffs, or b) pick up the sloppy seconds that another guys mistakenly dropped to make room for the latest trend. Which brings me to….
Constantly Play “Who Would You Rather” with Your Roster – It’s easy to get attached to guys on your bench, even if you never start them (maybe especially if you’re not starting them), It’s also easy to only stay boned up on your starting rotation and forget about the deep bench members of your team. Every week I reevaluate my team and pick at least one player I could live without. (Sadly, for me last week that was The Black Wes Welker, who I personally love, but he was no Wes Welker.) When I always know who’s expendable, it’s easier for me to pull the trigger on quick pick ups (ie, Jackie Battle 3 weeks ago), without dropping someone I’ll regret. When in doubt, I drop my kicker to buy myself a little more time.
Don’t Get Trade Happy – I’m the type of person who, at an auction, suddenly feels compelled to bid more than I have to spend on items that I certainly don’t *need* just for the sake of participating in the game and winning something. (The Hubby is constantly reminding me that it’s no “winning” if we’re paying for something, twice as much as it’s worth, at that.) It’s the same thing with trades. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of wanting to make big things happen. Especially if other teams around you are doing it. But if you’re sitting at the top of your league, chances are you don’t *need* to make things happen. Let others come to you, and see who they’re interested in. Remember that teams struggling to make the playoffs will be more desperate to give talent away to plug short-term holes. On the flip side, your top competitors are likely pretty savvy, so it’s doubtful you’ll accomplish a trade that tilts in your favor with one of them.
So that’s what I’m thinking about as we round the corner into the rest of the season. More to come on strategy when the playoffs are more imminent.