This Week in Fantasy

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

For most league formats, with playoffs in weeks 14 and beyond, Week Seven marks the first day of the rest of your season.  Chances are, by now you’ve developed some unhealthy relationships with some of the guys on your squad, and I’m hear to “Dr. Phil” you out of them.  Week Seven is also a great time to start cutting some dead weight, because, with six teams on a bye, many of your opponents (and possibly you) will have to make room for some last minute fill-ins, so there will be lots of waiver wire activity, giving you some good options to upgrade.  So who on your squad gets the warm welcome to Dumpsville?

If you’re 0-6 or 1-5, your chances are pretty slim of making the playoffs and your fantasy life is spiraling out of control.  There’s likely more going on with your team than just one unhealthy relationship–letting one guy go won’t turn things around for you entirely.  You’d likely have to win out to make your playoffs, so focus on the next game or two and then you can get more strategic from there.  If that means sticking with a couple of deadbeats, because your gut tells you they might pan out for you, then, hey, take the risk, your prospects can’t get much worse.  Whatever you do, do everyone a favor and don’t check out entirely.

If you’re at 2-4 or 3-3, you need to do whatever it takes to win the next several games.  Take advantage of your opponents’ bye week weaknesses.  Make room on your roster for week-to-week situational match ups.  Win a few more games and then start thinking about your potential playoff-week squad.  Basically, I’m telling you to play the field, make only short term commitments.  You can’t afford to hold on to dead weight, just because they may help you out down the road–you need guys that can help you win now.

If you’re sitting at the top of your league, at 4-2 or better, then you do have a little more leeway to hold on to some of those sentimental favorites, just make sure it’s with good reason.  You can’t afford to give up too many of these midseason games, but you want to consider who will be your best assets down the stretch.

No matter which of these three groups you fall into, there are no doubt some guys you drafted or picked up early who you have developed a particular attachment to.  Cutting ties with them can be difficult for a variety of reasons, but you have to do what’s right for you.  Here are some guys I’m grappling with letting go of myself, and the excuses that are making the break ups hard:

“But I’ve invested so much in our relationship”

Michael Vick – Anyone who’s owned Vick this year or last will groan and understand why he’s at the top of this list.  It doesn’t matter what round you drafted him in, just that you likely drafted him as your QB1.  The problem is, outside of the top eight or so QBs, there is a lot of week-to-week uncertainty and inconsistency, so unless you snagged RG3 or Andrew Luck as your back up, you probably can’t do much better than Vick.  In that case, keep him around, just don’t automatically start him every week.  Let him know he’s in the doghouse.

Steven Jackson –Every year I avoid S-Jax, and every year I ruefully watch him perform well for an opponent.  This year I decided to take a risk on him in one of my leagues and picked him in the 2nd or 3rd round.  Ugh.  He’s too unreliable to start, too valuable to drop and too unattractive to trade.  I’ll probably use him during the bye weeks, then lose him if nothing changes closer to the end of the season.

Baltimore Defense –Fortunately, I actually don’t own them in any of my leagues, but I’ve included them as they are a classic example of a defense that managers reach for fairly early during a draft.  Decimated by injury (whether or not Suggs says he’s coming back), they have been not nearly worth the value people placed on them in preseason.  The Vikings, on the other hand, went largely undrafted and may be available in your league to upgrade.

“If I just try harder, maybe I can make this work”

Vick Ballard –Vick Ballard was a name that was largely unrecognized until about ten days ago, when it was announced that Donald Brown was undergoing surgery.  Managers rushed to add him (including me), figuring starting backs are hard to come by, especially during the bye weeks.  What a disappointment he was.  Rushing only 8 times for 25 yards (plus 2 receptions for 17 yards), it’s tempting to not give him a call back after the first date.  However, the fact that Indy fell behind early and had to resort to a more desperate game plan (combined with the fact that my two starting RBs are off this week), will lead me to give him a second shot.  Hopefully he can turn on the charm.

Dennis Pitta –I hate rostering two tight ends, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since Week Two, when I picked up Dennis Pitta.  Hopes were high for him to be Flacco’s favorite receiver this season, with Torrey Smith as more of the big-play guy and Anquan Boldin largely unreliable, but the last three weeks have been dismal for his fantasy owners.  Heading into a bye in Week Eight, this is a make or break week for him to determine his ETD to Dumpsville.

Brandon LaFell –Brandon LaFell and he can’t get up!  I was extremely bullish on LaFell in the preseason.  I drafted him in three leagues.  I think he’s a very talented receiver, but, unfortunately, the Panthers as a whole are not living up to their preseason expectations.  Steve Smith is not drawing enough double coverage, Greg Olsen is proving to be a suitable check-down option, and Cam Newton is getting in his own head too much, leaving LaFell out in the cold.  I’ve already dumped him in one of my leagues and am close in the other two.  Brandon, it’s not you, it’s your team.

“He seemed to have so much potential”

Bilal Powell –I can say with near certainty that Bilal Powell will never make my starting lineup this year, but I still keep stringing him along.  You see, I drafted him in the late round of a league where you have the option to keep any player drafted after the 12th round at the price of the pick in the round where you drafted him.  So if you draft a lottery ticket and he hits, you get him at a tremendous value the next season.  If Shonn Greene fell to the wayside, and if the Jets somehow put together a more credible (and consistent) offense, Powell would be a great fantasy asset.  But I’m starting to think that’s too many ifs.  Buh bye, Bilal.

Brian Hartline – Hartline became fantasy football’s most eligible receiver after putting up 200+ yards against a formidable Arizona defense, but since then has proven not to be quite the catch everyone thought.  Until Tannehill gets into a more regular groove and the Dolphins figure out how to incorporate him more regularly into their offense, Hartline *might* be a serviceable bye-week filler, but he’s not your man down the stretch.

“I just can’t quit him”

Pierre Garcon –Watching Griffin’s Baylor highlight reel, a lot of the most impressive plays seemed to come in tandem with receiver Kendall Wright.  They had great rapport, and Griffin always always seemed to know where his was on the field and how exactly to get him the ball to maximize yards after catch.  During preseason, Garcon seemed to be that receiver for Griffin on the pro level, an assumption that looked on track during Week One…that is until Garcon suffered his mysterious foot injury.  Sidelined or barely active since then, he has been of no use to fantasy owners for five weeks.  If I were in a “must win now” situation, I’d probably cut ties with him for someone more useful.  But as a Redskins fan, and with the flexibility to hold onto someone until the later weeks, I’ll desperately cling to him for now.

Jacquizz Rodgers –I staked my claim in Rodgers as the breakout performer of 2012 and am stubbornly standing by waiting for that to happen.  Thank you, Michael Turner, for making this relationship so hard for me.  As the playoff weeks approach, if Rodgers is still second fiddle in Atlanta, I suppose I’ll have to send him packing for someone more useful in the fantasy playoffs, but, for now, I just can’t quit him.

“The ones that got away”

Out of every three break ups, you’ll probably look back on one with regret.  Unless you can re-sign them from wavers, you’re just going to have to learn to move on.  For me this season I dumped Mike Williams and Alex Green too early, resulting in one woman’s trash becoming another man’s treasure.  Oh well, I just have to hold out that there are plenty of fish in the sea!



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