by Aaron Rife
We’re far enough in to the season now that your fantasy football team either has a chance to make the playoffs or you don’t. The majority of fantasy leagues use weeks 14-16 for the playoffs to eliminate the chance of high-profile players sitting out and hurting their fake GMs. In that case, you have five weeks to solidify your team and get into the playoffs or strengthen your keepers for 2013.
For redraft leagues, if your team is out of the race the worst thing you can do is just give up. Keep the competitive balance of the league in place by trying to win. Most people are in a league with friends and maybe you can spoil someone’s season and remind them all of next year. Keeper leagues are a different animal. You can use this time to work the trade lines and solidify your team for the next season.
First thing you should do: If you have a good defense or a good kicker find a top team that has a need in one of those areas and strike a deal. If the worst thing you do is get a couple of 2nd round draft pick upgrade you’re still the winner. You’re never going to keep a kicker or defense and you never should. Year to year the top kickers and defenses dramatically change.
Second: Figure out what players you want to keep and get rid of the others. Trade a couple of players for a better keeper or trade for draft pick upgrades. Those players aren’t helping you enough to make your team a winner.
Third: Find some “buy low” players that top teams will be looking to trade for more consistent production. Also, see what “sell high” players you have on your team. Players that are having a good year but their future worth is suspect. Each position has players like this:
Phillip Rivers – Rivers is coming off one of the worst games of his career and still threw for 356 yards. Three sub-par performances in a row means that some team out there is ready to cut bait. He’s still a borderline elite quarterback.
Tony Romo – The Romo anti-hype machine is as predictable as the holiday movie starring dozens of “A” list movie stars that is bound to be awful (see: New Year’s Eve). Yes he’s inconsistent but he’s still a good quarterback, with great weapons.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Great story? Yes. Good fantasy QB? Not really. This year he is bringing consistency. I can see a scenario where you could land Phillip Rivers for Fitz and another piece. Someone wanting to win this year will be looking for consistent scoring out of their QB. The Bills are Fred Jackson’s team. Aside from an occasional 3-4TD game, the majority are going to be 225 yard performances with 1 or 2 TDs.
Ben Roethlisberger – Roethlisberger has been putting up some really strong numbers the last few weeks, but he’s hardly a consistent 20 TD quarterback. Due to an inconsistent running game the Steelers have had to rely on Ben more than usual, not to mention his 5 TD game is skewing his total stats for the year. If you have a Steelers fan in your league that miraculously doesn’t own him already, there’s your trade partner. They are completely irrational when it comes to Big Ben.
Mark Ingram – Right now he’s part of a 3-headed monster (4 if you count Chris Ivey). He’s been a bust as far as rookie RBs go but don’t count him out for good. For a cheap as he can be had he’s definitely worth the risk.
Chris Johnson – Many owners might be holding on to him simply because they used a high pick to get him or made a trade for him in which they gave up a lot. If that’s not the case then there is a good chance they’re ready to go another route. The lockout combined with his holdout has taken a toll on Johnson. I don’t think he’s done, probably won’t be the best back in the league again, but not done.
Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams – It’s the Cam Newton show in Carolina, no doubt about that. Last week Newton ran the ball 3 times in a row after having 1st and goal from the 3! John Fox is no longer in Carolina to keep the RBs fed either. All of it spells doom for any Panther back. Get rid of them while you still can.
Steven Jackson – He’s got a lot of mileage on him. He doesn’t have the health to be one of those RBs that puts up good stats into his 30’s. He’s always been a little overrated anyways. He’s only had one double-digit TD season (06-07). Right now, he’s still a big name back. Use that to your advantage and unload him for a younger RB with some upside.
Reggie Wayne – Reggie seems to have totally checked out this year and Pierre Garcon is clearly Painter’s favorite target. With only 1 TD so far this season fake GMs are at their wit’s end. He has seven straight 1,000 yard seasons before this year. Next year, Manning will be back and Wayne will be nice and fresh from taking this year off.
Miles Austin – If you believe Tony Romo will bounce back, you have to believe that Miles Austin will too. The emergence of Dez Bryant will only aid in this as Austin will no longer be the focal point for defenses.
DeSean Jackson – Jackson never has caught a ton of balls but this year seems different. Jeremy Maclin is also emerging as Vick’s go-to guy. Not to mention, the Eagles are one late hit away from Mike Kafka as their QB. Jackson still has some name recognition which always helps when you want to dump a player.
Brandon Marshall – Enough already with this guy! I’m unfortunately a Dolphin fan so I’ve had the displeasure of seeing him drop pass after pass in the red zone or on a critical 3rd down. He leads the league in drops with 7 but I doubt that counts passes that he makes a half-assed attempt at catching.
Jermichael Finley – There aren’t very many TEs that you should even consider keeping. Finley still has plenty of upside. It’s been a few years now and he’s yet to put together a complete season. If you feel he still has it in him, go after him.
Dallas Clark – He’s slowly coming around to Curtis Painter but that doesn’t really matter as Manning will be back next year. There’s no reason not to expect a return to form in 2013.
Antonio Gates – His run as an elite tight end may finally be coming to an end. This has been a trying year for Gates owners as he’s only played 3 games. Chances are these will be lingering issues and he’ll never regain the 10 TD potential he once had.
Tony Gonzalez – Mr. Consistency just keeps hanging around. He can’t have more than another year left, maybe two. You’re probably not keeping him anyways so if someone else is still fascinated with his name, go ahead and maybe get a pick upgrade for him.
Hopefully this helps you out some. Just know that you should never give up in a fantasy league. If worse comes to worse you at least have a chance of ending somebody’s season but best case scenario, you can set your team up for a successful 2013 campaign.