I like to think of the fantasy season beyond week 11 as a camping trip…and not just an average trip to the RV-park with your plasma hooked up above the electric fireplace. I’m talking about a rough and rugged trip into the middle of the wilderness amidst the bees, bears and Bigfoot. The only gear you can pack with you on this trek is what fits on your back, and the same goes for your fantasy team. You will march beyond the trade deadline and into the wild world of the fantasy home stretch with only the players on your team, and the buzzard scraps left on the waiver wire. The next day or two are the precious moments as you decide what to pack along your journey, so don’t be afraid to make a move at the deadline…and be sure to pack extra underwear and bug spray.

Let’s discuss a few strategies to bolster your team and make sure not only your starting lineup, but your entire roster is prepared to smash on your opponents all the way through the week 16 finish line.

Future Plays: This strategy is garnering a lot of attention right now, as the Green Bay Packers are taking no prisoners on their parade to a perfect season. The looming question is, “Will the Packers rest their star players in week 16 or 17?” Interesting question, but leave the stress of this query to your league mates, as the potential to take advantage of the Pack resting their stars is limited. Matt Flynn may be a nice backup, but I’m certain that if you are playing in weeks 15 and 16, you have a better option at QB. While the rest of your league is caught in the glow of Green Bay’s 9-0 record, shift your focus over to the team with the biggest division lead, the San Francisco 49ers. The 8-1 49ers have a five game lead in the abysmal NFC West and will certainly be looking for a chance to rest their bruising RB, Frank Gore. Gore’s injury-riddled past is well documented, and the chances of him missing a game due to an injury, or due to risk of an aggravation, with the NFL playoffs looming is very high. Take this opportunity to snag the speedy Kendall Hunter and tuck him away in your playoff emergency kit.

Try this: If Hunter is milling around on your waiver wire, drop Mike Thomas and add him, pronto. If Hunter is on another roster in your league, get to work. Send out a quick inquiry with the owner who is currently letting Hunter rot on his/her bench, and see what positions they need help with. Once you find that they are thin at WR or TE, try to shed some of your depth to acquire Hunter. What are you going to do with seven pairs of boots on a 3 day camping trip? Same applies in the fantasy playoffs….the players on your bench wont score you any more points. Send out some offers of currently “startable” WR’s and TE’s and see if you can land yourself this young and potentially impactful rookie. When Gore sits out weeks 15 and 16, you will have yourself an impact running back to help your team win.

Defense Stack-Up: This is something I like to do as my team, Fantasy God willing, heads into the post-season. However, if you are in desperate need of weeks 11/12/13 wins like I currently am, this strategy can be implemented at this very moment. I am generally a dedicated team defense streamer, but the “defense stack-up” is a great way to get that D/ST advantage in your matchups down the stretch.

Try this: Dump the last position player on your bench. I know, I know, DHB is really fast and I’m sure you love Robert Meachem, but go ahead and cut one of them. Now go ahead and pull up the week 12 NFL schedule. Scroll down and check out the matchup for the Carolina Panthers. Yes sir, that says: Indianapolis. Go ahead and click “add” and stack up those defenses. The idea here is to stream one week ahead of your opponents to ensure that you always have the best possible defense to play from the waiver wire. Those of you who stream starting pitchers in fantasy baseball may be familiar with this “advanced streaming” technique, and it is a fantastic way to gain an edge in the late stages of the fantasy football season. In this case, the Carolina Panther defense has not been great this season, but the latest word out of Indianapolis is that head coach Jim Caldwell has yet to commit to Curtis Painter as the Colt’s starting quarterback after their week 11 bye. That statement only means one thing: Dan Orlovsky. Those two words alone should put a little pep in your step as you cruise over to your waiver wire and add the Panthers.

Know Thy Standings: The week 9 Smash Back touched on the concept of knowing your own schedule as you make trades at the deadline, as helping a team that could knock you out of playoff contention in week 13 is counterproductive. Now, as we head into the final three regular season weeks, this theory must be expanded. If you are clamoring for every win possible and chasing down teams in your league’s standings, make sure you are well aware of your position, and those ahead of you.

Try this: For example, if you are in 7th place right now, make sure to be familiar with each and every team within striking distance. As the deadline quickly approaches, make sure you analyze all ramifications of a potential trade. If the deal somehow benefits one of the teams directly impeding your path to the playoffs, then it is probably best to avoid the situation. If you have two potential deals you are choosing between, scan through the week 12 and 13 league schedule and analyze which trade could affect a critical game that impacts your race to the playoffs. Remember, anything can happen in the fantasy playoffs. Our job, as fantasy players, is to gain access to this post-season tournament any way possible.

Go get yourself a win this week. I will see you back here next week to discuss strategies on preparing your team for the playoffs once the trade deadline has passed. Good luck!

  1. Tom Wilson says:
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    Am I crazy to start both mcgahee and ball, if my other option is Jackie battle?

  2. Boog says:
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    Great article. I’m in first place in my league and I’ve got the Eagles D. The Titans were available in my league, so I snatched them up. My playoff D schedule is now

    Week 14: PHI @ MIA
    Week 15: TEN @ IND
    Week 16: TEN vs. JAC

    Nice!

  3. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Tom Wilson: Ya, I think you’d be a little crazy. I’d pay close attention to the pre-game reports tonight and play whoever starts plus Battle.

    @Boog: Thats what I’m talkin’ about!

  4. schlitzy says:
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    which side do you prefer- sproles/Llllloyd or Lynch/Andre Johnson?

  5. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @schlitzy: Now that is a good question. I would choose the Lynch/Johnson package, but I could make a good argument for each side, really. It sounds like Johnson will be back after their bye next week, and although Leinart hurts, he will undoubtedly try to feed the ball to his best target (similar to Moore/Marshall in Miami). I’d lean that way, but its close.

  6. schlitzy says:
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    @Jeff Brubach: yeah i can’t make up my mind. I have Johnson/Lynch, but the loss of schaub and seattle’s offensive line injuries are scaring me. But then i think of AJ putting up 10/120/1 and I can’t bring myself to deal him. I see Lynch’s schedule (STL twice!) and I say “who cares about the O line?”

  7. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @schlitzy: Trust me, I am a former Seahawks season ticket holder, so I am familiar with the past struggles of the ‘hawks O-line and running game post-Alexander. Somehow, Lynch is getting it done and you’re right, those STL matchups look tasty.

  8. barker says:
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    12 team trade deadline tomorrow

    i give rice jstew harvin i get mathews wallace sid rice

    rbs rice jstew jacobs ingram felix
    wr fitz harvin manningham moss decker
    qb eli

    kinda need harvin this week and am scared of mathews

  9. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @barker: I think you stay put with what you have. If you make that deal, your RB’s will be in rough shape once Bradshaw comes back. Your WR’s aren’t bad enough for you to feel obligated to make that deal at this point.

  10. Random Collmenter says:
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    Was offered Desean Jackson for Miles Austin and Hillis.

    I think I’m going to accept because I’m 4 – 6 and need to make it into the playoffs. Right now Percy is my WR2, which I’m incredibly frustrated with (last week even when he was “healthy” he only played 33 snaps? WTF?)

    Desean might be just as frustrating but at least he’ll have some upside.

    What you think? Should I risk it even though Vick might not play?

    Thanks.

  11. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Random Collmenter: This is a situation where I think you make that deal. At 4-6, you cant afford to lose any more games and Austin/Hillis wont be getting you any points over the next couple weeks. As long as this is a re-draft league, I say go ahead and do it. Your hand is pretty much forced here, as you need all the fire power you can get as you attempt to go 3-0 in weeks 11-13.

  12. Random Collmenter says:
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    thanks for the quick response man!!!!!! gonna pull the trigger.

  13. HVP says:
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    1. Question
    14 team league
    I need to drop someone to pick up a kicker. My only options are Jahvid Best and Shaun Hill as most of my players are on bye. Who should I drop?

    I have Stafford as a starter and no back up QB. If I drop Hill, I’m worried one of my competitors might snatch him from me. No other QB’s on waiver

    What are Best’s chances of coming back? Is he even worth keeping? My other RB’s are Jacobs, Lynch, and Chris Johnson

    2. Question
    16 team league, start Jacquizz Rodgers or Kevin Smith as a bye week replacement?

  14. Blain Train says:
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    I like the Defense Stack-Up strategy. Who do you like more in Week 12?

    SD vs. Den
    Wsh @ Sea
    Car @ Ind
    Sea vs. Wsh
    Ari @ StL

  15. Cracker Baggins says:
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    How would you rank these DSTs for the rest of the year (I have to pick one since I messed up with my waiver wire budget)?

    Rams (SEA, ARI, @SF, @SEA, CIN, @PIT)
    Falcons (TEN, MIN, @HOU, @CAR, JAC, @NO)
    Seahawks (@STL, WAS, PHI, STL, @CHI, SF)

  16. Boog says:
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    Any other suggestions for future plays at WR? I should be set at RB, as I’ve been stashing Hunter most of the season just for the chance of playoffs/Gore injury, and I have Foster, SJax and Beanie. My WR situation has been tenuous at best since Britt went down, and I haven’t had any luck completing a trade. My pathetic group of WR’s are Dez, D. Nelson, Bennett, and Little…. Is Malcom Floyd worth stashing over Little?

  17. Steve says:
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    Hey sir, let’s hear another opinion. Trade option…Brees/J.Baldwin for my S.Jackson/Ponder. Got Vick, aswell as Foster/Forte/Mathews for example. Dynasty League. Should I do it or only if I get rid of Vick (or just keep my players)? Thank you.

  18. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @HVP: 1. I would drop Hill. Sounds like Stafford’s finger isn’t too big of an issue, he should be fine. As for Best, reports out of Detroit are saying that he’s been hanging around their practice facility more this week, suggesting he’s getting closer to practicing. I’d hold him still.
    2. I would start Kevin Smith. He got some run last week and I think he’s the better bet for touches of those two.

    @Blain Train: I like either Carolina or Seattle there. Seattle’s D is good at home, so I’d lean them but if Indy pulls the trigger and benches Painter, then snag Carolina.

    @Cracker Baggins: I would either go with Atlanta or Seattle. I’d lean towards Seattle since they have 4 home games and their playoff setup is a bit better.

    @Boog: As far as receivers go, I was going to suggest Bennett, but you’ve snagged him already. How about Vincent Brown? While Floyd is out, he’s a good play. Others off the top of my head: Titus Young, Jon Baldwin, Jerome Simpson maybe? And I would personally hold Little over Floyd.

    @Steve: I think it’s a good idea, simply because SJax is going to be reaching the end of his career pretty quickly, even though he’s been good this season. That deal will still leave you with enough RB fire power this season and will give you a steady QB to count on down the stretch this year. Then you can flip Vick or Brees this offseason for another position player.

  19. Steeez says:
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    Great intro. Unfortunately I’m 3-7, so I’ll be making microwave smores at home instead of going camping this year.

    Who do you like better as a keeper in a 14team .5 PPR?
    Jordy Nelson for $7
    Manningham for $10

  20. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Steeez: What up, Steeez? At first glance, Nelson. However, I believe Mario is a free agent after this season so he may be more intriguing depending on where he lands. If you have to deal now, I’d say Nelson in a close one.

  21. Anal_yst says:
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    Great post again, like all season.

    Looking towards the playoffs, in a PPR league, would you trade Benson + Branch for Marshall?

    All 3 have solid playoff match-ups, and I like Marshall a ton (especially bcs Branch doesn’t always get consistent targets), BUT my only real reservation is at RB depth. If I do the deal, I have Foster and DMC/Bush to fill the 2 RB spots, and could fill WR and Flex spots w/ Smith, White, Marshall, DJax/Moss/Bennett/Crabtree. If I don’t, I have Foster, DMC/Bush, Smith, White, and then 2 of the following for flex: Benson, Branch, DJax, Moss/Bennett (both on wire, will pick one up today), and Crabtree.

    So, if everything goes right (no injuries to AF, DMC/Bush), I like Marshall in my lineup, but if something does happen, I have Benson as a RB to put in for a RB. I also have Morris and Hillis, but not convinced w/ either of them, and Hunter is on the wire (although his wk 15/16 sched is Pitt/Sea). How much do you value Benson’s call option if AF, DMC/Bush get hurt v. the upside of Marshall?

    Thanks.

  22. Jeff Brubach

    Jeff Brubach says:
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    @Anal_yst: Thanks for reading. I answered over in the podcast comments, but I think as long as you’ve got Bush to back up DMC, you should be ok. I like the upside of Marshall in a PPR.

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