I wish week 7 would last forever, but alas, we must trudge on to week 8. Yes, I am a DeMarco Murray owner and it was my cackling that you heard last week as the rookie mashed out 253 yards. After drafting Jamaal Charles and riding shotgun aboard the Felix Jones “hype express,” week 7 was a welcomed change my dreary 2011 season and finally gave me a reason to slam a brew, fist pump, and do all of the other unmentionable dorky things I do in my living room when my team is kicking ass. THAT is the reason I play fantasy football and I sincerely hope that tons of you folks enjoyed the week as much as I did. Now, let us refocus our energy on the week ahead as we are now plowing full steam into the second half of the fantasy football regular season. This week, the Smash Back highlights a couple players to check in on, a chance to upgrade your lineup, and one fantasy league faux pas that your league needs to stay away from…
Week 8 Injury Investigation: Each week I like to take a peek at what players were injured during the previous week’s games and evaluate whether there is any possible trade market for the injured parties. This strategy includes lots of risk, but as the Smash Back has highlighted in the past (Miles Austin), making a move for an injured player at a discount can pay off. This week’s special includes Beanie Wells, Willis McGahee, and your choice of a mixed green salad or French onion soup. Both players left week 7 games with injuries of varying degrees and both have very shady return dates. Check to see if either of their owners are panicking due to the injuries and/or bye week issues.
Try this: This strategy is especially effective if you have a solid record (in the 5-2 ballpark), as you can probably afford a bit more risk. Take a minute away from playing Call of Duty and hit up the owners of these two running backs to see if they are available. If the other team is willing to deal, they are most likely looking for players they can instantly plug-in. This is an opportunity to attempt to pawn off some recent waiver additions (Jackie Battle/Darrius Heyward-Bey/Maurice Morris), in addition to a mid-level WR, to acquire a back that might be useful down the stretch (maybe McGahee, as Wells will likely require more talent). The key here is to gauge the other team’s level of panic and respond accordingly.
Tight End Touch-Up: 2011 has really been a bonanza for the tight end position. There were some nice options available on draft day, but the in-season explosion of talent (led by the Pat’s two-headed monster) has given the position cavernous depth. At this very moment, I guarantee that there is at least one team in your league that has stockpiled two, maybe even three, big time tight ends. Now that trade talks are beginning to boil in leagues all across the land, this is the time to make sure that you absolutely do not enter the all-important stretch run WITHOUT a quality tight end. You will be sick to your stomach if you head into a must-win week 13 matchup with Dustin Keller filling your TE spot. Go get yourself a better option by relieving another squad of unnecessary depth.
Try this: Get out the magnifying glass that you used to burn ants when you were a kid and start combing through the rosters in your league. If you’re anything like me, you do this every few hours at work anyhow (look at rosters, not burn ants). Check out your buddy Matt, who drafted Jermichael Finley and then picked up Brandon Pettigrew. Maybe your buddy Carl just had Antonio Gates return, but added Fred Davis in the mean time. These are ideal places to begin, as those teams undoubtedly have issues somewhere else in their lineups. If the other team is still running out Johnny Knox or Sidney Rice at their WR2, offer up a better WR2 option. The goal here is to acquire the other team’s “back up” tight end at a small discount, in exchange for something else they need. Remember to stress to the other owner how pointless it will be for them to roll into the playoffs with two tight ends, and Devery Henderson at WR2.
Roster Responsibility: This is a key to the integrity of any league. Trust me, I know that the land of 1-6 is no fun. No matter what unfortunate situation led a team to the bottom of the standings (Jamaal Charles/lots of Colts/freaky high ‘points against’ total), each and every team is still responsible for submitting a complete lineup every single week. No exceptions. It’s easy for a 0-7 or 1-6 team to pack it in and stop rotating out bye week players, but this absolutely cannot take place in a competitive league. Bottom dwelling teams don’t have to be actively adding/dropping players each week, but a complete lineup, free of bye week or injured players, is a requirement.
Try this: Have your league commish fire out an all-points bulletin to your league concerning this topic. Personally, I just sent one to my league earlier this week so my friend Don (1-6) will make sure to get Heyward-Bey out of his week 8 lineup. If your league has had issues with teams “tuning out” in the past, perhaps install a small monetary fine if an injured or bye week player is started. Whatever avenue your league uses, just make sure each team is aware of this expectation. Nothing gets a fantasy owner more fired up than seeing the team they’re tied with playing against a team with an injured QB and no kicker. Starting crappy players is one thing, starting injured or bye-week players is another issue entirely.
Now get out there and smash on your week 8 opponent. There are lots of good teams on bye this week, so things should be interesting once again. Make sure to stay active in trade discussion and league banter, and as always, never pass up a chance to rip on a team when you beat them.
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