As I’ve gone through the process of completing the rest of season rankings, I’ve noticed a trend. The number of players that I have a strong confidence in for the rest of the season is dwindling… Fast! Whether this is from the regular attrition of the NFL season or the changing landscape of the way coaches deploy their personnel, it is happening.
Fantasy analysts love to talk tiers and often in the pre-season have 3-5 per position. At this point, I’m essentially noticing 4 tier groups within the rest of season rankings.
- An elite tier ranging from Christian McCaffrey to Michael Thomas.
- A sub-elite tier ranging from Alvin Kamara to Kenny Golladay. These players will always be in your lineup, but there actually could be bumps in the road. It is likely players like Kamara will be the great rest of season on a weekly basis, but Latavius Murray could surely cut into his work on a weekly basis after showing his worth.
- A valuable player tier from Todd Gurley to Darren Waller… It really is that small.
- Everyone else. Is there that much of a difference between Christian Kirk and Cole Beasley? They average within two targets per game of each other. They average 2 fantasy points difference per week. Their offenses both average 1.3 passing TD’s per game or less. For a running back example Phillip Lindsay has value but has also had under 8 fantasy points in 5 of 8 games this season. This is my point. The number of players who truly matter is incredibly compressed in 2019.
I think with this wide range, everyone else’s tiers can be noticed through the frugality of the weekly waiver wire. There have been zero current top 24 fantasy running backs on a full seasons basis who came from the waiver wire in competitive leagues. There are possibly 2 wide receivers in the top 24 who were on waiver wires: D.J. Chark and Terry McLaurin. Finally, there is one tight end in the top 6 who was possibly on the wire: Darren Waller.
What do we do with all of this information? I’ve sectioned off how I would approach the rest of the season into what I would imagine are the situations for every team in your league through 8 weeks.
- Playoff-Bound Team – This season more than ever it is vital to handcuff your elite running backs. Ryquell Armstead has more value than whoever the flavor of the week is on the waiver wire. As we have seen with players like Ty Johnson, if the backfield was in a timeshare prior to the lead back becoming injured, it will be a timeshare after the lead back gets injured. Do not let go of any of your elite, or sub-elite talents for multiple assets that “have upside”. Hoard assets as your league mates are all lacking them. Additionally, if you have extra roster space check the playoff week schedule for your league and find fringe players that can possibly help you then.
- Likely Playoff Teams – If there are any teams in your league willing to trade elite talents do whatever you can to get them. If you have extra roster spots grab some of those clear running back handcuffs on your wire. This helps in two ways. The team with Leonard Fournette is probably in the playoff hunt as well. If Fournette were to go down, and you have stashed the same Ryquell Armstead mention above your team is now not only better, you have immediately put the Fournette team at a huge disadvantage. They can’t use the FAAB budget they have left for the backup. Additionally, look a week ahead on your bye weeks and find fringe players that can help you next week to solidify your playoff spot.
- Outside Looking in Teams – The same as above but focus in on the highest upside players in the everyone else tier and see if you can buy a player before the owner catches up to what is happening. This is why I keep a player like Hollywood Brown so high on this list. He has been hurt. He hasn’t done anything in weeks, but he received 8 targets per week and a huge air yards share when healthy in an explosive offense. If he hits he can get you in the playoffs. Don’t waste roster space in this situation on player who have positive playoff schedules but focus on players in weeks 9-13 that can help. You need to think of the rest of your regular season as a double elimination tournament. Whatever you can do to not lose twice, do it.
- Teams in Last Place – Sorry man.