- Take risks with your bench
Fill your bench up with as many high-risk, high-reward players as you can. Every team in your league will have three or four stars; it’s your sleepers and free agent pickups that will win you your league. The more risks you take, the more likely you are to hit the jackpot. Try and find this year’s Alshon Jeffery or Julius Thomas, because that will separate your team from the rest of your league. It’s impossible to predict with absolute certainity, but players such as Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and electric rookie running back Tre Mason could pay huge dividends later in the season.
2. Play the matchup with your defence
Unless you have a top-three defence, you should be rotating that slot from week to week. Find out who’s playing the offensively impotent Jags, Texans, or Jets, and take advantage of their ineptitude. The decidedly average Bears defence will put up more fantasy points against the Texans than the premium 49ers defence will tally against the Packers. Ride the waiver wire and take advantage of the league’s bottom-feeders.
3. Handcuff your star running backs
If you haven’t already drafted your star running back’s backup, do so immediately. Running back is a high-attrition position with one of the highest injury rates in the league. Even though LeSean McCoy’s name looks invincible on your computer screen, don’t assume you’ll be able to lock him in every week. Take the recent injuries to fantasy draft darlings Eddie Lacy and Andre Ellington as proof of a stark reality. If you used up a high draft pick on either, and then neglected to cover your bases by picking up James Starks or Jonathan Dwyer respectively, you can probably kiss the playoffs goodbye. Injuries can happen at any time; make sure you have a safety net—even just for the peace of mind—if your star running back goes down.
4. Don’t get too fancy
The biggest mistake fantasy owners can make is trying to create too big of a splash with their lineups. Under absolutely no circumstance should you be sitting your stars. Don’t sit Adrian Peterson because some so-called expert brought up that he doesn’t play well in temperatures below -15 degrees Celsius, during 4 p.m. games, or when the wind is blowing from the northeast. The easiest way to look foolish is to unnecessarily tinker with your lineup. Just because Jeremy Maclin has a better matchup than Julio Jones, doesn’t mean you should sit your star wideout. The guys you pick in the first five or six rounds should be in your lineup every single week, without question.
5. Know your playoff schedule
Just like in the NFL, the unfortunate truth is that the best fantasy team usually doesn’t win the league. Time and time again, a solid team will dominate the regular season, only to be eliminated in the first or second round of the fantasy football playoffs. The previous four tips will get you through the regular season, but if you want to take home the hardware and claim a year’s worth of bragging rights, then this last tip is the most important. Your playoffs probably run from week 14 to week 16, which might mean that Philip Rivers won’t be the best quarterback for your team, considering he plays the Patriots, Broncos, and 49ers in a brutal three-week stretch. Instead of Colin Kaepernick, who has a similarly tough schedule, perhaps look at Jay Cutler, who plays the Cowboys, Saints, and Lions in the last three weeks of the season.