Navigating the pitfalls of fantasy football

Ryan Dawson

This year may be the year you were finally asked to be in a fantasy football league. Maybe you tried a daily fantasy league and thought it would be easy.

Traversing the treacherous waters of a 14-week season is nothing short of a Herculean stress test. Setting your lineup, making trades, and scouting defenses are just a few of the tasks you have to do to take your team to the playoffs — unless you have Tom Brady.

Here is a quick rundown of the do’s and don’ts during your first year playing fantasy football:

Don’t ever, under any circumstance, jump on the hype train.

The hype train is all the noise made by the media during one week in which they tout a single player as being a game-changer, for example, Brandin Cooks.

Early in the preseason, Cooks put up ridiculous numbers and shredded secondarys. The climax of the hype train came when Randy Moss, future first ballot hall of famer, told the media the, “sky was the limit for Cooks.” In reality, Cooks has been disappointing by putting up 21.5 total points this season, opposed to the 36.42 he was originally projected to.

Do, however, watch the waiver wire like your life depends on it. The waiver wire consists of all of the players who have been dropped from teams, or were never picked up by a team in your league. Sifting through the waiver wire is an art.

Each league has different rules for adds and drops. But, if you are lucky you can get a game-changing player. Ask anyone who picked up Travis Benjamin during week three. Benjamin was originally placed fourth or fifth in the wide receiver depth chart, but after an electric week one and week two, he has slowly moved up to a viable option to start every week.

Do study your match-ups. Analyzing match-ups for the week is excruciating. With so many games out of market — not shown in New England — it takes some digging to determine who will win their weekly match-ups.

There is no clear answer on how to effectively predict future outcomes, but there are ways to make educated guesses. Rivalries, conference games, and injury-ridden teams usually act as good indicators.

Another good approach is to use an online fantasy website’s analytics to judge offenses and defenses. They aren’t always right, but they help.

Finally, stalk your players. Not literally but figuratively. Following your players online through social media can help to predict their performance for the week. You never know when your star runningback will be declared unable to play due to an unknown injury. Good rule of thumb is to wake up early on Sunday to check injury updates and adjusted team rosters.

Growing a competitive fantasy team takes time. But hopefully with some savvy moves, decent trades, and just a little bit of luck your team could make it to the top.