Tips for Selecting a Winning Weekly NFL Fantasy Lineup
The popularity of one week fantasy football leagues has skyrocketed in the past several years. Many people who have never even played fantasy football before are entering teams into one week leagues with the hopes of scoring a big payday.
Here are some tips and things to consider when selecting your lineup each week.
Managing the Salary Cap
Each player at each position is assigned a salary cap value and participants must select a roster including a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a defense in most standard weekly fantasy leagues. You need to select all of these players while staying within a predetermined salary cap. While you may need to spend a significant portion of your salary cap on two or three key players it is important not to tie too much of your salary cap up in just a few players or the remainder of your roster will be full of players unlikely to run the ball very much or catch many passes.
The goal is to find players who are likely to have strong performances and who do not eat up large portions of your salary cap. The top two or three players at each position usually cost significant money and it is almost impossible to get them all on your team. That is why you need to look for value in all areas when selecting a roster.
Quarterback is typically the most important position any roster. Teams only use one quarterback and the quarterback usually gets credit for all the throwing touchdowns and plays every snap. Selecting the right quarterback can make or break your week. Quarterbacks will tend to cost you the biggest portion of your salary cap and it is one position where you should not be afraid to spend some money. Top quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady usually far outperform second tier quarterbacks like Andy Dalton or Jake Locker. If you are going to go with a second tier quarterback look for one who has a strong matchup against a weak passing defense.
Less and less emphasis is being placed on the running back position around the NFL. Many teams now use two and three running backs during the course of a game and it can make it very difficult to know who is going to get a lot of touches in any given week. It is very important to do your research and read about the game plan for the team of the running backs you plan to select. Many times a coach will indicate during the week what running back may see additional carries or goal line touches. Injuries at this position are also important to watch. If it looks like a team may be missing a back because of injury it could be wise to select another running back from that team as they may be expected to have a bigger work load. There are still a few true number one running backs in the league like Marshawn Lynch that will get the majority of touches for their team. Those backs will cost more than a running back that is sharing touches. Ideally it would be good to get one back who you expect to see a majority of the touches and then a second back who may not cost as much, but who is expected to see a decent amount of work.
This position tends to offer the largest selections of players to pick from and is also where the best values can typically be found. While most teams have a top wide receiver they use two, three or even four wide receivers on every play. Sometimes selecting the teams number two receiver can be more productive than selecting a number one receiver. The key when making a decision on receivers is to look at the matchups. See how the opposing defense matches up against the pass and look for injuries to the opposing secondary. If a team has a top cornerback, try to find out who they will primarily matchup against and then take another receiver from that team who is more likely to be open and receive additional targets from his quarterback.
There are a few top tight ends like Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis. Then the rest becomes a crap shoot. Again this is where good research will help you a lot. Read about which teams plan to get the tight end more involved in the passing game and know which teams are having offensive line issues and may keep their tight ends more to block, thus limiting their chances at a big game. Unless you feel comfortable with the rest of your roster and have salary cap space left over this is not a position to devote a large portion of your salary cap to.
A few things to consider when selecting a kicker are which teams are struggling in the red zone offensively and which teams are going up against good red zone defenses. If the kicker has a team that has been struggling offensively or is facing a tough red zone defense there will likely be more opportunities for him to kick field goals. Also be sure to check the weather, if your kicker is going to be playing outdoors in a snowstorm it may be time to consider someone playing in better weather or indoors. Weather can have a dramatic impact on the kicking game and coaching decisions surrounding it.
Most defenses will fall within a pretty small salary range. Look for a defense that is going up against a quarterback who is prone to turning the ball over. Turnovers can lead to returns for touchdowns and more points for your team. Avoid teams going against top level quarterbacks as their opportunities for big plays are likely to be limited. Special teams are considered part of defense so a team with a good return man is always a plus as well.