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NFL Fantasy Football: Why Ride Pine?


For those of you who have played Fantasy Football in the past, you've experienced the painful 'what to do?' situation with a player that you drafted, and probably as a result of his 'sleeper' status. You're just not sure when to let go.

You got a steal in the ___th round, didn't you? Well done! I'll admit, I drafted Rob Gronkowski in the 13th round last year, and I drafted him five rounds after Owen Daniels. I'd like to tell you that I intended on starting Gronk. I clearly knew nothing about him, and neither did anyone else in my league.

As other 'sure thing' names riddled the draft, guys who you'd expect to pick up on waivers would prove to the be the real sleepers in 2011. It happens ever year. But how long does a guy on your bench remain a sleeper before he ultimately is found comatose? More importantly, how long do you intend to keep him on life support?

It has happened, and it will happen…to you! There are many different schools of thought when it comes to fantasy football. Everyone has their draft strategy, whether it be to take last year's best player, or this year's [projected] best player. Others wait until the last round to draft a kicker, while some will 'reach' in earlier rounds to get the top kicker on the board. Some believe you draft a starting QB early, and you 'risk it all' on his ability to stay healthy. Others - who are sure that a RB or WR are the keys to fantasy lore - will wait until midway through the draft to grab their QB, and want nothing to do with a backup. I mean a backup is, after all, available on Tuesday's waiver wire, right?

That's a very good point. At least to me it is. Let me give you some very basic thought on why your bench players are no different than bench players in the NFL. If you draft anything like I do, you're ensuring that you're starting squad gets prioritized, filled out evenly, and you're certain of the guys who will 'butter your bread' each Sunday. No difference, right, armchair GM? If you draft Andre Johnson in the first or second round, do you intend on benching him for a week, because Pierre Garcon has a better matchup that week? Maybe you do…I hope you like unlubricated bread, though!

I suppose there is a certain level of 'risk taking' in fantasy football, but I've always taken the conservative approach. There are some that will certainly disagree. Let's face it, I don't have fantasy football sites kicking down my door, asking me to appear on TV spots spouting off at the mouth about who I love and hate each week. I will say, though, that there's a certain level of 'sticking to your guns' that should be heeded during the fantasy season. You will have players that you draft early that will let you down. You will be tempted to hit the 'drop' button, and ultimately give another, smarter fantasy owner another weapon which will "go all karma on you" when you face him head-to-head. He will win, you will not. There is a not-so-fine line between dropping an elite player and dropping a guy who is nothing more than a bye-week fill-in. You need to know the difference, and you need to know when to react!

There were some leagues last year, I'm sure, where Gronkowski became the aforementioned flavor-of-the-week, undrafted waiver wire pickup. If your fantasy team was performing terribly, specifically right after one of his many 100 yard receiving games and on his way to 17 TD's, and you were fortunate/smart enough to scoop him up, kudos to you! In doing so, you identified a 'fantasy stud,' and in the process [likely] dropped a 'fantasy dud.' I can assure you that outside of dropping Aaron Rodgers, you probably made the right choice. But those types of acquisitions are few and far between. There will, however, be guys who have tremendous weeks and peek your interest.

While you hope that work, lawn mowing, and honey-do's keep the folks in your league pre-occupied,.Even if just for a day or two, you've got to ensure that you're active on waivers… for the right person, at the right time, and at the right cost. A WR who has nearly 200 yards receiving in the game before you pick him up will haunt you for the rest of the season if you've dropped Victor Cruz to get him, only to live with the consequences of the less-than-desired results for the remainder of the season. The owner of your league's championship will be Salsa dancing on your broken heart...

Again, there are going to be players that remain undrafted in your league that are going to far outperform someone that will be (or may already be) on your roster. As aforementioned, there will also be players that have great weeks, and they'll mouth-wateringly hit the scene one week prior to one of your coveted players bye weeks.

You're going to be tempted to drop Matt Forte when Michael Bush snags a few goal line TD's. It's painful, I know.

Things will begin to shatter in your home when Forte breaks a 39 yard run, only to get tackled at the 2-yard line, and you then watch Bush trot into the end zone for six….fantasy points. That's Bush six, Forte three. Seem fair? Fantasy football doesn't care about fair! And you want to know what's less fair? I'll be waiting on the waiver wire later in the week to put Forte on my bench and bolster a RB core that I already drafted to take me to the promise land!

Well, who do I sacrifice for my waiver wire desire, DC? That, my friends, is up to you. Going back to the "everyone's got their own plan" theory, you drafted your team based upon the strategy you thought would win you games. A few things to ponder, though, are:

* "Do I need a second QB/TE/DEF/K?"

The answer for some of those positions is 'no,' in my opinion. For others, it's the same strategy I use for the rest of my team… until you're hurt, or the NFL has deemed you take the week off, you're in! When bye week rolls around, someone's getting the boot!

* "Hey WR or RB, it's Week 8 and I almost forgot you were on my team"

That's kind of the premise of this post….If you're not going to use a player, just drop him, and make no qualms about it. Be decisive, and open up a position for either a) some other dumby's dropped player, b) a player dropped because of injury, but is due back in a week or two, or c) a player on your team that has no backup but has in impending bye week

…Plan ahead for waivers when you can. As I mentioned, if you're anything like me in drafting your team, you will have several positions that have no backup. Going into a week thinking (or forgetting) that you have no kicker isn't recommended. Dropping Dan Bailey, however, isn't going to end your season, as kickers are probably the most unpredictable position (and easiest to replace) on your entire team.

I can assure you that you'll lose no sleep over a kicker swap. You will, however, not catch a wink if you lose because you failed to pick one up in time…especially if you're playing me. With social media in full swing, I'll be able to let your distant relatives know (in a variety of ways) of your fantasy woes. Do you really want that kind of mockery from ol Aunt Beatrice?

In summation, I suppose, know how you feel about a player, and know what you expect from a player. Your bench is going to prove to be either beneficial or worthless, and it's up to you to decide. Holding onto Kellen Winslow because he's had a solid career will mean nothing if you lose to a guy who picked up Coby Fleener a few days prior, and he just so happened to score two TD's on the Jags. If you look at your bench, and you can honestly say, I'm playing you week ______, then you're doing the right thing. If you negate to look at it, because it's an eyesore, then take a chance on someone who's going to see some PT. Players will get hurt, as they do every season. When that happens, you need to be prepared for the DeMarco Murray types of the league to step in. The difference between winning and losing your league may be your ability to pinpoint those guys, and more so identify the guys collecting dust on your bench.

If you think that you can get through your season without making any trades or waiver pickups, then you've done well for yourself. Just because you have the team of your fantasy dreams doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. If you are eyeballing a player on waivers, you're probably not the only one. Make sure you prioritize your waiver pick ups, and if you're smart (and can afford to do so), pick up a guy who you know your next weeks opponent needs more than you! Drafting a team is one facet of fantasy football. Implementing a strategy, on a week to week basis, is far more important.

That's my take…what's yours?