The NFL season kicks off tonight, and you may or may not already have your fantasy lineup all set up. If you do, best of luck to you. If you don’t, here are three tips to help you with those coin toss decisions.
1. Take extra injury precautions.
Everybody targets the season opener as a great time to return from an injury. Six week recovery times get rounded down to five, just so players and fans can anticipate a return to the field for Week 1. Unfortunately, the human body has no regard for the NFL schedule, and if things are broken, they’re still broken on Sunday. With that in mind, be extra careful when making Week 1 injury decisions. Too often a player is listed as “Probable” for the opener, purely out of wishful thinking. You might start that player, only to find they are still injured in Week 4. If a guy is on the fence with an injury, consider benching him Week 1 to see what happens. For example, I’ll be sitting Jason Witten this week, just to be safe.
2. Pay attention to positional battles
Contrary to popular belief, not all NFL lineups are set in stone by now. Take some time to look at depth charts (a great one can be found here), and anticipate some players that may be seeing more time than the rest of your league thinks they will. For instance, Isaac Redman is listed as the starter in Pittsburgh, even though the injured Rashard Mendenhall is a prominent feature of that offense. Similarly, the rookie Trent Richardson is set to start in Cleveland, but Monterrio Hardesty could just as easily inherit that position if Richardson faces first year struggles. There are plenty of projected backups – and maybe even a few starters – available in most leagues, so consider getting your hands on someone now, before their stock skyrockets.
3. Trust your gut; take a gamble
This may seem like common sense, but there is no better time than Week 1 to trust your gut on ambitious fantasy decisions. Too often you get a “feeling” about a player early on, pass on that player, then watch as he racks up mega points for someone else in your league. Last year I stared at Cam Newton on our league’s waiver wire for several days, only to keep putting off the two or three mouse clicks I would’ve needed to add him to my team. Needless to say, I was frustrated at how that played out. The lesson, however, is not to let those types of opportunities slip away. If you think your boy Alshon Jeffery is about to make an instant red zone impact for the Bears… start him. Maybe you leave a few points on your bench, or maybe you look like a genius. Either way, give it a few weeks before you write anyone off.
So there are three tips to help you on your way to fantasy glory. Check back in throughout the season for more amateur fantasy advice from yours truly.
What suggestions do YOU have for Fantasy Football players heading into Week 1?
Noah Weber is a regular sports blogger for Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter: @gobluenoah