Last week’s question for the Fourth & 1 Debate was an interesting one from Eric Stashin of Rotoprofessor, and since I didn’t get a chance to share it last week, it’s worth sharing this week before our second Thursday Night Football game of the season. The question:
What adjustments do you make to your fantasy strategy in the second half with games now being played on Thursdays?
Well, for starters, I set my lineups on Thursdays rather than Fridays or Saturdays. I find that helps.
But more to the point, by the time that Thursday play rolls around, my fantasy football roster has become almost set. Extra defenses and tight ends have been moved through trades or waivers because there’s no need to carry them. Starters and bench depth has been established, and I’m going with a pretty core group every week that’s performing at a high level.
There won’t be too many more waiver wire adds or trades to shake up my roster, so it makes it easy to have it set and ready to go on Wednesday or Thursday. My roster has been simplified.
Though having fantasy points accumulated on Friday morning does add some extra layers of strategy to the decisions I make on Fridays and Saturdays.
Say my Thursday night starter failed me completely. I may sub out a more reliable starter with little chance of a big day like Matt Forte for a more boom-bust guy who could save my week like Steve Slaton. It just depends on how deep I am in the hole.
It also works the other way. If Devin Hester locks up 30 points for me on Thursday, I may sub out Robert Meachem for a reliable guy like Muhsin Muhammed. Nothing flashy, but he gets the job done. It’s not as likely that I make a conservative play like this. Why show mercy? But I could see it as a possibility if I was just looking to make sure I had that 8-10 points of padding necessary to stay ahead of my opponent.
It’s good that it only comes after bye weeks are over when rosters have, for the most part, been figured out. Otherwise, Thursday Night Football would be a real pain.
Instead, it’s just kind of a pain because you have to remember in the middle of the week, just after setting your waiver wire claims and receiving said claims on your team, that it’s time to set your roster again.
The NFL is just training us to watch professional football every night of the week. First came Sunday and Monday nights. They own those now. We will never have them back — not that anyone does besides crazy people and girlfriends.
Now, they’re encroaching on Thursday nights, setting up shop and planning to stay around.
What will they take from us next? Wednesday nights? Tuesday nights? Yes, please. And why not?
If there was any way an NFL game could kill Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance? I’m all for it. I don’t think I can dance, and I don’t care if the stars think they can either. The NFL is the only TV worth watching.
So thank your NFL overlords and set your lineups today.
As usual, we’ll cover a few players to start or sit who may or may not be on the fence of startability this week.
Hot Hands Starts of the Week
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs vs. Raiders – Oh, Charles, I just can’t quit you. Really, I wish I could. You made me look bad last week, but this week, you get the Raiders and complete job security knowing that Larry Johnson is off somewhere tweeting about how gay you are.
The Raiders are terrible against the run. They are second in points allowed to running backs behind only the Bills. The Raiders are also terrible against bees — they always get stung — and light bulbs. Oh, do light bulbs give them a hard time. Llamas could run for 100 yards against them.
You’re better than a llama, right, Charles?
One can only hope if you chose to start him again this week.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams vs. Saints – Sometimes people get cute against a high-powered offense and sit the dependable running backs who could get taken out of the game early. Don’t. Do. That.
Coming off a bye and two straight 100+ yard performances, Jackson should have plenty of room to run against the Saints defense, currently without run-stopper Sedrick Ellis. Running backs have been able to hurt them, which explains why the Saints have been so fond of getting behind in the first half of their games lately.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions vs. Vikings – Against a pass rush that wants to eat his lunch, Matthew Stafford would be well-served by passing the ball off to Brandon Pettigrew more than once in this game. Pettigrew reached the end zone last week, and the Vikings rank first in points allowed to tight ends.
The opportunity is there if the Lions can take advantage.
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers vs. Bears – Don’t get me wrong. Smith is not Kurt Warner. He will not throw for five touchdowns, but he should get his fair share against this Bears defense with receiving options like Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.
This game is more important to the 49ers than the Bears. While the 49ers have fallen back just two games in their division, the Bears are almost completely out of the race. For that reason, I think the 49ers will take it as long as they can keep it close.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets vs. Jaguars – The Jags have laid down like kittens in road games this year, and the Jets are coming off a bye. Two signs that point to a big day on offense for the Jets. Edwards should get his fair share of targets, and he has a very good chance of scoring in this one.
Cold Shoulders Sits of the Week
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers vs. Eagles – Dead to fantasy football until further notice.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars vs. Jets – He’s having such a nice season, but this week, he gets covered by The Darrelle Revis Effect. It’s like The Butterfly Effect, but you don’t wake up until the game’s over. And you didn’t change anything on the scoreboard.
Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins vs. Broncos - So you’re walking along thinking “You know, I got that Betts guy this week off waivers. He’s replacing Clinton Portis while Portis recovers. I think that’s a pretty solid start.” You’re buddy says “I dunno, Bob.” (Your name is Bob. I assume these things.) You say “How could it go wrong? Washington’s got no one else, and Betts looked good against the Falcons last week. He even scored a touchdown.”
And then your friend tells you, as any responsible person would, that that’s the point, Bob. The Redskins have no one else. Even Jason Campbell got banged up last week. Don’t you think the Broncos will get after him? The Broncos may have given up yards to running backs against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but the Redskins are not on a roll in the running game like either of those teams. At this point, you stop listening, Bob, because you realize that your friend is a real talker.
As impactful and suspenseful as that little side story was, that’s how productive Betts will be this week against a motivated Broncos defense that knows the Redskins will pose a small threat to their dream-season hopes. The Broncos need to get back on track, and the Redskins are llama pathetic, in keeping with the theme.
Trent Edwards, QB, Bills vs. Titans – One quarterback who won’t take advantage of the Titans’ secondary? This guy. I just don’t see it happening, and I don’t have much confidence in any of the Bills this week.
Green Bay Packers D/ST – They fell apart against Tampa Bay, and I have a hard time imagining them doing any better against Miles Austin and the Cowboys. They might even be without Aaron Kampman, one of their best defenders, as he recovers from a concussion.
Snooze-Button Sleeper Pick of the Week
Zach Miller, TE, Raiders vs. Chiefs – One of those rare games in which JaMarcus Russell does not seem completely incompetent, only slightly. The Chiefs are actually pretty average against tight ends, but Miller is the only target Russell can hit with any consistency.
As a side note, I’m so glad I never have to clean a toilet that JaMarcus Russell uses. Can you imagine how bad his aim is in that arena?
Song to Ease Your Pain While Setting Lineups
Hawthorne Heights – “Ohio Is For Lovers”
I know what you’re thinking. What does this screamy song have to do with fantasy football? Well, I like to imagine Ted Ginn Jr. singing this song to his own hands.
“And I can’t make it on my own…because my heart is in Ohio.”
“So cut my wrists and black my eyes, so I can fall asleep tonight, or die. Because you kill me. You know you do. You kill me well. You like it, too, and I can tell.”
That’s practically out of Ted Ginn Jr.’s pregame diary. I feel like we violated him just by listening to it. He’s obviously convinced cutting off his hands is the only way for him to be happy again, but don’t do anything that drastic, Ginn. Just make them work for you in something other than kick returns.
At least you can take solace in not having Ted Ginn Jr. on your team this week.