The 2019 NFL season is in full swing.
If you’re anything like me, that means a couple things: one, you spend your Sundays embedded in your couch with your eyes tracking freakish athletes as they bash headlong into each other, and two: you’ve got a fantasy football team (or three) to manage.
The draft is over, and your core team is set. Maybe you’re 4-0. Maybe you’re 0-4. Either way, here are five tips to help improve your fantasy football performance.
1. Stay Informed.
Don’t wait until Thursday evening to check the latest news around the league. Instead, download the app for whatever platform your league uses, turn on your notifications and make sure you know who’s injured, who’s been traded and what the weather will be like for your players’ games.
Here’s an example. In week two, the Philadelphia Eagles’ top two wide receivers, DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, went down with injuries. They were both ruled out for week three, which expanded the role of Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia’s WR3. He saw 12 targets and caught eight passes for two touchdowns. If Agholor sat on your bench in week three, you failed to stay informed.
2. Own the waiver wire.
Rarely does anyone draft a great team that manages to stay healthy for the entire season. Your lineup will always have weak spots. And regardless, every player on your team has a bye-week at some point in the season. Make claims on the waiver wire to improve your squad on a weekly basis. Do this based on information that you gather from staying informed.
Agholor went undrafted in your league? You should have been the first to make a waiver claim on him for week three.
3. Talk trades.
This is another way to make strong additions and subtractions to your team.
I’ll use myself as an example here. I drafted Ben Roethlisberger (don’t ask me why), who sustained a season-ending injury in week two. I saw another member of my league had Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott on his bench. I also saw he was weak at the wide receiver position. So, I picked up DJ Chark Jr., Jacksonville’s emerging WR1, and started talking trades with my fellow league-member. I’ll get a new starting QB, and he’ll improve one of his WR spots. Everybody benefits, but mostly me, because I picked up Chark from the waiver wire (see tip #2).
4. Pay attention to volume.
I cannot stress this point enough. Prioritize players who touch the ball the most, or see the most volume. Why is Carolina Panthers’ RB Christian McCaffrey one of the most valuable players in the league? It’s not because the Panthers have an incredible offense. It’s because of how they use him. McCaffrey averages 20 rush attempts and seven targets a game. Why did I pick up Oakland Raiders’ tight end Darren Waller? Because its QB throws him the ball 10 times a game. Pay special attention to this point if you’re in a league where points are scored based on receptions.
5. Look at matchups.
This one is simple. Start players who have good matchups and look for better options if a player has a bad matchup. If you have two similar wide receivers, one scheduled to play against the league’s best passing defense and the other scheduled against a poor passing defense, start the latter. The exception to this rule is if a player will perform better than anyone else on your roster regardless of matchup. I don’t care if Patrick Mahomes is playing the best passing defense in the league—if I have him, I’m starting him.
This tip is especially applicable to defenses. If your defense is scheduled to play the Chiefs, you’d be wise to find a replacement.