Monday, October 7, 2013

Fantasy Commandment #1: Pay Attention!

I believe it was Moses that first uttered these divine words of wisdom: “Thou shalt not neglect to checketh the inactive reports before finalizing your starting lineup.”

If I recall correctly, it’s written in the Book of Hezekiah; but I’m not positive about that.

In any event, if you ever needed evidence that a key determinant in fantasy football success is simply paying attention, you got it in spades on Sunday.  According to one top league-management site, more than 80 percent of Calvin Johnson’s owners had him fixed in their starting lineup this weekend.

Holy goose egg!  As they later learned, Megatron delivered a big fat zero because he was declared inactive roughly 90 minutes before kickoff. 

There’s no telling how many matchups were tilted by this completely avoidable snafu.

Those of us who’ve obsessed over our starting lineups for years have been stung at least once by the player that pulls a hammy during pre-game warm-ups or is benched unexpectedly because of a team infraction that wasn’t disclosed prior to kickoff.  These things happen, and they are often out of our control.

But Johnson’s owners should have known better.  Though he was generally expected to suit up, even as late as early Sunday morning, the star wideout was listed as questionable entering the game with a nagging knee injury.  It wasn’t a complete shock that the team held him out against the Packers.

It’s not hard to protect yourself from playing with one receiver tied behind your back. publishes the inactives more than an hour before kickoff.  Most sites also track this vital information.  Or, you can simply follow me on Twitter (@ladd_biro) and I’ll alert you to all the inactives and other late-breaking news as it happens. 

It’s one thing to go down swinging because you had the misfortune of playing against Tony Romo on his career day.  Or because Tom Brady decided to take an early bye week.

But as great as Megatron is, he’s not nearly as intimidating to your opponents when he’s wearing street clothes.  And for the record, I doubt he’s ever parted the Red Sea.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles.  Early indications are that Michael Vick will sit out at least a week with his injured hamstring.  Foles played well in relief against the Giants; and though he’s obviously not the runner Vick is, there’s every reason to believe he can produce big numbers in Chip Kelly’s quick-strike offense.  Just ask DeSean Jackson. Besides, with all the running Vick does, his backup will likely get plenty of opportunities throughout the season.

Zac Stacy, RB, Rams.  The rookie took advantage of his first start and performed admirably against the lowly Jaguars (78 yards on 14 carries).  Daryl Richardson split carries nearly evenly; but at this point, Stacy is well ahead of the former starter in the Rams’ pecking order.  Grab him now as a bye-week sub or flex play with upside down the stretch.

Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders.  Now that Rashad Jennings has joined Darren McFadden on the bum hammy list, Reece is potentially in line for a start, and the bulk of the workload, in Week 6.  He’ll draw a tough assignment against the Chiefs, but his skills as a receiver make him worth a look for teams thin at RB.

Don’t be fooled

Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints.  To the chagrin of Darren Sproles’ owners, Thomas was the multi-purpose back that soared in Chicago on Sunday, amassing 91 combined yards and a pair of scoring receptions.  Unfortunately, the two TDs matched his total for the entire 2012 season.  Barring an injury to Sproles, don’t expect a repeat performance this year.  New Orleans likes to keep opposing defenses guessing on a week-to-week basis, but Thomas is rarely the center of attention.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars.  I’ve seen all I need to see.  MJD is a bust.  If you can find someone excited by his season-best 70-rushing-yard performance against the awful Rams run defense, feel free to take advantage of them in trade discussions.  Keep in mind, Jacksonville had the ball inside the five-yard-line on seven plays throughout the game, and Jones-Drew didn’t touch the ball once.  Ouch.

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