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High Staked: Strategies for Struggling Squads

Veteran high stakes fantasy football player Monty Phan chronicles his season.

In FFPC head-to-head leagues, the standings report always includes an asterisk next to the names of the teams that would qualify for the playoffs if the season were to end that day. Early in the schedule, those asterisks are fairly meaningless. “Ooh, I would be the top seed if the season were only one week long!”

After six weeks, though, they’re more significant, especially in the Main Event, where four out of 12 teams make the league playoffs, according to these rules: The top seed is the team with the best record (with total points as a tie-breaker if two or more teams share the same record); the second seed is the remaining team with the most points; third seed is best record of the teams that are left; fourth seed is the team with most points once the three other seeds have been determined.

In one of our Main Event leagues, these are the standings:


The league’s top team has the best record and most points, which is desirable in our case, because, if it remains that way through Week 11, it lowers the threshold for the points necessary to claim at least the fourth seed, since the highest-scoring team will already have qualified via best record. (As another example, in one league there is currently a team that leads the league in points but, with a 3-3 record, is in fifth place in the standings. If that holds, that team would most certainly prevent a team with a better record from making the playoffs.)

In our case, even though we’re 2-4, we’re still very much in the hunt. If this is your first time doing a high-stakes league like this, and you’re in the same position, it’s tempting to assume you’re out of it and to just start phoning it in. Don’t. We’ve been in similar positions and have barely made the playoffs, gotten hot and won the league. In the above screen shot, the fourth seed is the one with 874 points, so we’re 60 points behind with five weeks left. Yes, we’re also third-lowest in total points, but it’s not as if the other teams fighting for that fourth seed are burning it up. That fourth spot is still decidedly up for grabs.

Feel like you’ve still got a shot? Then here are some possible strategies to consider:

Focus on right now. If you’re still holding on to unproductive rookies, it’s probably time to drop them and concentrate on the short-term. Such running backs as Rashaad Penny and Ronald Jones have failed to be usable all season, so cut bait and go after guys who can help this week. I realize this column runs after waivers have been processed, but an example would be Jermaine Kearse, available almost everywhere and a decent bet to put up a fair amount of points this week, which right now is all you should be concerned with. Worry about next week next week.

Scour the waiver wire. Kearse is someone likely to be available on a macro level, but each individual league has highly owned guys whom teams drop due to poor production. These will be almost exclusively wide receivers and quarterbacks, because running backs and tight ends are so scarce that even mediocre ones are being kept on rosters. In one of our Main Event leagues, Taylor Gabriel, who’s almost 100 percent owned, was available until being claimed Wednesday night. In particular, pay attention to who gets dropped, because from now through Week 11, at least four teams are on bye every week. Perhaps this week, desperate owners bail on someone like Jalen Richard, who’s on bye but could be in line for an increased workload with news that Marshawn Lynch is dealing with a possible multi-week groin injury.

Take advantage of Friday waivers. In FFPC leagues, waivers run on both Wednesdays and Fridays. The latter run is often an afterthought for owners, but it’s a chance to grab under-the-radar guys without having to worry about many competing bids. For example, with Quincy Enunwa week-to-week, Terrelle Pryor could see increased targets, but he missed practice Wednesday with a new injury. If that scared people from bidding on him1, and he ends up looking likely to play Sunday, you could land him on Friday for less than you would have on Wednesday.

On the other hand, if your team is at the top of the standings, there are strategies for you, too. Here’s the first one: Wait until next week’s column.

  1. Pryor went unclaimed in all three high-stakes leagues we’re in that had waiver runs Wednesday.  (back)

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