It's almost time to buckle up and take off for the most important make-believe week of the year. A few general thoughts as we crunch through those critical Week 16 matchup decisions.
• A lot of fortune-cookie logic comes out at this time of year, the obligatory "don't get cute" and "always trust your studs" party line. To me, that's a bit of a cop out, the work of those obsessed with the path to a Friendly Loss. I say, go with who you think gives you the best chance to win, no matter if it jibes with name brands, seasonal values, or what won for you in the previous week or two. If you think DeAngelo Williams is the play over Marshawn Lynch, go with it. If you think Demaryius Thomas is the way to go over Dez Bryant, trust yourself. If Eli Manning is your best quarterback play, don't get crazy over his Week 15 mess. And above all else, don't let how you'll emotionally feel after the fact affect anything; the way I see it, a win feels great and all losses sting. Play to win; don't play afraid to lose.
• I understand the temptation to leave some players in the late-week games; if your opponent finishes his or her slate early, it almost feels like you have "last ups" on the sandlot. But there's no real advantage to rostering players in the Sunday and Monday games, other than the Caddy Consideration (a late-subbing replacement for someone hurt). Donald Driver isn't a better fantasy player merely because he's playing Sunday night. Matt Bryant doesn't get any extra juice simply from the fact that he goes on Monday. Again, focus on putting your best scoring lineup together, and the heck with how the schedule falls out (with injury concerns being the exception).
• Make sure you take a good audit of your opponent's roster, with the idea that you might want to pick up some players that block him from improving or safeguarding his situation. Most of your bench (if not all of it) might be comprised of players that you simply want to keep out of enemy hands. And you can usually drop these guys on Friday or Saturday in standard formats, since they'll head to waivers and be locked up before they play (check your league settings, but that's the standard procedure).
• It's prudent to check the weather forecasts on game day (you don't want to leave any stones unturned), but keep in mind that weather rarely has a big effect in fantasy games. It's overrated. High winds are the biggest deterrent to passing success, but it's not unusual for a wind tunnel at noontime to shift into a placid stadium for 1 pm kickoff. Rain isn't a big deal unless it gets torrential, and snow isn't a deal breaker either (ask Tom Brady, he'll tell you). And don't sweat the cold unless we're talking about an extreme temperature dip.
• At the end of the day, own your decisions. Consider the advice of anyone you view as credible, but the final button is yours to push, alone. (Of course, we'll be around to help: Fantasy Football Live kicks off at noon eastern time on Saturday. Come sip egg nog with us; come Tuesday, winners will be drinking from the Championship Cup.)
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