You had such high hopes going into the Fantasy Football season. You did the research, you bought the magazines, and you were loving the team you drafted. This was supposed to be the year you finally took the title. But the euphoria didn't even last a week before the NFL broke your heart — and a few of your most important players — same as it always does.
But the season's not over. Not yet. We're here to pick you up off the carpet, dust you off, and get you back in the game. There is still a lot of football to play, and no matter how devastating your injuries are, no matter how limp your stats were in the opening week, and no matter how lopsided that loss against mom was, the reality of fantasy football is that half of the 50 million people who play fantasy lost this weekend, too. You are not alone, no matter how dire it may seem. Here's five tips to get you through the first Tuesday of the season.
Hit the Waiver Wire
So Dez Bryant was your top receiver, and now he's out 4–6 weeks (or longer) with a broken foot. Or maybe, for some reason, you were hoping brittle Arizona RB Andre Ellington was going to help round out your backfield. Ellington is out with a PCL injury and could return as late as Week 5. Yes, losing a player for an extended amount of time in fantasy can be a crushing blow, but it's also an opportunity to discover new studs on the waiver wire. For every player who gets hurt, another will move in to play in his place. Whether or not the backup turns out to be a better player — or a serviceable one — is anyone's guess. Last year, the Giants dressed rookie Odell Beckham Jr. for the first time in Week 4, and he turned out to be a true diamond for forward-thinking fantasy owners that either had him stashed on their bench, or made the wise move to pick him up off waivers. Keep your eyes open and you could still find this year's Beckham.
"I'm not afraid to cut someone after one week if I think there's a lot of upside," says DraftKings analyst Adam Levitan. "Last year Justin Forsett ended up being a top-10 running back, but not a lot of guys drafted him. If you didn't make the move to pick him up early in the season, he probably didn't last long on waivers. Using a lot of waiver wire capital on Donte Moncrief might not be a bad idea. The colts are going to throw. Terrance Williams is also a guy worth picking up."
Make a Trade
Maybe your team isn't clicking. Maybe your bench is loaded with studs that you can't get in your lineup. Maybe you have solid receivers and awful RBs. Maybe you drafted a bunch of QBs for no reason, and the rest of your lineup is weak. This is easily fixable with a trade. Find a willing partner who has what you need, and needs what you can offer. Making trades in fantasy football can be tricky, especially this early in the season, when owners still think their draft picks are going to turn into something special. So don't get cute. Offer up value for value, don't try to pull a fast one, and make a fair deal that can help both of you. You may or may not win a fair trade, but the point in making one is that you need a new player or two or three to turn this thing around before it gets ugly and you're out of it by Halloween.
"It's not too early," Levitan says. "I wouldn't completely panic, but if another owner is panicking and wants to trade Andrew Luck or Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green, then I'm happy to take advantage of them. But I'm not going to get rid of a top-5 pick after one week."
Play the Matchups
Week 1 saw some shoddy showings by highly regarded teams like the Indianapolis Colts and individual moneymakers like Beckham. Don't sweat just one week. The Colts, for example, are expected to rack up piles of points this season, but they opened against the stout Buffalo Bills defense. The Ravens ran up against a highly regarded Denver defense in Week 1.
"Matchups are everything in football. Everything," Levitan says. "This is especially true in corner vs. wideout matchups. Sammy Watkins didn't have a catch in Week 1 against Vontae Davis, who is one of the best cover corners in football. If you aren't evaluating how guys are doing in individual matchups, you are making a huge mistake."
Play Daily Fantasy Sports
The whole idea behind DFS sites like DraftKings and FanDuel is the appeal of not being locked into a single team for the entire season. DFS lets you start fresh every week, so no matter how bad your squad fared in Week 1, there's always hope in Week 2 and beyond. DFS allows you to erase any mistakes you made in drafting slugs, and also protects you against injuries to your studs like Bryant haunting you for half the season.
"The season-long leagues feel like an epic Game of Thrones miniseries," Levitan says. "It's brutal. So long. I don't want to wait four months to realize the expectations of my knowledge. I just find it so much more entertaining and exciting to play daily. If you took Dez in the first round of your season-long league, I don't know what you do. You'll have to scrape together some wins. It sucks. But in daily, you don't even care. Just move on to the next week."
Relax, It's Only One Week
Look around the league. Lots of fantasy players failed in Week 1. Guys like Luck, Johnson, and C.J. Anderson all came up a little short for a variety of reasons. You drafted them high because you believed in them, so don't give up on all of them after just one game. Even if all three of those guys are on your team, you can't expect the slump to continue for another 12 weeks of the fantasy season. Guys get cold and hot, and one week does not make or break an entire season. Give it time. You don't have to go undefeated to win a fantasy championship, and some of the best teams don't peak until Thanksgiving rolls around. Take a breath and chill. Don't do anything drastic. The best fantasy owners are patient (but not too patient) and understand that not every week is going to set records. You probably aren't the only one second-guessing your squad.
"The sample size is so small," Levitan says. "There aren't games every night. They only play 16 games a year and 13 in the fantasy season, so you can't overreact."
So take a deep breath, guys. It's just one week. There are plenty of ways to fix your 0–1 fantasy football team. Blowing up the whole thing probably isn't one of them.