Taking Your Opponent’s Lineup Into Account When Setting Your Own

The difference between your total “Points For” on the season, and the number in your “Wins” column. It’s the thing that frustrates so many fantasy owners for so many weeks of the season. Every fantasy league has that guy whose total score for the year is among the league’s bottom three, but has a winning record. And every league has that guy who’s scoring in the top three, and yet is still slipping out of playoff contention.

It’s a peculiar problem, but a true one, and it’s very important to understand: While your team may be built to score a lot of points through the season, all it really needs to do is score more than your opponent this week. Most weeks, unfortunately, you have to just set the lineup you think will score the most points and hope that your buddy can’t do a better job with his gang. But other weeks, you can be a little more cunning than that.

By starting certain players who match up nicely to your opponent’s, you can often guarantee an advantage in a certain area. Say, for example, your quarterbacks are Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith. Most weeks you would be starting Big Ben, and reaping the rewards of his underrated fantasy consistency. But say this week your opponent is starting Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Unless you’re hugely outmatched across the board and your only hope of winning is by Big Ben going crazy, it’s a better play to start Alex Smith in this situation.

By starting Smith, you essentially neutralize two of your opponent’s main weapons. If Davis and Crabtree combine for 2 TDs, they’re almost completely worthless to your opponent, because Smith will have scored from those TDs as well. On top of that, Smith will also have points from the yardage achieved by all the other 49ers receiving threats (i.e. Frank Gore).

Alternately, if your opponent is starting a quarterback like Brett Favre and you are rather impartial when it comes to selecting a defense every week, just start the defense that will be picking off your opponent’s QB. Suddenly, rather than losing 2 points per pick thrown, your opponent is also having to deal with the issue of your defense chewing up his QB’s points (this season, this technique has also worked for Jay Cutler, Jake Delhomme, Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers, just to name a few).

These are just some of the methods you can use to counteract your opponent’s roster and get that all-important win.

Often when you’re in a pinch in terms of who to start and who to sit, examining your opponent’s roster can hold the key to covering up some of your roster’s weaknesses. If you can neutralize his strengths while doing so, you can let the week’s match up be won on the backs of your key players. And as we all know, it’s the ‘W’s that matter in the (fantasy) NFL.


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5 Responses to “Taking Your Opponent’s Lineup Into Account When Setting Your Own”

  1. Jovan says:

    So if you were me and you were desperate for a win at 3-4 would you make a trade this week for the Pittsburgh D if you are playing against Drew Brees?

    • Oliver says:

      I wouldn’t go as far as trading for the defense to pull this one off — you’ll end up giving up too much, especially for a “Name” Defense like the Steelers.

      If you’re scrambling for a D/ST this week take a look at the Patriots (vs. MIN – but only if Favre’s playing), STL (vs. CAR) and TB (@ARI).

  2. Hawgman says:

    Great post!
    We have one in our league that has a little over 600 points scored and about 590 against, yet he is still 5-2 and just knocked off our last undefeated team last week.
    I am going to take a look at the past few weeks and see if this is how he’s winning those games. I am also going to work this into my game plans. Thanks!!

  3. Rich Edge says:

    This got me thinking about my own team chemistry. Having SD QB Rivers with Floyd out I went and grabbed Crayton to double up on any points that Rivers would have gotten via passing to Crayton. I was so focused on grabbing Indy Receivers this week I almost passed up a double dip….Thanks

  4. jovan says:

    Thanks for the tip…Patriots were already gone…grabbed ur next pick STL…..lets see how they do!

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