In reviewing and rating fantasy football teams over on the Fantasy Football Starters Forums I am in awe at the number of owners who failed to draft players to occupy a back up role. It’s difficult to make a generalization about a given fantasy league. So far this year I have drafted three separate teams, two drafts have been 16 rounds and select 9 starters. The other league (TFL, which I own and manage) we draft 18 and play 10 starters. I would venture a guess that these numbers are probably pretty standard through the hobby.
Many owner draft depth in the middle rounds, stockpiling running backs and wide receivers, for good reason to. As happens many times players get injured or just don’t perform and as an owner you are left with a decision. Many owners that I have spoke with will typically draft one kicker and one defense, including your remaining starters that’s a total of 9 players, leaving you with 7 bench spots to draft.
Typically you will draft a back up QB, because the last place you want to be is in the heat of the playoffs scrambling for a free agent when your #1 QB, Aaron Rodgers goes down. Think it won’t happen? It did last year. Today in a thread with calinucrew_119705, he questioned picking up a back up QB, “why do i need a back up qb is there any 2nd qb i would start over rivers?” He went on to add, “i have a safe game plan most of my player are bye week 6 so i lose one week i am ok with that also i picked rivers because he has not missed a game since 2006.” That is a very bold move in my opinion, so you are giving up drafting a back up and going to take a zero for one week. Okay, I can understand that…sort of. Bu what if Rivers gets injured? This is the NFL, they hit. Hard, it can happen. Even with limited bench space a back up QB is a vital component to a fantasy team. This leaves a total of 6 spots for depth at RB and WR.
Even before the NFL season has officially kicked off we are already seeing a rash of injuries, led by the “hammy hoax” as I dub it, as well a number of season ending ACL injuries. The most notable injury is that of Arian Foster (hamstring) and Peyton Manning (neck). Both players have seen a bit of a drop in many fantasy drafts because of their injuries. This doesn’t mean you pass on them altogether, it means you might be able to get very good value a bit later than expected. For example at 3.03 in my Yahoo league I was able to draft Manning, knowing he might not start the season. That is a chance I am willing to take. There was no way I was going to pass on a perennial first rounder, but I knew I would need another QB, not only for the bye week cover but on the possibility Peyton Manning doesn’t play in the first week of the NFL season.
The lock out and CBA negotiations, free agency and training camp were fast and furious this off season. This means players might not be completely ready when the NFL season kicks off on September 11. It a typical season it take players a few weeks to get up to “game speed” but now with a drastic reduction in training and practice, injuries are a bigger concern. As mentioned previously, owners are scrambling for Derrick Ward and Ben Tate in Houston with some question surround the severity of the hamstring injury to Arian Foster. Take Chris Johnson, he held out for a new contract. He now has just about a week to get into “game shape” and get up to speed. Will it happen? Probably not. While he is a “professional” it will still take time. Add to that a new QB in Matt Hasselbeck under center. My concern for CJ2K, possibly injury, something along the lines of a hamstring.
So while we don’t like “wasting” our selection on bench players such as kickers and tight ends, these players are an integral part of your fantasy team. Only you are left to decide how you are going to round out those 7-9 selections. In recent years WRs have been rather plentiful through free agency (again depending on league size), but it’s the proverbial “diamonds in the rough” we are draft and speculating on for later in the season. Some of these players may or may not make a contribution, just give it a second thought before you decide to use the wire as your alternative to drafting a competent back up when you have the chance during a fantasy draft.