Top 10 Fantasy NFL Lineup-Setting Mistakes

Keeping lineup mistakes to a minimum can elevate your fantasy football scores every week. (Craig...

Keeping lineup mistakes to a minimum can elevate your fantasy football scores every week. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

DAVID OWEN CYMERMAN, For Sports Network

, Last Updated: 4:34 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA - You see it all the time. Fantasy football owners behaving badly. Not setting their lineups. Starting injured players. Leaving breakout players on the bench.

When a franchise mails it in, you expect to see lineup mistakes.

However, if you're trying, like 99.9% of us are, there's no excuse for making lineup-setting mistakes.

I'll be honest. I've made some of the gaffs on the list you're about to read. Whether you play in one league or 10 leagues, you're going to miss something occasionally or have a brief lapse in judgment. It happens to the best of us. What shouldn't happen is the stuff on this list of 10 Fantasy Football Anti-Commandments.

Most of these guidelines are basic, but it never hurts to have a quick refresher.

10. "I'll start a wide receiver on the same team as my opponent's quarterback to counter touchdown passes."

Only if you normally start that wide receiver. Don't go starting Jason Avant just because you're hoping to cancel out a Mike Vick touchdown pass. Always start your best lineup, regardless of what your opponent is doing.

9. "I don't want to start three players on the same team."

"What if they get blown out?" Doesn't matter. If you drafted or acquired them to be starters, or if you don't have better options, they should be in your lineup. Never go with a lesser player just because you're worried about loading up on players from one squad.

8. "I want to have someone on Monday Night Football."

Nothing's more exciting than having a player help you come from behind on Monday night. Just don't try to force that scenario. If you're deciding between two players to start and they're even, it's okay to go with the guy who's playing under the lights. But never sit a quality player in favour of a less talented MNF participant.

7. "I'm starting my No.2 wide receiver no matter what."

You should start your No.1 wide receiver no matter what. Your WR2? Not necessarily. He's probably not matchup-proof. Teams like the Eagles and Jets have shut down some very good receivers this season. I benched Steve Johnson in Week 9 because he was on Revis Island. If you have a good alternative on the bench, don't feel locked into a receiver who's going to be locked up with a top defensive back.

6. "Ah, questionable means he'll be okay."

Even "probable" doesn't mean "definite." You should never assume an injured player is going to start. Check the Sunday morning injury updates to confirm the player's status. And always take another look right before the late games. Beanie Wells burned me in Week 3. I read a quote from Beanie early that Sunday in which he said he felt good, so I assumed he would play and left him active. Wrong move. Needless to say, I ended up with a big fat zero in my lineup.

5. "Sure, the guy's been slumping, but he's due for a big game."

I'm all for playing hunches. Yet ignoring trends is dangerous. You're asking for trouble when you bank on a player to suddenly heat up. Take Chris Johnson, for example. He's been awful and is certainly due for a big game. Would I keep running him out there if I had a better option? Not at this point. Wait to see if your cold players show positive signs before you put your faith back in them.

4. "I like to just set it and forget it."

Pretty obvious why this is a big mistake. Stuff happens right up until kickoff. Last week, there was no sign of Jermaine Gresham on the injury report. Yet, right before the Bengals game started, it was announced that Gresham was inactive. If you set your lineup on Friday afternoon and then don't confirm it on Sunday, you set yourself up to be unpleasantly surprised when you check the scoreboard.

3. "The bench players I have are good enough to get me through the bye weeks."

Just because you own a player, doesn't make him better than the players in your free-agent pool. Ownership percentages are deceiving. The masses are often slow to adjust to breakout players and major busts. So don't just go with what you've got during the bye weeks. Always see if you can upgrade with a free agent who can exploit a favourable matchup.

2. "The weather's going to be bad, so I'm benching my starting QB."

Bad conditions don't mean bad stats. Sometimes a slippery field can be an advantage for offensive players. Back in 2008, during a huge snowstorm, the Patriots scored on nine of their first 10 possessions, en route to a 47-7 rout. If you had benched Matt Cassel (filling in for an injured Tom Brady) in that game, you would've missed out on 26 fantasy points. The only exception to this rule is wind. You may want to take a long look at you QB/WR options when there are hurricane-like gusts of winds in the forecast.

1. "Well, the projections say..."

Most fantasy league sites put projections of how they think players are going to do right on the "Set Lineup" page. It's tempting to use that as a tool when making tough lineup decisions. Don't do it. These projections are just guesses and tend to be wildly inaccurate. Use your own deduction skills to weigh the matchups, hot/cold streaks and weather. Setting your lineup by projections is like using auto-draft to assemble your team. Where is the fun and strategy in that?

David Owen Cymerman is also known as The Fantasy Geek. He runs a fantasy sports web site appropriately named TheFantasyGeek.com. Stop by for more observations, advice and absurdity from the world of fantasy sports, including articles, live chats and podcasts.


Videos

Photos