Why Your Fantasy Football Team Always Stinks

So, you’re sick of it: fantasy football is supposed to be fun, but you’re frustrated. Year after year, you find your team in the basement, looking up at the try-hards and football savants that dominate your sorry crew on the imaginary field week after week. It’s not like you aren’t trying, but you always seem to make the wrong moves.

But don’t despair, because you can make your team better this year. We can help you figure out what’s going wrong, so you can start doing things differently. And while you should take some time to look at the specific moves you made (or didn’t make) in years past, there’s a good chance that your problems include at least some of these common mistakes:

Your draft strategy is a disaster

If you’re going into your draft without a fantasy football draft strategy, then you’re going to leave with a disaster of a team. Sure, some apps can rank players for you, but you still won’t really have any vision for how your team works.

Are you grabbing top-tier running backs first? Are you thinking best player available, and gearing up to trade your way to a more well-rounded roster? There are lots of strategy options, but be sure of this: you do need a strategy, whatever that strategy may end up being.

You’re forgetting to set your lineup

You may already know this one. You know that you’ve lost dumb games because you accidentally started some player who had a broken leg and wasn’t going to play. You forgot, and then you checked the app and you kicked yourself. You promised yourself you wouldn’t forget again, and then you did anyway, just a few weeks later.

Simply remembering to set your lineup and being an active player will get you far in most leagues, and leaving points on the table by forgetting to set your lineup is a near-surefire way to lose. So be smart. Set an alarm to remind yourself to set your lineup on Sunday mornings — and Thursday mornings, too.

Tweak your lineup throughout the week whenever you’re bored or happen to remember your team; that way, if you forget on Sunday, you’ll at least have a lineup that was set more recently than last Sunday.

You’re getting too clever about matchups

Matchups matter, of course. They have a measurable impact on performance, and they’re something that analytics experts love to pay attention to. But don’t overestimate the importance of matchups.

Sure, it feels great when you predict an explosive performance of some no-name guy against a sorry defense, but you can’t count on that. Matchups will affect performances, but the most important factor here is still the player you’re starting. That’s what fantasy football is all about: great players.

So when you’ve got a superstar running back going up against an elite run defense, don’t overthink it. Just stick to your guns! You might get a weaker performance than usual, but you’re still more likely to get more points out of a superstar in a bad matchup than you would from a lesser player in a good one.

You don’t have depth

Here’s a tip: stockpile running backs. Running backs are vital in fantasy football, and they have a nasty habit of getting hurt and being inconsistent. And if you don’t have any ready to go, you’re going to have a disaster of a team on your hands.

If you want to stop stinking at fantasy football, pay attention to your backups. Have a plan B at the vital positions, and pick up a “handcuff” — a player’s real-life backup — to protect yourself in case of a player injury. If you have the starting running back for the Steelers, and he gets hurt, then you’re going to want the backup Steelers running back, because he just became the starter.

But starting running backs are at a premium in fantasy, where each team usually needs at least two running backs. So you don’t want to be scrambling to grab your new star after the injury news breaks. Get him now, because handcuffs are essential.

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