Circle of life

During the fantasy football season, I have a weekly routine that I follow. On Monday, I am reviewing and assessing the previous week’s action (even if I have one or more players in action that night). On Tuesday, I am looking at my lineup and evaluating what players are available on the waiver wire, and I’m also looking at possible trade targets based on needs.

In last week’s column I mentioned a trade that I made on Monday. On that dark day, I traded James Robinson for Allen Robinson and Mike Davis. It took only a few hours for me to regret this trade. Regret set in after I found out that Chris Carson, my RB2, had a neck injury. If I had known that piece of information, I would never have traded James Robinson away.

Frankly, I should have suspected something was wrong with Carson after his lackluster performance in week 3. Alex Collins had taken over for Carson in the second half and played more snaps in the game. He scored 15.8 fantasy points, aided by a touchdown run. I immediately put in a waiver claim for Collins, fearing Carson might not play week 4.   

On Wednesday morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee and quickly checked my lineups to see if my waiver claims had been successful. Surprisingly, I was five for five in my three leagues. In the home league, the most important one to me, I had secured Collins for a bid of $3. I had also been able to successfully claim tight end Dalton Schultz for $6 of FAB.

After waivers had run, I began the process Wednesday of determining who I would start, or bench. The “sit or start” decisions are the most difficult part of the week for me because many of the players on my roster are comparable in ability and point potential. In five weeks, I have had five different home league starting lineups based on matchups and other metrics.

By Wednesday night, I was back on the waiver wire. I added Pittsburgh’s DST because I was uncomfortable starting Buffalo’s DST against Kansas City on the road. The Bills have the No. 1 defense, but the Chiefs have the best offense, and I liked the Steelers matchup against Denver. But I didn’t want to drop Buffalo, so I made the decision to drop Jaylen Waddle.

Every waiver wire add creates a dilemma for me because I usually like all of my rostered players. If I didn’t like them, they wouldn’t be rostered. I had seven wide receivers last week, so I knew I was going to be dropping one of them. My other six wideouts were Keenan Allen, Julio Jones, Corey Davis, Jakobi Meyers, Allen Robinson, Courtland Sutton.

I spent more time on Thursday evaluating my roster, trying to determine who would start. Three of the players were easily locked in – quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver Keenan Allen. As the kickoff time approached for the Thursday night game between the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle, I was still undecided.

Less than an hour before the start of TNF, Carson was ruled out. With Carson out, I put Collins in my RB2 slot and crossed my fingers. But Collins’ performance was less than inspiring. He had 15 carries for 47 yards and caught two of three targets for 9.20 points. It worth noting that there’s usually a good reason why a backup player is a backup player on a team.

In addition to Collins, Stafford also underperformed for me on TNF. He completed 25-of-37 passes for 365 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the Rams’ 26-17 victory. Stafford’s first-half pick was a horrendous end zone attempt, where he appeared to be trying to throw the ball away but underthrew. Stafford also appeared to injure his throwing hand.

Having started Collins, both of my RB slots were filled for week 5, and one of my WRs was set. However, the second WR spot and my flex were still undetermined on Friday. One of the things I was anxious to see was the final injury report for Friday. I was interested in seeing the status of Dalvin Cook. Two weeks earlier, Cook was out and Mattison had 23.1 points.

I had Mattison in my lineup in week 3 but dropped him when Cook returned and they shared time at running back in week 4. The Vikings have two talented running backs, with Mattison always taking a back seat when Cook is healthy. But Cook sprained his ankle in week 2 and hasn’t been right since. Would he play on a limited basis or be ruled out in week 5?

The injury report indicated Cook had not practiced at all on Friday, although he did some work on the sidelines. The Vikings coaching staff said they would make a gametime decision on Cook. There was one piece of news that was also important to me and every fantasy manager who had Julio Jones rostered. Jones was ruled out for the second straight week.

After a restless night Friday, I woke up Saturday and added Mattison from the waiver wire, dropping the Pittsburgh defense. I would roll with the Buffalo defense against Kansas City. I didn’t want to wait until Sunday morning on Mattison because I feared someone else would get him. After trading away James Robinson and losing Carson, I needed points.  

With Jones out, my choices for the second WR spot in my starting lineup was between Davis, Meyers, Allen Robinson and Courtland Sutton. Robinson, who had been targeted more than 150 times in the past two seasons while exceeding 1,000 yards each year, had only seven catches in the past three weeks with Justin Fields under center. I couldn’t start him.

Sutton had been on my bench when he exploded for 24.9 fantasy points in week 2. The reason he was benched was because he had only one reception in the opener. Even with Jerry Jeudy out, he only had single-digit production in the two games after his breakout week. To make matters worse, he was listed as questionable after suffering an ankle injury on Friday.

With Sutton questionable, along with Broncos quarterback Terry Bridgewater, I decided to sit him for week 5. That left me with only Meyers and Davis for the WR2 spot. I liked Davis’ matchup with Atlanta’s week defense, coming off a 21.1 point week against Tennessee. But I also liked Meyers, who had been targeted 26 times in the previous two weeks.

If Cook was active for Sunday’s game, I knew I would start both Davis and Meyers, but there was another problem. Davis was playing at 8:30 a.m. CDT on Sunday, and I wouldn’t know Cook’s status until about an hour before the Vikings noon game. If Cook was ruled out, I wanted Mattison in my lineup, and the only option would be in the flex position.

If Meyers had been a clear choice to start over Davis, I would have just plugged him in at WR2 and waited for the Cook decision. But it was a tossup. With the uncertainty, and the early kickoff in London, I decided to start Davis as my WR2.  Things came together quickly on Sunday morning. Cook was ruled out at 11 a.m., and I moved Mattison into my flex. 

As it turned out, it didn’t really matter whether I started Davis, or Meyers. Davis had 8.5 points, and Meyers had 9.6 points. It was up to two running backs to save the day, and Mattison and Henry combined for 57.3 of my 140.9 fantasy points. And that Bills defense that I was so worried about put up 19 fantasy points as Buffalo upset Kansas City, 38-20.

I won all three of my matchups this past week. Doubting Thomas, my home league team is 3-2. My public league teams are 5-0 and 4-1. But now it’s a new week – week 6. On Monday, I reviewed the previous week’s action. On Tuesday, I looked at my lineup and evaluated what players are available on the waiver wire. It’s the fantasy football circle of life.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

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