4th & 1 Debate: Thursday Strategy

I had the honor of hosting this week’s 4th and 1 Debate to the Roundtable participants and asked:

What adjustments do you make to your fantasy strategy in the second half with games now being played on Thursdays?

Let’s take a look at what everyone had to say:

Ryan Lester of www.lesterslegends.com
My first thought was the short week was hard on Running Backs since they take such a beating. I decided to look back to last year’s games to see how the RBs fared.

Week 10
Jamal Lewis: 19-60, TD (3.2 ypc)
I disregarded Denver since they didn’t have a consistent running game.

Week 11
Thomas Jones: 30-104, TD (3.5 ypc)
I disregarded New England since they didn’t have a consistent running game.

Week 12
Cedric Benson: 16-35 (2.2 ypc)
I disregarded Pittsburgh since they didn’t have a consistent running game.

Week 13
Chris Johnson: 16-125, 2 TDs (7.8 ypc)
LenDale White: 23-106, 2 TDs (4.6 ypc)
Kevin Smith: 12-22 (1.8 ypc)

Week 14
LaDainian Tomlinson: 25-91, TD (3.6 ypc)
I disregarded Oakland since they didn’t have a consistent running game.

Week 15
Pierre Thomas: 22-87, TD (4.0 ypc)
Matt Forte: 11-34, TD (3.1 ypc)

Week 16
Maurice Jones-Drews: 20-91 (4.6 ypc)
I disregarded Indy since they didn’t have a consistent running game.

At first glance I noticed that the majority of the RBs had a low yards per carry ratio. I also noticed that a good portion of them score anyway. Judging by these numbers I would stick with my top backs in standard leagues and look for replacements in heavy yardage leagues.

I also decided to look at QB play.
Week 10:  Cutler 447 yards, 3 TDs; Quinn 239 yards, 2 TDs
Week 11:  Favre 258 yards, 2 TDs; Cassel 400 yards, 3 TDs
Week 12:  Big Ben 243 yards, TD; Cincy didn’t count
Week 13:
TENN-DET game didn’t count
Romo 331 yards, 3 TDs; Hasselbeck 287 yards
McNabb 260 yards, 4 TDs; Warner 235 yards, 3 TDs
Week 14:  Rivers 214 yards, 3 TDs; Oakland doesn’t count
Week 15:  Brees 232 yards, 2 TDs; Chicago doesn’t count
Week 16:  Peyton Manning 364 yards, 3 TDs, Garrard 329 yards, TD

Now we’re talking. Almost every QB that mattered had a monster game during the short week. Looking back to last year as guidance, I am starting QB that plays on Thursday whenver the situation arises.

Bryce McCrae of www.kffl.com
Well, with the early start to the week, I like to get my guys in early after the Sunday game to go over the plan. We usually run the meetings in the cold (or hot) tub – multitasking is crucial during the short week. Usually it’s just a walk-through on Monday and we’ll travel, if we need to, on Wednesday. I’ll tell the guys that it’s tough coming back just four days after we played Sunday, but they can look forward to almost a week off until we meet again. Oh, and if they don’t win, we’ll be back at practice Friday morning.

In all seriousness, there aren’t any changes to my strategy that I’ll make with the Thursday games. Just make sure that you have accounted for any changes to your league’s waiver date and that you put in your lineups on time.

Kurt Turner of www.top-fantasy-football.com
Thursday games signal the trade deadline in many leagues. I’m looking to trade away my guys that are on teams that could “rest” them toward the end of the season. Be weary of the following teams:

1.       New Orleans
2.       Minnesota
3.       Indy
4.       Pittsburgh

Guys like Brees or Favre could actually only play the first, second and third quarter of the last two games this season because they should clinch by week 14 or 15 easy. I’m also thinking about playoff schedule. Time to unload the guys on your roster that have a tough playoff schedule and don’t be afraid to overpay, schedule is important and plays a factor in your players points. Rustyn did a good temperature check to help you identify some hot and cold players.

Jacob of www.fantasyfootballfools.com
Well, for starters, I set my lineups on Thursdays rather than Fridays or Saturdays. I find that helps.

But more to the point, by the time that Thursday play rolls around, my fantasy football roster has become almost set. Extra defenses and tight ends have been moved through trades or waivers because there’s no need to carry them. Starters and bench depth has been established, and I’m going with a pretty core group every week that’s performing at a high level.

There won’t be too many more waiver wire adds or trades to shake up my roster, so it makes it easy to have it set and ready to go on Wednesday or Thursday. My roster has been simplified.

Though having fantasy points accumulated on Friday morning does add some extra layers of strategy to the decisions I make on Fridays and Saturdays.

Say my Thursday night starter failed me completely. I may sub out a more reliable starter with little chance of a big day like Matt Forte for a more boom-bust guy who could save my week like Steve Slaton. It just depends on how deep I am in the hole.

It also works the other way. If Devin Hester locks up 30 points for me on Thursday, I may sub out Robert Meachem for a reliable guy like Muhsin Muhammed. Nothing flashy, but he gets the job done. It’s not as likely that I make a conservative play like this. Why show mercy? But I could see it as a possibility if I was just looking to make sure I had that 8-10 points of padding necessary to stay ahead of my opponent.

Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com
For me, the Thursday games bring a little less patience with those players on the injury report.  If, on Thursday, there is a player on the injury report who hasn’t been practicing and is a game-time decision, I will be a lot quicker to hit the waiver wire to find a potential replacement.  If you decide to wait until Saturday or Sunday to find a reserve, you have already missed out on two teams and multiple potential replacements.

Just look at today’s games as an example.  If I was an owner of Justin Gage, a player who is borderline usable to begin with, why would I sit and wait to find a replacement?  By waiting you miss out on the chance of grabbing a player like Johnny Knox, someone who is equally questionable than Gage, but potentially usable.

It may work out that you ultimately bypass Thursday’s players, but by not at least looking at the potential replacements and make the decision if they are better than the risk of if your player is unable to suit up, does yourself a disservice.

Paul Greco of www.fantasypros911.com
What adjustments do you make to your fantasy strategy in the second half with games now being played on Thursdays?

I’m not sure I’m going to change my strategy for my fantasy team just because games are now being played on Thursday night.  My drinking habits might change, but the handling of my team won’t.  The way I’ve been running my teams since Week One, for the most part, has been working out just fine.  Now, the players on my team may not be working out, but I’ve been fortunate to have only lost one game this season because I left a higher scoring player on my bench.

I work hard to put my big board together for the week together.  I take into consideration the matchups, weather, offensive and defensive schemes, and the history players have had against a certain team. Then, I roll all that information together and try to stick to big board as much as possible. The end result may not be what I was looking for as a team, but I know each and every week I’m putting the best team together with the players I have.

Jake of www.junkyardjake.com
Have to admit, this issue stumped me a little bit, and I began to fear that it might be a trick question somehow involving lunar cycles and contrasting the differences between the Julian and Mayan calendars.  Really, I think when the season begins to feature Thursday games, the challenge becomes one associated with time management more than strategy.  In a practical sense for example, it becomes more important to re-evaluate your fantasy roster and lineup earlier in the week.  This sounds simple enough, but with Thursday games, it’s probably important to consider waiver wire selections and lineup changes by Tuesday.  It is a subtle change, but the fantasy manager with the better time-management in these weeks probably has a slight edge in terms of submitting the stronger lineup without inadvertantly leaving the wrong players on his bench.

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