So you are leaving your draft a few weeks ago and feel really good about your team. The question is not whether you make the playoffs, it’s how quickly your team sews up the division. You smile as you think about the great draft you just had and how you are going to crush your competition.
With your first pick, you nab Frank Gore — a great pick at 6th overall. Then you add:
Round 2. Calvin Johnson
Round 3. Brandon Marshall
Round 4. Beanie Wells
Round 5. Matt Schaub
Round 6. Michael Crabtree
Round 7. Tony Gonzalez
Round 8. Marion Barber
You’re thinking you’ve got a great core to your team:
Schaub is a top-5 QB. Gore is my workhorse RB1, with high-upside Beanie Wells in an Arizona offense that’s going to run the ball a lot more as my RB2. Barber’s the goal line finisher for a high octane Dallas offense and my third RB. I have two elite WRs in Megatron and Marshall, and a high-upside Crabtree as my third WR. I also get Tony Gonzalez, who is aging but still one of the best receiving TEs to ever play the game.
Best of all, your Week 1 opponent is the league newbie. This is only his second time playing fantasy football, and you can tell this by his drafting. As if his Brian Urlacher jersey doesn’t give it away, his first two selections show that he’s a true Bears homer and takes Jay Cutler and Matt Forte.
Fast forward to Week 1 Sunday.
As you’ve been glued to the NFL Red Zone channel all day, it becomes painfully obvious that there’s no way you’re going to catch the newbie. His Bears combo and fourth round reach of Hakeem Nicks prove too much to overcome. You caught the fact that Beanie wasn’t going to play, so you switched in Marion Barber on your starting roster. It made no difference. You lose. Big. To the idiot newbie.
So what to do now?
Don’t Panic. If you think that Week 1 in the NFL was chaos, wait until you see the waiver wire claims over the next few days. Some owners will be tempted to make wholesale changes to their roster; that’s a huge mistake in most cases. Let’s take a moment and analyze the roster — is it time to panic or not?
- Schaub only threw the ball 17 times as Foster destroyed the Colts in the second half. As good as Foster looked, I think it’s more of an indictment on the Colts’ soft run defense. I think in weeks going forward, the threat of Foster will provide some breathing room for Schaub in an explosive-yet-balanced offense.
- Gore and Crabtree ran into an unexpected buzzsaw in the Seahawks. In particular, Crabtree looked lost and certainly not on the same page as Alex Smith. While it’s discouraging, it’s hopefully a wake-up call and a kick in the pants for the entire 49ers team. I think you have to give it a few weeks to see how their offense trends before giving up on them.
- Your two elite WRs let you down, and worse yet, Matthew Stafford went down and the early word is that he might be out for several weeks. But let’s look a little closer. Shaun Hill is a mediocre NFL backup at best, but he’s good at one thing — throwing the ball to Calvin Johnson early and often. Hill really looked for Megatron as they mounted their furious comeback (Lions fans like to say they won). As for Marshall, he did have eight catches but was held in check by a stingy Bills pass defense. The TDs will come with opportunities, and both guys figure to get plenty of opportunities.
- Beanie was held out, and that stinks. It’s tough to watch Tim Hightower get all those touches, especially when he’s starting for your opponent. But injuries are part of the game, that’s why you draft a bench.
It’s certainly not time to panic. Yet. Follow offensive trends and injury reports for the first few weeks of the season before you make big roster changes.
Take Advantage of Other Owners Panicking. Now is the perfect time to make a savvy move against your worrisome competitors. See if you can upgrade your Arian Foster for a Ray Rice, your Hakeem Nicks for a Brandon Marshall, or your Carson Palmer for a Matt Schaub. Remember, Foster doesn’t get the Colts every week, Nicks isn’t going to get three TD receptions each week and Palmer’s not going to throw it 50 times every week. Ask around your league and see what you could get for your Week 1 surprise stud; you might be pleasantly surprised by what you can fetch.
Bottom line: Steady as she goes. It’s perfectly fine to make a free agent acquisition or two to bolster the end of your bench, but don’t trade away your fourth rounder for garbage just because of one bad game. On the other hand, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the panicking owners in your league and upgrade your roster. For many of these Week 1 surprises, their trade values will never be higher than they are right now. Remember the mantra: buy low, sell high. And resume your dreams of winning your league’s championship.
Brendan grew up in Columbus, OH, as a college football nut; he has since evolved into an avid NFL fan and year-round fantasy geek. Brendan and his family now call Indiana home. Brendan posts under the name Indibuck.
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