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How to Manage Early-Season Injury Problems (Fantasy Football)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Aug 21, 2019

Dealing with early-season injuries is a drag, but sometimes that’s just how it goes, and you – a savvy fantasy football player – can be prepared if it happens.

Injuries in fantasy football are the worst. Plain and simple. They force your best players to miss time and they often require you to get creative with lineup construction. Early-season injuries can be especially brutal, as a slow start to the season can derail even the best manager’s chance at winning a fantasy title. Injuries plague almost every fantasy team in some form or another every season. It’s in an inevitable part of the game that has to be dealt with, and coming prepared can help you deal with injuries most effectively. Let’s take a look at a few tips that can help manage early-season injury problems.

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Know When to Trade

Just because a player is injured doesn’t mean he doesn’t carry value. A top stud expected to miss a couple of weeks could be a league-winner down the stretch — for another team. If you’re dealing with early-season injury woes and don’t have the bench depth to make a quality replacement, shop your injured star. He’ll likely bring back quarters on the dollar, but if the return is enough to net you some needed wins early on, it’s a move you’ve got to be willing to make. Having a stud late in the season doesn’t matter if you’re out of the playoffs. An injured star often fits best in a multi-player deal, like a two-for-one. Provide your trade partner with a serviceable starter and the injured stud to get back a quality replacement at the same position.

Conversely, if your team has enough depth to weather the injury storm, don’t trade the injured player at a discount. It may be tempting to unload a player who will sit on your bench for three weeks for a player who can give you immediate production, but fantasy football is a season-long game that lasts into Week 16 at the earliest. If you can confidently win games while dealing with injuries early in the season, stash the injured player and move on. It’s important to understand the makeup of your team and the capabilities it has so that you can trade (or avoid trades) to your advantage.

Research the Waiver Wire & Play the Matchups

If high-end talent isn’t available to you due to injury, lineup choices are much tougher to make. You can’t “set and forget.” That means you have to do your homework each and every week to maximize the players on your roster based on matchups and expected points. Leaving points on your bench can be costly any week, but doing so with a limited roster could be the difference between a win and a loss. Make sure to analyze the best matchups and target players in these situations:

  • Playing against poor overall defenses
  • Playing against strong offenses, resulting in a shootout
  • Playing against poor positional defenses — a strong defensive line but weak secondary bodes well for an opposing WR, even if the matchup isn’t ideal for an RB on the same team
  • Getting extra opportunities due to injury or suspension to a starter

Playing the waiver wire is an integral point of any effective in-season management strategy, but the importance of making smart waiver pickups is magnified when dealing with an injury-riddled team. Make sure to do your research to pick up the absolute best players available who can help you ride out the early-season hits. Don’t be afraid to spend that FAAB, either. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so if you need help at a particular position, overpay. What are you saving your money for, if you string together three or four L’s to open the season? Get your guy, and put him into your lineup. Budgeting your FAAB dollars is an art form, and how you spend this fantasy money should be determined based on immediate and future need, on a team-by-team basis.

Go for Upside

If you’re battling the injury bug and don’t have a lot of depth, you can’t play it safe with your roster. High-floor/low-ceiling plays don’t make sense when you find yourself scraping for points each week. A fantasy team with a healthy roster and a couple of studs can afford to play it safe with a guy who’s a lock for eight-10 weekly points and nothing more (Willie Snead, anyone?). An injury-plagued team doesn’t have that luxury and must roster high-upside players to make up the points it’s losing. A boom-or-bust option is the best way to go when dealing with early-season injuries. Playing a high-floor option with no upside limits the points you can make and lowers your chances of winning. A guy who could explode for a big game gives you the benefit of a win. The possibility of a bust isn’t scary when you could lose anyway based on overall roster construction in the wake of early-season injuries.

Conclusion

Dealing with early-season injuries is a drag, but sometimes that’s just how it goes, and you – a savvy fantasy football player – can be prepared if it happens. Make sure to understand your team and the depth you have available to replace your injured starters. This will help you determine your need for a trade. Stay up on current trends on the waiver wire, including who to add based on opportunity and who has the best weekly matchups. Finally, it’s a great idea to go for upside. When dealing with an injury-riddled roster, go big or go home. Following these tips can make dealing with early-season injuries bearable, and with the proper management, you may come out unscathed on the other side.

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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