Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
If Charlie Brown owned a fantasy team, it would look like mine.
Within two weeks, I lost both of my starting running backs (Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden) and now my two best flex options Alfred Morris and Randall Cobb are on bye this week.
But with the playoffs right around the corner, this is no time for me to feel sorry for myself. It's time to take action.
For those of you who are stuck between a rock and a hard place in fantasy this week, here are a few hints to help you get by:
1. You're not the only one: As Robin Williams famously told Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting," it's not your fault. Football players endure an incredible amount of physical punishment during a 16-game season. Some walk away with just bumps and bruises while others aren't as lucky.
Every fantasy team in the world encounters an injury at some point during the season. When it happens, we just have to brush ourselves off and get ready for the next week.
2. Always play it the same way: Who knew my trip to Vegas would teach me something about fantasy football. Last August before we started playing blackjack at the Hard Rock Casino, my friend gave me one very important piece of advice. He said, "No matter what you do, always play the same way."
So basically, if the dealer has a ten and you have a ten and a five, you either hit every time or you stay every time. You don't sometimes hit or sometimes stay. It's one or the other (in this case, I always hit).
Sometimes you'll win and sometimes you'll end up losing. But you shouldn't change your approach because of one bad hand.
The same holds true in fantasy. For example, maybe you're starting to lose faith in Robert Griffin III after last week's subpar performance (four sacks, 74.2 QB rating in loss to Carolina). I say, if RG3 has gotten you this far, why would you abandon him now? Trust me, you're going to be kicking yourself when he blows up for four touchdowns on your bench.
3. Load up on spare parts: Maybe you don't need a running back right now. I sure didn't think I'd need one a few weeks ago. But look at where I am now.
Injuries don't announce themselves. We try our best but the truth is, fantasy is utterly unpredictable. That's why it never hurts to collect good players along the way.
Here is another way of thinking about it. Maybe there's a solid player available on waivers that you don't need but it would kill you to see him land on somebody else's team. Why not put a claim in for him? There's nothing wrong with playing a little waiver wire defense from time to time.
4. Beware of the timeshare: Isaac Redman was excellent last week (147 yards, one TD) and I'm sure many fantasy owners will be tempted to start him this week.
With Jonathan Dwyer returning to the lineup this week, Redman will be lucky to get half as many carries as he did a week ago.
The running back by committee approach helps players stay healthy but it's toxic for fantasy owners. The Steelers, Saints, Packers, Colts, Cardinals and Patriots are all using this approach so I'd recommend staying away from running backs on any of these teams.
5. Don't dismantle your whole team just to win one game: This week I was offered a trade for Pierre Thomas and Antonio Gates in exchange for Jason Witten and Joe Flacco. In my desperation to land a healthy running back, I nearly accepted the deal.
Then I thought about the long term implications the trade would have. Witten is having a far better season than Gates and Thomas is realistically a flex player at best. In the end, the asking price was too high and I decided to grab Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece off waivers instead.
I might struggle this week but in the long run, Witten and Flacco will help me more than Thomas and Gates would have.
6. Go with the hot hand: Somehow Reggie Bush is actually projected for more points this week than Doug Martin in ESPN's weekly fantasy rankings. Listen closely: IGNORE the projections. Martin is way too hot to be wasted on any fantasy bench right now. Even if Martin was playing against the Bears this week, I wouldn't hesitate to start him. I'm starting red-hot Josh Freeman (eight TD, zero INT in his last three games) at quarterback this week over Philip Rivers (five INT, 74.7 QB rating in last three games) for that same reason.
7. Develop a three-week plan: Some people will tell you to take things one week at a time. I like to take it three weeks at a time. If you know Victor Cruz is going to be on bye in Week 11, you can plan ahead by grabbing a wide receiver off waivers a couple weeks early. If you wait until Week 11 to look for a replacement, you could lose out to someone with a better waiver priority and then you'll have no one. As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.