Did you have a rough start to the first half of the season for your fantasy team(s)? Well don't quit just yet because there are still (depending on your league's playoff structure) five solid weeks left of the regular fantasy season.
So I've put together a list of reasons why you should stick it out and fight to the finish even if your team is riddled with injuries and your record currently shows that your chances are slim-to-none of making the fantasy playoffs. So keep your head up, and go down with dignity! Wait, scratch that ... you're not going down at all. Here's why:
The Dallas Cowboys could lose their next eight games in a row and not make the playoffs. The Jaguars could win every remaining game and finish at the top of their division. Too bold? OK, so take it one week at a time, like real NFL teams do. "On to Cincinnati," as one team's coach repeated after a devastating Week 4 loss. And look at what they've done since (in case you're lost here, I'm talking about Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots). As long as you slot in the best lineup you can each week, you definitely still have a chance to crawl out of the hole you might be in. It has definitely happened before and it will happen again, you just need to have faith. So keep setting your lineup and keep your eyes on the prize.
So your buddy is hanging out at the top of the standings with a 7-1 record after Week 8. And you my friend, well, you're 2-6. Take a deep breath. Winning streaks and losing streaks happen all the time. So say your buddy, whom you're probably sick of hearing brag about how great his team is, loses his next five matchups. That'd put him at 7-6 on the season. And it's not out of the question for you to win your next five in a row, which would put you at 7-6 for the season. See what I did there? I gave you hope. It may be just a tiny shred of hope, but it's better than nothing! Keep on truckin' and get those wins darn it!
This sort of goes along with the losing streak idea where a team or maybe even two at the top of the standings can fall from glory just as quickly as they rose. The teams that are dominating your league now might not be doing so hot by Week 13. An injury here, a stat correction there, and the entire season can easily come down to one single matchup to determine who gets into the playoffs. And if those top ranked teams are laughing up in their towers now, go ahead and let them laugh. Because you're determined to make a second-half comeback, tear their towers down and turn their laughter into tears! Go!
All right, so let's be honest with ourselves. You haven't won a matchup yet. You're 0-8 and hate fantasy football and you'll never play it again. Unless ... you have a rematch before the season is over against a team who barely beat you earlier in the season. Because what's better than being the worst team in the league that knocks your arch-nemesis out of playoff contention? Nothing! Be that winless team that beats the undefeated team during a bye week. Be that bottom feeder that fights to the end to spoil the dreams of other playoff contenders! Revenge is so sweet isn't it?
I bet you totally drafted Ryan Mathews, and he was supposed to be your guy this year. And Calvin Johnson hasn't been serviceable since Week 3. Plus you lost Fred Jackson a couple weeks ago. There's really nothing you can do about injuries, it's just part of the game. But there's a light at the end of this dark, depressing tunnel. All three players I just mentioned are on the mend and should be able to help you get some late-season wins soon. So while it's been tough, keep rolling out your M.A.S.H. unit because help is on the way in the near future. And oh man, when Megatron is back at full strength ... it's all over!
Don't be all shy about it. You've been reading the deep dive waiver wire column all season, and now you're stashing guys like Odell Beckham and Dwayne Allen. Actually they are both legitimate starting options at this point, so forget about stashing them and get them into your lineup. You can thank Alex Gelhar for the tips. Now it's time lock your waiver wire pickups into your starting roster over the fantasy ghosts like Zac Stacy, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jordan Cameron and get some late season wins. Because the guys you drafted just aren't doing it for you. I know, it's tough to stomach leaving those bigger names on your bench, but if you don't the waiver wire gems you've rostered can't help you make a late-season comeback.
One of the best parts about fighting to the finish is staying knowledgeable about players that have emerged later on in the season so you know who to target as sleeper picks for next season. There is always a handful of guys who fly somewhat under the radar with late-season success who can end up being extremely valuable in fantasy the following year. So pay attention darn it!
So you're a Raiders fan and there's absolutely no hope for the real life NFL playoffs. First of all, I am sorry for you, but secondly, you have your fantasy team to keep your spirits up! This way, you can watch your horrible Radiers (fact, sorry) and not care if they win or lose, but focus on how many touchdowns Derek Carr throws and how many yards Darren McFadden racks up. Because even points on losing teams count towards wins in fantasy football. So turn that frown upside down. Yeah, I went there.
Some leagues call it the "Toilet Bowl" -- the final matchup to determine which team is dead last for the season. And some leagues actually serve up punishments for the team that finishes with the worst record or lowest total points. So in order to avoid ridicule at the end of the season (and let's face it, that ridicule lasts throughout the entire offseason and sometimes longer) do your best to save some face late and string together a couple of last-minute wins. Because nobody wants to be a bottom feeder.
There's always one team who gives up halfway through the season because they think they have no chance of fantasy playoff contention. So they ignore their lineup during bye weeks, they neglect injured players and they straight up abandon their roster. They delete the NFL Fantasy app from their phone, and remove the NFL.com/fantasyfootball bookmark from their browser (rude). Seriously don't be that guy. That guy hands wins to other teams who don't deserve them. A lot of times the last playoff spot comes down to the final week of fantasy matchups so keep managing your team until the very end. And if your ship is sinking go down with honor. After all, you're the one who built it. So man (or woman) up and own your team all the way through the season. It makes the entire experience better for everyone involved. And that's what fantasy football is all about - good experiences and fun.
Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @m_franciscovich. He's making it a point to use the word "crummy" more frequently in every day conversation and in fantasy articles. Deal with it.