10 Crucial Steps Before Locking In Your Week 1 Lineups (Fantasy Football)

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Can you believe that we are just one day away from the kickoff of the 2023 NFL season? Unfortunately, many teams overlook the critical period between drafting their rosters and setting their Week 1 lineups. This article’s main objective is to provide you with the essential knowledge and tools to ensure your team’s maximum level of success to start the season. Below is a checklist of 10 crucial steps to take before locking up your lineups for Week 1.

1) Check Your Waiver Wire For Undrafted Gems

You have successfully assembled an incredible team through the draft, and you might think that it is smooth sailing into Week 1 with your current roster, right? Think again. Each season, there are hidden gems that go unnoticed during drafts in your leagues. It is crucial to stay up to date with the latest buzz around the league as we approach the season’s kickoff. Try to be the team that is ahead of the curve and buys in before their perceived value skyrockets. A few unheralded players who have been gaining momentum recently include Marvin Mims, Puka Nacua, and Sean Tucker

For more hidden fantasy gems, check out yesterday’s episode of the podcast: Undrafted Gems + Fantasy Fears.

2) Take Advantage of IR Spots

One of the best ways to take advantage of your roster construction at the end of a draft is to leave a roster spot open to add a player who starts the season on the IR. Then you can slot them into your IR spot and add another player for your bench. By taking advantage of your IR spots, you can stash an inactive player who can potentially help out your team later in the season. If Kyler Murray happens to be available in your leagues, utilizing an IR spot for him would be an optimal and recommended tactic. This strategic move carries no risk and could potentially yield substantial rewards as the season unfolds.

3) Their Trash…Your Treasure?

Continuing on the topic of monitoring the waiver wire, it is vital to stay informed about the recent activity of your league members. Following the draft, teams frequently make player additions and drops without thinking much about the potential consequences. Occasionally, you can spot an opportunity to enhance your roster by capitalizing on their oversights. By paying attention to these moves, you can identify and add valuable players who may have slipped through the cracks. Do not underestimate the potential impact of these waiver wire gems on your team’s performance throughout the season. 

4) Stay Tuned for Injury Alerts

The most frustrating aspect of fantasy football undoubtedly revolves around injuries. Perhaps you drafted your team weeks ago, only to find it plagued with preseason injuries. Conversely, you may have had your draft just yesterday and are now faced with the daunting task of replacing a star like Travis Kelce. In the world of a high-contact sport like football, injuries are unfortunately a frequent and inevitable occurrence.

To ensure you field your strongest lineup each week, it is crucial to stay up-to-date with injury reports. It is equally important to anticipate how other players will respond to injuries on their respective teams. When a player is sidelined, it opens a unique window of opportunity for others to step up. Be the team that seizes these opportunities before they become the talk of the waiver wire the following week.

5) Avoid Starting Thursday Night Football (TNF) Players You Wouldn’t Start on Sundays

Imagine this scenario…you have been patiently waiting all offseason for your Week 1 matchup. An hour before Thursday night kickoff, you find yourself in an unexpected panic. Suddenly, that wide receiver you stashed for the very end of your bench begins to look a lot like Justin Jefferson. Fear of missing out (FOMO) becomes irresistible, leading you to slot them into your starting lineup over a much better option who plays later in the week. Fast forward a couple of hours, and you are lying (crying) in bed, questioning every decision that you have ever made in life. We have all been there. Let’s pledge not to let it happen again this season.

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6) Remember to Adjust TNF Players Out of FLEX Positions

This advice may seem repetitive, but it is truly astonishing how often teams either forget it or choose to ignore it. Placing TNF players in your FLEX spots limits your roster’s flexibility. To avoid this, ensure your players are in their proper positions before kickoff. It is a straightforward tip but one that can make or break a week’s outcome.

7) Trade with a Purpose

Many powerful fantasy teams have collapsed due to a serious case of trade addiction. However, it is often wiser to appreciate your current roster rather than trade players aimlessly out of boredom or impatience. The art of trading can prove to be lucrative, but every trade that you make should enhance your team’s prospects. Do not rush trades before the season begins and try to have patience with the team that you drafted. 

While it is generally not advisable to offer trades aimlessly, it does not mean you should dismiss the concept of trading altogether before the season starts. For instance, you might be in a league where tight ends are rare commodities and a team has either George Kittle or Travis Kelce without a backup option. Luckily, you happen to have drafted two quality tight ends. This provides you with a unique opportunity and flexibility to address another team’s pressing needs. Take a close look at all the rosters in your league and pinpoint their weaknesses. Once you have identified these vulnerabilities, consider making strategic trade offers to bolster your own roster.

8) Check Out Your Schedule 

While some might view this task as tedious or unnecessary, there is no harm in gaining insight into what lies ahead. Familiarizing yourself with your season schedule can yield unique advantages, offering a treasure trove of valuable knowledge. This may involve identifying weeks when you might have multiple players on bye, or conversely, when your opponent faces a similar predicament. Depending on how deviously strategic you are feeling, you could even attempt to facilitate potential trades involving players facing bye weeks during your matchup with that trade partner. The possibilities are endless, but they only come to fruition if you are aware of what the future holds.

9) Embrace the Present 

An often overlooked truth about fantasy football is the paramount importance of winning each week’s current matchup. While it is vital to plan ahead for the future, it should never come at the expense of your immediate success. There is absolutely no point in plotting for the playoffs if you are not winning enough matchups to get you there. Focus on your current matchup, position yourself for the greatest chance to win, and adapt your strategy based on the outcomes. This is the proven formula that will lead your team toward winning your league’s championship.

10) Do Not Hit the Panic Button After Week 1

After meticulous offseason preparation, it is disheartening when your team underperforms in Week 1. The key is not to overreact. Panic selling and overpaying for unheralded players who excel in the first week can prove to be costly mistakes. Keep a level head, think about the long term, and remember that it is a long season. Championships are not won or lost in the first week of the season.

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