By Eric Pehowic
The Daily Item
Hey, friends, congratulations to those of you still playing this weekend. Whether you finish the season with a win (there can be only one) or you finish as runner up, your accomplishments deserve celebration.
The football season is a 17-week grind, but as you winners know, the fantasy football grind doesn’t begin in Week 1 or end after Week 16.
If you’ve made it this far without grinding in the offseason, buy a lottery ticket because the stars have aligned for you.
Now, our standard leagues in their final week. A lot of owners, even grizzled veterans, get the sweats setting a championship lineup. Here are seven rules to follow to put together your best lineup.
1. Don’t get cute, play your big guns regardless of matchup
Across the fantasy football world, there are experts who make this their battle cry each week. Most owners follow suit. However, facing a stacked team on the other side, potentially with jellybeans on the line, some players might start to out-think themseleves.
Look at what LeSean McCoy did two weeks ago against the worst RB matchup of the week and what Jamaal Charles did last week in a less-than-stellar matchup (remember he ran for only 20 yards on 9 carries).
2. When breaking a lineup tie, trust your gut
Hey, champ, you’ve made it this far. Like I said in the intro, that means you’ve probably done (and are still doing) a lot of homework. It means you’ve made some shrewd moves.
You know what you’re doing.
I could see a scenario where a player drafted a stud RB, picked Frank Gore later then, during the season added Shane Vereen and Andre Brown off waivers.
Remember, you know what you’re doing. The player or matchup that stands out like a blinking light, that’s the one you should start.
3. Don’t ignore the waiver wire
By this point you probably have a strong lineup top to bottom, but I’m shocked week after week by the players available in my leagues against randoms on ESPN.
You also have to understand that a lot of owners may have given up, allowing some of last week’s surprises to sit on the wire.
4. Stay at your computer until 12:55 p.m. on Sunday
Look, I know it’s the holidays. I know you have to be at Aunt Ginny’s to pick up new linens. By this point in the season your people have to know fantasy football is important to you. They’ll understand. If you’re going to miss something, make arrangements to make it up to them.
This season, more than any I can remember, questionable players are legitimately questionable, meaning they only have a 50/50 shot of playing.
You don’t want an inactive goose egg on a championship roster.
No only will it cost you the championship, you’ll probably have to find a new league because fellow owners will never let you live it down.
Check the status of all your players at 12:45. Then check them again at 12:50. Depending on your league, rosters will lock soon after, then your holiday Sunday can start.
5. Understand that your chances of winning are probably 50/50.
Fantasy football championship participants are an elite crowd. Expect an elite opposing lineup.
Expect at least one player to have a breakout or surprising performance that will change the course of the game. See: Asiata, Matt, Week 15.
Prognosticators and analysts try to predict an Asiata each week, but there are so many variables in football that make us worse at our jobs than weathermen.
You need to post your best lineup, just like your opponent will. How the ball bounces -- or who misses their block -- is out of your control.
Enjoy the games. Enjoy the opportunity to play in the final.
Congratulations and good luck.