The start of a Fantasy Football season is always an exciting time, especially in re-draft formats, where fantasy managers are anxious to get those top picks into their starting lineups and see how good of a job they actually did on draft day.
Obviously, unless you’re aware of a player being injured or suspended to start the season, you don’t have to mull things over too much before lineups lock. For example, if you have DeAndre Hopkins on your team, you can feel very confident — proud even — about placing him in your WR1 slot. However, that’s not the veteran move to make.
Relax. I’m not telling you to bench Hopkins or any other of the picks you nabbed in the first few rounds of your draft. Like I said, in Week 1 it’s always best not to overthink things. Just because that sleeper you grabbed in Round 12 has what you think might be a juicy matchup, there’s no reason to start him over your first-drafted running back simply because you’re afraid your fantasy bell cow might be facing a fierce front seven. The truth is that is takes at least four weeks before we have any real idea as to which defenses are good and which ones are the epitome of SWISs cheese.
However, even though you’re going to be starting Hopkins, the smarter move is to assign him to your flex in Week 1, because he plays Monday night. The same goes for Josh Jacobs or any other player eligible to be placed in your lineup’s flex — or OP (offensive position) — spot who happens to be playing on Monday Night Football. (And in Week 1, you’ve got even more of these options, as there are two games on the slate for Sept. 9: Texans-Saints and Broncos-Raiders.)
Why does it matter? Let’s take a look at what happened just last December. After Seattle’s Doug Baldwin scored a touchdown in two of his previous three games, I’m sure there were some fantasy managers out there who may have rolled the dice on him in Week 14 on Monday night against Minnesota.
Unfortunately, for what was the first round of the fantasy playoffs in many leagues, Baldwin was a game-time call and ended up sitting out due to a nagging hip injury. (Further adding insult to this injury was the fact that in Week 15, Baldwin did suit up and scored twice, and in Week 16, he had 126 yards and a score.)
Anyone who did end up placing Baldwin in their fantasy lineup was likely left scrambling at the last minute, hoping to pick up any available Seahawk or Viking off the waiver wire in the hopes of getting some points, rather than an automatic zero. Those pickings were extremely thin and, if you did reach desperately for the likes of TE Tyler Conklin (1 catch, 11 yards) or RB Mike Davis (27 yards combined rushing/receiving), at least you were able to salvage something.
Yet, even those players were only options if you had placed Baldwin in the flex. Had you placed him in a WR-specific lineup spot, your hands would have been even further tied. Of the wide receivers playing in that game, perhaps only David Moore, Jaron Brown and/or Aldrick Robinson would have been there for you on the wire. Not one member of that trio gained a single yard in the contest. Fantasy-WISe, you were backed into a corner from which you were unable to escape.
The moral of the story? Don’t get stuck in the first place. When you have players — even healthy ones — in action on Monday night and you’re pretty solid on the starting status of the rest of your lineup, be sure to use them in the flex. While the odds are good that it won’t end up making a difference, on those rare occasions when it does, failing to heed this advice will likely cost you a victory.