Fantasy files: Assessing the roster

One of the easiest steps to miss once you’ve completed your draft/auction is to assess. Who is this team of fools that I just drafted? What are my positions of strength? Weakness? If waivers are available, who will I pick up first?

You start with categorizing your players. I’ll go with my recent redraft as an example. You have your 16-week starters. You have your rotational guys who will start based on the situation. You have your bye week fill ins. And then there are the lottery tickets.

At QB I have Eli Manning, Brett Favre, and Matthew Stafford. Manning and Favre are situational starters. Had I taken Aaron Rodgers in the first, he would be a 16-game starter. I’m leaning toward Manning as a week one starter since Favre will be rusty and possibly without Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice. Stafford is my lottery ticket and could be useful for trade purposes.

Frank Gore is my 16-week starter at RB. I know, Brian Westbrook’s signing means that Gore may catch 20 or so fewer passes. He’s still getting 300+ carries and 10+ touchdowns. The NFC West schedule, featuring the anti-murderer’s row of St. Louis, Arizona, Seattle and the NFC West is as favorable as it gets. Knowshon Moreno, barring injury, could be a 16-week guy. For now I have to consider him rotational. Laurence Maroney has the whiff of a lottery ticket pick who could be a bell cow guy but most likely won’t be trustworthy for anything other than a nail-biting weekly option. Fred Jackson’s value couldn’t be lower. He’ll get carries but I’m not loving the idea of starting him. The problem is I don’t see a clear-cut waiver guy to replace either of my two back-end guys.

I’m calling Miles Austin and Brandon Marshall 16-week guys. I had Marshall last year for the entire season and picked Austin up after half my league passed on him after his monster week in Kansas City since he had a bye right after that. It’s obvious that my league has the latest when it comes to draft day, but in-season movement is when I can swoop in and make some moves. Hakeem Nicks is an every week starter for me at flex until he proves otherwise. I expect some ups and downs. Wait, Victor Cruz hasn’t taken his starting job yet? Devin Hester has lottery ticket potential. I prefer Johnny Knox just because he has the dreaded upside, which as usual means that he hasn’t really done anything yet. We are familiar with the inconsistent Hester playbook. I would replace Hester after week one for a guy who emerges. I doubt that I’ll do so before the season starts since preseason is nothing but a big tease.
Vernon Davis’s knee strain is a blessing in disguise. Do we need any more preseason games to know that Alex Smith’s heart belongs to Davis? I’ll start him for 16 weeks. Jared Cook is a lottery ticket and I see better options on the waiver wire. If I make a homer pick, at least it’s in the 16th round.

Team defense has to be a weekly proposition. The Dolphins had more lottery ticket potential when Ted Ginn was there. The Chargers have a great schedule and a good returner in Sproles. I will be sorely tempted to take the defensive flavor of the week in waivers.

David Buehler is a kicker. I’ve always hated the position since I benched Rob Bironas the week that he kicked eight field goals. I need to pick up a second (damn roster rules) and would rather have a long snapper on my roster.

The obvious next step is to assess your opponents in the same way. Knowing who your leaguemates may take in waivers is just as important as knowing their rosters in mid-draft. In a league with shallow rosters, playing waivers is your winning ticket.

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