It’s time to stockpile fantasy talent

By Steve Shonder

You need to be ready for the week-in, week-out grind of fast-approaching football playoffs.

It isn’t the NFL Playoffs or the College Football Playoff, but it’s the fantasy football playoffs.

Getting your fantasy team in playoff shape is an uphill battle unless you own one of those teams that leapt off the line and stayed in first or second place the whole season. There’s a lot to account for, especially if your team isn’t the juggernaut you want.

You’re going to need to stock up on talent. Shed the fat from your team. Don’t let players like Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints running back, take up a roster spot. Don’t hold onto to the hope he’ll be back next week. Unless you see the go-ahead, take the risk and make the cut. You’re making a playoff run, and every roster spot is valuable.

If you have two kickers or two defenses, make the cut. You don’t need two defenses, and you definitely don’t need two kickers. While this is obvious advice, the simple stuff is always what you miss. You might be comfortable with your setup, but it’s time to break out of your comfort zone.

The waiver wire can be pretty treacherous. I’m always worried about picking up random guys coming off huge weeks, like Jonas Gray, New England Patriots running back, but this is where a little extra research can come in handy.

Unless you’re dealing with quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski or wide receiver Julian Edelman, the Patriots are notoriously inconsistent in fantasy football. You’ll have to look at the usage numbers for running back Shane Vereen and Gray to get a sense of whether Gray is going to be the go-to running back you need.

This is the attitude you need for every waiver-wire transaction. Doing the research keeps you from picking up a one-week wonder and wasting that starting spot because now is not the time for reactionary mistakes. Be smart.

The big name on the waiver wire this week is Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns wide receiver, who’s returning from his draconian weed-smoking suspension. I’d pull the trigger on Gordon. He’s exactly the type of player you need for the playoffs. He won’t be much good this week because he hasn’t played football in 11 weeks, but Gordon can make your team during the playoffs.

Now is the time to try to make a trade. A lot of people are worried about getting the short end of the stick on trades, but if you know what guy you need it doesn’t matter how well whoever you gave up performs. If you’re loaded at wide receiver and need a tight end, make that trade.

It doesn’t matter if the wide receiver you gave up goes off for 25 points when you’re getting six or seven more points from your new tight end than you were with the old one. Make that trade, and rely on your depth.