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Setting Your Fantasy Football Lineup

In fantasy football, getting the right players is vital, and it’s up to you to choose wisely at your fantasy football draft. You’ll be updating your team throughout the season too, by picking up free agents, playing the waiver wire, and swapping players with your fellow fantasy football team owners. But all of that will only get you so far. Before your scores are tallied each week, you’ll have to make some crucial decisions.

We’re talking, of course, about your lineup each week. But how do you decide which players to start and which ones to bench? Never fear: Here’s your complete guide to your starting lineup.

Keep it simple

In fantasy football, you’ll have more players than will count toward your score; you designate which ones will count each week by setting them in “starting” slots in your fantasy football app. That is, unless you forget — but you shouldn’t, because that is terrible for your team’s fortunes and also happens to be something that makes you a whole lot less fun to play fantasy football with.

Fantasy football is a game of analysis and prediction, and there’s nothing more fun than nailing an unlikely prediction and looking like a genius. But, because of this, there’s a real danger of overthinking your choices. When in doubt, start your stars, and then you shouldn’t be in doubt all that often.

Sure, this week may feature a tough matchup for Aaron Rodgers against an elite pass defense. But who cares? You’re not going to start some scrub QB because of that. Just start Aaron Rodgers. Don’t overthink it.

Mix and match kickers and defenses

Your fantasy football roster will be in flux throughout the season, and you’ll often have to make tough decisions about who to drop and who to keep. Generally, you’re not going to find that it’s worth it to use up bench slots to hold defenses or kickers during their bye weeks.

Unless you have an elite defense or an insanely reliable kicker, just drop and pick up these positions on a week-to-week basis. Check out the kicker rankings and projections for the week, pick up a serviceable guy, and then check next week to see if he’s still the best choice. Similarly, you can and often should pick up and drop defenses based on matchups.

Yes, it’s possible to have a great defense that you’d stick with during a bad matchup week — or even use a bench spot on in order to hang onto it. There are elite kickers, too. But, by and large, these aren’t positions that you need lockdown guys for.

Set your lineup more than once

Most NFL games are on Sundays, as is tradition. But not all NFL games are on Sunday. The rise of Thursday Night Football means that you really need to lock in your lineup several days earlier. But a lot can change between Sunday and Thursday, of course. As a result, your best bet is to set your lineup on Thursday and then check it again on Sunday.

In fact, the more often you check your lineup, the better. The best time to set a lineup is right before the games start, because you never know when a last-minute injury announcement will change everything. But what if you forget? If you haven’t looked at your lineup all week, forgetting to check the one time that you meant to can be devastating.

By contrast, setting your lineup on Monday (after the previous week’s games), Thursday (before Thursday Night Football), Friday or Saturday (before Sunday’s games), and again on Sunday (right before the games) is virtually foolproof. If you have decisions to make before Monday Night Football, be sure to check again then, too.


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