How to Improve Your Fantasy Football Team After the Draft

Even if you had a great fantasy football draft and your team is off to a strong start, don’t think you can just sit back and coast to the championship.  Injuries, slumps and other unforeseen circumstances mean that you will usually need to work on your team throughout the season if you want to end up with the title.

Injuries can hurt fantasy numbers

The biggest challenge is usually injuries. No real team makes it through the season without injuries, and the same is generally true for fantasy teams.

If a player is out for the year, then obviously you can cut him, unless you are in a keeper league and plan to keep him.  If a player is out for several weeks, you will only want to hold onto him if he’s a big star that has a good expectation of being able to make a significant contribution later in the season, particularly around the playoffs.

If a player is out for a week or two, you will probably want to keep him, but you may need to find a replacement if you don’t already have a good backup on your team.

Finding a replacement

One way to avoid having to scramble for a replacement is to draft your lead running back’s real-life backup.  This handcuff strategy protects you in the event of injury to your lead back. When Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte got hurt early this season, fantasy teams that had drafted or picked up his handcuff, Michael Bush, were covered.

Even if you don’t have the main running back, you can still grab the handcuff. Maybe you avoided drafting Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson because he was coming back from a serious injury.  Even though Peterson was back playing well at the start of the season, his handcuff, Toby Gerhart, could still be valuable at some point this season.  If you have Gerhart and not Peterson, you could end up with an additional productive back if Peterson misses time. Even if you don’t need Gerhart to start for you, he would give your team valuable depth, not to mention trade bait, especially to Peterson’s owner.

Some players are injury-prone

If you are looking for backup wide receivers, first look at teams with strong passing attacks. A player such as Detroit’s Titus Young has more of a chance to put up good stats in quarterback Matthew Stafford’s prolific offense than a secondary receiver on a team such as the Dolphins.

While injuries by their nature are unpredictable, some players have a history of being more injury prone than others. If your quarterback is Philadelphia’s Michael Vick, you can reasonably assume that he will miss a couple of games and you will need a good backup quarterback for more than just the Eagles’ bye week.

Even if you don’t need any injury replacements, there could still be opportunities out there to improve your team. Every season brings unexpected breakout players.  Just make sure that if you pick up someone who had a great week, you are not dropping an established player that you will regret losing if your pickup turns out to be a one-week wonder.

Ben Hargrove writes on a variety of sports topics for sites such as


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