NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

There can be a lot of different answers to this question. Some of the reasons I love fantasy football are that it gives me one more way to stay connected with different groups of friends – which is also part of the reason I seem to be accumulating what would be considered borderline too many yearly leagues. I also like the fact that fantasy makes me interested in more than just a couple of NFL games every weekend, because I love football, and being invested in the games makes it more fun to watch. `

And yes, I also love bragging rights – when I earn them, anyway. Don’t love them so much when one of my friends has them. And if you are here, reading this blog, on a daily fantasy website, then I would imagine you like fantasy football for more than the camaraderie too.

There is no problem with liking to win. I don’t have to tell you, but there is a lot of strategy that goes into building a fantasy football team, whether it is over the course of the entire season or for Week 14. If you want to be good, and not just lucky, you have to really know this stuff. You know every team’s depth chart before the draft, you fastidiously check injury updates, and try to decide if that just removes a player from relevance, or does it maybe add a player or two to consideration (if the backups are actually good and the situation is right)? You read/listen to/watch various experts, culling through the chaff to get those one or two nuggets that are going to inform a decision you actually have to make.

But despite all that, let’s face it, in your yearly leagues, the chances of you earning those bragging rights are slim. It’s a long season and a lot of energy invested to come down to a few little choices that could make or break you. If you even get far enough for the little decisions to matter. Injuries or anything else could derail you along the way, and at the end of all that, one guy gets to win out of ten or twelve or however many.

All of this makes the popularity of daily fantasy completely understandable. Why let 16 weeks of injuries and suspensions and general bad play ruin your chances of earning some bragging rights anyway? You know this stuff inside and out, and daily games actually let you apply that knowledge without the handcuffs of waiver claims and lopsided trade offers. Whether you’re challenging your friends a week at a time, trying to take home millions, or just entertaining yourself for $.25 a pop, at least you have a chance.

For Week 14, you may or may not be in the playoffs, but you are definitely in the hunt for cash, or entries into big games coming up, or, yes, just bragging rights, so here are a few points to consider as you begin your lineup construction for this week:

1. We’ve gotten pretty far into the season now, and it is getting harder and harder to justify rostering the truly cheap guys out there. You know where there is no upside, and there is just very little to be found in the running backs and wide receivers priced under $4,000. Sure, Trent Richardson ($3,800) is still getting carries and maybe he stumbles into a touchdown, but do you trust it? Jonathan Stewart ($3,800) is probably the best of the bunch if DeAngelo doesn’t play, but have you really come to this point to trust your week to Jonathan Stewart? And do you want to be faced with restructuring your entire roster if Williams does play?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans

2. Without any of these cheap guys in your lineup, it becomes much harder to afford the most expensive studs, too. This leaves you plugging away finding guys in the $4,500-$7,500 range, but thankfully, just as we’ve seen the lack of upside with the guys mentioned above, we’ve seen enough good things from these players at this point to make them much easier to trust than they were a few weeks ago. Otherwise, their price wouldn’t be this high. Yes, there is risk with Kelvin Benjamin ($6,500) and DeAndre Hopkins ($6,600), but they feel a lot safer than they did in Week 3, don’t they?

 

3. One place you can still find value is at the Quarterback position, and that is, again, thanks largely to the ever-increasing sample size. In this case, the benefit lies in our ability to -hopefully – analyze matchups more effectively than we could early in the season, and start to identify trends that might let us know if a QB is likely to capitalize when the matchup is right. That could be Russell Wilson ($7,700) if you’re not willing to go too far down the list, as he is faced with the perfect storm of matchups in Philly: an offense that might actually score on Seattle and a defense that will give up points to him through the air and on the ground. Or, more aggressively, it could be Andy Dalton ($6,000), who could easily hook up for a couple of long scores against the Pittsburgh defense, even if it’s a game where neither side moves the ball consistently.

Whatever strategy you employ, or players you trust, here’s hoping you get one more taste of success in the next few weeks. It’s a long offseason.