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Some lessons to keep in mind on the fantasy football trail
By John Dietz | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/10/2009 4:17 PM

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The last two fantasy football seasons have taught me a valuable lesson:

No matter how bleak things seem, no matter how out of it your team looks, don't simply throw in the towel. Don't give up. Try to find a way.

What I often see, especially in keeper leagues, is owners trading players away and trying to build for next year. And while I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that strategy if it's apparent your team has no hope, two examples from the last two seasons ought to inspire all of you in the future when you are struggling at the midway point:

• Last year, I was muddling along with a 3-5 record and could have built for this season in my unit league. Instead, I made a bold move by trading an unkeepable Clinton Portis (who ended up getting hurt) for the keepable Roddy White, plus I got 20 units to use at this year's draft.

My thought process was that while giving up Portis may kill my season, getting White may actually help save it. My biggest problem last season was I wasn't able to use Tony Romo for four weeks, but once he returned everything clicked. I finished on a five-game winning streak and advanced to the title game.

• This year, in the same league, I got off to an 0-4 start and was 2-7 after nine weeks. No way to rebound from that, right?

Well, true, except that we inputted a rule this year where the sixth team qualifies based on points. Hovering around the sixth spot most of the season, I was at a crossroads. Should I trade White, Romo, LaDainian Tomlinson or Hines Ward and build for next year?

Or should I go for it? God help me, I'm just too competitive, so I shipped 28 units off to the owner of Cedric Benson and acquired him plus Rob Bironas in a late trade. Benson, of course, got hurt, but in an odd stroke of luck, it didn't matter - BIRONAS ended up helping me qualify by 13 points.

Yep, I'm in the postseason despite a 4-9 record.

This leads me to one final point: Consider adding the "points rule" to any league you are in next season. It keeps good teams that just happened to get unlucky with a rough schedule in the playoff hunt (I have just 16 fewer points than a 9-4 team). And it makes for a wild and crazy finish - last week 10 of 12 teams had either qualified or had a chance to qualify in that league.

Stat line of the week: In case you missed it, the Ravens' Willis McGahee had 4 carries for minus-4 yards. With a touchdown.

WR oddities: Last week I wrote about how the top 12 receivers in our rankings on the Web site disappeared on us in Week 12 with just 2 TDs and an average of 47.9 yards per player. Well, they rebounded in a nice way in Week 13. The top 12 had 6 TDs and averaged 82.5 yards.

Scroll down a bit further and the numbers were even more impressive: The top 20 averaged 88.3 yards per player (with 7 100-yard games) and scored 11 TDs.

My teams: I eked out a 96-95 win in the DH experts league to improve to 9-4. That team won the division and earned a first-round bye. My unit-league team imploded, dropping its last three games, after losing Michael Turner and Ronnie Brown. That team finished 5-8. And the unit-league team, as described above, is in the playoffs for the 10th straight time.

Good bets

• Packers RB Ryan Grant at Chicago. Grant owners will love this: over the last seven contests, the Bears have given up 153.6 rush yards per game.

• Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles vs. Buffalo. Charles could well be a top-5 option this week. He's scored in four straight and is facing a Bills D that is last in the NFL against the run (172.1 ypg allowed).

• Colts WR Pierre Garcon vs. Denver. With teams focusing on stopping Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, Peyton Manning is making them pay by zipping balls into Garcon (89.3 ypg, 2 TDs last four).

Bad bets

• Bengals RB Cedric Benson at Minnesota. OK, I'm not telling you to sit Benson. But the Vikings have allowed 3 rushing TDs all season, 2 of them to Ray Rice. Other than that, the best performances were turned in by Kevin Smith (24-83) and Steven Jackson (21-84). Those are the kind of numbers I'd expect out of Benson on Sunday.

• Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter at Indianapolis. These two have been tearing it up lately, but this is a bad spot if you own them.

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