In real estate, the operative word is location. It's the inescapable mantra of the business: location, location, location.
In fantasy football, several factors influence success. For instance, starting and sitting the right combination of players is among the most challenging tasks each week. Acquiring the right free agents can make a good team great. Knowing when to cut ties with underachieving players can be equally important.
But nothing is more critical than timing.
Which opponent you draw in a given week can make all the difference. Since most fantasy leagues are driven by head-to-head matchups, you can make all the right moves for your team each week and still lose due to a scheduling fluke.
Consider the difference in facing Daunte Culpepper on Sunday, as opposed to either of the previous two weeks. Depending on your scoring system, the timing could account for anywhere between a 30- and 50-point variance in your opponent's score.
Curse the schedule randomizer if this was the week you drew Shaun Alexander and his four-touchdown shellacking of the Cards.
LaDainian Tomlinson may be the pride of fantasy football, but until Sunday night, he wasn't dominating in his usual manner. But if you had the misfortune of running into the L.T. buzz saw this weekend, you were probably as helpless as the Giants' defense.
Of course, timing can work to your advantage as well. Thank your lucky stars if you've already played against Peyton Manning. Me? I draw him in Week 5, when the Colts travel to San Francisco. Why do the fantasy gods hate me so?
If you're sitting pretty at 3-0, chances are the schedule has been your friend. Don't get cocky, because these things tend to even out over time. If you've yet to locate the win column, take some solace if timing has been your toughest opponent, and pray that the road ahead offers better fortune.
I'll do my best to help you with the factors that are under your control.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, you need to start with a good draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is equally important. Here's a look at a few players worth grabbing, and others who would look better in someone else's line-up.
Catch 'em while you can
Mewelde Moore, RB, Vikings: Now that Michael Bennett has fumbled his way out of the starting lineup and Culpepper has rediscovered his mojo, Moore has a chance to become the 2005 version of Reuben Droughns. The few times he's gotten the chance to start, he's shown he can handle the load.
Kevin Curtis, WR, Rams: He's had sleeper written all over him since preseason, but now that Isaac Bruce is dealing with turf toe, Curtis is a legitimate fantasy contender. He hauled in his first TD of the season shortly after Bruce left Sunday's game and could become a major weapon in the Rams' aerial attack.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, 49ers: Two outstanding games out of three have made a believer out of me. San Francisco will be playing catch-up almost every week, so the third-year receiver will have plenty of opportunities to shine against soft secondaries like the Cowboys and Rams.
Neil Rackers, K, Cardinals: Talk about a fantasy juggernaut. Rackers is 10 for 10 on field goal attempts in an offense that doesn't score touchdowns. Playing against the 49ers in Mexico City this Sunday, he could notch 50 or more fantasy points, given the conversion rate and all.
Don't be fooled
Eli Manning, QB, Giants: With a fine 352-yard, two-touchdown performance on Sunday night, Manning will be among the most sought-after free agents on the market this week. Don't take the bait. The Giants remain a run-first offense, San Diego's secondary is sieve-like, and Eli still has plenty of growing pains to work through.
Travis Henry, RB, Titans: No sooner did I recommend him last week than Henry pulled the ultimate bonehead move and got himself suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Troy Williamson, WR, Vikings: Don't get all hot and bothered about "the next Randy Moss" in Minnesota after the first big game of his brief NFL career. Williamson profited from Nate Burleson's absence and the Saints' awful defense. He'll go through the typical rookie ups-and-downs and won't be worth much fantasy-wise in '05.
Keary Colbert, WR, Panthers: In Week 1, he posted two receptions for 11 yards and zero TDs. Two games later, those stats haven't budged. After such a promising rookie season in '04, Colbert is an early favorite for the Peerless Price Memorial Fantasy Bust of the Year Award.
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