Fantasy football 101: Managing your team

USA TODAY Sports

So, you've drafted a team. Now you're just getting started. Guiding your fantasy football squad to the championship takes commitment each week. Here are some tips to help you throughout the course of the season.

Managing your fantasy football team is like managing a portfolio, except you probably can't lose thousands of dollars in one day. If that's the case in your fantasy league, it might be team to find a new group to play with.

To be a successful owner, you have to monitor deadlines, make new acquisitions and keep an active watch for news regarding your players. See? That's somewhat similar to the life of an investor.

Here's what you need to keep an eye on each week when managing your team.

Setting your lineup

It sounds easy, right? Well, if you're playing to win, there's more to it than just picking the guys you like and leaving them in one spot the whole year.

Bye weeks: Unfortunately, Calvin Johnson can't play every week of the season. He gets a brief period of off time, so be sure you sit your players on bye. This sounds easy, but just wait. Owners always forget.

Lock times: Most leagues let you switch players around in your starting lineup until their game kicks off. There are leagues that lock all lineups at the start of the first game of the week, but it varies from league to league.

If you have a player whose game starts at 4:15 p.m. and he's questionable for the week, make sure you have a backup plan. In a situation like this, you'll need to either start a 1:00 p.m. player in their place, or have another player going in the afternoon to swap.

Keep an eye on the injury reports. Since you often have the option to change your lineup up until the last second, don't get burned with a player who isn't starting.

Playing the matchup: Worrying about strength of schedule when you draft your team isn't necessary. The NFL is always fluctuating. However, watching individual matchups each week can make you look brilliant.

Let's say you have Chargers running back Ryan Mathews on your team. The first week of the season he fumbles in the red zone against the Falcons. Norv Turner keeps subbing him out and doesn't seem eager to give Mathews a ton of carries. Obviously after such high expectations, you might feel deterred to starting him. However, you see the Chargers are playing the Saints, one of the worst defenses in the NFL (check the 2012 stats). You start Mathews, he rushed for 80 yards, one touchdown and adds another 59 yards receiving. Watching your matchups pays off.

Waivers

This system of adding free agents is put in place to prevent owners from adding players whenever they want, or as often as they want. After every game is played for an individual week, free agents can't be added again until the waiver period runs its course.

If you want to add a player, you put in a waiver claim for him. When the deadline hits, each owner receives the players on their waiver list. However, there is an order to the waiver list.

Leagues can arrange waivers in two ways: 1) Inverse of the standings. The owner in last place gets first dibs on waivers. 2) Number of waivers added. Some leagues rotate the order in terms of when an owner adds a player. If you're first on waivers and you add a player, you then go to the back of the line. Each owner moves up a spot each time a player goes through on waivers.

If an owner ahead of you has a claim in for the same player, you're out of luck. Be sure to put in multiple waiver claims, and order them in terms of who you'd like to pick up first.

Trades

An owner rarely wins a league with the team he/she drafts. Working the waiver wire is vital, but landing a few key trades is also a major part of building a solid team.

Trades can either be voted on by the league, or determined solely by the league manager. These measures are in place to make sure no collusion occurs. You're not getting away with trading Daniel Thomas for Aaron Rodgers in a league that actually pays attention.

If you're playing with knowledgeable owners, it's hard to swindle someone. However, you can jump at opportunities when a player's stock goes down. Last year, an owner in my league was frustrated with Doug Martin after the first few games. When rumors of LeGarrette Blount splitting time started to circulate, I decided it was the right time to propose a trade. I ended up sending Stevie Johnson for Martin. A few weeks later, the rookie was one of the top scorers in football.

It's not always easy to trade. Many owners are difficult to work with and won't accept an offer unless it's one-sided. But finding the right opportunities or creating proposals that benefit both side can get the job done.

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