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Needs Will Cut Leads
September 19, 2003

With only a little over a week left in the regular season, there's probably only one more lineup change left in your fantasy league (unless you are in a daily head to head league).  Don't move on to the gridiron just yet, though.  If you have any chance at finishing in the money, this will be your most important week.

Now more than ever, you must do your homework.  Over the long haul, starting your most talented players is a wise decision, but in the last week, you need to start the players who will help you pass other owners in specific categories.  It doesn't make sense to start Juan Pierre if you are way ahead in stolen bases and runs while Matt Stairs sits on your bench while you try to gain in home runs.  Look at each category, figure out where you can gain, where you might lose, what you are willing to risk, and make those changes, even if it means sitting a Juan Pierre.

The free agent pool is another important source for improving your standing in the final week.  If you are solid in saves and can afford to take a hit in ERA or WHIP while trying to improve in wins, then sit those closers and pick up the marginal 2-start pitchers you normally would avoid.  This is desperation time, so don't be afraid to take desperate measures.  Pick up any available Twins pitchers that will throw against the Tigers.  That's a guaranteed "W".  Need saves to catch up?  Do the opposite and pick up any arm that might earn a save in the next week.  Scour the free agents for any closer involved in a "by committee" approach.  It might give you the one or two saves you need to pass the next guy.

Hitting is even easier to match because you should have a slightly higher amount of decent players from which to choose.  Load up on power, scrap the stolen bases, pick up guys that hit early in the order to catch someone in runs, or do whatever else you need to do to catch your closest opponent.  Whatever you do, don't stand idly by and watch.  You paid for the league so stay involved until the end.  If it's not profitable, at least it will be fun.  Good luck to all fantasy owners the rest of the way!