Engel's Mailbag: Lineup Advice

William (New York, N.Y.): You have often said that you shouldn't worry about your opponent's lineup, and only concern yourself with your own. However, suppose it is clear that your opponent has a far superior team. Wouldn't it be wise then to gamble on players who normally wouldn't start and hope they have a huge upside game? For instance, a player like Donte' Stallworth isn't always a starter, but you may need to gamble on him having a huge day to offset your opponent's advantages.

Engel: There is really no way to decrease your opponent's perceived advantages. You can only maximize your own possible production. By using a boom-or-bust player like Stallworth, you are decreasing your chances of getting solid production, and you don't want to rely on an inconsistent player during the most important time of the season. By benching a steady player for an erratic one, you are giving your opponent a larger advantage. Anything can happen in fantasy football, and often does. Too many times, the best-looking team before the games start does not win and the most star-studded team fails to win the championship. So don't overthink and bench one of your best players for an occasionally explosive guy. Gambling with your lineup isn't a good idea when there are so many things you cannot control. Of course, nothing is absolute in fantasy football, either. It all depends on who your other lineup choices are. I would not start Stallworth over guys like Torry Holt or Chad Johnson. There's nothing wrong with using him over inconsistent guys with not much upside, like Derrick Mason or Arnaz Battle. It all depends on how a guy like Stallworth fits in your lineup. Plus, most wide receivers don't have a good game every week, so you want to lean on the more reliable ones and you always have to consider the matchups. I don't like Stallworth much against a physical Pittsburgh defense.