How to stay competitive in fantasy football in 15 minutes per week

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I get it — you’re busy. Work, family, chores, scrolling Instagram, you name it. These important obligations (listed in no particular order of priority) soak up a ton of our day and that leaves little time for much else, including managing a fantasy football team.

The good news is that fantasy football can be fun while not requiring a major time commitment.

Yes, there is a ton of information, stats and content out there that you can use to get an edge on your opponents, but fantasy football is a high-variance game in which anyone can be competitive simply by checking a few boxes each week during the season.

And that’s exactly the point of this article: to lay out the absolute minimum you need to do on a weekly basis to not embarrass yourself stay competitive in the league your relative, friend or coworker insisted you join. Below is a weekly schedule you can follow that requires only 15 total minutes across three days and will keep you competitive for wins each and every week of the season. Oh, and it can all be done easily in the ESPN Fantasy App.

OK, I have to update projections and cook dinner and take out the trash, and my daughters want to play Legos, so let’s get to it.

Tuesday: Waivers (7 minutes)

I’m going to be completely honest with you: You could skip waivers every single week and still make the playoffs. If you drafted a good team and have some luck on your side, it’s possible. However, I am recommending you AT LEAST take a look at your roster each Tuesday once the league transitions over from the prior week.

Check to see if any of your players are in jeopardy of missing the following game (generally this will be related to an injury or bye week) and have a backup plan in mind. Our projections for the following week are updated several times per day and can often operate as a “red flag.” For example, if you had a player in your lineup in Week 4 but you log in on Tuesday and notice he’s projected for 0.0 points, it’s likely that player is highly doubtful or out for Week 5. Or, if the projected point total is suspiciously low, he might have seen a role reduction or have a very tough matchup on tap. In these situations, make sure you have a solid backup option so that you’re, at least, able to fill out a competitive lineup the next week and perhaps beyond.

That’s the bare minimum you should be doing on Tuesday, but I also recommend glancing at the waiver wire, aka players not on any other roster you can add via your league’s waiver process (which usually runs overnight Tuesday into Wednesday). Click the “Players” tab and use the “Proj” column to see if there are any players who stand out as having a higher projection than those currently on your roster and/or in your starting lineup. Oftentimes, these will be backup running backs who are positioned for a much larger role because of an injury to the team’s starter. This is an absolute must if the injured player is on your roster, especially if that player could miss substantial time.


Thursday afternoon/evening: Set your initial lineup (4 minutes)

This one is pretty straightforward: Set your lineup before “Thursday Night Football” kicks off (usually 8:15 p.m. ET). Head to your team page, take a look at the injury designations and projected point totals, and select the players you want in your lineup for the week. Though you can still adjust most of your lineup throughout the weekend, the players from teams competing on TNF will lock, so you don’t want to get stuck with a good player on your bench or a demoted or injured player in your lineup. I also recommend flipping over to the “Players” tab again to see if there are any late adds you can make to upgrade your lineup.


Sunday morning: Set your ‘final’ lineup (4 minutes)

Most weeks, the “main” slate of NFL games begins at 1 p.m. ET. That will generally be your final opportunity to complete your roster and make lineup changes. Same as Thursday, check the injury designations (“doubtful (D)” and “out (O)” are the big red flags, but have a backup plan for “questionable (Q)” players) and the projections column (a projection of 0.0 means we don’t expect the player to participate). Once that’s sorted, check the “Players” tab again for any last-second adds and get that lineup set!

I did put “final” in quotes in the header for this section because, while generally you won’t touch your lineup again until Tuesday, your job might not be done if you left “questionable” players in your lineup. If those players are ruled out before the late-afternoon Sunday slate (this news drops around 2:30-3 p.m. ET) or prior to “Sunday Night Football” or “Monday Night Football,” you’ll need to make a late adjustment to avoid a dreaded goose egg. One more disclaimer: There are five international games on the 2023 schedule, which means 9:30 a.m. ET games on Sundays in Weeks 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10. You might want to check your lineup before bedtime on Saturday evening in those weeks!


That’s it. Three days per week, 15 minutes total. Sometimes you’ll require a little less time, especially if your team is stacked and healthy, and other weeks you might need a little more time, especially during bye weeks. I also recommend turning on alerts in the ESPN Fantasy App, which serve as helpful reminders throughout the week.

If you want to take your game to the next level, I recommend checking the free agent list more often, offering some trades to improve your roster and, of course, reading/watching our barrage of valuable weekly content.

But if you don’t have time for that, I get it. And that’s OK! This game doesn’t require hours of work and information overload for you to have fun while also competing with your family, friends, colleagues and/or enemies.



POST AUTHOR: Mike Clay

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