Last week we discussed the noble role of spoiler, and making the most of the remaining games even though you're out of the playoffs. But what if you're not quite out yet? What if, with one week to go, a win could help you get in? You might need some assistance (maybe a lot of assistance) but there's a non-zero chance of you having a meaningful game to play next week. What then?
Well, then you take the following steps to help yourself over the finish line.
Keep in mind one tiny caveat: This won't all work. Maybe only a portion of it will work, or a tiny sliver, or none at all. Or maybe it all works and you still lose. Or it works and you win, but you don't get the help you need and you still miss the playoffs. That's all possible. Maybe even probable. But hey, non-zero chance, right? It's worth a shot.
Go with high-risk, high-reward starters. If you're on the playoff bubble, I'm assuming you don't have a world-beating lineup. But if you happen to have a big total points advantage and bad luck with your record, ignore this advice.
Throughout most of the season, a player who has a great game once a month is a nightmare. It's hard to predict when they'll go off for multiple yards and touchdowns. Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of guessing in week 14. It's time to roll the dice and hope for one more big game. Streaky players, touchdown vultures and garbage-time stars are all welcome.
Double up. Whoever your quarterback is, find a receiver on that team and hope you catch lightning in a bottle with a couple of scores. Maybe you start Rivers and have Mike Williams on your bench. Maybe Stafford/Golladay can rescue your playoff fortunes. Wentz/Tate? Maybe. Tannehill/Parker. Who knows? If you need a bullseye, throw the dart.
Pick your favorite waiver flavor. Ah, the good old waiver wire. You think it's a barren desert, but sometimes you find an oasis. It was Spencer Ware last weekend; maybe it's Justin Jackson this week. Maybe a player who blows up once a month is still out there. No matter your roster, you're not too good to look for additional help.
Hurt other teams. Maybe you're not as worried about winning your game as you are the other pieces to your playoff puzzle. You need a specific team to lose, but you're not playing them? Outside of voodoo dolls, what can you do?
You can start by looking at their roster and seeing what they need to improve their chances. The use the waiver wire to take away as many options as you can.
By the way, I mean dropping your weakest players and taking players they could use. I do not mean using your website's add/drop rules to trigger a two-day freeze on everyone. That type of behavior is unethical and should be reversed by the commissioner. You want to win this week, but always play fair. And it's totally fair to make room for players you'll never use simply because another team needs them.
Also, if the team you need to lose is playing a cupcake who's given up, you can send them a message encouraging their participation at the end of the season. Sing the praises of being a spoiler. Maybe they'll be moved by your words and take 30 seconds to field a real team for once. You can't force them to care for a week, but you can ask them to fulfill their duties as a league owner.
Do Nothing. If you have a decent team, it's a viable strategy. Maybe you'll win with what you have. Your guys have gotten you this far, so maybe it will be enough for (at least) one more win. Maybe you're not as desperate as you think.
If that's your decision, make sure you consider all other options. Week 14 doesn't have to be like week 13, and week 7 and week 3. Standing pat might be the best call, but don't simply shrug your shoulders and let the chips fall because you don't know else to do. You have options, and one of those options is to just roll with the guys you already have. Besides, you can still collect talent an opponent might need and help yourself that way.
Whatever you decide, I hope it goes your way. Win or lose, many owners wish they were in your position this late in the season. Enjoy it, and good luck this week.
Any late-season tips to wring one more win out of the schedule? Do you usually shake things up, or keep what you have? Share your thoughts below.