If you plan to enter a Thursday-night league, you need to minimize as much of the inherent variance as possible. That means you must avoid all players with questionable designations. If there’s any doubt at all that a player will suit up on Sunday or Monday, avoid placing him in your Thursday-night lineups. If you can go into the Thursday-night matchup with a 99-plus percent chance of everyone in your lineup playing, then the potential profits far outweigh the very small probability of a late-week injury.
In addition, you might want to consider joining Thursday-night leagues and purposely avoiding the players in the Thursday game. I wrote about why that might be a smart strategy in Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Cash in on the Future of the Game:
“Below, I’ve listed the potential outcomes for Thursday night games (how the players performed, if you picked them, and how your post-game situation compares to that prior to the game in relation to a novice).
· Well, Yes – Worse
· Well, No – Possible slight disadvantage
· Poorly, Yes – Even at best
· Poorly, No – Much better
You can see that the best overall scenario is to fade the Thursday-night players and have them play poorly, putting the novices (who are always bullish on Thursday night players) in an early hole. If you select players on Thursday night and they perform relatively well, you could still actually be in a worse position than when you started. If the novices picked the same guys (or arranged a comparable Thursday night lineup), you’ll be in the same boat in terms of points, but instead of having nine players left, you’ll have just eight (or seven, or six), increasing randomness and decreasing your win expectation. On the other hand, if you pick Thursday night players and they perform poorly, you’ll still be even with the fish, and again randomness rears its ugly head.
However, if you fade the Thursday night players and the novices see a handful of them play well, you can still potentially make up the gap; it doesn’t help by any means, but it isn’t a death blow. Thus, the final outcomes for choosing multiple Thursday night players are being in a worse or comparable situation to your opponent(s), while the results of forgoing those players are slightly worse (or possibly even) and much better. Simply put, more good stuff can happen if you generally choose Sunday and Monday players in your Thursday night leagues, especially when your opponent is likely overvaluing them.
The above example is of course an oversimplification of the situation for demonstration purposes; if you have a player in a Thursday night game ranked well ahead of his salary, there’s no reason to bypass him. Further, you can’t expect a league of 20 competitors to all be novices. If the perceived value of the Thursday-night-player-in-question is minimal, however, it might be best to lay off.”