A quick locker room toast to the middle of the pack: You’ve clung to the respective reputations of Antonio Brown and Miles Austin and Antonio Gates the way Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith employs his signature Cover 2. You’ve shredded with the Steven Jackson Experience and been vindicated for Chris Johnson’s first-round price tag. This post-war bid for mediocrity is a product of iron first resolve, but the ship is sinking and you need a motivational speech from late ‘90s Busta Rhymes: THERE’S ONLY FIVE WEEKS LEFT!!!

Throw out the playbook and recalibrate the karma. Provided your league doesn’t restrict transactions, it’s time to pick up a clean slate of readily available guys and play the matchups. Across the board.

Don’t stop there. Ceremoniously cut your kicker and don’t pick one up until minutes before the early kickoffs. Trade any fading star wattage for depth before the mid-month deadline. It doesn’t matter if that means doing business with a first-place team that needs C.J. Spiller for the home stretch. If you harbor an upper echelon brand-name quarterback (Brees, Brady, Rodgers, Peyton Manning and that’s it), move them for pieces and institute a matchup-based rotation at QB1. It’s crazy, but it can work.

Target steady performers that aren’t particularly sexy: Willis McGahee, Andrew Luck, Dwayne Bowe, Randall Cobb. Take chances on stalled projects that have killed owners, like DeMarco Murray and Hakeem Nicks. Lose the stale plays that rarely meet weekly projections and don’t look back. (It’s been a journey, Jamaal Charles.)

For god’s sake look at the opponents: The Saints, Redskins, and Buccaneers average over 300 passing yards a game. The Titans, Jets, and Bills bleed rushing yardage. Those are crazy residuals for second and third-string opponents.

Most importantly, continue to make moves. I know my friends are all tired of hearing the story of the ’09 Ramóns—President Woodrow Wilson: “It is like writing history with lightning”—but the team’s cardiac banner year remains an enduring blueprint. I began 0-4 in a 16-team league, changed horses, and won the Playa’s Ball as a six-seed behind situational plugins like Pierre Garcon and Anthony  Fasano.

All-Waiver Wire Week 11 Team
Strays you theoretically can cobble together, field, and win with now

  • Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams (owned in 39.6 percent of ESPN leagues)
  • Marcel Reece, RB, Oakland Raiders (owned in 12.2 percent of ESPN leagues)
  • Chris Ivory, RB, New Orleans Saints (owned in 2.5 percent of ESPN leagues)
  • Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers (owned in 0.1 percent of ESPN leagues)
  • Laurent Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (owned in 26.4 percent of ESPN leagues)
  • Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens (owned in 30.3 percent of ESPN leagues)
  • Shane Vereen, FLEX, New England Patriots (owned in 56.4 percent of ESPN leagues)

Bradford’s talents are finally translating because the Danny Amendola interlude served to forge trust with Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson. As cruel and awkward as the Rams’ tie with the 49ers was, the silver lining is that his breakout box score has simply been pushed back a week or so.

Reece will finish with 20 points in PPR leagues this week. The Saints are so low on Mark Ingram they leap-frogged Ivory up the depth chart in Darren Sproles’ absence; he simultaneously supplants Pierre Thomas when it matters.

Alexander’s nascent starting wideout job is secure. Robinson struck a crippling blow to the Cecil Shorts Hype Machine with 15 targets, nine catches, 77 yards; #LaurentFever is trending on Twitter in Jacksonville. Opposing secondaries began to budget for Pitta and he’s had a quiet month, I feel like Cam Cameron sorted out the hiccup. Shane Vereen burned us all last week, but I’m going down with the ship.

Photo via @LaurentRobinson/Twitter