Seventy-five tips for fantasy drafts
Each year, there is a ton of information available out there to peruse as you prepare for your fantasy football drafts. Yet most articles tie everything into one subject area, and you must gather much information from many sources to arrive at your conclusions. Each season, I have tied the most important tips and tidbits I can into one single package, so I can simply fire off what's essential to your fantasy planning when and where I feel like it. The normal rules never apply in this annual preseason primer. Yet all 75 of these fantasy football tips for success are applicable to your 2010 outlook.
1. Know your scoring system and stick to it when drafting. This may be the most obvious tip I will list here, yet it is the most important. Any fantasy owner with an ounce of self-respect or experience knows this is rule No. 1.
2. Do not rigidly stick to a pre-set plan when you draft. There is no set formula for success, such as going RB/WR/QB early. Be prepared to adjust on the run in every draft. Take the best available players in the first round or two, and fill out your main starting lineup positions other than defense and kicker in the first six to seven rounds.
3. Don't think you know just exactly how the picks ahead of you will work out. You can never get truly inside of the heads of other owners, and they can change their minds in a nanosecond at any point. Don't try to predict what will happen in a draft, be ready to react.
4. Do not load up with too many players from one team. Heck, sometimes two players from the same offense in your starting lineup can be dangerous, especially if it's a QB/WR connection. If Dallas is held to 13 points in a given week, your
5. Nothing in fantasy football is absolute. Every single player and situation must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. For example, Tip No. 4 does not apply to a
6. Don't overreact to short-term news in the preseason. No one is going to remember the preseason injuries of
7. Try to avoid getting caught up in schedule analysis. Too much of schedule breakdowns and predictions are based on last year, and too much changes in the NFL from year to year. Looking at Fantasy playoff schedules in August is often a useless exercise. Too many new trends and storylines will have changed the fantasy landscape by midseason of 2010, and lots of summer strategies will be outdated by then. Make your decisions based on who is the better player and filling areas of need in your draft, not on who someone faces deep into November and December.
8. Opportunity does not always lead to production. Just because a player is high on a depth chart or is more established than his teammates does not mean he is capable of handling a prominent role.
9. If one player starts over another, the starter is not always more valuable than the guy listed as No. 2. Starting simply means one player will open the game on the field, but that does not mean he will always see the majority of playing time. This is especially true in running back situations.
10. There is no way to go wrong at the No. 1 and 2 overall spots this year. Don't obsess about who to take between
11. Do not overrate
12. Avoid the temptation to trade draft picks. If you are well-prepared, you can successfully draft from any slot. There are advantages and disadvantages at every spot, but the owner who does his homework can simply go with the flow of the draft at every turn while filling needs.
13. Do not hesitate to jump on early RB values in PPR leagues. I have seen
14. Be proud that you are a fantasy football player. It's no longer the hobby of "geeks", everyone who is anyone plays it. You used to be a geek if you played fantasy football, now you are a geek if you don't. I have interviewed many Major League Baseball players this year, and there seems to be a fantasy football league in every clubhouse. You wouldn't call
15. Do not buy too much into the
16. I would recommend passing on
18. If you play in an auction league, target two to three top-shelf players who you will bid up no matter what it takes, without blinking. Then, let everything else simply fall into place around your core of elite players.
19. Don't be the owner who drafts a defense in the sixth or seventh round. Yes, the Jets will be quite good, but if you are prepared, you can still nab a solid unit such as Cincinnati or Dallas much later, very possibly in the final rounds. Even if defenses score a lot of points in your league, reaching early based on 2009 production and results is often a gamble. Defensive and special teams TDs can be random and unpredictable in many cases, and many defenses vary in performance from year to year.
20. Mock drafts are a great source of preparation, but do not refer to them as gospel. Every draft has owners with unique thought processes and strategies, and some owners may be experimental in their mock efforts. Also, all human owners may not always be present in a mock, so you can lose some authenticity there. No two drafts are fully alike, especially the real ones.
21. Identify and follow some non-fantasy sources that can make you a more powerful and knowledgeable fantasy player. National writers and publications will often cover key players in greater detail and can offer deeper insights on situations and players that may be important to you.
22. Don't get caught up in the hometown hoopla and let it influence your picks. Someone in Denver will waste a draft pick on
23. Do not go for a quarterback in the first round in most cases. You usually have to start more RBs and WRs, and should get your top players at those positions first. Running backs are going to fly off the board, and you have to keep pace early or get left with a very shaky-looking No. 1 RB.
26. The seventh overall selection may be the most challenging spot in the first round this year, especially in a PPR league. With
27. Deep sleeper alert: If
28. Some owners want to take
29. Too many owners show their frustration when the player they wanted gets taken one pick ahead of them. At each pick, you should have a few guys queued up, and be ready with a few options. Sure, you may not always land your ideal pick, and we all get disappointed when hoping a player will fall, but if you are prepared with a short list of preferred players at each slot, you will soften the blow of watching your targeted player disappear.
30. Come to the draft prepared. If you do not know who is injured or who changed teams, that is your problem. Don't ask to borrow a magazine. We're playing to win here, don't expect me to help you. If someone asks for tips or assistance during the draft, treat them like you guys are taking a test in school. "Keep your eyes on your own paper." This may seem to be a hard stance to take, and would not necessarily apply in a league of family members, but the truly competitive leaguers want to win, we can be friends after the draft.
31. Deep Sleeper Alert II: Seattle's
32. In many drafts of 16 rounds or less, backup defenses, kickers and tight ends can be wasted picks. You can often land a replacement or backup on the free agent list during the season.
33. Targeting specific players ahead of time can be a sometimes-fruitless and frustrating exercise. If you really feel strongly about a specific player and want to land him, especially in a league of experienced owners, you may have to take him a round or two ahead of his Average Draft Position to get the best opportunity to land him.
34. If you do not land an elite QB early, you can stream less-decorated passers in and out of your lineup and still field a winner. Rotating the likes of
35. Do not over-invest in statistical analysis in fantasy football. We're not playing fantasy baseball here. Proper fantasy football scouting takes many variables into account and is forward-looking, and factors such as schemes, opportunity and even emotion and motivation can play heavily into a lot of individual performances. Stats from the past are applicable, but not the main or only factor to consider.
36. You are not drafting to impress other owners. Don't make a pick just because you think it is the trendy one and you want to draw the approval of the rest of the group. It does not matter what anyone else thinks about your picks. If you feel strongly about a certain player, go for it. You may know something everyone else does not.
37. After you draft, try to relax and let the regular season come to you before overhauling your roster. Too many fantasy players get bored and start re-working their team before it even gets a chance to operate. Have faith in yourself that you executed a solid draft. Don't make moves just for the sake of staying busy, or to make something happen. You are not going to improve your outlook too much by tearing your team apart before it has "played a game."
38. I really do not like
39. The presence of
40. Do not get locked into targeting handcuffs on draft day. Sometimes, a handcuff is not as apparent as you may believe, and there can be depth chart movement and changing situations throughout the preseason and regular season. For example, in San Francisco, if Gore were to get injured, there could be a time share between Dixon and Westbrook. In Pittsburgh, there is no clear handcuff to
41. Published reports indicate that
43. I have a strong feeling we will see
44. So many experts are writing off
45. Do not get locked into planning for bye weeks when drafting. In many situations, your roster will change by the time the bye weeks roll around, and you should not pass on a player due to bye week concerns. Do not worry about Week Four or Five lineup concerns on draft day. The only position that I apply the byes to is QB, because you will often go with the same passer for a full season.
46. Deep Sleeper Alert III: Hopefully, Chris Johnson stays healthy. If he does suffer an injury, though,
48. There are two types of QBs: Those who need a strong supporting cast, and others who make the most of what they have.
50. Now that
51. Some preseason performances are not a true sign of what is to come, such as
52. Never let your allegiances dictate how you draft. Rooting for
53. You are going to spend a lot of time obsessing about your first pick, but it may be the easiest one to make. The best drafters have a much broader focus.
54. Know your opponents. You can never know fully what they are thinking, but if you know their usual approaches from year to year, it can help you confidently plan for your draft. In one of my leagues, a few owners do not come prepared. So I know I can pick off a lot of value picks and will have an advantage over the competition. In an experts league, I have to take a totally different approach and be prepared to go much deeper on my cheat sheets.
55. Encourage your league to start a trophy fund. Everyone pitches in 10 to 20 dollars and you order a trophy for the league champion. Having an everlasting memento of victory can be even better than winning money, which can come and go.
56. Over the course of the preseason, a general consensus of where players go in drafts will develop, and you will see a logical run of many players picked in many areas of the draft. Following experts drafts and mocks can give you an idea where certain groups of players may fit into general draft approaches, but many owners will often veer from some norms, and you should not hesitate to break away from conventional approaches when you feel strongly about a certain selection.
57. Not all published mock drafts are created equal. You can learn a lot from experts drafts. But celebrity/non-expert drafts offer a more accurate picture of where the average leaguers may pick players. Non-expert drafts offer a more accurate reflection of the mainstream leagues, where you have a mix of different levels of experience.
58. When you go to the newsstand, the amount of magazines you see can be overwhelming. There are different fantasy magazines for different levels of players, I believe. Take your time and pick the one that is right for you. Spending time in a bookstore that will let you compare and peruse the mags thoroughly is the answer. All you need is one solid fantasy magazine to use as a quick reference guide, but also buy a pro football preview as a handy companion for in-depth scouting reports.
59. Make time every day to stay updated on the latest player news. By the time draft day rolls around, some of what you read in the magazines will be outdated.
60. Do not waste any time analyzing kickers. You can throw a dart and land a solid one. I often go for
61. This is a now or never year for popular sleeper pick
62. The tight end position is deeper than ever, it seems. You don't have to take one too early.
64. I still believe
66. Rashard Mendenhall is a very shaky first-round selection. In addition to the QB issues in Pittsburgh early in the year, the loss of
67. The Cincinnati offense has a lot of big names, but the passing game will not be explosive. The team lacks a true deep threat right now, and
68. Do not draft players with thoughts of trading in mind. On draft day, most of your needs can be filled right then and there. Why draft a guy to trade him when the players you may want to deal for are readily available in many cases? Do not load up at a position early when filling out your projected starting lineup should be the priority.
69. If you do not draft any Rams, Browns or Raiders, you should end up with a pretty solid squad.
73. I am avoiding
74. I would rather watch
75. Thanks for coming this far with me. Be prepared, stay updated and confident, and I'll see you in the fantasy postseason!