10 Fantasy Football Mistakes to Avoid

Make sure you don't do any of these 10 things if you want to succeed in your fantasy football league this year.
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1. Information ignorance

The name of the game is information and the rabbit hole goes as deep as your passion to win. The biggest mistake a fantasy football owner can make is not consuming enough information about the NFL. In addition to reading various fantasy-centric websites like this one, get your ears on podcasts. Load up your Twitter feed up with experts, national media members and local beat writers. Don’t limit yourself to just fantasy football; study articles that break down the Xs and Os of the game.

If you aren’t already, start watching college football to see the next crop of superstars. Learn about the advanced statistics that go beyond what’s in the box score. Try your hand at film study. It will vastly enhance your enjoyment and understanding of the game. Well-informed fantasy owners have much better odds of acquiring a breakout player before their value skyrockets. Spotting negative trends can help you ship out a struggling player prior to the bottom falling out. You only know what you know.

2. Know your league rules

Another mistake is getting surprised by your league format. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into with every league you join. There should never be any surprises. Make sure the draft date and time aren’t going to create a conflict. Review everything about your league’s settings, from roster size to how waivers work and trades are handled. Be keenly aware of the year-to-year setup for a dynasty or keeper league. Most importantly, know the ins-and-outs of your league scoring. Earning one point per reception, for instance, makes a big difference on how you should evaluate players. Similarly, production from your team defense is impacted greatly based on how each stat is valued.

3. Failing to prepare

When it comes to your draft, you need to be prepared. Don’t rely on one expert, one site, one magazine or one cheat sheet. Build your own rankings. Print them out and bring them to your draft. Also come with paper and pen to cross off drafted players while writing down the ones you’ve selected. Don’t be that guy who is stuck staring at the draft board, bringing things to a grinding halt. And of course, bring a laptop if you can. It makes everything easier.

4. The sin of gluttony

An in-person draft typically means beer and food. Don’t make the mistake of losing focus during the festivities. Load up on the pizza and wings early (or after) so your hands, head and stomach aren’t causing distractions halfway through draft. Drinking and drafting can be a mistake, but if you avoid all the others and come extra prepared, go ahead and crack one or two open.

5. You must do the queue

If the draft is online, log in early to make sure the application loads correctly and everything works smoothly. You should never be sent scrambling to make a selection when two players you had in mind suddenly come off the board with consecutive picks. The player queue allows you to keep your own list of players you’re most interested in for your next pick. Not loading up the player queue is a big mistake because most sites are slow to update their pre-ranks; players who gain sudden value during the preseason might be buried way down the list. Taking advantage of your player queue prevents a lot of headaches and keeps you from making an under-the-gun selection you quickly regret.

6. Falling too deeply in love

Make sure your sleepers are really sleepers. Make sure you’re not just selecting the guys from your favorite time. Try to be impartial. By that I mean don’t talk yourself into taking your favorite man-crush player three rounds earlier than everyone else was going to. Reach when appropriate but be aware and review average draft position (ADP). Sleepers aren’t sleepers if you are overpaying for them.

7. Flexibility is key

Don’t make the mistake of being too rigid with your game plan. Feel the flow of your draft. You may be locked into always taking two running backs and three wide receivers in the first five rounds, but if an elite quarterback or tight end slides, give serious consideration to adjusting your strategy and taking the value pick. Always keep your mind open during a draft. The unexpected will happen.

8. It’s not right to remain silent

An easy mistake to avoid is not communicating with your league commissioner. Let the person running your league know what’s working and what could be improved in a constructive way. I’m not suggesting that you plan a coup to overthrow your league commissioner, but providing feedback to him or her shows you are invested in the enjoyment and fairness of the league. Maybe there’s some oddball scoring, or perhaps it’s time for your long-standing league to convert from a simple waiver priority system to the more competitive FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) system. Get democratic and call for each owner to have a vote on proposed changes to the league.

9. Sweating the byes

Say goodbye to bye weeks. It’s a mistake to let that cloud a decision on which player to draft. The first set of bye weeks doesn’t come until Week 4 and typically involves only two teams. You have plenty of time to figure it out. Between injuries, trades and waivers, a lot can change by the time bye weeks factor into the picture.

10. Why so serious?

The final mistake a fantasy football owner can make is forgetting to have fun. It’s supposed to be fun! Don’t put too much money on the line. Don’t join six leagues if you really only have time for one. Relax. Stop checking your phone every other minute during the games to see how all your matchups are going. If you must, use the commercial breaks and halftime to catch up. You can only control what you control. Enjoy yourself!