The slates have been wiped clean and expectations are high. It’s that magical time of year when millions of fantasy football owners begin the daunting task of drafting the next championship team. Here are some tips to help you dominate your league and bring home that championship trophy. The first step to fantasy domination is the draft. If you draft a terrible team, you might as well skip Sundays for the next four months.
Tip #1: Do Your Homework
This isn’t like the homework that you didn’t do in high school. This time it really matters. Get a copy of the scoring rules for your league and study it. Is your league scoring PPR (point per reception) or standard? How many points does a QB get for throwing a touchdown? Does your league award bonus points for reaching certain stat levels? Can kickers and defenses give you negative points? The answers to these questions makes a big difference in how you draft.
Tip #2: It’s OK To Cheat
The single biggest thing you can do to better your odds is to get a good cheat sheet. In fantasy football, it’s not only permissible to cheat, it’s encouraged! Rank every NFL player by position in order of best to worst so that you have a list to work off of. If you’re lazy and don’t want to create your own, head over to FantasyFootballNerd.com and download their fantasy football rankings. They show what the experts are thinking by searching all the top fantasy football sites and producing a consensus rank on every player. This kind of cheating will not get you in trouble.
Tip #3: Practice Makes Perfect
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t depend on luck when he steps out onto the field. He’s a beast because he practices. Spend some quality time participating in mock drafts. Your league website most likely has a mock draft application available. If not, there’s this great little tool called Yahoo. Search for one.
Tip #4: Get Your Vick In A Box
This is your team so don’t wimp out when coming up with a name. Under no circumstances are you to use an actual NFL team name. Don’t be that guy. Be memorable! If you have no creative talent whatsoever, try using Breaston Plants, Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe, Rice Rice Baby, Clean Out Urlacher, Dez Dispenser, Revis and Butthead, or Erin Andrews Turns My Johnson Into a Hightower. Get the idea?
Tip #5: Pay Attention
All of those years tuning out your girlfriend or wife finally pay off on draft day. It’s time to focus on the task at hand. Once the draft has started, it is imperative that you pay attention to which players have been taken and which ones are still available. You want to draft the best players for each position that you can. A player’s value is not simply how many points he’s going to score but how much he outscores the other players at that position. There’s generally a pretty good drop off in points between tiers of players so pay attention to which players have been taken.
Tip #6: Run Forrest Run
In virtually every fantasy football draft, there will inevitably be a run on a position. If everyone in front of you is drafting a QB, don’t feel like you have to follow the Pied Piper on this one. If you have 10 or 12 teams in your league and you didn’t draft an elite QB, don’t rush to get an average one. Look to fill up on elite/good RB’s, WR’s, or TE’s. Start your own run.
Tip #7: Bye Bye Miss American Pie
As a generous GM, you’re going to give every one of your players a week off during the season. As a smart GM, you need to be sure that you have coverage for those weeks. Keep an eye on the bye weeks for each player that you draft. If you drafted two stud running backs and they both have the same bye week, make it a point to fill those spots. Don’t let bye weeks discourage you from drafting those stud players in the first place, but keep in mind that some leagues will disqualify your team that week if you can’t field a full team.
Tip #8: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Drafting players from your favorite team certainly makes cheering for them on Sundays much more entertaining, but you’ve got to check your loyalties at the door. That is not how you win fantasy football championships. You may love the Colts but drafting all of their starters is a recipe for disaster. If someone in your league does this, sit back, keep quiet (you can laugh on the inside), and take advantage of their mistake. Your cheat sheet should have the bye week for every player on it. If not, check out these fantasy football rankings.
Tip #9: It’s OK To Gamble…a little
The later rounds of a draft are when you should be looking for value and potential. You’ve already drafted your starting lineup. Here’s when you want to take a gamble on players who could pay off down the road. Arian Foster was an afterthought in his breakout year ranking in the 40’s among all RB’s. Those owners who took a gamble on him in the later rounds of their drafts found the reward was totally worth the risk. This scenario happens every year. Look for guys who have either legitimate shots at playing time or guys who back up injury-prone players. Always leave your last pick for a kicker. Don’t ever, under any circumstances, pick a kicker unless it’s your last pick. You can drop him on his bye week and pick up another one. Seriously – no kickers until the end.
Tip #10: Have Fun
Unless you’re in a high-stakes league, the point behind fantasy football is to have fun. It adds a whole new dimension to the actual games and that’s why millions of people will play this year. Feel free to talk smack, make side bets, and have a good time. Come prepared and get ready to dominate!