So … this is awkward.
The labor situation has rocked both NFL and fantasy football fans alike. The roller coaster ride that is the 2011 NFL lockout has been … well … a roller coaster ride. The court decisions, the mediators, the negotiations. Revenue splits, rookie wage scales, rights of first refusal.
Here’s what you need to know: it’s almost over. There’s simply too much money to be lost. On both sides. Players are going to get antsy as the preseason draws near, and owners will start to think of the millions they’ll be missing out on, even during the preseason. So did you take off this offseason, too?
You weren’t locked out. You still had access to all the information available online. You had access to statistics and trending information from last season and the years prior. This was one of the more important offseasons to keep informed, if for no other reason than some of your leaguemates may not have.
Whether you’re in normal preseason form or scrambling to put something together in preparation for your draft(s), get to work now. It’s time to take in what fantasy writers have published. It’s time to put together your own projections and rankings, because after all, no one knows anything, so you might as well go with your own gut. It’s time to run through mock drafts like there’s no tomorrow.
Regardless of how your preparation has gone so far, use this website. The people who contribute regularly to this site know what they’re talking about. Tony Holm is one of the best in the business. Read what they write, and look at the trends they call out. We’ve done this a time or two, but we are by no means infallible. Not sure many of us saw Peyton Hillis as a Top 10 running back last year, but I picked him up after Week 1.
Come in with your game plan. If you pick early, know how the picks will breakdown and what your pick will be depending on how earlier picks go. If you pick later, map out a few different possibilities so you aren’t caught off guard.
Watch for in-draft trends and anticipate runs. You should know when they’ll occur: running backs early, receivers in Rounds 2-4, and eventually tight ends. Know what positions are shallow, like tight end (at least at the elite level) and what positions may be deeper (quarterback).
Track what other owners are doing. Know that the guys picking after you are already set at quarterback, so you can pass and take a stud receiver. And if you pick a guy, and one of your buddies groans or comments how he/she wanted that guy, make a note. He may be a viable trade partner for you once the season starts.
Do some mocks. You can do them yourself and predict what will happen, but the best way to find out how your draft will go is to draft. Test out different theories. For example, if you’re torn between taking a quarterback or a running back towards the tail end of the first round, try a few of each out and see how our teams end up.
Look inside the numbers and don’t be afraid to go with your gut. If you really want a guy or have a sneaky feeling about a guy, get him. If you’re right about him and he winds up on “that guy’s” team, you won’t forgive yourself. And when you’re working through mocks, try different things.
Lastly, have fun. Enjoy the draft, because it might be the best day of the year.
The FantasySharks staff will do what we can, but this ultimately comes down to the choices you make on draft day.
Drew Magyar is a fantasysharks.com staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.