Requirements for reading this article:
Let’s get it straight right from the start. If you’ve been playing Fantasy Football for the last 5-10 years, know all there is to know, and can’t get enough of it, then this article is NOT for you. Just stop reading here.
However, let’s just say for argument, you are a huge NFL fan. You’ve been watching games with your father since you were a little kid. You’ve heard about fantasy football, didn’t think you would have the time for it, but somehow you got roped into joining a bunch of friends in a league this year. If this is you…this article is required reading! Those others that just want to brush up on a few basics are also welcome.
A few years ago, my friend John and I who have been in league forever thought it would be fun to ask some family and common friends to start up another league. I didn’t want it to happen this way, but we both just smoked everyone in total season points. It wasn’t even funny. And we both knew it coming out of the draft that it was going to get ugly fast. I even tried to help the others by using Yahoo’s league and letting them use their pre-rankings. I told them the ranking are VERY suspect. Most did very little reshuffling..and got killed in the end.
Why you ask? Because those that have been in fantasy football leagues for years and years know inherently the basic strategy to winning. And the other didn’t. It’s just like playing blackjack. Everyone with half a brain can understand the rules. Don’t go over 21. But, those that know basic strategy know that you always split Ace’s and 8’s. Always. Hitting on a 16 (two 8’s) is just awful. And that’s what happened to everyone in our first year.
Basic Draft Strategy:
Following these basic strategies will not ensure that you will win your fantasy football league. But, I can guarantee that if you do NOT follow them, its going to be a long year.
Rule #1: Your first pick MUST be a running back!
Period, no exceptions! I know those people that have been watching the NFL for years and years, have the eighth pick in the draft, eight picks have been made before them (maybe 1 non running back) and they are sitting there with Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Jeff Garcia, Daunte Culpepper in their lap and they look at everyone else as if they have a hole in their head. They say, “How could you guys pass up on Harrison? He’s the best WR in the NFL”. Well, yes that’s true. But, unless you REALLY know what you’re doing with FF (Fantasy Football) you BETTER take a pass on him.
Running backs BY FAR out score WRs in FF. They are the more consistent scorers and almost always put up better numbers in the end. DO NOT pick anything other than an RB with your first pick. And I highly suggest those rookies out there take a RB with their 2nd round pick too. Believe me you’ll be much happier in the end with Ahman Green, Eddie George, and Rich Gannon on your team instead of Jeff Garcia, Jamal Lewis, and Ron Dayne.
Rule #2: Do not pick a Kicker or Team Defense until you have all your QBs, RBs, and WRs, filled.
A typical rookie mistake is taking the Pittsburgh Steeler Defense in the 5th round. I know, you’ve been watching the Steelers with the family since you were two. Do NOT do it! Just don’t! There is very little difference between one team defense and another. There’s a big difference between a WR picked up in the 5th round and the 10th round. And Kickers? Wait until round 13-15 to pick up your first one. They are so inconsistent that anyone that tells you they know which kicker is going to rock this year doesn’t know Fantasy Football.
Rule #3: Keep an eye on the Fantasy Shark Injury report.
There’s always one guy that throws out a name in the 3rd round of a draft and the full cackle from the crowd comes out. If you pick a player that is gone for the year at the draft, you don’t deserve to play.
Rule #4: Watch out for bye weeks.
Another draft faux pas is drafting two guys that have the same bye week for a position where typically your squad will only have one backup player. In other words, don’t pick both a kicker that has the same bye week! You’re just wasting a pick.
Basic Regular Season Strategy:
Rule #1: Always start your stars! Always!
My dad called me one year asking my advice one week to start Dante Culpepper or Jake Plummer. I couldn’t even believe the question! The point he was trying to make was that Culpepper was going up against Chicago, a very strong defense, and Plummer was going up against a weak Dallas defense. You know what, it doesn’t matter! You stars are stars for a reason. Unless they break an ankle they should get the start every single week. Stars tend to rise up against good teams. Never sit them. Never.
There is only one small exception to this rule; Team Defense. Even though I think Chicago is a GREAT defense, I would probably give them a seat the week they are going up against say…St. Louis. If you’re really smart, in the draft look ahead to see who’s playing Detroit that same week and grab them. Matter of fact, I’d say grab a couple of NFC North team defenses and keep on changing them each week they play Detroit!
Rule #2: There’s practically no trading.
Let’s get this straight, if someone is proposing a trade to you, they are probably trying to take advantage of you. Unlike Fantasy Baseball, there is practically zero trading in Fantasy Football. Ok, maybe one trade a year between two teams..maybe. But all in all, it just doesn’t happen. Why? Because almost every league has some sort of free agency. You can always pick up another receiver, kicker, or even a QB in a pinch when someone goes down. In addition, FF rosters aren’t that big, so when your star goes down, it’s pretty likely that their backup is out there for the taking. So, if someone proposes a trade to you, JUST SAY NO!
Rule #3: Luck is a HUGE factor in Fantasy Football.
I hate to say it, but luck is a huge factor in fantasy football. Yes, I said it. For those of you still reading that are “the experts” out there, they know dumb luck comes into play each and every week. The good FF teams will always outshine in the end, and the bad ones will falter. But, sometimes, a guy gets hurt on the first play of a Monday night game when all you needed was a 5 out of him. Or one catch made by your Wide Receiver would have been the 3 points you needed for the win. Or even worse your 2nd round pick in the draft gets hurt for the year. It happens to every team, every week. Get used to it.
That’s about it. Follow all of these simple rules and you’ll have a GREAT chance at making your Fantasy Football playoffs. Good Luck!