Yes it’s that time of year again. Everywhere you look you see fantasy football magazines and every sports site you visit has a fantasy football section. They all have their rankings and their projections, but what does that all mean to you as a manager? There is so much information that by the end of the day it could have you pulling your hair out, and as I know all too well, some of us can’t afford to lose any more hair. How can you digest this huge amount of information and how can you use it to your benefit?
These magazines are chalk-full of great strategies and great info to help you come out on top at the end of the year. I don’t think you can possibly read enough, so don’t worry about the fact that it’s only June and you already have 10 magazines sitting on your coffee table. I promise you are not alone even if your significant other makes you feel that way. This is because he or she knows that football season is coming and they will lose you soon and will not have you back until February. Gather info on all the studs, duds and sleepers because you are going to need all the info you can get your hands on.
First you must know the scoring system in your league inside and out. Does your league reward for points per reception (PPR)? Does your league reward for return yardage, and if so, is it attached to the defense or is it rewarded to a single player? Is your player rewarded for a long TD run or catch in your league? Do your kickers get points for longer field goals or lose points for missed field goals? You get the point here: the more you know about your system, the better you can rank players prior to your draft. The magazines tend to rank players on a pretty straight forward scoring model so know your system and know it well.
The next step would be to gather information to give a pre-ranking to the players. You can never really start doing this too early as your rankings will change constantly up to your draft date. You have the whole preseason to watch games and follow for injuries. This is the time you will be refining your rankings based on what you see and what you read. For those of you who don’t have the time to compile your own ranking system, I would suggest gathering 3-5 publications and come up with an average ranking, then tailor them to your league’s scoring system. If you are having an online draft, the site you are using will likely have a spot where you can save your rankings, and I recommend that you use it. Pre-ranking your players can have a lot of value on draft day when things get crazy. Once you have your rankings, you will be able to start watching mock drafts to get a general idea as to where your target players are being drafted.
One of the most important steps in this process has to do with Average Draft Position (ADP). The best way that I have found to keep an eye on ADP is to scour the internet. Just about every fantasy football Web site shows mock drafts, take a look at these and compare where players are going in each round in your particular draft spot. For instance, if you have drawn the No. 5 pick in your draft, take a look at what players are going in that spot in each round. You can keep this very simple, or make it as complex as you want. The basic idea is to know where the players you want to draft are being taken. This will ensure that you don’t use a first-round pick to take a receiver from your home team just because you love that player, when in reality you could have taken him in the fourth round.
This leads you up to your draft day. Keep things as simple as possible on draft day. I would recommend that you have one cheat sheet that has one side your Top 150 players and the other side the Top 10 players at each position. Don’t be the one who tears the rankings out of 10 different magazines and tries to decipher all that info in 90 seconds, because you will also be the one who tries to draft someone that has already been taken. The other thing you want to have at your disposal is a repertoire of smack talk. You want to be able to have something to say about anything and everything because remember it’s your fantasy God-given right to throw as much smack talk at your opponents as possible. I could give some suggestions here but I think that is another article altogether.
The last suggestion I have is that you don’t base your whole draft on what these magazines and Web sites say. It is nothing but opinion in the end and there is no possible way to predict what a player is going to do year in and year out. Use anything and everything you can to form your own opinions of what is going to happen this upcoming season because in the end you can really only blame yourself for what happens with your team.