Thursday, August 16, 2012

10 Commandments of Fantasy Football Drafting

Draft day is one of the most fun days of the year, but it can also be very stressful and overwhelming. In this column, I present the ten rules to live by to help your draft run as smoothly as possible, and give you the best chance to win your league.

But remember, fantasy leagues are supposed to be fun, so here's a clip of the popular fantasy football show "The League", a must watch for every fantasy football fan:

So without further ado.... the Ten Commandments of Fantasy Football Drafting!!

1. Know your league
Make sure that you are well aware of your league settings. It sounds simple, but it's amazing how many people just go into a draft without even knowing the scoring system. Each scoring/roster change should have some impact on how you draft. As well, try to gather as much information about the people in your league as possible. If you are drafting with friends, you probably already know their favorite teams and maybe even there favorite players. Use that knowledge to your advantage!!

2. Never discuss your sleepers with your opponents (or use lots of misdirection)
This rule is pretty straight forward, the more information that your opponents have about the players that your interested in the worse chance you have of actually being able to draft those players. In my leagues, I try to avoid talking about any players prior to the draft. However, for those of you that are good smooth talkers, misdirection is a great way to get an advantage. Talk about another sleeper that you arent really interested in and other owners in your league will probably be inclined to reach a little more on them.

3. Keep up to date with player updates
Leading up to your draft date (and throughout the season) the best thing you can do is keep up to date with player news, injuries and preseason results. The more informed you are, the better decisions you can make when it comes to drafting.

4. Pay attention to your opponents
Throughout the draft, you will have to make several tough decisions. Paying attention to your opponents rosters and the picks that they will likely make should make those decisions easier.
For example, let's say you have a pick in the late 5th round and your trying to decide between taking let's say Tony Romo and Peyton Hillis. You notice that each of the teams that are picking between your pick and your 6th round picks already have QBs. Therefore, it is a pretty safe bet that you can wait until the next round to take Romo and solidify your RBs.

5. Safe early, upside later
You can't win your fantasy league in the first few rounds of a draft, but you can definitely lose it. My favorite strategy in fantasy leagues, is to try to avoid risky players early in the draft and then after you have a solid starting lineup, start swinging for the fences. Let other teams reach for unproven "sexy" guys, while you can wait and take solid players like Willis McGahee, Marques Colston or Phillip Rivers. Sure, pick some guys with upside as well, but teams that draft only high risk. high reward players almost never win.
After you finish filling out your starting lineup, that's when its best so go heavy on the risky picks. If you end up using a 11th rounder on a high risk, high reward guy and it flops, no big deal, you can just pick up someone else. Similarly, with my late picks, I would likely avoid picking players that are safe since players like that should never crack my lineup. I would rather gamble on a guy that has the potential to be a star. For example, I would rather fill my bench with guys like Ryan Williams over Mike Tolbert, Titus Young over Lance Moore, and Kyle Rudolph over Dustin Keller.

6. Don't pay for last year's stats
One of the most common mistakes that fantasy owners make is overpaying for players that are coming off career years. "I had Victor Cruz (other insert any other breakout player last year) in my fantasy league last year and he won me the league! How can you have him as your 15th ranked WR?"
Well, if you draft a player that over-performed last year, there is a good chance they will regress some this year. Some other players that will regress from last years stats (which doesn't by any means suggest they will be bad this year) are Marshawn Lynch, Reggie Bush, Jordy Nelson, Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez and Cam Newton.

7. Don't handcuff just for the sake of handcuffing
Handcuffs can be extremely valuable in fantasy leagues. Let's say your RB gets injured and you have already handcuffed him by owning his backup as well, you're in good shape. However, a lot of fantasy owners take it too far. When owning a handcuff, you need to ask yourself, if your RB gets injured and your handcuff becomes the starter, is he valuable enough to start in your league? If the answer is no, you shouldn't be owning that player. Guys like Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs, Tim Hightower: let them rot on someone else's bench.

8. Opportunity over potential
Potential is tantalizing, but what good does it do if the guy can't get on the field. When I'm faced with the decision between opportunity and potential, I take opportunity every time. Ben Tate is a more talented player than Donald Brown. But we know that Tate will be stuck behind Foster, while Brown has the job to himself.

9. Don't be afraid to draft players from the same team
If you draft a QB, you shouldn't draft his RB, WR or TE. That's putting too many eggs in one basket, right?


If you owned Brady/Welker/Gronk last year you were pretty happy. What about Stafford/Johnson or Brees/Sproles/Graham? Draft the players you think will provide the best fantasy value for the season. If they happen to be on the same team as someone you already drafted, so be it! There is a chance that the team could have a bad week and having two players on the same team could lose you the week, but at the same time if an offense explodes one week, it could win you that week. Draft the best players.

10. Don't draft a defense/kicker until the last two rounds
Kickers and defenses are a crapshoot. One of the hardest thing to predict is the fantasy points of a kicker. This is why I didn't even bother ranking them. Similarly, for defenses, there are more than enough to go around in a 10 team league. I will switch my defenses based on match-ups or if a defense has been hot. Even within the top 10 defenses last year, every team produce negative fantasy points in a week at least once per season except for the 49ers and the Bengals. Play the matchups!
Additionally, unless it's a bye-week (and even then I would likely just drop them anyways), there is no benefit having more than one defense/kicker on your roster. Keep that roster spot for a sleeper/handcuff.

Thank you everyone for the more than 50 fantasy football team name tweets! I had to make a lot of tough decisions as there were lots of good team names.

And now....the top 10 fantasy football team names:

10. @TamaraWElliott I'm the Fairy Princesses (simply to watch all of the macho/dirty team names get their a$$es kicked by the Fairy Princesses)
9. @demyan_13 Favre $ Footlongs!
8. @Brian_L_Moore Suh girls one cup
7. @CP3_tha_G Dez Dispenser
6. @RiggsSkins Show me your TDs
5. @jutt_rosile Cam too Early
4. @RealKOB I. Pead the Bed & Jacquizzed in My Pants
3. @G_Mazoros TakinGrenadesInDaTRENTches
2. @Hoosier_Daddy11 Luck Makes It Wayne
1. ‏@K_Jelly_Funk Spankin Dat Asomugha

Congrats to the winners! Follow them on twitter!

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