Monday, 27 August 2007

Fantasy Football Draft Tips

I've covered all of my rankings for fantasy football, so I suppose that I should complete my fantasy football talk with some tips that I try to follow during the draft. So here they are, arbitrarily numbered.

1. Know your league's rules - Yahoo had an article about this last week, and I agree (obviously). This is the most important thing to do before the draft. Every league is a little different, so know how many starters you have, know the scoring rules, etc. This is huge in determining how you should value players heading into the draft.

2. Prepare ahead of time - Even if this just involves picking up a fantasy football magazine, don't go into the draft cold. You should at least have a general idea (and hopefully you have a lot more) about where players are ranked, etc. Otherwise you'll wind up like someone in my league a few years ago... taking Shannon Sharpe the year after he retired.

3. Know depth charts - This ties in with #2, but you need to have an idea of who is playing, who's in a competition for the starting spot, etc. This is especially important for running backs, where so many guys are in a close competition for the starting spot.

4. Don't take a kicker until the last round - This is actually a rule I violated in one of my leagues this year, but there is really no reason to take a kicker in round 1. Even if you do get lucky and pick the highest-scoring kicker, the difference between him and a waiver wire kicker on a week-to-week basis is minimal. Grab some extra RB or WR depth in the middle rounds rather than taking a kicker. Is the difference between Robbie Gould and someone like Josh Brown really that significant?

5. Don't draft a backup kicker or backup defense - Again, this kind of ties in with #2, but there really is not a good reason to draft a kicker or defense, especially if you have an elite defense. You may as well hang on to some other guys, and then add a kicker or defense when your starter has their bye week. Otherwise it's just basically a waste of a roster spot.

6. Don't be a homer - Before the 2005 season I drafted Daunte Culpepper very early in one of my drafts. I figured he was going to have another big year, and I would get the added bonus of cheering for him in real life. As it turned out, he sucked a lot, got injured, and both my real favorite team and my fantasy team suffered greatly. It's fine to take a player or two from your favorite team, but don't reach for it and be a homer, or you'll probably regret it.

7. Don't invest too heavily in rookies - I know guys that just love to draft a lot of rookies in fantasy football. I tend to love playing against these guys. Yes, there is the occasional Anquan Boldin or Michael Clayton, but most rookies simply aren't that productive. The one exception seems to be rookies, but I'd still rather have an established guy there than a rookie. This is more risky than online gambling.

8. Pull the trigger on a late-round sleeper - If it's later in the draft, and there's a sleeper you really like, don't be afraid to pull the trigger on him even if it might be a little early. One, if it's late in the draft it won't hurt you too badly if it doesn't pan out. Two, there's nothing worse than someone taking your sleeper right before you and then seeing them have a big year. Don't get too out of hand, but if there's a guy you really like and you think there's a chance he might not be there at your next pick, don't be afraid to pull the trigger.

9. Don't pay too much attention to bye weeks - Certainly looking at bye weeks has its place in fantasy football... for example, you don't want your backup QB to have the same bye week as your starter, but beyond situations like that you shouldn't worry too much. Don't choose someone early that you don't like as much just because of bye weeks. The goal is to have the best team come playoff time... if your top 2 RBs both have byes in week 5, that sucks, but it shouldn't prevent you from taking them both.

10. Have fun and use the league message board - Maybe my favorite thing about fantasy football is that not only is it OK to be blindly insulting on the league message baord, it's ENCOURAGED. So use it early and often... bash others teams, trash talk, etc. And if someone is doing the same to you, pay no attention to it... that's part of the fun of fantasy football.

Any other tips?