Fantasy Football 2012: 10 Things You Need to Know About Your Draft

John DegrooteCorrespondent IIAugust 20, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: 10 Things You Need to Know About Your Draft

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    The NFL's regular season is right around the corner, and the buzz around fantasy football is building.

    Whether you are in a league with your coworkers, family members or fraternity bros, you know that the season is won and lost on draft day.

    Do you take LeSean McCoy or Arian Foster with your first pick? Who is set up for success, and who will be a bust? What player can you pick up in the later rounds who will lead you to fantasy football glory?

    Here are 10 things you should know before your draft.

Don't Put Too Much Value in Preseason

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    The preseason is holding NFL fans over until the real games begin September 5. While some players might be impressing, and eventually landing a roster spot, fans should not put too much value in preseason performances.

    Stars do occasionally emerge (see: Victor Cruz), but it's rare.

    If Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck throws two interceptions, it's not the end of the world.

    If a no-name wide receiver puts up big numbers in a fourth quarter, don't put him atop your draft board.

    Take some stock in preseason performance, but don't base your draft on it.

Get Some Handcuffs

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    Drafting a handcuff in later rounds could save your season.

    Injury and ineffectiveness are issues almost every fantasy owner encounters, but by drafting a handcuff, you have some protection against these things.

    You can get great value for a lot of No. 2 guys around the league.

    Some handcuffs you should target include: Peyton Hillis (Kansas City), Ben Tate (Houston) and Rashad Jennings (Jacksonville).

Have a Backup Plan

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    There's no worse feeling than planning to draft a player with your next pick, only to have him swiped up by the pick before yours.

    Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Plan ahead in case the player you want gets drafted.

    By not knowing the draft board, you put yourself at risk to make rash decisions that will lead to ineffective picks.

Schedules Matter

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    Eli Manning and Andy Dalton were impressive last year, but you may want to think twice before drafting either as your staring quarterback.

    According to FFToolbox.com, Dalton has the hardest schedule among quarterbacks, while Manning has the 26th-hardest route.

    This could lead to bad stats and mad fantasy owners.

    Matt Ryan and Drew Brees have the easiest routes, and both should be big fantasy performers this season.

Sleeping Beauties

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    Victor Cruz was the biggest sleeper of last year.

    Every time Cruz did his patented salsa dance. it meant big points for fantasy owners. Cruz put up 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns, making the people who picked him up very grateful.

    Who could be the sleeper of this year's draft?

    Kyle Rudolph (TE, Minnesota), Rod Streater (WR, Oakland) and Kevin Smith (RB, Detroit) are all guys to keep an eye on.

More Mobile, More Points

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    Drafting a mobile quarterback can lead to more points.

    Elite dual-threat QBs like Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton have the potential to not only earn you points with their arms, but also their legs.

    Even drafting a guy like Andrew Luck, who has limited but more than capable mobility, has the potential to get in the end zone on the ground.

    That could put you over the top in a closely contested matchup.

Keep Track of Inuries

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    Thinking about drafting Jason Witten or Vincent Brown? I would think twice about that.

    It is essential to keep track of injuries not only during the season, but before the draft.

    ESPN has a great injury report that should be an essential reference for fantasy players. Staying up to date on injuries will keep you at the top of the standings.

PPR Means Point Per Reception

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    So, you just joined a buddy's league, and he told you it uses PPR scoring.

    No, that doesn't stand for Punter Point Recording or Putrid Patriot Rules—it means Point Per Reception.

    This changes the scoring system a ton, and the value of players changes.

    Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker and Calvin Johnson should all be very early wide receiver picks in PPR leagues, while Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles are elite pass-catchers out of the backfield.

Big Names Don't Translate to Big Points

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    There has been a lot of buzz around guys like Tim Tebow, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss, but don't let that fool you.

    They will not be big-time scoring threats during the 2012-13 season.

    Owens and Moss are aging and with new teams. T.O. might not even land a roster spot.

    Tebow has proven to be a great guy who can win games, but you would have to be insane to think about him being your No. 1 quarterback. He is not even the No. 1 quarterback on the Jets depth chart.

    More than likely, he ends up getting a shot, but he still will not be a big producer.

    Go with players who may not be the most mentioned on ESPN but keep their mouths shut and head down while doing their jobs.

    Doug Martin (RB, Tampa Bay), Andre Johnson (WR, Houston), Matt Ryan (QB, Atlanta) and Jacob Tamme (TE, Denver) are all solid options to pick up.

Late in the Draft, Go with Your Gut

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    When it's getting late in the draft, and you have a good feeling about a guy, go for it.

    While stats, rankings and professional fantasy advice can help you make a choice, nothing is more gratifying than picking up a guy that all your friends laughed at you for and then seeing him put up big numbers on Sundays.

    A late-round pick is not going to make or break your draft, and cashing in on the Victor Cruz of 2013 could win you a fantasy championship.

    If you have to decide between Taiwan Jones and LaMichael James as the draft is winding down, just go with your gut.