Fantasy Football 2012: 5 Last-Minute Tips to Help You Dominate Your Draft
The 2012 NFL season is almost underway, and only the barbecues, cold brews and late-draft blues of Labor Day weekend stand between us and Wednesday's opening night tilt between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
To make sure that you can enjoy the former without having to endure the latter, here's a look at a handful of last-minute tips that can help you dominate your fantasy draft.
DO Make Sure You're Deep at Running Back
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The NFL has become more pass-happy than ever before, and it has affected fantasy football as well.
Fantasy experts advocating selecting a quarterback early in the first round, tight ends being taken in the first, fantasy leagues that start at least three wide receivers: All have become commonplace.
However, there's one position where lack of depth will sink you faster than any other, and that's running back.
Make sure you have the depth to weather an injury or two, and if you draft a back with an obvious "handcuff" such as the Houston Texans duo of Arian Foster/Ben Tate, double-dip and get them both.
DON'T Look for That Depth in the Nation's Capital
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Among the many jobs of Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is apparently driving fantasy football enthusiasts insane.
Shanahan has developed a reputation in D.C. for changing running backs on a whim, sometimes moments before a game starts, torpedoing many a week for fantasy teams.
Who will it be this year ...?
Roy Helu? Maybe.
Evan Royster? Right up until it's not.
Alfred Morris? Could be.
Tim Hightower? Cut.
Let some other sucker play darts with the backs in Washington.
DO Wait Until the End of Your Fantasy Draft to Take a Defense and Kicker
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The two most unpredictable positions in fantasy football from season to season are easily team defense and kicker.
In the last five seasons, the number of fantasy defenses that have finished number one? Five.
Trying to pick which one it will be in 2012 is folly, and that pick is better spent on depth at running back.
Besides, you can play matchups with fantasy defenses off your league's waiver wire and finish the year with as many points from the position as an "elite" defense would get you.
The average difference between a top-ranked fantasy kicker and 12th-ranked kicker over that stretch?
Just over two fantasy points per game.
That pick's better spent on a sleeper wide receiver.
There's only so many bullets in your draft gun. Don't waste them shooting yourself in the foot.
DON'T Worry About Bye Weeks
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Other than perhaps the Thursday night games that are going to be a royal pain in the you-know-what for fantasy owners, nothing curls those same owners' toes more than the dreaded bye weeks, where valuable cogs in the fantasy machine sit idly on the bench.
In fact, many fantasy owners avoid having too many players with the same bye on their teams at all costs, even if that means they draft a player that's ranked lower on their draft boards.
That's just crazy talk.
Sure, Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens and Arian Foster of the Houston Texans both have a Week 8 bye, but would you really pass on one of them to avoid the conflict?
Of course not, and the same applies when drafting other players at other positions.
Worry about the bye weeks when they get here. That's what the waiver wire's for.
DO Follow the Golden Rules of Drafting
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Finally, as you sit down at your local watering hole, in front of your computer, or in your buddy's man cave to conduct your fantasy draft, be sure to remember these three simple rules.
1. Be Prepared: Know your fantasy football league's scoring system, roster size and starting lineup requirements and have an updated cheat sheet handy that you can use to track players as they are drafted.
2. Be Flexible: Yes, you may have spent hours carefully crafting a can't-miss draft strategy, but odds are it's going out the window before the first round's over. Be ready to switch things up on the fly if need be, because square pegs in round holes lead to 5-8 fantasy teams.
3. Be Content: Odds are also very good that the team you end up with will look very little like you expected it to. That's fine. So long as you followed these tips, knew your scoring and drafted for value, you have the foundation for a championship squad.
Besides, the draft is only half the work. There's lineups to be set, waiver wires to be scoured, trades to be negotiated, and if all else fails, commissioners to be bribed.