The 2013 fantasy football season is approaching fast and drafts all over the world are starting to be planned. The last thing a fan wants to do on draft day is show up without a strategy.
That’s where we come in.
Instead of worrying about who is bringing the beer and how much money they have to throw in for food, it’s time for fantasy owners to get serious and bring home the football title that each has worked all year to win.
This is not a cheat sheet or a top-250 list. This is a strategy about how to handle the actual draft process and maximize your team’s potential.
There is always one person in every league that takes a defense far too high.
While the rest of the league is sifting through second-tier running backs and wide receivers looking for 2013’s hidden gems, these geniuses select the Seattle Seahawks’ defense and special teams.
Fantasy football owners should be ecstatic about the blown pick in front of them, but there is an innate sense of fury toward the person. Instead of being the fool that drafts a defense in the seventh round, wait until the last three rounds and take a risk.
The Houston Texans weren’t selected as a top-15 defense last season and ended up helping many fantasy teams find success. Look for the defensive units of the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings or Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be available late and give you solid points consistently.
If you miss out on one of the top three tight ends in the fantasy draft—New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, New England's Rob Gronkowski and Dallas' Jason Witten—finding consistency from the position throughout the year will be a struggle.
The safest bet is to wait until the middle rounds and take a risk on a player that will be a red-zone target for pass-happy teams.
Look for sleepers like St. Louis' Jared Cook, Chicago's Martellus Bennett, New York's Brandon Myers and Detroit's Brandon Pettigrew to give fantasy owners solid production from a reasonable position (eighth- to 12th-round area).
With each player likely to receive a share of the red-zone pass targets, their touchdown production will make up for the lack of consistency in catches and yards.
While the success of Cleveland's Trent Richardson and Tampa Bay's Doug Martin last season proves that certain rookies are worth an investment, the selection of a running back like Washington's Alfred Morris in the waning rounds of the draft proves rookie hype is unpredictable.
If a fantasy owner doesn’t have complete confidence in a rookie, they must stay clear in the early rounds.
That doesn’t mean avoid rookies altogether, though. Stockpiling a risky rookie with high upside in a favorable offense like Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard, Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson or San Diego's Keenan Allen in the late stages of the draft could payoff midseason and lead you to a championship.
It’s all about taking educated risks.
The importance of quarterbacks in fantasy football has been questioned over the years with the introduction of four-point touchdowns, but there should be no mistaking in your strategy that selecting a top-tier QB early is an absolute must.
Within the first three rounds of the draft, fantasy players should have one of the top-seven fantasy quarterbacks—Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans' Drew Brees, Denver's Peyton Manning, Carolina's Cam Newton, Atlanta's Matt Ryan, New England's Tom Brady and Detroit's Matthew Stafford—on their roster with the intent of only sitting them for one bye week.
Not only does taking a QB early give people consistent points from a key position, but it also affords fantasy owners the chance to wait to draft a backup until the end of the draft and take a skill player in the middle rounds.
DO NOT WAIT! Draft a quarterback early.
While all of the previous points put fantasy owners in a position to succeed, the biggest key on draft day is listening to your gut and taking educated risks that could yield a high return during the season.
Instead of playing it safe by selecting veterans that have been showing steady signs of decline in their statistics, take a gamble on a player on a new team or a star looking to bounce back from a bad season.
Most lists will tell you to take players like Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson or Falcons running back Steven Jackson early in the draft, but don’t fall into the trap.
Smart fantasy football players should be looking to select players like Saints WR Marques Colston and Redskins RB Alfred Morris with far more upside in the same area.
Waiting to draft the right player at the right value will be the difference between a championship team and completely missing the playoffs.