Your 2013 fantasy football draft is here, you've studied and understand your league rules, have a decent grip on ADP and know your basic strategy going into the draft.
If that's not the case, you have come to the right place. That is, unless you truly don't understand your league's scoring and lineup rules. Get on that. Now.
Once you have done that, there are a variety of useful tips and hints that can help you dominate your league. In fantasy football every point is critical to win. Understanding the difference between the value of quarterbacks and running backs is essential to success.
Below you'll find essential tips and advice for the 2013 season. Use it frequently while you draft this year.
Note: All ADP rankings courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.
Wait on a QB
It sounds so simple, yet fantasy players everywhere make the same mistake and take a quarterback in the first round. Unless your league gives six points per passing touchdown, this is a huge mistake.
As far as ADP goes, Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay is the only quarterback worth a first-round selection. Even then, the value you gain by waiting is simple to see.
For example, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has an ADP in the sixth round. He threw for almost 5,000 yards and 20 scores last year. Rodgers threw for almost 4,300 and 39.
You get almost the same production four or five rounds later while adding other skill players as you wait. The guy who took a quarterback in the first? He's missing out on most of the top running backs and settling for a question mark like a Chris Johnson in Round 2.
Don't be that person.
This is the most basic law of fake football—take a running back in the first round. Take one in the second round unless a guy named Calvin Johnson is available. Even that's an iffy decision.
You're not only getting insane production from an Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles (hello PPR stud with head coach Andy Reid in town!), but you're also ensuring you don't have to take risks on running backs later.
Matthew Berry of ESPN puts it best in his research—last year there were only 16 running backs worthy of consistently being a No. 1 or No. 2 back. That doesn't even get you out of Round 2 depending on how many players inhabit your league.
Not only that, but folks are beginning to understand you can wait on quarterbacks and tight ends, meaning the best running backs are more frequently coming off the board first.
It's now common knowledge the 4,000-yard club is a fairly simple task (ahem—Carson Palmer) and tight ends are not worth the risk thanks to down years or injuries from Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham (more on that later).
In fact, the first eight picks based on ADP are running backs. Don't make the mistake of breaking the mold because you're behind the curve. It'll cost you all year long.
Don't Take a TE Early
We hinted at it above, but now it's time to flesh it out a bit.
Tight ends are not worth it an early draft pick. You're required to start one, but even the top-heavy producers are lucky to score more points than a top-10 receiver and a borderline top-20 running back (which you can start multiple of—and have a flex in standard leagues).
Why take either of these guys when you could be getting a top-flight receiver or strong back? Especially when you can wait until the eighth round and grab a Kyle Rudolph or the 11th and get a Martellus Bennett?
Tight ends may be the hot craze in the NFL right now, but the grueling nature of the position was going to catch up sooner or later.
That time is now. Avoid them and find similar, perhaps more consistent production in later rounds.
Upside, Upside, Upside!
If there is one piece of advice you take to heart from all of this, please remember to draft based on upside—especially in the mid rounds.
Look at it this way. Would you rather draft Vikings rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson or Rams rookie running back Zac Stacy?
If you answered Patterson you're in big trouble.
Upside is the name of the game. Stacy has an upside of acting as the Rams starting running back. Patterson has a limited upside of acting as the No. 2 receiver behind Greg Jennings on a run-first offense that fed the ball to Adrian Peterson 348 times last year.
Even selecting committee backs is a smart move in the mid rounds. Sure, Saints running back Darren Sproles could leave the board early for PPR purposes, but grabbing Mark Ingram, who tallied over 600 yards and five touchdowns last year, is a heck of a good option on your bench—especially considering he did that on just over 150 carries.
Don't fool around with handicaps unless the backup is guaranteed to see all the playing time in replacement duty.
Always understand the upside of each situation. A receiver may look nice at face value, but if the team takes a run-first approach there is no valuable upside. The same goes for tight ends and receivers stuck with a bad quarterback—but that's great for the backs.
Fantasy football comes down to first and foremost understanding your league. After that, it's all about strategy, schemes and trends. Now go out there and win your league.
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