Many fantasy football owners utilize incredibly detailed strategies when planning for the draft, but there are a few tips even the greenest participants can implement on their way to a league title.
It's impossible to predict what will happen in any NFL season.
Injuries have already begun to take their toll heading into Week 2 of the preseason schedule, and chances are, more are due to follow.
There are some players who have struggled thus far in camp who are bound to break out and become fantasy stars. Oftentimes they can be found well after the draft on the waiver wire.
However, by holding true to some basic tenets, any fantasy football owner can ensure a playoff berth and a chance to compete for a league championship.
Step 1: Load Up Running Backs and Wide Receivers Early
Drafting a quarterback early was a trendy strategy last season, and there were certainly a few signal-callers who rewarded those who employed it. That said, you can never go wrong stocking up on a few of the most reliable running backs and receivers in the first four rounds.
Even if you don't land one of the aforementioned superstars, there is a wealth of talent at the running back and wide receiver positions, but the top players won't last long.
Consistent production is the biggest key to fielding a competitive team every week, and loading up on the top playmakers on offense in the first four or five rounds will ensure your success.
Step 2: Draft a Bargain-Bin Quarterback in Round 5 or Later
Some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL will still be on the board in Round 5 or later.
Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Michael Vick and Tony Romo are just a few players who are likely to still be available after the first four rounds. Guys like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck should also be available, perhaps even later than that.
Needless to say, you aren't going to find yourself frantically searching for a quarterback who can produce on a weekly basis if you choose to wait and draft one in the middle rounds.
At the end of the season, you might not have the best quarterback on your roster, but you'll certainly feature a strong team.
Step 3: Don't Draft a Kicker or Defense Until the Last Few Rounds
Even the best kickers and defenses are unpredictable from week to week.
As a result, a common strategy utilized by many championship fantasy owners is to simply pick a defense via the waiver wire every week, based on favorable matchups.
However, there are always one or two owners who feel the need to land a top defense in the middle of the draft. Following such a strategy isn't usually beneficial, however, as there are some excellent values to be found at the skill positions during those rounds.
Top tight ends like Vernon Davis, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez will likely be available after Round 6, as will wide receivers and running backs like Shane Vereen, Daryl Richardson, Hakeem Nicks and DeSean Jackson.
These are all players who will inevitably put up monster totals at some point during the season, and they'll be much more valuable to you in the long run than the Seattle Seahawks defense.
Bonus Tip: Take a Gamble (or Two) on a Rookie Late
The learning curve for most NFL rookies can be daunting at first, which is why so few first-year players break out every season. That said, there are certainly a few rookies you should stash on your bench in case of injury and/or a sudden breakout.
Giovani Bernard, Joseph Randle and Christine Michael are running backs to consider. All three of them are playing behind veterans who are expected to thrive, but they could end up becoming fantasy studs by the end of the season.
Receivers Aaron Dobson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Terrance Williams are also worth considering, along with tight ends Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert—if they're not gone already.
The main point here is to take a gamble on players who may not be instant starters, but who have a good shot at becoming impact players for their respective teams this season.
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