As you prepare for your fantasy draft for the 2013 season, there are a few things you need to know to build a winning squad and take home all the bragging rights as champion.
To be more informed than the guy sitting next to you is a huge advantage right from the jump. You may also be able to sit back and enjoy as your fellow fantasy owners make horrible picks that you knew to stay away from.
One or two bad picks could make or break your season, so don't think for a second that any pick—whether it's your starting quarterback or your last bench player—is a throw away.
Let's take a look at some solid strategies you should take into draft day.
Research, Research, Research
It's simply not enough to have a fantasy power rankings sheet in front of you during a draft because they aren't always completely up to date. Almost always, those rankings lists will contain injured players who may have a semi-high ranking based on the fact that they are expected return at some point.
Unless you have an injured reserve spot to stash a solid player who is injured like Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers, it's best to lay off guys like that. Several injuries will happen during the year and you'll need all the spots you can get on your roster for other players who come up with week-to-week injuries.
More importantly, owners must be aware of which players are on tab to start, and which aren't. This is normally a pitfall for owners who go after younger players or any player later on in the draft.
You may have drafted one of the hottest young players entering the NFL or one in his second year, but what good will they be if they take a backseat or share the workload with a veteran, as appears to be the case with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Other things to take note of are suspensions, any off-field trouble players might have and relative unknowns with some hype getting a chance for an increased role in 2013. Avoiding or adding guys like this may or may not be the right move for you, but these are also the players who will be hot picks off the waiver wire later in the season.
Bottom line: Go digital.
You may not have the time or be willing to put in the effort to do some major research on the majority of possible picks you'd like to make beforehand, but take a phone or computer with you if allowed during the draft and use the power of Google to get updates on potential picks on the fly.
Don't Talk Strategy During Draft
There is always one guy at a draft who has next to no clue what he's doing while the drafting process is taking place. Don't help this guy.
He may ask you for advice on who to pick next out of the bunch of guys left on the board, but make like the opposite of Nike and just don't do it. If he's ready to pick someone who is hurt or suspended, just let him do it because it's his fault for not knowing beforehand who is dangerous to pick and who isn't.
Giving this guy help could be hurting you because a player you suggest and had your eye on could be snatched off the board thanks to your kindness. Trust me: If that player you gave away to Mr. I Don't Know What I'm Doing goes on to have a huge season, you won't be in the mood to be so nice then.
It's perfectly OK to be nice in everyday life, but being nice in a fantasy draft will get you nowhere. If someone asks for help, politely decline and explain that you helping them will only hurt yourself and potentially the other informed owners around you.
He or she may not like it, but such is the life and way of fantasy football owners. Don't ever forget the saying: Nice guys finish last. This certainly holds true in fantasy football.
Don't Be Afraid to Draft Best Available
So you've made your first two picks, one at the quarterback position and one at the wide receiver position. You're thinking to yourself that you need a running back right now, but so many have been taken off the board that you aren't happy with the ones left.
Don't rush into drafting these players. Just because you need a running back doesn't mean you should take a lesser player earlier on in the draft when most likely he'll be there anyway in the later rounds.
Instead, you have the option of taking the best player on the board and if that happens to be a wide receiver or a high-scoring tight end, go for it. You don't want to go out of your way just to fill a position and leave a potentially elite receiver or other position to another owner.
Besides, whether it's a big league or small, you will have a chance to draft two starting running backs or whatever position you have vacant on your roster at some point in the draft. That's where the research comes in to know which players that are left late in drafts will start or get significant playing time.
While quarterback and running back are of vital importance to every fantasy team, it's the wide receiver position that can be hard to get points out of on a weekly basis because of the limited things this position can do.
With that being said, get yourself an elite receiver if possible or at least a player who takes on multiple roles like kick and/or punt returning. There will be a lot more receivers to pick from on the board than any other position, but only a select few of those players will give you consistent points week in and week out.
First Pick Advice
Just like in the NFL, quarterbacks are a very important part of what your fantasy team will do this season. That's why it's always wise to look for a quarterback early on as opposed to later because elite quarterbacks don't stick around for long.
If you need a reason why to go for a quarterback with your first or second pick, look no further than logic.
It's simply easier to move the ball through the air for quarterbacks, as opposed to running backs and receivers who have to put a bit more physicality to move down the field. On top of that, getting into the end zone through the air is far easier than having to run through 11 huge men at the goal line.
There are exceptions to the rule like Adrian Peterson who had a monster season last year and is certainly a viable first-round or No. 1 pick in any draft. But there aren't many APs out there, so draft accordingly.
Elite quarterbacks will almost always give you consistent production throughout the season and their points are far easier to come by in most leagues. A great quarterback pick will give you solid point output and that kind of production will go a long way in taking you to fantasy glory.