Fantasy Football 2013: Last-Minute Drafting Advice to Save Your Fantasy Season

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst ISeptember 3, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots crosses the goal line for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 30, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York.New England won 52-28.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The majority of fantasy football drafts have been completed by now, but there are still plenty of leagues scrambling to get in theirs before the NFL season opener on Thursday night. 

The biggest difference between drafts happening now and those which occurred weeks ago is the element of projection.

In some ways, people drafting now have an advantage because there is a lot more information available to them, and they are past the injury possibilities which are rampant in the preseason.

The biggest piece of advice is to be prepared, just at a whole different level now that it is late in the drafting season.

There have been a ton of happenings around the league over the past couple weeks, and the key is to not just be aware of the news, but of how the news indirectly affects other players.

For instance, make sure you are aware that Le'Veon Bell is out for at least the first game of the season. But also take into account the fact that Isaac Redman has been named the starter. 

Injuries are a very obvious source of news for fantasy owners, and there is no shortage of important events occurring this time of year.

Make sure you stay literally up-to-the minute on Rob Gronkowski's status. And sticking with the theme of impact on others, also keep tabs on who will likely surface as the Patriots' top tight end if Gronk is out for awhile.

Keep an eye on recovering receivers like Jordy Nelson and Victor Cruz. See how much they are participating in practice and what their coaches are saying.

Then take into account how their presence (or absence) would impact their quarterbacks, fellow wide receivers and even running backs.

And make sure you don't forget that other guys have been recently lost for a significant time (Andre Brown, for example). The loss of Brown significantly increases David Wilson's status. 

Also stay on top of position battles, some of which continue raging on until the final week.

What is going on in Miami's backfield with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas? How about in Denver, with Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball?

Is Terrelle Pryor a viable option now that he is the starting quarterback in Oakland? (Answer: No). Is it worth taking a late-round flier on E.J. Manuel, who is now saying he will start in Week 1? (Yes).

Even though it is difficult, try to keep track of teams' second, third and fourth receiver options and see how things shook out for them in the final preseaon game and during this last week of practice.

There could be some diamonds in the rough just waiting to take over that slot position or jump into a starting spot and if you can spot them this late in the game, it could make your entire fantasy season.

Wideouts like Ryan Broyles, Reuben Randle and Brandon Gibson have all been looking good and all can be had late in drafts. 

Ultimately, the best piece of advice I can give is to just do your research. Look around the league, search the injury wire, scour news pieces and then take in all that information and figure out how it can be useful.

There is actually a distinct advantage in drafting this late and avoiding the preseason entirely. Lots of unfortunate injuries happen in August (Dennis Pitta and Jeremy Maclin know about that), and drafting now avoids that risk.

So use your delayed draft to ensure that you are making the most accurate predictions for the fantasy season as possible. 

There is a little more homework involved, but the extra effort could be worth a championship in the end.