Fantasy Football: The Calm Before The Storm

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Fantasy Football: The Calm Before The Storm
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

While we are still two months away from the first preseason game of 2009 and three months away from the regular season kick-off, it's never too early to prepare for the fantasy football season.

Some game providers have already launched their leagues (yes, I'm itching as we speak), and publications are coming out with their annual rankings.

While you don't need to have your draft sheet filled out just yet, if you wait until the last moment you will be so affixed on the prize that you may oversee the intricacies that determine fantasy champions.


I Didn't Know He Was...

Storylines never die in the NFL, they just get buried, uncovered, dragged-out, and beat up.

Rookies have been drafted. Free-agents have been signed. Injuries have been diagnosed, repaired, and re-evaluated. Criminals have also been punished.

The last thing you want to say after picking a guy is, "I didn't know he was hurt/unsigned/on that team/suspended/in jail."

Keep up on the storylines. 

Tom Brady's knee looks good while Brian Westbrook needs some help. As for Matt Forte's left-leg (hamstring), the doctors are still deliberating.

Torry Holt is on the Jaguars, Terrell Owens is on the Bills, and Laveranues Coles is on the Bengals. Gun toting receivers Plaxico Burress and Marvin Harrison are still looking for new homes.

When Plaxico "Punchline" Burress does find a team, he will have to pass a physical, serve a suspension, and possibly face jail time.

Marshawn Lynch was given a three-game suspension for riding around strapped but he is appealing the suspension in hopes that it will be reduced to one game, which is similar to Brandon Marshall's incident in 2008.

Speaking of Marshall, he hasn’t exactly kept his nose clean, but he won't miss any time for his March 1 arrest. His hip is recovering nicely from offseason surgery as well.

Yes, all of these stories play into the ESPN Sports-Opera that I loathe, but they will impact the fantasy season and they are worth following.

Let's not forget Mike Vick either.


Who Do You Play This Week?

If you've ever played football, you've fielded this question many times.

If you're asking your fantasy roster that each week, it means you didn't do your homework during the summer.

It's not easy to predict who the worst defenses in the NFL will be each year, but it's not hard to point to the better ones.

The teams a player faces will play a huge role in how well players perform, especially running backs. 

Every NFL team plays six games in their division, eight games against two other divisions, and two games against teams who finished similarly last year to ensure parody (and marquee television matchups).

The AFC North plays the AFC West and NFC North.

The NFC East plays the NFC South and AFC West.

The AFC East plays the AFC South and NFC South.

The NFC West plays the AFC South and NFC North.


In case you're still connecting the dots, this means the NFC South plays the AFC and NFC East (eight of the top 16 defenses last year) when in 2008 they played the AFC West and NFC North (seven of the worst 13 defenses last year).


Do Some Investigating

Pretty soon, all of the stats will be clouded by little numbers alongside the players’ names that displays their perceived value.

For quarterbacks, pay attention to the numbers their offense has produced over the past years. Does the QB have a better or worse defense behind him? Did he lose or gain any key players?

For receivers, pay attention to the depth chart and the coaches feelings regarding the player. Does the player have a new QB? Did he work with his QB this summer?  Does it look like the team will be in more or less passing situations?

For running backs, crunch some numbers. Don't be overly concerned with total touchdowns. Instead, focus on the way the back gets the ball, how many times he touches the ball, and how efficient he is with his touches. Also, instead of looking for a guy who will score touchdowns, ask yourself if there is anyone on the team who will take touchdowns away from the player.


Hopefully these tips will keep you busy through the dead period... I think I'm going to register for a way-too-early draft.

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