Fantasy Football: Good Advice You Should Ignore

Jim CantrellSenior Analyst IMarch 29, 2017

In every field, in every walk of life, there will always be someone who claims to know more about a subject than you do.

We call these people "butt-holes."

But sometimes, when these snooty busy-bodies repeat themselves and each other long enough, the opinions they espouse become part of the mainstream, which explains how we got the WNBA and fat-free mayonnaise, two things that no one really likes.

It also explains why so much bad advice about fantasy football is taken as fact by so many owners, and why unconventional wisdom is the secret path to a championship.

Here are some basic principles that are continually written about as facts that you should either tweak or ignore. (Sort of like the flashing "Check Engine Soon" light on the dashboard of your Mother's Saturn.)


Always be sure to "handcuff" your stud RB1

This chestnut gets rolled out every year before draft day, and to be fair, in many cases it's sound advice.

If you've drafted Marshawn Lynch, a player who is looking at a three game suspension to begin the season and is not guaranteed a starting job following his return, then it would be wise to use a mid- to late-round pick on his (above average) back-up Fred Jackson.

The same goes for tandems like LaDainian Tomlinson/Darren Sproles, Clinton Portis/Ladell Betts, and maybe even Brian Westbrook/LeSean McCoy. These pairings include older, banged-up feature backs who are backed up by a clear-cut and capable replacement.

But how many owners last year used a pick on a so-so player such as Kevin Jones (Bears) or a situational back such as Ahmad Bradshaw (Giants), when in the same round they could've taken a player with more upside, like Steve Slaton (2008 ADP of 142), Chris Johnson (2008 ADP of 101) or even surprise stud DeAngelo Williams (2008 ADP of 91)?

The point is, even a good running back handcuff is a lot like Preparation H. It's something you keep around with the hope that you never actually have to use it.


Never reach for a player

Why the hell not?

Of course, I'm not talking about drafting Dallas Clark in the first round. But what if you really want Brandon Jacobs on your team and you're drafting third in the first round? Most articles I've read don't have Jacobs listed as a top-tier back this year, and many don't consider him a first rounder.

But let's face it, if you're in a serpentine draft (as you should be if your commissioner knows what he's doing), chances are good that Jacobs won't be there when your turn comes back around.

Should you really feel obligated to take whoever remains from the Adrian Peterson/Michael Turner/Maurice Jones-Drew consensus-topside-trio?

I say no!

It's your team, take the guy you want!

There are no sure things in the NFL, or in fantasy football. Last year's MVP could be this years scrap heap fodder. ("Paging Mr. Alexander. Mr. Shaun Alexander.") If you're going to live and die with this pretend team of yours for the next four months, shouldn't it be full of guys you like?

And isn't it sweeter beating the naysayers with the same players you got razzed for picking?


Never draft players that are the sole focus of their team's offense, but always draft players that are the sole focus of their team's offense


I'm sure you've read different variations of this contradiction yourself.

As an object lesson, let's examine the situation of Buffalo Bills' wideout Lee Evans.

In many respected publications this summer, you will undoubtedly read that Evans' stock is set to rise this year because of the Bills' free agency signing of T.O. This school of thought says that most of the defense's double-teams and game-planning will be focused on Owens, finally giving Evans room to breathe and improve his numbers.

In just as many respected publications (sometimes the very same ones!), you will read that Evans' value will be taking a plunge once he is no longer Trent Edwards' go-to guy, and that T.O. will eat into the receiver's stats.

What's a fantasy owner to do?

How about this: use your own judgement!

Evans plays on a mediocre team, in a bad weather town, with a below-average quarterback, beside an above-average pain in the...well, you get the idea. Is that someone you'd want in the first six rounds? Probably not. But round twelve? Maybe.

Simply put, don't draft players based solely on the absence of other skill players on their team or you will miss out on guys like Kevin Walter and Eddie Royal. And don't draft players based solely on the security of having other skill players on the team either, or you will miss out on guys like Calvin Johnson and Dwayne Bowe.


Okay. I've had my say. And after reading this, you may completely disagree with me.

But that's the point.

No one knows more about fantasy football than you do, even if you are a complete beginner. Don't be afraid to go out on a limb sometimes, even if doing so makes other owners think you're out of your tree.

After all, the best running backs are the ones who cut against the grain.