12 Steps to Fantasy Football Greatness…er, Competence
Tired of your buddies working you over year after year?
Does your wife refer to your team as the '99 Rams?
Do you find yourself taking Carson Palmer in the third round year after year?
Are you thinking of, or have you drafted Edgerrin James in the past two years?
If you or anyone you know has ever suffered from these symptoms, you may suffer from fantasy-related mesothelioma. Put down that gun friend, Dr. Ohlstrom’s here to help!
I was once just like you, confused, scared...lonely. I have drafted Carson Palmer in the third round, and spent an entire season drowning my regret at Willie’s around the corner. I even took the Bears' defense in the 10th round one year.
Of course they blew up that year and the pick really paid off, but that’s beside the point.
With the help of my 12-step system I’m over that now and will never make those mistakes again...and with my help, you won’t either!
I) Wait until the last two rounds to draft your defense and kicker
It’s obvious, but people somehow screw this up. I don’t know why I’m writing this because the guys who draft the Chargers' defense in the ninth round don’t know how to read anyway.
II) Stick with your early picks
Last year, I played with a guy who picked Brees in the early rounds, and then ended up cutting him because he got off to a slow start. Naturally, Brees picked up his play and was picked up by an owner who used him to finish fourth and slide into the last playoff spot. You’ll never guess who came in fifth.
III) Running back is still king
You can never have too many quality running backs. If your league starts two and a flex, you'll want four. Running back is the one position you can always make a trade with. There will always be an owner who doesn’t draft them right. Act accordingly.
IV) Never draft a running back over thirty
Just don’t do it.
V) Grab a QB late
There’s always a QB projected to go in the first round. For the past few years, it’s been Peyton Manning. Last year, Brady blew up, so now he’s the token first-round QB.
But here’s the thing: Manning played as well last year as he does every year. So why isn’t he a first-round pick too?
It’s a little-known rule that all reputable fantasy experts must adhere to. None of these experts are taking Brady in the first round, yet they rank him there. Why? Because they want schmucks like you and me to take Tom Brady with the sixth pick, take Larry Johnson in the second, and Reggie Bush in the fourth.
It’s because most fantasy experts are heartless bastards who don’t care about you and me.
After Brady, Manning, and Romo are gone, target some guys further down your list and pick them up in later rounds. Say you like Eli Manning and David Garrard, and figure neither one of them will be among the top-10 QBs taken in your draft (I am in no way, shape, or form advocating that you take Eli Manning).
Wait as long as you can and pick them both up in back-to-back rounds. When Eli starts throwing a consistent buck-thirty every week after Week Four, just cut him and go to Garrard. In the end, his numbers aren’t going to be that much different than Brees, Palmer, or Roethlisberger, the group that makes up the second tier anyway.
VI) Pick a tight end right before you draft a defense
There are something like 20 legit starting options this year. Don’t think so?
Go to a mock-draft Website and do two mock drafts. In the first one, break out your fifth rounder on Gates, Witten, or Winslow, and make a note of guys you had your eye on who went immediately after.
For your second draft, wait until the 10th round and pick Alge Crumpler or Owen Daniels. Now look over both teams.
Ernest Graham, Fred Taylor, Brandon Marshall, and Anquan Boldin are all guys who should be around when Gates and Witten are taken.
Deuce McAllister, Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, and Jerious Norwood are guys around when you might be picking Crumpler or Daniels.
Do the math
VII) Do multiple mock drafts
This is almost like cheating. Do it on multiple sites. The mock will give you an idea on who’s going to go where, and it’s also going to let you do crazy things like take Brady with the third pick and show you that the consequence is having to start Julius Jones as your second running back.
VIII) Buy as many magazines as you can afford
It’s never a bad thing to know that the guy drafting between your next two picks probably has Steve Smith and T.J. Houshmandzadeh ranked ahead of Marques Colston, just because he brought the ESPN mag to the draft, or that the guy who brought Lundy’s has Winslow ranked before Witten. Every little bit helps.
IX) Forget Strength of Schedule
In theory, this is a great idea, but in practice, it’s impossible to figure out how well a guy is going to play by the end of the season. Last year, Greg Jennings was supposed to suck because he played against horrible DBs as a rookie, and last year had some of the toughest matchups in the league.
He turned out to be a stud anyway. Reggie Wayne was supposed to get the weak sisters of all the teams the Colts played, but he ended up taking on all their best corners because Harrison got hurt and he still had a huge year.
X) Your bench spots are for running backs and wide receivers. One extra QB is ok
If I draft Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, I don’t think I’m taking a backup QB. Otherwise, it's ok, but wait until someone else takes a backup. I’m drafting as many running backs and wide receivers as I can, because in almost every league, you’re going to have five starting spots for those two positions, and they often get injured.
I’m not drafting a backup tight end, and I’m certainly not taking a second defense. A second kicker is right out.
However, it’s ok to be the guy that drafts Gates in the third, then takes Gonzalez in the fifth and Clark in the sixth, and then claims that he’s forcing the rest of us to trade with him because he’s stockpiling a position that’s easy to fill.
This is usually the guy who drafted Manning in the first round, and I have to say I can’t find many flaws in this strategy.
XI) Rank your players by position and stick to it
I have two examples from drafts two years ago. Steven Jackson, whom I thought was primed for a big year (he did), slipped to me in the second round in two drafts. Both leagues started two QBs.
For the first draft, I took him with the 14th pick and couldn’t believe I got him. In the second draft, I thought about taking him and instead went with Rudi Johnson because I thought it was too good to be true and was worried that he’d kill both teams if he didn’t pan out.
Later on in that draft, I was fixated on Kurt Warner as my second QB (I think I had him ranked no. 13). He was taken a couple picks in front of me, and I was forced to go with the next guy on my list, which happened to be Drew Brees.
Now, I had also picked up Brees as my QB2 in the other league, but here I felt he was so much better than the guy I had ranked at 15 (Eli Manning) that I had to take him. Brees turned out to be the second-highest scoring QB in all of fantasy that year, and Jackson was the second RB.
As fate would have it I won the league where I refused to draft Steven Jackson for a second time.
The other team was the most dominate team I ever had, which ended up losing in the championship round which was played in...
XII)Don’t play your championship game in Week 17
This one only matters if you’re the commish, but listen, there is nothing worse than fielding the best team all season and having to pick Ahmad Bradshaw off of waivers to play your championship game because you know Joseph Addai will sit after the first quarter.
You know what, one more
XIII) Know your rules
I’ve played in leagues where the commish doesn’t know the rules himself.
It’s an advantage.
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