Drafted Your 2010 Fantasy Football Team? Go To The Next Level With These Tips

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2010

Will Donovan McNabb be playing this weekend against Dallas? Staying ahead of injury reports and tweaking your lineup accordingly is one way to stay ahead of the competition
Will Donovan McNabb be playing this weekend against Dallas? Staying ahead of injury reports and tweaking your lineup accordingly is one way to stay ahead of the competitionGreg Fiume/Getty Images

For five-plus years, we have been preparing for this day.  Reading enough books to make a librarian blush. Singing, repeating and repeating again the alphabet song. Counting and simple math.

This morning, my daughter got on her first school bus and headed off to kindergarten. The bittersweet sendoff and long walk up our wooded driveway led me to an eerily quiet house. The big question on my mind…now what?

After reading numerous magazines, website analysis, rankings, sleeper suggestions, mock drafts, etc., many fantasy football owners are asking themselves the same question as the excitement of their fantasy drafts wears off and attention shifts to the 16-week minefield ahead…Now what?

To some, the fantasy football draft is the one and only way to construct a playoff contender. To them, the only thing to worry about from this point forward is setting the weekly lineup. To them, the work is done.

But that is as ludicrous as me suggesting that my job as a teacher to my daughter is now over. That’s right…no more reading, ABCs or 123s for me.

Yeah, right.

Actually, the real work now begins. Managing a fantasy team means doing your homework, and putting lessons learned into play right away. Here are some suggestions on how to refine your raw squad into a well-polished fantasy machine.

Analyze your team.

Seems like a simple suggestion, but one that has very important ramifications.

No one has a perfect team after draft day. There are always areas that could use improvement, and certain players on your squad who may be peaking in value early in the season, and who need to be watched closely in terms of tradability.

Does your team seem weak at a certain position? Are you nervous about your flex starter? Do you have excess depth at a certain position?

Answering these questions is the first step towards developing a solid season-long game plan.

But you can’t stop there. Get others to analyze your team. Find people who you respect in the fantasy football stratosphere and get them to look at your team and offer some constructive criticism.

We are by no means experts, but if you’d like the chinstrap ninjas to look over your roster, feel free to post it below or in any thread’s comments section. Or, you can leave a comment at our site’s message board where, again, our writers and visitors can offer insight and suggestions. Or…you can e-mail me directly. In any scenario, be sure to include your complete roster, scoring system, number of teams in your league, and any other pertinent information.

Analyze your competition.

How do the other teams in your league stack up? Which look the most formidable? Which will be the best targets for you when considering a trade?

This part of preseason prep is much easier if you know your other league owners. For example, is there a hardcore Miami Dolphins fan in your league? He may have more interest in dealing for your Chad Henne or Ronnie Brown. Did a certain owner talk up a specific player or two during your draft? Perhaps he’d have extra interest in them.

It is also very valuable to look at other rosters in terms of where they shallow and where they are deep. For example, let’s say one team has four solid WR options, but can only start two of them. The fourth WR then becomes a possible trade target if you need to improve at that position.

Analyze your free agent pool.

Most fantasy leagues have a free agent pool of players who weren’t already drafted onto a team. This pool could be your lifeline to league dominance, so check it out often and become familiar with who is available.

See if there are any players who are currently starting at QB or RB for their respective NFL team. These players could have value depending on their weekly matchup and how they handle their starting duties.

Backup options at these positions should also be watched closely. For example, if Bernard Scott is sitting on your waiver wire and Cedric Benson gets injured, suspended or losing playing time for any reason, Scott suddenly becomes fantasy-relevant in most league scoring formats.

Receivers can change from time to time depending on coverage faced and chemistry with their quarterback. For example, Tampa Bay rookie receiver Mike Williams currently has the eye of young QB Josh Freeman, but if Freeman misses time, the backup signal callers may find himself checking down to Arrelious Benn or a different Buccaneers pass catcher.

Knowing and following your free-agent pool is also critical if one of your players is hit unexpectedly by injury. You need to know your options in case of emergency.

Lastly, be sure to check in as often as possible to check any recent moves. Many times, an owner will cut a player that you would love to roster…in those cases, you’ll want to make a claim for him right away and hope that other owners don’t follow the situation as diligently as you are.

Analyze trade avenues.

This point piggybacks off the first two tips. Except, you take things a little further.

For one, how well do you know the people in your league. More than knowing which teams they follow, do you know if they are an active trader or not? If you haven’t played in leagues with them before, it wouldn’t hurt to put a feeler out by e-mailing certain teams or even the whole league introducing yourself and listing possible players you’d be open to moving and positions/players you would like to add.

The main point of this e-mail, however, is to inform the league that you are very open to trading and that you’ll seriously consider any trade offered your direction.

Some people take offense if they feel a trade is lopsided in the other person’s favor, and ego can lead to a rash move that burns a bridge to a potential trading partner. However, the best course of action is to offer a deal back that better suits your needs. By going back and forth with these types of offers, you’ll get a very good picture of what an owner thinks of your players and where they may be willing to make a move.

Also, watch the league action in terms of other trades completed. If you notice one or two owners who seem to be making a lot of moves, check out their rosters and see if there is any potential for a deal.

Analyze the schedule.

Using your league’s online software, take a few moments to look at your matchups each week during the season. Do you notice any disparities? Are there certain weeks where you are hit with byes or poor matchups and need to address these potential speed bumps by being proactive?

Perhaps you realize that both your QB and backup QB have the same bye. In this case, you either plan to pick up a backup from free agency that week, or move one of your current QBs for a better option with a different bye week.

Similarly, if you don’t have a top defense, than you’ll likely be playing team defense roulette…adding a squad with a more juicy matchup and starting them. In this case, it is important to look closely at the schedule and your remaining free agent defenses for a possible match.

Set your lineup weekly.

A no-brainer to most, it also can be really easy to neglect your roster to the last minute, and at times to miss out on setting your roster at all.

And to help with tough weekly decisions, www.chinstrapninjas.com has started weekly game-by-game projections for all your fantasy players. Simply go to our main page and scroll down to the matchup you desire.

And if you’d like even more personalized advice for your team’s specific needs, you can leave your questions in the comments section of any post, on our message board or e-mail me your start-sit questions.

We’ll have plenty of posts about trading, waiver wire additions, who to start/sit, etc. Check out our strategies/advice page for more information.

Good luck! Remember, we are here to help however we can. In the meantime, check out our cool yet very simple fantasy football game unique to chinstrapninjas.com

For all your hard-hitting fantasy football advice, go to www.chinstrapninjas.com


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