To all my fellow fantasy football team owners, it's that time. Our fantasy football futures were threatened with the NFL lockout, but we all breathed a sigh of relief once it came to an end.
We knew the single most important day of our year (our league draft) was upon us.
Your fantasy football league draft is rapidly approaching, are you ready? Your on the clock, you have 90 seconds, make your selection.
Before you do so, take a look at these 10 simple rules you must follow to get the most out of your draft—if you fail to do so, your offseason will be a long and disappointing one filled with heartbreak and misery.
Making mistakes when drafting is normal, we all have done it, even real NFL owners do it in actual drafts. We have to be sure to avoid repeating them.
Most fantasy football Web sites allow you to view past drafts by selecting the "draft recap" option.
When viewing your past draft, don't focus so much on names of players you took, but more on where you selected certain positions.
Maybe you drafted to many receivers early and not enough running backs, or maybe you reached for your sleeper pick to soon.
Whatever the case, review it so you don't make it again.
Last year, I took New York Jets running back Shonn Greene too early. I overvalued him and got caught up in his hype when, at the end of the day, he was an unproven player that should not have been selected that high.
And if you won your league last year, review you draft and keep doing things the same way.
Gathering valuable Intel on your fellow league owners is crucial.
Look, this is fantasy football—anything goes.
If you know your friend who is drafting behind you wants Ray Rice really bad, draft Ray Rice. By doing so, you may be able to trade Ray Rice to said league owner in return for some great value.
If a league owner really is into a player, maybe it's because that player is his favorite, or maybe because he feels that player will have a big year, whatever the case—grab that player for leverage.
It's not the best way of doing business, but this is a draft.
Do you think NFL teams care about what the other one is going to say when the draft a player in the real draft?
Don't think so, you shouldn't either.
I, for one, will draft a running back with each of my first two picks 95 percent of the time.
I would never take a quarterback in the first two rounds. I am confident that a worthy starting fantasy football quarterback can be had after Round 4 or 5.
In all your standard leagues, you start two running backs and have the option to start three, so selecting your running backs early is crucial in building a successful fantasy team.
If you don't have at least three reliable fantasy options at the running back position by Round 5 or 6, you're setting yourself up for a rough fantasy football year.
Make yourself a sleeper list—players that aren't getting that much attention, but guys that you feel are poised for big seasons.
Lance Moore was my highest rated sleeper pick of 2011, and I managed to get him in the 11th round, which for where I have him ranked, I'm getting incredible value with him.
That being said, don't reach for you sleeper picks.
They're sleeper picks for a reason, so they have risk. Your sleeper picks should be there in the later rounds, so reaching for them is a no-go.
If your sleeper pick is getting taken in the first two or three rounds, they're not a real sleeper pick.
I'm not saying don't draft a player because he has the same bye week as another player on your team, but as for backups go—I am.
What good is Matt Cassel as your backup quarterback if he has the same bye week as your starter?
So when filling out your bench players, it's vital to make sure they have different bye weeks then your starters.
LaDanian Tomlinson is a future Hall of Famer, but that doesn't mean you should draft him early.
In every draft I have done this season, players like Hakeem Nicks and Josh Freeman seem to drop simply because they aren't household names.
That doesn't mean you should let them slip away.
Numbers don't lie, so take the time to do a little extra research on players who are poised for big seasons despite not being the most well-known guys.
Do not confuse these players for sleepers. These are players that are ranked high but they are just not well-known yet.
Most leagues that are done online randomly select your league's draft order 60 minutes prior to draft time which gives you an opportunity to do a last-minute mock draft.
If you have the dreaded fifth or sixth pick, take 20 minutes to see what you can expect with those picks.
ESPN offers live mock drafts that take place every five minutes right here.
Take advantage of this last-minute opportunity to familiarize yourself with what players that will be available around your draft pick.
This is crucial and often overlooked, so let me explain as simply as I can.
Let's say your in Round 5 and you still don't have a quarterback. You may think you need to snag a quarterback right away, but before you do so, take a look at what teams around you have at quarterback.
If every team already has a starting quarterback, you can feel safe passing on a quarterback till a later round.
In my draft last Tuesday, I wanted Josh Freeman to be my starting quarterback from the start. I got to Round 5 and Freeman was there and I was set to pick him, but I took a look around my league and every other team already had a starting quarterback.
I was able to pass on Freeman until Round 7 because I knew no one else was going to draft a quarterback for a few rounds. This gave me a chance to fill out other spots on my roster while all the time knowing Freeman would still be there for me.
Ranking players in your draft is key, failing to do so is just plain lazy.
It's crucial to rank players, especially once you get out of the first two rounds because at that point nothing ever goes according to plan.
You don't even have to spend time making a sheet filled with rankings of 200 players, instead, find a site that offers them to your for free. My personal favorite is WalterFootball.com.
WalterFootball.com offers rankings for the top 100 players at each key position and also gives updates and reasoning for his rankings.
You won't agree with every players ranking, and that's fine. Most of the rankings will be similar to yours, so just make a few changes as you feel necessary.
The single most important aspect of any and all fantasy football drafts is to be in your league's draft room on time.
It seems like such a common sense thing, but every year in my league one or two owners will show up late.
Would you show up late to the most important job interview of your life?
I would hope your answer is no, and since a fantasy football draft is more important than a job interview, it should be understood that showing up on time is a given.
Showing up two or three minutes late could be the difference in you getting a player with no current contract (Chris Johnson), instead of a proven stud like Adrian Peterson.
Whether your draft starts at 2 p.m. or 11 p.m., plan accordingly.
This is a date that you have known about for sometime now, no excuses.