(Above: There's no thought needed. If you can, take AP.)
If you're an avid fantasy football freak like me, then you've already taken advantage of Yahoo! Sports leagues and probably have gone through countless mock drafts.
To put it simply; if you're the owner in more than one league for a sport that is two months from happening, keep reading.
We're almost a full week into June.
That means Brett Favre and his now (we're told) surgically repaired shoulder are just beginning to stir up emotions and hype in the NFC North.
It also means that the Green Bay Packers have less than eight weeks to put the finishing touches on that new 3-4 defense.
As for you and your glorious attempt at fantasy greatness-much the same.
Sure, your friends and relatives, hell, maybe even your boss, talk up a mean game.
They know all the players and all the positions. They have their own rankings. They have memorized averages, game splits, who is good on turf, and who plays bad in snowy weather.
They even have the odds figured out on which quarterbacks are most likely to be used in their respective team's "wildcat" formation.
They bought magazines, man. They bought magazines.
So, now that we know they're serious about winning, it's time for a good, solid gut-check time.
Just how committed are you to hoisting that extremely heavy, golden, imaginary trophy over your head at the end of the season?
If the answer is, "More committed than I am to my own marriage or job," then, again, read on.
1. Take Advice With a Grain of Salt
That's right-even mine, and especially everyone else's.
In the end, there's no perfect way to draft, and there definitely isn't a perfect team.
There will be injuries, roster changes that affect your players, and there will undoubtedly be poor performances, usually without warning, and for no good reason.
A winning season in fantasy football is rarely about "knowing everything," but it's also rarely about luck.
I know it was hard to watch that one cocky dude race to an 11-3 finish in your league last year, but just ask yourself one question-did he win your championship?
I think not. (In some cases, he very well may have, and I do apologize, albeit half-heartedly.)
The point is, you won't feel good about winning in any league, whether it be personal or public, unless you reached that final plateau on your own merit.
At least, that's what the guys who finish 2-12 tell themselves.
2. Don't Leave the Show on Auto-pilot
Draft your team. Watch the waiver wire. Pull the right trades. Ignore the wrong ones.
And set your frigging lineup, bro.
On top of having the certainty that all of these things are done the right way (by your own line of thinking, of course) you will also not be annoying the hell out of the rest of your league.
Don't be the guy who didn't show up for the draft, but lucked out and got a stacked team. Everyone hates that guy.
On the other hand, don't be the guy who drafted a good team, only to see his once promising roster marred by injuries, and then quits on his team.
Everyone really hates that guy.
3. Know When To Be Cocky, And When Not To Be Cocky
When you're drafting your players-be cocky. Be very cocky.
It's the only time during this entire joyous process where no one can truly prove you wrong, or say you're an idiot and actually be able to back it up.
This is the time when you can draft Plaxico Burress, Brett Favre, or Matt Jones, and later look like a genius.
However, if September rolls around and these guys aren't on an NFL team, they better not be on yours.
In the beginning of the season, when you're off to an awesome 4-0 start-don't be cocky.
Too many times have I had a '72 Dolphins mirage sideswiped into an 0-6 free fall.
Believe it or not, Karma is everywhere, in some shape or form, and fantasy sports are no exception.
Last, but not least, when (if) you win your championship-definitely be cocky.
Because these are more than likely your friends you just beat, and you know they'd do the same to you.
4. Projections, Shmoshmections
I don't care what your team's projected score is, and I definitely won't be writing mine down.
It means nothing.
It's nice to debate over what stats who will accumulate before the season starts, but after the first kickoff, everything is out in the open, and anything can change.
Putting false confidence in your team can lead to huge letdown losses, losing streaks, and possibly altering a good team, based off of it's inability to meet your ungodly expectations.
5. Don't Hate Your Players, Hate Your Game
Even if you're handed an onslaught of injuries or horrid players, any season is still salvageable.
I, like many fantasy owners, have been there.
That 1-5 hole that looks bottomless-as if nothing your tiny team of Marc Bulger's and Braylon Edwards' do can stop it, let alone slow it down.
The truth is, for every awful fantasy option, there's at least a slightly better one, or even some hidden gems.
You just have to put some faith in guys that are on the waiver wire, and you need to cut so-called "NFL icons" loose, regardless of their name or team they play for.
Remember last year when you held on for way, way too long to guys like Chad Ochocinco, Torry Holt, and Braylon Edwards?
Yeah. We call this learning.
6. Get Back To Your Roots
I'm all for the points. Add them all up, our some thick gravy sauce all over them, and eat'em right up!
Points are great. They're sexy, fun, and exciting. The more you get, the happier you feel.
But if that's the case, why do we always feel dead inside when we still lose 240-239?
My suggestion, to the purest of fantasy players, is to join at least one league of pure touchdown scoring. (And field goals, for you kicker lovers out there. You know who you are.)
No yards, attempts, or receptions.
Just pure, hard-earned pay-dirt.
This type of game-play separates the boys from the men, both in the NFL, as well as within your league.
Think about the edge you would have had last year in this type of league if you had Jason Witten, compared to someone who had Chris Cooley.
Yeah, your tight end just murdered his tight end. Twice. And it was awesome.
7. Remember Stats, But Don't Fall in Love With Them
Two years ago, Tom Brady threw for nearly 5,000 yards, as well as 50 touchdowns.
Then last season, a measly 76 yards, due to an unfortunate knee injury.
Which Brady will we see, and more importantly, possibly be drafting?
The answer is neither.
Don't draft a player based solely on his stats from two years ago, and especially not from the season immediately preceding this one.
It's very rare for players to duplicate huge seasons back-to-back, and even more rare if they have never had a a huge season prior to doing so in their career before.
Guys like Peyton Manning and Brady are pretty low-risk, even as they're getting older and dealing with knee issues.
However, jumping the gun on guys like Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, and Calvin Johnson may be a bit hasty.
Just look at how those owners who drafted Braylon Edwards did.
It won't kill you if there's one Edwards-like mess-up on your squad, but if you overload your team with over-hyped talent, you're bound to pay for those mistakes.
8. This is the Year of the Running Back
I've been in several "real" drafts, and a few mocks.
The common theme goes like this:
Draft your running backs, then receivers, and then quarterbacks.
It's not meant to be as routine as it sounds, and everyone can and should switch it up, but it's the best advice I can think of.
In every draft I've been in (ranging from 8 teams to 14 teams), running backs have been flying off the shelves, and after four rounds, the best you can hope for is Jamal Lewis or a bunch of RBBC runners.
It's vital to your team's success to have two actual starters at the position in your line-up.
Quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Matt Cassel, Jay Cutler, and Philip Rivers all usually last past the first four rounds, while Drew Brees, Brady, and Manning are all gone.
Pick your poison. Depending on your draft spot, nabbing Brees could quickly turn from "I have the best quarterback!" to "My RB starters are Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis. Crap."
9. Pay Attention to Your League Settings
This is a fairly universal concept, but it seems every draft I've been in, there's at least one guy whining about something he "wasn't aware of."
That's a huge cop-out, and almost exactly like saying "I'm a big dumb idiot, and I didn't draft accordingly."
So, don't do that.
If your league has IDP (Individual Defensive Players), start looking to draft the best options available somewhere from round 9-12.
While everyone is beefing up their offensive depth, you can slip in an elite defender or two. Works like a charm.
Scoring, negative and partial points, league divisions, and performance rewards are all things you should make yourself aware of, as well.
And if you don't take the time to check this stuff out, you probably didn't care enough in the first place. And to that, I say shame on you.
10. Have Fun!
Sure, you've got over $1,000 riding on three different leagues. That's nothing 35 tear-driven therapy sessions can't partially cure.
Fantasy football is all about getting yourself out there, while also embedding your own personality into the game.
It's about friends, competition, and kicking some serious co-worker and girlfriend's brother's ass.
But seriously, it's about having fun, and getting to cheer for both your favorite player in the NFL, while cheering for the IDP guy on your roster to knock his teeth out at the same time.
Boy, you gotta love irony.
Stay tuned for a series of positional rankings. I will be breaking each position down to three tiers, and letting you know where/when to look for specific players.