11 Tips and Tricks To Win Your Fantasy Football League
Hey first-time fantasy players, if you're going to play the game, you have to play the game. Which means having a strategy to outwit, outdraft and flat-out crush the people you're drafting with.
Here are 11 must-knows to help a fantasy rookie dominate a draft.
1. Drunk Drafters = Good News For You (Well, Unless You Get Drunk, Too)
Make sure everyone has a safe way home ... but there is no shame in trying to get others tanked. Just limit yourself, so you don't wake up in bed with Eli Manning for the season.
2. Make The Draft A Home Game
If your league drafts at a bar or restaurant, come prepared and turn the place into your own. Get there early so you can make sure outlets are accessible so you can plug in your computers and phones. Bring a power strip just in case. If you're drafting at a house, try to convince everybody that it should be your house.
3. It's OK To Cheat Sheet
ESPN.com has the best draft kits in the business -- use them! Our rankings on espnW.com aren't so bad, either. And please, use cheat sheets to avoid making the ultimate cardinal sin: Taking three minutes to make your pick, then announcing that you want Frank Gore ... who had been selected a half-hour earlier. Cross off every player selected and keep the draft moving.
4. Read Your League's Fine Print
If picking someone who's already been picked is aggravating for the rest of the league, then not reading your league settings is a good way to torture yourself for four months. Figure out whether your league is Standard or PPR (Points Per Reception). In standard leagues, QBs usually rack up four points per passing TD and one point for every 25 yards accrued through the air. Usually, anyway -- some leagues give out six points per QB touchdown pass, which is an enormous difference. Know which kind of league you're getting into. For non-QBs, the usual scoring system is six points per TD, and one point for every 10 yards gained. PPR leagues are a little more intense, with the number of catches by a player tacking on more points. Don't be afraid to give it a shot, though.
5. Have A Good Pain Threshold
Before a draft, know your injury reports. Who's limping? And how long will he be limping for? That's also why we recommend waiting until the final weekend before the season starts to even have a draft. The last thing you want is to watch your No. 1 pick get hurt against the Jaguars in the last preseason game. Also, don't be afraid to take a flier later in the draft on a banged-up player who scares off other people in your league. It's a 16-game schedule, so play it for the long haul. If a player is doubtful for Week 1, he'll probably slide in your draft. Don't be gun-shy about grabbing a good player who has a minor injury.
6. Everybody Picks A Running Back Early (And So Should You)
It's cliché at this point, but it's cliché for a reason. You probably should take a running back in the first round, and if you have a top-four pick, you DEFINITELY should snag a running back. Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte are the first four players who should be taken off the board. Period. We have them ranked in that order, but you will be pleased with any of them.
7. Don't Sleep On Sleepers
Later in the draft, don't be afraid to roll the dice on a sleeper player (or three). Once you're past the first five rounds or so, you might as well take a chance and reach for someone with a little more risk -- and more potential reward.
8. Handcuffs Are Good!
Let's start basic: What is a handcuff? A handcuff is the backup player to a starter, most commonly used in reference to running backs. For example, you might follow our advice in the first round and grab Charles, if you can get him. And if that happens, you might want to consider taking his backup, Knile Davis, just in case something happens to Charles. You'll be surprised -- and probably a little aggravated -- about how many players miss games because of injuries.
9. Draft A Backup QB, But Only In The Later Rounds
If you can get Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers early on, go for it. After that, pretty much every quarterback scores about the same amount of points. So don't be distracted by the idea that quarterbacks, in general, score more overall points. The drop-off from QB No. 4 last season, Andrew Luck, to No. 10, Tony Romo, was 27 points (less than two points per week). The drop-off from RB No. 4, Marshawn Lynch, to RB No. 10, Fred Jackson, was 76 points (almost five points per week). If you miss out on one of the three top QBs, target grabbing a good one -- maybe Philip Rivers or Russell Wilson -- in the middle rounds. Then stick to running backs and wide receivers with your first four picks or so. Because you didn't get an elite quarterback, we'd also advise burning another midround pick on a good backup quarterback.
10. Byes Matter ... But Not That Much
In the first few rounds, take the best player available. But once you get down to your second or third picks within a position, pay attention to who's off when. You're going to need to hustle if you draft both Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffery (each of them has a bye in Week 9), or Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris (byes in Week 10).
11. Trust Your Intuition
There is nothing like a woman's intuition. You can only pick the best player available for so long. You don't want to end your draft without drafting someone you like and feel good about. When it gets down to the rounds where everyone is pretty even, pick the guy from your home team or the guy with the best name or the guy who just stands out to you for no obvious reason. Sometimes those guys end up being a sleeper and one of your more consistent players. After all, women know best.