Fantasy Football Drafting Lessons Learned
Know the Players
Don't go into the draft with a list of 50 players and think that will get you through the night. Everyone is doing research to prepare for the draft. That guy you think nobody else knows about is probably on three quarters of the other owners sheets too. Know who the starters are for each team. Find out who the backups are and who's backing them up. For some positions, QB in particular, simply knowing the starter and his backup is probably enough. Should you need to grab a third stringer for your starting lineup, it's probably too late to salvage the season. It's important to know not only who's starting, but also their backups because of the number of injuries that occur each season. Some backups are more productive than others. Some backups are part time starters. Knowing the players will help greatly in the later rounds when the pickings are thin.
It's also important to know the skill level at each position. A top 5 tight end may not be worth as much as a top 15 receiver. This of course depends on the scoring system used by your league. For most leagues, running backs dominate with quarterbacks a close second. A few wide outs will slip in to the top 20 but for the most part the top 20 scorers are running backs and quarterbacks. This doesn't mean you should load up on one position. You'll need a well balanced team to win the championship.
Why watch preseason?
Some owners I know swear by preseason. They love to watch the games and take notes on all the players. Who's starting, how long are they playing, which rookies are getting the most playing time? While some of these stats are useful, preseason football amounts to squat in the regular season. The starters are playing not to get hurt, rookies are going against other teams' practice squads and coaches and owners just want to get it over with and not lose their shirt. Most games aren't much fun to watch anyway so don't waste your time.
If you're looking for a successful season, try to minimize the number of times this question pops into your head. Players on new teams may not perform as well as they did the previous year. Running backs who lose offensive linemen may find yards a little more difficult to come by. Quarterbacks with new offensive coordinators tend to struggle for some time before returning to form. As I stated before, when all things appear equal between two players make the blah pick. Minimize your risk on the front end and reap the rewards in the post season.
Probably the most overlooked stat in fantasy football is a player's scheduled opponents. Some teams seem to have a good run or pass defense every year, regardless of who's on the field. This is likely due to the coaching staff. Should the staff stay the same they will likely lead the league once again in their respective category. Some teams have strengthened their defensive position through off season trades. Know the teams that are always good and those who should be good due to free agent acquisitions. Good players will always get their yards but the average player will post good numbers against a mediocre defense. As the season progresses find the weak defenses and try to trade for players going against these defenses in the post season.
Don't think for one moment this is all you need to know to have a successful fantasy football season. I've been playing fantasy football for over ten years and I'm still figuring things out. The one absolute I've learned is that just when you think you have things figured out, it's time to think again. That's what makes fantasy football so great. If we could predict every players stats each season we wouldn't need to play the games.
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