Comments: 7 Habits of Winning Fantasy Football Players

Comments: 7 Habits of Winning Fantasy Football Players

In its early stages, fantasy football leagues were typically dominated by the most knowledgeable football fans.

Sadly, those days are over, as the Internet killed the fantasy star.

Technology has improved to the point where every site that provides a league-hosting service not only tells you whom you should draft and when, but they also send you lineup reminders and recommend which players to start on a weekly basis.

The problem is that they don't just tell you whom to play; they tell everyone whom to play. Everyone includes that guy in the office who only passively follows the game, your girlfriend, and worse yet, soccer fans.

How do you stay on top of the curve in this age of Wi-Fi-generated parity? Here are seven tips to put you back on top of your league.

1. Limit your mistakes on draft day by playing it safe in the early rounds

The early part of the draft is your chance to accumulate top-tier talent, and you want as much talent as possible on your roster come the end of the season. Sure, injuries are unavoidable at times in football, but try to avoid players with a history of getting injured for similarly rated players with a proven track record of durability.

Likewise, avoid players who have a history of inconsistent production when you can draft somebody who historically puts up good numbers season after season instead.

2. Identify and draft a sleeper who will have top-of-the-draft value by the end of the season

Unlike the early rounds where you should draft conservatively, look for players who have the potential to become breakout stars in the middle and later rounds.

Let's face it: Somewhere around the eighth or ninth round, the highest-rated undrafted players are often no better than those you will find on your waiver wire come mid-season. Instead of wasting a pick on somebody who will be easily replaceable, pay attention to some training camp battles, and take a flyer on a couple of rookie running backs or wide receivers who are impressing their coaching staffs and competing for a starting job.

3. Find a player with top-of-the-draft value via free agency or your league's waiver wire

This is where proactivity pays off, especially if you're in a league that has a first-come, first-served approach to free agency. If you are in a league with such a system, take a chance on as many players with high upsides as possible. If they don't pan out after a week or two, drop that player and try again. One or two of them are bound to hit.

If your league has a formal waiver wire, which allows your league's more passive players to catch up on injuries and breakout players even if they missed the games on Sunday, be sure not to waste your waiver wire position by claiming a mediocre player. Save your waiver wire priority so you have first dibs when that big injury replacement or breakout player hits the market.

4. Keep a roster spot open

Well, not literally, but always have one roster spot filled by a player who is totally expendable to your team.

When a free agent opportunity arises, you'll never have to hesitate and worry about whether you're making a mistake by dropping a player you kind of like for the backup running back who just entered the game on "Monday Night Football" due to a starter's injury. In those first-come, first-served leagues, seconds matter.

5. After you accumulate talent, trade your depth for potential starters at a position of need

Once you reach the point where your roster is so full of talent that you wouldn't want to drop any players, that's when you should start sending out trade offers.

If you have depth, don't hesitate to offer up a slightly lopsided, two-for-one trade for a player would represent an upgrade as a starter on your team. You will not only improve your starting lineup, but you will also be freeing up a roster spot for the next breakout player when he hits your league's market.

6. Identify the homer or weak link in your league and make him a trade offer that will appeal to his emotions

It seems like every league has that owner who was born and raised in some place like Kentucky but is a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

If you happen to beat him to the punch and land any of his favorite Steelers, take advantage of the fact that he's likely highly overrating Ben Roethlisberger or the Steelers' defense, and make him a slightly lopsided trade offer. Really, it works more often than you might think.

7. Know your players and their matchups

At Fantasy Football Toolbox, we have several tools to help you chart your players' performance and their matchups.

Just because you landed a top running back, don't assume that you should play him every week. Use our Who Do I Start Defense (you must log-in to FFToolbox to use this) tool to see if he has a favorable matchup or if he's being fed to the wolves (Read: The Seahawks' defense).

Worried that one of your players is trending downward in recent weeks? Check out his snap count, touches and targets from each game on our new Snaps (you must log-in to FFToolbox to use this) tool to see if he's getting phased out of the offense or just on a streak of bad luck.

Think of it this way: We're not telling you whom to play; we're giving you the tools to help you help yourself.

If you follow these seven tips and you have a little luck on your side when it comes to injuries, you should be in good shape for your upcoming fantasy season.

In actuality, the best piece of advice I can give to you, these seven tips notwithstanding, is to go out every Sunday and watch what's happening in all of the games in real time.

And while that requires a bit of a time commitment, if you're on a website researching fantasy football, you probably either have no girlfriend, or she beat you last year and you're looking for a few tips to get back on top of your game!

6 Comments | Add Yours
For questions about who to start review our weekly rankings or post your question in our forums

Any remorse for ripping off the concept of Matthew Berry's post without even mentioning or linking to it?

Posted by:
kevinbstout 08/13/14 11:26 AM

Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't read Berry, and frankly, I don't see many similarities between my post and Berry's piece aside from the title.

Not only was that title/topic assigned to me by my editor the day before Berry's post was published on ESPN, it was also a redux of Daniel Kalles' post under the same title on our site from back in June, 2007, so maybe Berry and ESPN should be answering to! (

If you read Berry's article closely, you'll also see how he even jokes about how he took the concept from Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, so maybe we should give HIM the benefit of the doubt, but I'll leave that to our legal team (Wait, Matt and Scott, I'm not the legal team, am I?)

So while I do appreciate the plagiarism allegation on my very first fantasy football post for FFToolboxs/, unless "kevinbstout" is the online handle for Stephen Covey, I think I'll be able to sleep just fine tonight. If you are Stephen Covey, I'd be happy to settle any claims you have against us for some free fantasy football advice.

Posted by:
Mark Niemi 08/13/14 08:29 PM

Then why did you update the article and remove the Calvin/MJD references? I saw the similarities as well.

Posted by:
suitedkings 08/14/14 01:25 PM

I have no idea what you are talking about. My post never referenced any specific players aside from Ben Roethlisberger, and that was only in jest. I have no access or ability to post directly to the site myself, as that duty belongs to my editor, and I'm pretty sure that he did not "update the article." So if you think you saw references to "Calvin/MJD," you are either mistaken, or it is something that you just fabricated.

Posted by:
Mark Niemi 08/14/14 02:39 PM

Even if you didn't ripoff Berry, (which was my first thought when I read this) this article has some generic advice that isn't very helpful. It's easy to say to draft a safe player, or pick a good sleeper, anyone can write that. I know this is your first article, but for next time, try to dig a little deeper and write something that is actually meaningful and avoids the paint by the numbers analysis that you provide.

Posted by:
fantasyfoxball 08/19/14 09:32 AM

The assignment was for me to provide "basic advice and insights," as if I was giving tips to a novice player. Perhaps I could have been more clear about that in my introduction.

Posted by:
Mark Niemi 08/19/14 06:34 PM

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