By Cris Benson
I believe that winning in fantasy football is a simple equation,
Draft Value + Regular Season Transactions = Making the Playoffs
Now I used to add “Making the Playoffs and Winning a Championship” however the truth is this game has one big problem. You have no control over anything that happens except your own roster and who’s starting in your lineup.
So what is Draft Value? Knowing who the best available fantasy football player is when your draft pick is called.
What are Regular Season Transactions? Knowing what the value of a fantasy football player is during the regular season when the draft is completed. Player value is in constant flux until the regular season begins making it difficult to accept that a high draft pick should have been graded lower and vice versa.
However this equation is missing just one thing and that is Dumb Luck! Luck unfortunately plays a large role in the game of fantasy football. There is no better example of luck then the lottery.
Think of it this way, who is more likely to win a lottery if only 12 people play? The first person who buys one ticket or the twelfth who buys twelve tickets? The twelfth person has increased their odds of winning twelve times greater than the first person, but the sixth person still could win even though they bought only six tickets.
Dumb luck still plays a role but the odds of the first person winning are next to nothing. Matter of fact the odds are more likely they come in dead last.
Do you want to be last? Of course not so read this and have a plan of attack for the fantasy draft. Oh and of course Good Luck!
Now to increase our odds of winning lets reveal the 1st Fantasy Football Mistake!
Old vs New ‘My magazine is for draft day and that is when I use it’
Last season the NFL Lockout changed everything in regards to planning for fantasy football.
The lockout made magazines an awful source for info last season. Information was out of date and when the lockout ended NFL free agency was a week of absolute chaos.
Not to mention trades, the opening of NFL training camp, and injuries were constantly being reported. This was a whirlwind of news in the month of August 2011 that made the internet the only source for up to date fantasy football information.
The NFL lockout changed many things in the in NFL especially fantasy football.
The Lockout changed how people prepare for their fantasy football draft. Instead of an out of date magazine published in June after OTA’s had begun people are using sports media sites such as ESPN, SI.com, CBSsports, Rotoworld and NFL.com.
If you have a smart phone or a laptop with internet access you will had a huge advantage draft day over those with a magazine cheat sheet from 2011. You had access to current and updated information from a trusted and reliable source.
As well as sites CBSsports, Fantasy Football Toolbox, and Fantasy Calculator that provide online tools that can help prep you for your draft. Finding a players value from draft expert, a player’s strength of schedule, and mock drafts to see practice your plan before draft day.
Those who use online applications will simply have the advantage compared to those with the out of date magazines come draft day.
Bad Planning ‘My strategy is to draft my starting lineup in the beginning of the draft’
I hate this! I hate seeing picks being wasted on locking up a power house starting lineups that is only doomed to have injuries, drug suspensions, and other possible catastrophes.
This is a useless strategy because for one the NFL has bye weeks and even starters have to sit on your bench. Also you miss out on bench depth and trade vale by throwing away your 7th or 8th round picks on a kicker!
Kickers are always the last draft pick but I will get back to this!
Here is a more practical strategy I have found and it works.
Lock up running backs earl with your first three picks of the draft this year since they are really slim.
You need running-backs! They are capable of scoring in more ways than one. Your wide-receivers and tight-ends are always going to catch not run where a running back can do both. Plus the value at wide receiver is deep this season which it may not be a bad idea to take a top five tight-end with your fourth overall pick. Last season a tight-end was more valuable than some top tier wide-receivers and I have a feeling that we will see more scoring tight-ends in the 2012 NFL season. Keep in mind that if you are playing in a PPR league a tight-end will carry less value.
The reason why a quarterback is not as valuable is that the range of scoring for quarterbacks from last to first isn’t significant as the range for running-backs. Yes we saw QB’s explode last season but their value is never consistent. They also have to depend too much on fellow players such as receivers and especially offensive lines.
In most leagues we play two running backs, two wide receivers, and one quarterback, how many running backs start in the NFL? Only thirty two and the overwhelming majority are in an offense that shares carries. A bell cow running-back has much more value than a starting quarterback who will has a much less significant scoring differential. Running-backs have more potential to have scoring plays than any other player on the field.
Only take one defense, and one kicker. I know what you’re saying, ‘But What About the Bye Week!’ just listen to me.
When the bye week comes for this position you add a kicker and drop your kicker unless your kicker is a top five kicker trust me you will find a kicker on the waiver wire.
Dropping that kicker may be the best move you can make. Adding a kicker who kicks indoors or in fair weather in December is a great move.
Kicker is your last pick in the draft and there is no such thing as a top tier kicker! They all hit or miss! The only thing you should care about is how many attempts they will get to add extra points because NFL kickers are all very good some just kick more than others.
Defense is different from the kicker position a great defense can make a difference in a game and they can turn a bad team into a team that finds a way to win.
I recommend locking a defense when the run on them begins in the 9th or 10th round but no earlier than that since other positions have the depth you want. Think of it this way do you need a defense in week three if a starting running back goes down and you don’t have a solid back up on your bench because you drafted a kicker or defense to early.
Love and Hate ‘Is it ok to fall in love with or hate a guy and never pick him?’
Yes and No, the reason is you have to know when value outweighs your gut.
This was my advice last season; “Kevin Kolb is great example…Kolb has a new team and that can change a player’s fantasy football value tremendously for better or worse. However Kevin Kolb’s value is difficult to gauge. Even the experts are not certain on Kolb’s overall value given his track record of boom or bust.”
While last season’s advice on Kevin Kolb’s bloated value was correct on the other hand I also made the mistake of hating Cam Newton last season; “The best thing for Cam Newton is a NFL bench. Newton needs to sit and develop in practice reps, study film, and when called on have his chance to shine as a NFL star”.
I didn’t take my own advice and pigeon holed Newton. That was stupid.
So I will type this again and try to read it so I don’t forget.
Think with your head and do not be a homer but also don’t pass on a guy due to past experience.
KNOW YOUR SCORING SYSTEM! ‘How many points is a touchdown worth?’
No two leagues are completely alike and that makes everyone’s player values different.
Every leagues scoring system, number of starters at a single position, and number of teams makes for different player values.
While you’re league gives QB’s 6 points for a TD pass I may only receive the traditional 4 points.
Some leagues have tight ends while others have a flex position.
One recommendation I will make to you is the higher the points system the less likely you should join that league especially if you a beginner.
As well as the lower the points (TD only scoring based league) the simpler it is to play as a beginner but no fun for a veteran fantasy football GM.
A bonus crazy league is no fun when you get points for just touching a ball. Complex scoring systems were created for guys who think they should reinvent the wheel but in the end it is still round and is used for going places. What’s the point?
So once again keep things simple and don’t over load bonus points.
Winning! ‘My draft is over I have a championship team now I can sit back and collect my trophy in January!’
Remember the equation above because this is just the beginning of the process. Now comes the hard part.
You have been dealt the face cards so everyone knows how many aces you have in your hand. However what they don’t know is you have five guys on the bench that can be potential sleepers and those aces are potential bust after week seven.
Know what you have and plan ahead by researching your player’s bye weeks, schedule difficulty, and injury history. Then plan when to add drop and look for trade bait from a guy who scores three touchdowns on your bench that your pretty certain was a fluke.
Find the guy who drafted from a magazine and trade with him because that guy knows nothing but the bad advice he took from his magazine. That guy locks on players and has a master plan to ride them into the fantasy football sunset.
Listen the guy that grinds out the bad weeks and makes the playoffs tends to be the guy that wins the championship. The guy with the most overall fantasy football strategy knowledge not just football knowledge is the one who will ride into the sunset.
This is a game and if you want to win you have to learn how to play just like any other game.
So follow these examples, begin mock drafting, and remember some good luck on draft day never hurts.