It’s the time of the year when fantasy football drafts rule the weekends.
Many leagues will be won on draft day, but just as many, maybe more, will be won by being a savvy fantasy owner throughout the season.
Here’s 10 tips to help you this season:
1. Draft a top-notch running back immediately: You’ve heard this song and dance for years now, but take notice this season. The quarterback and receiver position are big-time deep, and with durability of running backs always a concern, owning a back with top-10 value is a must. You don’t want Steven Jackson or DeMarco Murray as your No. 1 RB.
2. Wait on quarterbacks, but not too long: If your league consists of 12 teams, it’s conceivable every owner in your league would be fine at QB if the top 12 went, in no particular order, like this: Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Tony Romo. That’s a solid group of fantasy QBs.
3. Have some humility: If you’re too proud to admit you messed up on draft day, that’s on you. Don’t wait on your under-performing players to turn the fantasy season around. Own up to your mistakes, then explore all avenues to improve your team.
4. Always look to trade: You will be surprised by what trades fantasy owners are willing to pull the trigger on. The key: You’ll never know unless you inquire about them.
5. Don’t get emotionally involved: If you insist on drafting a Browns player just to have a Browns player on your roster, that’s fine. That line of thinking rarely works in fantasy. Ultimately, it’s your team and how you construct it is up to you. The goal in fantasy is to win money, so unless one of your favorite player(s) is a fantasy star, resist the temptation. Especially if he’s a kicker.
6. Work the waiver wire: Three players I acquired after draft day last season: Redskins running back Alfred Morris, Packers receiver Randall Cobb and Raiders tight end Brandy Myers. If you’re not aware of what players are available, nine times out of 10 you won’t be in the running for league cash.
7. Don’t overvalue your own players: There’s nothing more frustrating in fantasy football than dealing with an owner who won’t budge on a fair trade offer or insists on more in return. You know who those fantasy owners are, so just move on to the next.
8. Don’t give up on your season: A few seasons ago, I sat 1-6 but rallied to a 5-1 finish and just missed out on the playoffs. Last year, I was 1-4, made a bevy of trades, finished 7-6 in the regular season and advanced to the semifinal round. It doesn’t matter if it’s pretty. The goal is to make your playoffs.
9. Never pick a defense until the second-to-last round: Good luck trying to figure which team’s defense/special teams will be No. 1 this season. Take a flyer on a running back or wide receiver in the mid-rounds and wait.
10. Never pick a kicker until the last round: If you think you’re pulling a fast one on your fantasy cohorts by drafting last year’s top scoring kicker in the mid-rounds, you’re not.