What this picture presupposes is, maybe it should be?
Welcome to the first installment of our strategy series. This journey will help prepare you for Draft day, and will likely also be filled with an assortment of snacks ranging from TWIX® candy bars and FUNYUNS®, basically what I like to call breakfast. And don’t tell me why they’re written all in caps. That’s their official “name”, so I can only assume that we are meant to shout it out every time, which, now that I think of it, seems totally natural. Q: “What are you hungry for?” A: “TWIX MOTHER F*CKER!” See what I mean? Regardless, this opening salvo of strategic knowledge (everything sounds better when weaponized) is focused for those of you who have no idea what fantasy football is or what it does. A Beginners Guide to Fantasy Football, if you will. And listen, don’t be afraid of being the noob, that’s not a derogatory title for me. It can be derogatory, but for those who do use it as a negative descriptor, just remember, they were noobs once too. We all have to start somewhere, and yes, that means you. Which is probably your mom’s basement. And if that’s the case, you’ve completed half the journey, some would say.
So, you want to play fantasy football? Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!
One thing to remember, if you’ve played fantasy baseball, or if this is your first foray into fantasy gaming, fantasy football, on the surface, is not an intricate game to play. One can remain a less-than-casual NFL fan and still just be as informed as the die-hards, like these fine ambassadors of the human race:
10-out-of-10 pooping face. Bravo.
Yeah, you’re right, the less-than-casual fan is probably more informed than these guys… But the truth is, there are just a lot less moving parts compared to it’s peers (sans custom leagues). Just know that when you are contemplating the deciding factors of whether or not you should play, the time-investment can be whatever you’d like it to be. Whether that’s an hour everyday or an hour for the entire week, you’ll be able to field a competitive roster for the entirety of the season. All you have to do to get started is follow these helpful bullet-points I’ve prepared for you. (See, I’m telling you, weaponize everything bro. EVERYTHING. Even eggplant.)
– Right now, this very instant? This is your information gathering stage. While the methods used are generally driven by you, as a first time player, that may be the one thing holding you back– “Where do I begin?”. The question can be a huge mountain to climb. What you’re doing near a huge mountain is anyone’s guess though. There really is no wrong way to do this, but I will say the first action that I take is to check out how the pre-season rankings are looking. Razzball, of course, produces 2014 fantasy football rankings. But to get a true idea of how players are trending for the upcoming season, you’ll want to find a general consensus to lean on. And FantasyPros does a great job doing all the leg-work for you. Their ECR™ (Expert Consensus Ranking) provides you a way to see what all the experts are thinking (including Razzball). Or only what some of them are thinking, depending on how you want to set up your viewing options. Getting a general idea of who will make up the first half of your draft is the first step of our mountain climb. Which at this point, could use more Sherpa.
– Next up, you probably want to start bringing social media into this shin-dig. While I (@jaywrong) won’t tweet out breaking NFL news, mostly because I find bad jokes and pictures of food I cooked more valuable to my followers (they call me– philanthropist), there are accounts that will keep you caught up with the latest news that could be the difference every Sunday. Rotoworld Football is a good example. And if you’d rather not become a twitterer? Tweeter? Tweeties? Whatever you call it… if you don’t want to be one those, just find your own news sources that can help you keep tabs from this point on, and add it to your bookmarks.
– Know your league format (number of teams, type of draft, scoring, etc.). This may seem like a job for Captain Obvious, but it has to be stated. The most common size for leagues can range anywhere from 8 to 16 teams. With an 8 team league considered “shallow” and a 16 team league considered “deep”, 12 is usually the general landing spot for the majority of leagues, and is what Razzball will mostly tailor to. One term you’ll likely run into is “PPR”. PPR stands for Points Per Reception (not be confused with Pee-Pee ride, which sounds like a really not fun ride), and was probably created by a person who hated seeing the first five rounds of a draft be nothing but running backs. So probably a receiver. As is stated in the definition, in leagues that feature a PPR mechanism (either 0.5 or 1 full point), you’ll see more value be attributed to receivers, tight ends, and pass-catching running backs. And just like in fantasy baseball, there are keeper and dynasty formats, which implement a way for teams to keep a specific amount of your roster going into the next season. There are also IDP (Individual Defensive Player) leagues. The majority of leagues use the team’s defense as a whole, unlike the offensive side where you have individual players. IDP simply balances both sides of the ball out and allows you to draft individual defensive players. As for drafts, most leagues use a Standard or “Snake” format, where shortly before the draft, a randomized order will be determined as the teams will draft 1-10 for the first round, then 10-1 for the next round, rinse and repeat. Less common are Auction drafts, where any player can be drafted by any owner based on a budget (usually anywhere from $200-$260), until all of the roster spots are filled. Essentially, just know what you’re getting yourself into.
– This will sound self-serving, because it is, but here at Razzball, we’ll offer many ways to get you prepared for the draft and the season as well. We’ll have our very own *free* draft kit (content will be added continuously), pre-season and in-season rankings, analysis on sleepers, value players, etc. But one thing we don’t have are mock drafts. If I were you, which seems impossible because of my amazing hair, but let’s just pretend for this example, I would try to do a few mocks before draft day. If your league is with ESPN, mock over there. If it’s with Yahoo (which will be the home of our Razzball Commentator Leagues this season), be sure to mock there. Why? Most players will draft based on the rankings provided by those sites. A mock draft at ESPN will go completely different than Yahoo’s mock. On top of that, you’ll get comfortable with the draft room, it’s functions, and start seeing trends. Sure, there will be other drafters who might muck it up, if so, just leave and get into another one. Your goal here is just to get comfortable with the environment, while keeping an eye on where players are going based on whatever rankings you have chosen to use.
– As alluded to previously, you could probably put little effort into your pre-draft routine and still be okay. While I wouldn’t recommend it, you have to remember that it’s a game. Whatever you put into to it, that’s what you’ll get out. Which makes it sound like a Tooth Fairy type of scenario. That being said, you don’t really want to be the one person who shows up to the draft and either holds up every draft pick, or selects an injured player, or drafts a defense in the second round. Try to come in as prepared as you can and don’t stress out. All the research you’ve done, all time you’ve spent has all culminated into this event. Have fun with it. Always keep in mind your roster building. Watch how the board is developing– is everyone drafting wide receivers this round? Maybe you should too? Or maybe you should grab another position while everyone’s focusing elsewhere. Stick to your plan. What’s that? You don’t have a plan? That’s okay, stick with us, as we’ll be providing different draft strategies for different formats throughout the pre-season.
Remember, if you feel lost, confused, or sad, alcohol usually helps. But so do we! Razzball is one of the few sites out there that takes interaction with our readership very seriously. And we’re proud of that. You guys got questions, we got answers. We won’t always be right, we won’t always be wrong, but we’ll always try to help. So if you’re a beginner, we’re here for you.