Welcome back for another strategy session, where you and I sit down, group our intellect together, and prepare to discuss Fantasy Football ad nauseum… and then promptly get distracted by RedTube. So pretty much every other Tuesday. (Well, for me at least.) We already have a Beginners Guide to Fantasy Football, for those of you who had no idea fantasy football existed… I’m sure there are dozens of you. DOZENS! But now that we have the “101” content coming out on a consistent basis, we arrive at the “Do’s and Don’ts” of a draft. As what should be pretty self explanatory, there are things that you should do and things that you should not do. Crazy stuff! I know. Granted, these are based on my own experiences within the Fantasy Football landscape, so take them for what you will. Which frankly, should be lots. Because it’s free. Free stuff is always good! Unless it’s crayfish in your pants. That’s something that’s free, mysterious, titillating, and scary all at the same time. Much like my lovemaking…
- Come prepared to your respective drafts. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. Unlike the VELVEETA® Mac and Cheese slogan, don’t be that guy (or gal). You know who I’m talking about… the person who takes the clock to the three second mark every single pick, only to draft someone like Mike Tolbert in the third round, and then plays off all the snickers and “ugh’s” by saying he/she based that pick on “sleeper potential”. Yeah, he’s a sleeper, in that, he’s probably taking a nap to avoid the fact of how irrelevant he is. As I’ve said many times, you don’t have to be spending 18 hours a day preparing like there’s a doctorate available for this kind of stuff, but some kind of cheat sheet with rankings, a napkin with some sort of scribbling of what looks like player names, or just a drawing of Tom Brady… something, anything would work here.
This cheat sheet is way too dreamy for use.
- Sort of a branch, or I guess a root from the previous “do” is to know your league settings. It seems obvious, but league settings are like the fine print of a contract. And from the way I started this blurb out, it’s probably a contract with a tree or some kind of shrubbery… pretty much anything that has branches or roots I guess. So just be careful, especially of fire. And aphids maybe.
- Balance your risk-taking. This can be a delicate procedure, as no one really knows what’s going to happen during the season, and no one player is a “for sure” thing, but there are players who are considered safer than others. As last season showed us, there’s a better way of building your team than going C.J. Anderson or Eddy Lacy in the second round. If you went Marshawn Lynch or, I dunno, Mark Ingram in those rounds instead (probably a bit later on Ingram_, well, things probably turned out a bit better for you. I’m not saying go safe all the time, but mix it in a little bit if you find yourself leaning on guys that have had issues with either health or stable production.
- Know that while it’s important to have running backs on your team, don’t force yourself into an uncomfortable situation to do so. But also don’t punt the position. True, the NFL is changing more and more towards the vertical game, and so is Fantasy Football, even in non-PPR leagues. Add on top of that the number of dreaded running back tandems or RBBC (running back by committee) situations that have formed around the league the past several years, if you find yourself outside looking in on running back depth, it’s pretty easy to defend drafting out of the receiving waters early on. I’m going to be hammering the fact that the “zero-RB strategy” isn’t worth your time this presason, and even though wide receiver depth is pretty solid this season, you still might want to focus on getting something functional at the RB position. If you can’t land an elite option, don’t force yourself into a bad situation, don’t panic, but also don’t take your sails down and go home. Because I guess we went nautical in this blurb. If you ever wanted to know why Eddie Lacy still has some allure… there it is. Fantasy. Football. And yes, there’s a place for him on your team. Especially if your team comes with an assortment of buffet restaurants.
- Realize that plans can change, and don’t be afraid of this. Certain positions have good depth this season. Quarterback, for instance, still has tons of depth carried over from last year and the year before that, and you might be better off waiting on the Tier 2 and 3 guys than trying to nab a Tier 1 player as you hit the third-to-fourth round. As mentioned just above, you can’t wait on running backs as much as you can with receivers… Just remember, every draft is different, but once you get a feel for the who’s being selected and where, you can change your plan on the fly and adjust. Don’t remain static is what I’m saying. Shiiiiiishhshsh. That was me being static.
- Sorta-kinda pay attention to bye weeks. I’m hedging here, not because I’m a bush (it’s official, we’re going for a shrubbery theme for sure now, ef nautical!), but because while it’s good to pay attention to how your bye alignment is turning out during the draft, don’t let it control your draft. If you drafted the entire Atlanta Falcons offense last year, you’d lose one game for sure, but probably won it all. Now, that’s an extreme example, but if you are hesitating on a player you really want because you already have a couple other guys with the bye, go ahead and pull the trigger. Tackle that week when it comes. (+5 for proper pun usage. Current score: -464,897 points.)
- Draft a defense or kicker if you can help it. If you’d like to use the last few rounds to do so, that’s fine… but there really is no reason to pay more than that. (I generally like to sneak on a couple positional relevant sleepers just in case of preseason injuries.) In a 12-team, and especially in a 10-team league, there are simply just too many streaming options and match-ups to play with at the K and DST slots. And remember, on a bye week for these positions during the season, you might have to carry two kickers and two defenses if you drafted one high, possibly strangling your roster in the process.
- Get caught up in the hype. A perfect example of this, and already mentioned above, was last year’s Todd Gurley and perennial hype-monster Carlos Hyde. You could even include guys like Christine Michael (how is he still a thing?) or Adrian Peterson in this category. While a guy like Leonard Fournette has talent and a good enough argument to be drafted fairly high, the hype might just to big to get any kind of proper value if someone focuses on that shiny new toy. Be weary of overpaying for these types of guys.
- Panic before, during, or after the draft. Having a winning team on a piece of paper (or I guess a computer screen, since this isn’t the 80s) before the season guarantees absolutely nothing whatsoever. Neither does having a derpy draft. These things are all fixable, unless you draft JaMarcus Russell in the first round. That, you really can’t recover from. But that selection does come with two bowls of gravy, so could be worth it… (Look, he’s dated, but I love gravy, so deal.)