Remember that all of these suggestions aren’t written in stone, because I don’t have any tablets or chisels. The number one rule that trumps all of these so-called rules, is to be flexible. If you are so rigid on the first rule of not drafting a QB early that you pass on Aaron Rodgers in the third round, then you just aren’t paying attention. Use common sense. These are guidelines that should help you draft a competitive team. Your ability to think on your feet and make informed decisions on the fly is what turns that competitive team into a fake championship team.
Don’t draft a quarterback in the first 5 rounds: Any position where you only start one player needs to be waited on. There are 32 teams and if you are in a 12 team league, you got it, there are only 12 starting QBs. Teams are throwing more and even schmohawk QBs are putting up 4,000 yards. Don’t be fooled by all the QB hype, it just means there are more out there for you to choose from.
Draft a backup quarterback: This is where my two quarterback strategery comes into play. You haven’t drafted Brees, Rodgers or Manning so there is a good chance you’ll want a later round quarterback to complete the strategery.
Go upside with backup RBs: Good 2nd and 3rd tier wide receivers are much easier to predict than running backs. They often stay healthier than RBs because RBs touch the ball more, which means they get hit more. Good waiver wire receivers are easier to come by than running backs. The right backup/committee member running back is like having a fantasy football lottery ticket. Would you rather have Ahmad Bradshaw or Braylon Edwards as a bench player? Both are going in the 8th round. Would you rather have Willis McGahee or Austin Collie? Say Reggie Wayne and Ray Rice are injured on the same day and Collie and McGahee are on the waiver wire. Who do you put your claim on? Grab your starting receivers, then stock up on running backs.
Don’t draft a tight end until you have all your starting RBs, WRs, and QB: Until we start seeing more 2 tight end leagues there is no reason to reach for a top tier tight end. Yes, Gates, Clark, Davis and Finley have a lot of ability, but you will need to grab them in the 4th through 6th rounds. There were 65 points separating the top 10 tight ends last season, whereas there were 149 points separating the top 10 running backs. Up your odds of grabbing that Ray Rice, Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson or Ricky Williams of last season.
Don’t draft a backup tight end: Save those precious bench spots for running backs. It’s not that tough to find an average tight end with a good matchup, which makes them slightly above average.
Always fill a RB/WR/TE spot with a running back: Yes, there will be times during the season that you’ll have to throw a receiver in there, but don’t draft with that as your goal. A running back with 15 touches will often rack up more points than a receiver with 5-10 targets. And if you follow the backup RB suggestion, you should have a decent back to fill that spot even on bye weeks.
Don’t forget your bye weeks: Byes are always the easiest thing to forget while you are in the middle of the draft. Football hasn’t quite caught up with baseball, so we are stuck with head to head leagues. You need to win as many weeks as possible. Don’t get caught with all your starting running backs taking a siesta. If the value is there, sometimes you just have to pull the trigger, so don’t let it completely deter you, just make sure you are aware of the situation.
Know ADP: If you happen to use Razzball’s rankings, you’ll see some players a lot higher than their ADP. Say you have the 10th overall pick and Jamaal Charles is sitting there, and lo and behold, Razzball has him ranked 10th overall! Your lucky day! Hold the soiree Todd McShay. JC’s ADP is sitting around 25 right now and you’ll get to pick 15th next. Grab someone with a higher ADP that you think might go before you pick JC.
Don’t draft a defense or kicker until the last 2 rounds: This is a bit of a no brainer, but there are always those managers who reach for defense and sometimes even kickers. Fantasy defenses and kickers change so much from year to year that wasting a pick, even a round or two earlier is just that, a waste. I often don’t even take a kicker and sometimes even a defense, especially if the draft is before or during preseason games. If you can take a flier on a player that could win a position battle and be worth more than someone you picked earlier, you can be ahead of the curve.
Mock, mock, and mock some more: Many fantasy leagues have very few roster spots and it is difficult to make up for bad moves with late upside bench players. You need to feel comfortable drafting from different positions. But don’t waste your time on mocks that don’t fill with real people. We play fake football, but not with fake people. Unless you are in a league with Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt.