When it comes to fantasy football, there is only one sure thing, it’s dynamic. You never know from week to week just how you are going to do. Sure the so-called “professionals” as some like to tab themselves can predict the outcome of games and even ballpark statistics. But until the game is played and the final whistle is blown, anything is possible.
In fantasy football our season starts prior to the actual kickoff of the first NFL game. While I will never claim to be an “expert” or even an analyst, I figure 28 years participating and managing my league should be good for an opinion. While I would like to promote planning as a key to success, that is not true in every case. Planning is a component of preparing for a fantasy draft. Not only must you gather player news and watch preseason games you must get to know the players. If you have been participating in a league the past few years it shouldn’t be too difficult. For a newcomer, this could be a daunting task.
Each year in fantasy football there may be a position(s) that are considered strong and others that I hesitate to call weak, but many not as plentiful as some of the other positions. This year there seems to be a “strong” group of tight ends who are capable of putting up very good fantasy numbers. Of course, there is really only one top tier tight end that being Antonio Gates of San Diego. Of course a tight end does make or break your season, but in a year where there are not many top running backs or quarterbacks, the run on these players will be quick and the talent will be off the board before you know it.
Your draft strategy has two other components to it. The first is where you are drafting otherwise known as your “draft slot.” The last piece of the puzzle is your starting lineup requirements. Your draft slot is important because you can attempt to predict who is going to go and what will be available when it’s your turn to pick. While I won’t call it a standard, running backs are usually selected in the top spots, but it’s not unheard of to see a wide receiver, quarterback and yes, I must confess even a kicker go in the top few picks. But I only did that once, I swear and never again!
Depending on your league you must know your line up requirements. For example if you can only start one quarterback weekly, then it’s a poor decision to draft that position back to back in rounds one and two. You just wasted on a pick on what could have been a good running back or wide receiver and now you have filled a roster spot with a player who will either be a bye week cover or potential trade bait. Conversely, you might decide that you want to build your team around the running back position, so drafting two in the first rounds might dictate what you do as the draft rolls on. There is no set rule on how to start the first three selection of any draft. All can be successful.
One thing I don’t believe in is a “perfect plan.” I have read a few articles that layout the who and why when it comes to a draft and even playing the in the most vanilla of leagues, as it relates to starting line ups and scoring, nothing is perfect. It’s dynamic and you must be prepared to be flexible when you are on the clock ready to make your select. So don’t buy into some sites who claim to have that perfect knowledge, because it is nothing more than a guide to assist you.
You will also get the David’s and John’s of the fantasy realm who believe there way is the best way. Okay, fine. If you buy into their rational then by all means use their information, but I challenge you to make your own decisions based on the information you can gather. These days is much easier than when I got started. We had a handful of magazines who information and data was outdated by the time the draft rolled around. While I won’t confess that data collecting and analyzing making me a better fantasy owner, I do believe it taught me to use the resources I had available and not rely on the opinion of one.
In the end the decisions you make will hopefully be your own based on the information you have collected and analyzed. These day’s though, it’s just as easy to spend $19.99 on a subscription to a fantasy web site where those so called “professionals” force feed you their information, which may or may not work with your league, scoring or draft. One idea I do subscribe to is interaction with other fantasy owners. That is one reason why I subscribed to a new service last year and use their forum on a regular basis through out the year. Their tools are good and like other sites can be tailored (to some degree) to reflect my league scoring. But that feature is tool to be used and referred to, not to be relied upon religiously. The value is in how you apply the data that it generates.
Not to stray too far from my point I was trying to make, but interaction with other owners, not necessarily ones who have the same opinion goes a long way. Regardless of how long you have played I value as much input as I can receive regarding whatever question I have. If I ask what options I have in round 3 after going RB/QB and who the potential picks are I can get good feedback on who I should or should not draft. Sometimes gaining the insight of others can provide more information that help you make that selection or look in a different direction. This sort of discussion can be applied in nearly every aspect of fantasy football.
In closing don’t buy into anyone who claims to “know it all” or have a “perfect plan” because neither of those exist in fantasy football. Use your resources and tools, learn the players and understand your league, line up and draft requirements. Most off all have fun. We all love to win in the end, but sometimes even the best plans go awry.