August 25, 2010

5 Fantasy Football Draft Day (and Full Season) Tips

As fantasy football season approaches, the air around here begins to smell of sheets of paper, spreadsheets and winning. Its the most wonderful time of the year. (Take that Christmas). The pinnacle of this 4 month celebration is draft day. It sets all of the waivers, trades and of course tall tales of one point losses on Monday night into motion. Sure, the majority of our teams will probably be demolished by some freak leafblowing accident that our star running back will sustain. But not on draft day. On that one day before the season starts, all of your players have 1000 yard seasons ahead of them... if all goes right. With all of those great feelings and emotions in mind, here's five things to keep in mind going into that glorious day, and all of the fun that follows it.

1. Do Due Diligence-  
My five year-old sense of humor took over here when I saw "do due", but that's beside the point. Going into a fantasy football draft without first sitting down and mapping out your thoughts on players is like stepping into the octagon against Anderson Silva knowing that your only fighting experience was the wrestling you and your brother did when you were five. Tom Brady might be good and all, but when you decide to spend the number one overall pick on him, you know your research was faulty.
A lot of the "experts" out there will caution you from using magazines, unless they're selling one of course. However, I definitely like to use outside sources to create my rankings. It helps to temper any irrational crushes I might have. What I would advise people doing their research to do is write down how they would rank the players and then compare it to a list by the major fantasy sports outlets (ESPN, CBS, etc.) and see if there are any major discrepancies. If there are, take a second look at their stats and situations, and decide if maybe you were a little uninformed on a guy. Of course, the expert sites can always be wrong too.
To sum it all up, make sure you do your homework before you go to your draft. That way you can get the players that YOU want.

2. Keep your Eye on the Bye-
One of the biggest mistakes I notice other owners make is selecting too many players with the same bye week. With only 7 weeks for all of the 32 teams to take their week off, there are bound to be some players that cannot fill the bench role behind your starters. Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez are popular picks as backup QBs this year, especially if you picked a quarterback early. Not much risk, huge potential rewards. However, if that early QB was Peyton Manning or Matt Schaub, you will find yourself looking at no startable option in week 7 when all 4 of their teams go on bye. Now you would have to find some other way to scrape the bottom of the free agent barrell, and release a valuable position player in the meantime. When every week can mean the difference between missing or making the playoffs, ensuring that you have a useable player during the bye weeks can mean a tremendous amount.

3. It's Not All About You- 
If I had a dollar for every time my mother said that to me, I wouldn't need an actual job. I could just do this all the time. Boy wouldn't that be the life. Back to where I was, on draft day it is not all about you. Keeping track of who you have picked is essential, but so is writing down the selections of all of your leaguemates. I can't tell you how many times I have seen a player draft a mid-level tight end over an up and coming running back despite the fact that they were the last team without a TE and they could have easily waited another round before taking him. Knowing what positions your opponents are more than likely focusing on can help you get better value out of all of your picks.

4. Watch the Games!-
My favorite commercial from this preseason is the NFL one that pretends as though the game is being played by the little dots that move across the screen of your computer on the different GameChannels. Too often, I find myself getting caught up in the numbers of the game and not enough with the game itself. Sure, it helps to know that some running back is going off for 126 yards and a score in his first game as a starter, but it doesn't mean much if he did it while the defense couldn't tackle a paper bag that day. Knowing about depth charts and home/away splits only go so far without actually watching the games and seeing how those stats are being achieved. While you're watching the games, make sure you...

5. Sit Back and Have Fun-
Fantasy sports were invented to add extra enjoyment to a game that we love, don't ever forget that. Even if you're playing in a $100,000,000 league it is still about relishing in the statistics of a beautiful game. So don't find yourself watching your ESPN ScoreCenter app instead of your kid's piano recital no matter how tempting it may be. The games will still go on without you and you can go on with your life once the season ends. As long as you think of it as a fun game, you will always enjoy it and the game will never become a job.

Now, go out, pick your team and go win that championship! (unless you're in my league, of course)