Planning for the Fantasy Season
By Staff Writer John Belaska:
My name is John Belaska. Over the next couple months, I will be writing a number of articles offering various strategies and tips on the many different aspects of fantasy football. Topics will range from different ways to get ahead, how to evaluate players, how different conditions affect players, and many more things of that nature. Before I get into what to do before you even have your league’s fantasy draft, I should probably tell you a little bit about me.
One thing I hate about the internet is that you never know if an author is a good source of information. I will not say I am a guru or any of those terms that get thrown around by people who write about fantasy sports. Instead, I will tell you about my history with the game and let you decided for yourself.
I began playing fantasy football when I was eleven years old. I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. It was a few days before the Rams were going to have their season opener. My mother told me to get on the computer and check what time the game was. Being that I was eleven and dial up was still the prominent form of internet, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to get on the computer because it was such a rare occasion to be told to tie up the phone line. I logged on a looked up the game time and then I saw it. It was a link to a game called fantasy football. Of course, I could not resist. I signed up and drafted right then and there. Since I was young and easily distracted, I quickly forgot about it.
In week six of that season, my mom once again told me to log onto the internet and look up the time of the Rams game. I then remember I signed up for that fantasy football game. I checked my team and saw I was 0-6. Now, even at eleven I knew I hated losing. I quickly jumped on the waiver wire and built an entirely new starting roster. The Tuesday after that week, I snuck on the computer and saw I had won. I have been hooked ever since.
I ended up taking that team that started 0-6 to a championship victory. Then I started getting my friends interested in the game. The next season we formed our own league. Now, if a young kid comes to you and wants to join your league, say “NO!” Remember, kids have plenty of free time and when they find something they enjoy doing, they obsess over it. We spent countless hours looking up statistics and figuring out different ways to beat each other.
Well over a decade has passed since that first season. I have won many championships in many different leagues. I have played PPR leagues, Individual Defensive Player Leagues, keeper leagues, redraft, auction; all of them. I have participated in leagues with six owners, eight owners, ten owners, twelve, twenty, and my personal favorite 32 team leagues. Of all the leagues I play in my favorite is my 32 team keeper league. This is because the level of competition and amount of research involved completely surpasses anything you will ever find in the game of fantasy football. The amount of dedication it takes to research and find extremely obscure players who may only see the field a handful of times is ridiculous. It takes a true fantasy freak to make it in these leagues.
Now that you have a little knowledge of where I came from, you probably would like me to actually talk about what you care about; HOW TO WIN FANTASY FOOTBALL! Winning a league starts well before the season. In fact, it starts before your draft. The smart fantasy footballer will start preparing for the next season immediately after a season has ended. It does not matter whether you play in a keeper or redraft league; it is never too early to think about next year! Be forewarned, fantasy football takes a great deal of time and dedication. I firmly believe if you have not annoyed your significant other at some point prior to the season, you have not been studying hard enough.
The first step towards achieving fantasy football glory is to understand the type of league you would like to play in. There are many different styles available. I have mentioned a number of them earlier. You must take into consideration how many owners are going to be in your league.
The number of owners dictates so much. It will give you key hints in how to draft and how to play out your season. Do not think the more owners there are, the harder the league is. This is a very untrue belief. The playing field is always level. Roster will have the same number of studs as all the other teams regardless of whether you have six owners or twenty. However, knowing how many owners are in the league could give you an idea of how to draft and how many times you will have to face each team.
The next step is crucial. This may be the most important thing you do all season long. Before you even think about who you are going to pick in your draft, read the league rules! Knowing how players get points is a vital piece of information when draft time comes. If your league less points to quarterbacks for touchdowns than running backs or receiver, you can afford to hold off on drafting one. If your league awards points for receptions, you may want to consider drafting wide receivers and tight ends before you look at running backs. If your league gives points based on the number of yards a field goal is, you might want to reconsider taking a kicker in the last round.
Read the rules. The league rule book is the key to victory. Memorize it. Everything you need is right there. So many owners do not do this. These owners lose. You cannot win a game if you do not know how it works. Over the next couple of weeks, I will get into more about how the rules affect different aspects of game including how different positions can benefit more from certain league rule formats.
Now that you understand how many people are in your league and you have taken a large amount of time to learn and understand the rule, you can start prepare for your draft. The first step in preparing to draft is to formulate a draft strategy. Never go into a draft without an idea of what you want your team to look at. Flying into this blind is a huge failure. It is believed eighty percent of leagues are won by the team that had the best draft.
Know want positions you want and how high you are willing to draft those positions. Pick out the exact players you want, but always have a backup plan. Nothing is worse than having the player you target get picked and you have no clue of some other player to go with. This is when you panic and mess up everything.
The next few articles will break down exactly how to evaluate talent at different positions. They will be focused on the time leading up the draft, but can be easily carried over to the regular season when using the waiver wire. In the very next article, I will discuss different thoughts and tips on the core of your team, the players you pick in the first three rounds of the draft.
Get excited, your 2014 Fantasy Football Season just started!