By Guest Blogger Rob Yunich:
With fantasy football drafts starting sooner rather than later, here are 10 things to keep in mind:
1. Know the Rules
Every league has different rules and rarely are two leagues the same. This includes points, waiver deadlines, trade processes, roster size, starting lineup, etc. The best thing you can do is print your league rules, refer to them early and often, and use them to your advantage.
2. Be Prepared
For once, you want to be like a Boy Scout. Doing your homework before your draft is HUGE. Every year, I make a list of my top 60-80 players and stick to the list while drafting. I even separate the players by round (e.g. a line after every 10 players in a 10-team league) so I can keep track during the draft.
3. Stay One Step Ahead
This is important for the entire season. Start doing your homework about two weeks prior to the draft and stay on top of NFL news throughout the season. There are a gazillion sites out there, so take advantage since most are free. Don’t be afraid to go to a team’s Web site or hometown newspaper to read about the latest developments. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but 30 minutes every day will go a long way towards a successful season.
4. Don’t Forget Bye Weeks
The NFL schedule contains only six weeks where teams have a bye. Therefore, you need to be wary of byes when drafting (i.e. make sure both your quarterbacks aren’t off the same week). That’s not to say that, if given the opportunity, you shouldn’t draft two elite running backs only because they’re both off week six. But you should make sure that you have a backup plan for that week well in advance. The longer you wait, the fewer players will be available.
And for goodness sake, don’t cut one of your best players just to pick up a kicker or defense (especially if it’s only for a week). Either draft two of each or, better yet, cut a scrub. And don’t just settle for a zero. That’s just plain stupid.
5. Draft Well
A good draft does not ensure a championship, but a bad draft instantly can ruin a season. Do your homework, stick to your instincts, and do not try to reinvent the wheel. Also, during the draft, do not fall victim to “runs” of a certain position. Yes, running backs probably are going to dominate the first two (or three) rounds, but that shouldn’t stop you from drafting and elite quarterback or wide receiver during the first three rounds if you feel that he is the best player available.
This also is where knowing the rules is important. If you need to start three wide receivers every week, then make sure you have three WRs on your roster that are worth starting. I usually draft a starting line-up (NOT including kickers or defense) before picking any substitutes. And, of course, I use the rankings I’ve created as a guide and always bring as much information as possible.
6. Waivers Are Your Friend
People are stupid. They cut players who never should be cut and leave people out there who could be starting for you. So pay attention to the stats and don’t be afraid to take a chance. I usually reserve two or three roster slots that are flexible throughout the season. These are good for spot starters (i.e. players who take over for a week or two when somebody gets hurt) or spaces to pick up that kicker or defense for a one-week start. Taking advantage of other people’s mistakes can give you a huge leg up on the competition.
7. Don’t Drink and Draft
Drafts appear to a good time to drink and have a good time, but the bottom line is that you’re there to compile the best roster available. So nothing should impair your judgment. I always let others drink as much as they want, while I concentrate on the draft. Trust me, it works.
8. Listen to Others
As The Rock used to say when he was wrestling, “Know Your Role and Shut Your Mouth!” This is a good rule to follow during the season. It also goes hand-in-hand with doing your homework. During the draft, listen to what people are saying and maybe you can gain insight into who they might be drafting or what they might do next. (If it is an online draft, watch the message board.)
9. Don’t Over Think Obvious Decisions
Sometimes, it makes sense to think of every possible scenario before setting your lineup and/or making a change to your roster. But other times, it should be a no-brainer. Draft a lineup that you can start every week without tweaking. Yes, there are injuries and sometimes one player gets hot, but if you have a different starting lineup every week, then chances are you’re not going to have a good season.
10. Have Fun
After you’ve done your homework, completed your draft, talked trash, ate too much snack food, and stayed up watching ESPN and the NFL Network, you can just sit back and relax. Enjoy the season, pick a creative team name, and relish a job well done. And then get ready to do it all again next season.