You’ve almost made it.
It’s been 158 days since the world saw that Kaepernick pass fly beyond Crabtree with cornerback Jimmy Smith hanging all over him.
It’s been 158 days since Jacoby Jones took the ball from end zone to end zone to kick off the second half, an encore of sorts after Beyonce strutted her stuff on stage.
It’s been 158 days since the lights went out in the Superdome.
It’s been 158 days since football.
Football is just around the corner folks, and more importantly fantasy football is back and better than ever. Recent studies suggest that fantasy football players are costing employers as much as $1.1 billion in lost productivity every week of the season. That’s quite a chunk of change, but we as players don’t worry about that, do we? Fantasy football is one of the major reasons why the NFL is as popular as it is. You wonder why you see the four letter network, the NFL Network and other stations running half hour shows dedicated to fantasy every week. You wonder why those channels hire people specifically to talk about it on a regular basis. It’s because everyone plays fantasy. Your boyfriend or girlfriend, your boss, your second cousin, your barber – everyone. People you don’t think have the first clue about it have probably been playing for years.
Think about it hypothetically – you’re a diehard Falcons fan. It’s Monday night and you just got off of work. Your opponent has a 20 point lead on you heading into tonight. You get in the car, pick up dinner for the family and head home. You see the Patriots are at the Meadowlands to take on the Jets and you have Tom Brady as your fantasy QB. Could you care less who wins? Probably, but you’re going to watch. You want the bragging rights. You want the spoils. You want the sweet taste of victory.
Sweet taste of victory. That’s what we all play for, isn’t it? I’ve been playing fantasy football for almost 20 years in almost every type of league you can imagine. It’s like a second job for me, and from now till the end of the 2013 season I’ll be rolling out a weekly column helping you win your fantasy league. Over the next 10 weeks or so, we’ll roll out some preview columns diving into different positions, breaking down rookies, sleepers and everyone from Amendola to Zuerlein. From there on out, as the season gets underway we’ll talk weekly about how to make your team better and put it in a position to win.
Draft day will be here before you know it, and I have this week’s introductory column touching on my 10 DRAFT DAY DO’S AND DONT’S. These are some things you want to take advantage of during your draft followed by some trap doors and pitfalls even the most experienced player can fall prey to. Some of these are specific to the upcoming season, but some of them are standard practice. Without further ado….
FANTASY DO #1
DO pay close attention to your league’s scoring system. If I had a nickel for every time someone interrupted a draft asking a question about scoring rules, I’d have about enough for a week long MARTA pass. Seriously though, the most common mistake is an owner not realizing his or her league is a point per reception league. For example, the value of Darren Sproles of the Saints is different in a PPR (Point Per Reception) league than he is in a standard scoring league. He may not get double digit touchdowns, but he is going to make up for it in catching 70-80 balls. Among other mistakes that you may encounter by not paying attention to how your league is scored, that is probably the most common of them all.
FANTASY DO #2
DO protect your star running backs with their backups, always. As they are commonly known in the fantasy world, “handcuffs”, are one of the most overlooked parts of draft day. For example, you draft Marshawn Lynch in round one, knowing you have secured the services of the bellcow back on the most run heavy offense in the league. You feel good about it, because you know Seattle will be ahead in most games and look to run the ball late to close teams out. Late in the draft, his backup Robert Turbin is still out there waiting to be drafted. Don’t be that person who lets him go by. In week seven if Lynch goes down with a hamstring for a month, you’ll kick yourself and that owner who drafted him instead of you will want a handsome ransom in a trade. Backups may sit on the bench all year, they may not, but better safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your star players.
FANTASY DO #3
DO pay attention to bye weeks and late season opponents. Why did I group these two together? They both have to do with schedules, and both are equally as important. You don’t want to be a “bye week” for your opponent by having your backups all playing one specific week. This year, for example, during week eight teams such as the Ravens, Bears, Texans and Colts among a few others are all not playing. On paper, a starting lineup including Ray Rice, Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson AND Andrew Luck looks pretty darn good, but when you get to week eight and you’re starting backups galore, you basically have given the week to your opponent. I can’t stress the fact enough that you need to have a list of what teams are on bye when handy during the draft. Now, as for late season opponents, if your league has a playoffs (and most do), you’ll want to see who your star players are playing weeks 14-16. Fantasy seasons 99.9 percent of the time end in week 16 because sometimes in week 17 teams rest their players (see 2009 Colts – Peyton Manning). Weather can always be a concern, so make sure you closely examine the end of the season. For example, Dallas and Miami both play on the road twice during your league’s probable postseason. Dallas will be at Chicago on a Monday night and at Washington. Miami will be in Pittsburgh and Buffalo. Bring your winter coats and hand warmers.
DON’T draft with your heart, always with your head. Look, it’s always better to have your favorite players on your team when they break free for a TD, but don’t overlook a better player just because you wear his jersey on Sundays.
DON’T ignore the waiver wire. A common misnomer is leagues are strictly won on draft day, but that is simply not the case. They are won by being a prudent owner, always looking to make their team better by plucking guys off of waivers during the season. Even if guys help for just a game or two (see Bryce Brown last year for the Eagles), it can make a world of difference.
DON’T fall in love with rookies. Luck, Wilson, RGIII, Alfred Morris and others burst on to the scene last season, but just because they did doesn’t mean guys like EJ Manuel, Eddie Lacy, Gio Bernard and Geno Smith will.
DON’T ignore a team defense. You don’t want to be one of the last owners to draft one, because in some scoring formats, defenses can count as much as an elite running back or wide receiver on a weekly basis.
DON’T take a kicker until the last round of the draft. Kickers are like closers in baseball. For the most part, you never know what you’re going to get from them year to year.
DON’T wait till you are on the clock in your draft to start thinking about who you want to take in that particular round. Always be prepared, always think one or two rounds ahead, and always keep track of what your opponents have done so far.
DON’T take fantasy football too seriously. It’s supposed to be fun. Whether it’s with friends, co-workers, family or complete strangers, it makes Sunday afternoons that much more fun.
This is your year. Get ready for the sweet taste of victory.
Till next week,
Robbie Rosenhaus, Producer – Overtime