Fantasy football has become a major part of the NFL eco-system. According to The Fantasy Sports Trade Association, over 35 million people participate in fantasy football annually. There are television shows, daily podcasts and magazines dedicated to helping people win their league. Gambling on football will always be the ultimate way to create action on game day but fantasy football is a close second. While gamblers are focused on only one thing – winning money; fantasy football players play to be social and to prove that they know more about football than their friends. Deep down all fantasy football players think they would do a better job running their local NFL team than that team’s current General Manager.
If you have a draft this weekend or early next week and haven’t done any work, you have come to the right place. Social calendars are packed with Labor Day Weekend activities so don’t delude yourself into thinking you will spend five hours preparing for your draft this weekend. Here is your 30-minute solution for draft day preparation and in season team management. Do yourself a favor and memorize these 10 tips for enjoying and winning fantasy football.
Draft Day Tips
1) Be prepared – the good news is that it is easy to prepare. Read Matthew Berry’s (ESPN’s lead fantasy football analyst) Draft Day Manifesto and look over a recent rankings list from the Internet (ESPN has plenty). Make sure you have a print out for your draft.
2) Pay attention to your league’s scoring rules – be sure that whatever rankings list you use for your draft takes into account your roster and scoring rules. Draft strategy for a 14-team league that starts two QBs is very different than draft strategy for a 10-team league that start one QB. Don’t waste your time trying to understand why, just make sure your list reflects the difference. ESPN and Fantasy Football Index can help you customize your draft lists.
3) Avoid injured players – generally it pays to avoid players who are starting the season injured. Let someone else in your league deal with replacing the injured player. Draft guys that are ready to rumble in the season opener.
4) Avoid any kind of favorite team or player bias – love the Steelers? That’s cool but don’t draft Ben Roethlisberger over Cam Newton. Love Tom Brady? Awesome but do not ever draft him over Drew Brees.
5) Draft a kicker and your defense in the last two rounds – unless your league has some sort of funky scoring system, you will not win or lose your league based on your kicker or defense. Wait until the end to draft these two positions and use all of your earlier picks on running backs and wide receivers.
In Season Tips
6) Carve out a few moments a week for team management – set alarms for two times during the week: 1) the day before waiver moves are due for your league (typically on Wednesday) and 2) Sunday morning before game time. Many people lose games throughout the year because they forget to fill out their lineup. This is especially true once bye weeks start. This one tip can win you a game or two throughout the season. You paid $500 for that smartphone so use it and set the alarm.
7) Actually watch the games – in the world of the Internet it is way too easy to rely on recaps and pundit analysis. Nothing beats watching the game live. At the end of the day, isn’t watching football the ultimate goal?
8) Have fun with it – you are playing fantasy football for fun. The moment it becomes an annoyance is the moment you should stop playing. Sunday Funday is at its best during football season so take advantage. Organize a brunch with a bunch of friends at a fun sports bar where you can kill two birds with one stone: have fun with your friends and watch your fantasy team in action.
9) Use technology to your advantage – pretty much every Internet based fantasy football league has an app that will allow you to manage your team. Most of them are free so invest the 30 seconds, download the app and make managing your team even easier. Another way to justify that $500…
10) Manage your roster during the season – waiting on line and about to start a game of Candy Crush? Stop. Log into your football league instead (that app you just downloaded will make this much easier) and see if there is a wide receiver or running back on the waiver wire that is an upgrade. Have four great running backs and a terrible quarterback? Make a trade. Wheeling and dealing is fun and it gives you another excuse to fraternize with the other members of your league.