Fantasy Football Preview: Prep Work - Beginners

Never played FF before?  Confused?  Of course you are, it is a little overwhelming for sure but don’t worry, if there is one thing that is consistent from top to bottom is the fact that everyone had a first year.

Don’t get fooled into thinking that you have to go out and spend a ton of money on FF expert guides.  Buy 1 or maybe 2.  One that focuses on the NFL and one that focuses on FF.  More than than and you will just get confused.  In fact, seasoned veterans would do well to follow that advice as well. 

How it works.  It’s o.k. if you don’t know.  Thats why your a beginner.  Fantasy football or FF is all about selecting players for a “roster” (your team) and gaining points based on what that player does during his real game.  For example, if you are the owner of Tom Brady and he throws 3 TD passes, depending on the scoring in your league, you will get the corresponding scores for his TD passes.  The scores add up for each player on your roster for a total score.  Depending on the league type you have chosen, you will either win or lose your match-up for the week or you will be re-slotted in a points league with your cumulative weekly score.  That’s it!  Nothing more to the intricate workings of FF.

Of course if it were that easy and simple everyone and their mother could join a league and win, but what you need to learn is how to draft, who to start each week, and how to prepare.  IF you found this page for information, you already have the “Prep” advice and probably the “league types” as well.

A very important thing to remember is that regardless of your draft type, don’t follow the masses.  While RB’s and top of the line QB’s are usually the first to go in round 1, drafting TE’s, Kickers, and Defense/Special teams, early are a big no-no.  Sure, there are always teams that snag a TE in round 3.  But after those top 2 guys are gone, the drop off to the next tier is usually about 3 or 4 rounds…so just because that guy/girl drafted a defense in round 4 and then that guy/girl did and so on, follow your plan and don’t deviate from it.  Just because there might be a run on a position doesn’t mean you should break from your plan because of it.

In FF, there are two very important things.  Your weekly lineup and your draft.  With your weekly lineup you need to make sure that your listed starter is not injured, out of the game, or on bye week.  If he is, replace him with a bench player.  (more on that in a moment).  While your weekly lineup is important, your draft will dictate your season.  You must draft well or confidently to succeed.

Choosing your players is often a matter of steering away from “homerism”.  Your team should not be made up of any more than 3 players from one team.  If it is, you stand a good chance of failing.  You may think that having Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Joseph Addai as your starters is a sure thing, but what will you do on the bye week?  What happens if Wayne and Addai don’t score?  You tied up all your eggs in one basket.  What happens if that team gets shut out?  While in Indy that is not likely to happen, for other teams it could be.

Your favorite team is the hardest to avoid drafting.  You know the players better than any others in the league.  You know the rookies, the free agents, the scouting reports.  It’s familiar, it feels safe.  But just because Ronnie Brown is there in round 3 doesn’t mean that he is the best bet for your team.  Do the research outside of your favorite team and be prepared to choose wisely instead of like Homer Simpson.

When should you draft that guy?  Well, if there was an easy answer no one would play the game.  Typically RB’s are the first off the board.  Yes, Tom Brady was a man among boys last year at QB, but there are 32 NFL starting QB’s in the league and outside of the top 2 or 3 QB’s, they all tend to score the same or close to the same.  Basically, you can draft a very good starting QB in rounds 5 and 6 or later.  Once the top RB’s are gone, that’s it.  Most teams will field 2 starting RB’s a week.  That means everyone will want to get their hands on the guy who carries the rock more.  After the top ones are gone, you will be looking at RB’s who split carries.

If your drafting in the top 3 slots…you should be looking at RB for certain.  Manning and Brady are mid to late round 1 picks in most leagues.  Round 2 is much the same.  RB’s and the very top line WR’s.  TE’s, Kickers, and Def/Special teams can wait…until late.  Some FF’ers won’t take those positions until the final 3 or 4 rounds of the draft and instead opt to take starters as back-ups.

Drafting positions really depend on your league.  Some leagues start 2 QB’s some start one.  Some have “IDP’s” or independent defensive players where you actually draft a defensemen in addition or instead of a defense team.  You have your starters, the slots that you will fill on a weekly basis, and you have your bench players.  Bench players are the guys that you will rotate into the starter slots for injuries, bye weeks, or simply poor performance.  The bench spots should always include at least one QB, RB, and WR.  Most FF’ers will use the bench spots to put one player from each position on it while others opt to not have backups for their K’s and Def’s.  That choice, like everything else is up to you.

In the end it is ALL up to you.  How you draft and when you draft is a reflection on your identity.  Remember that.  Chances are, this is your first year, maybe year number 2.  The best advice is simply to not quit.  Try different variations and work it out.  You may not win this year, but you very well could be building for a competitive future.

Overall, there is only one important thing you need to remember.  Whether a money league or a free league, you have to have fun.

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