The NFL season may still be 2 months away but the fantasy football season has already started. For the die hard fans who can’t wait for training camps to shake out, free league sites are already filling up with custom leagues and scoring. Drafts are happening as we speak and already most fantasy football players already have at least one “cheat” book in their hands.
In the doldrums between the NFL draft and training camp there is very little to talk about. On my radio show for the past 3 weeks, we have talked about fantasy football (archived shows are here). Click dates June 17th, 24th, and July 1st. Now it is time to offer up the first in our Fantasy Football Preview.
The real question of course is where to start. QB’s? RB’s?, the draft itself? Well the first place to start is preparation. You must be prepared well in advance of your leagues draft. Call it game film study…call it prep work.
While others may disagree with what I am about to tell you, the fact is that most fantasy footballers won’t share their trade secrets with you. In fact, ask for advice and your likely to be stuck with some Detroit Lion QB in round 1. Fantasy football is like that masked magician that shows up on network TV every now and then willing to share his trade secrets with you…behind a mask. The problem with FF is everyone wants to be an expert and very few are. The bigger problem is that 98 % of the time, none of the experts can agree. So be prepared to be go it alone. When push comes to shove, your all by yourself.
The first place to start is with your own knowledge of the game itself. You don’t need to be a statistician by any means, but you do need to know the players that you will be looking at in the draft. Forget about the Ladanian Tomlinsons, the Peyton Mannings, and Tom Brady’s. The real money is on the guys you draft in rounds 4 through 8. When you start writing up your list of potentials, concentrate on the rounds outside of the first 3, you don’t have to ignore rounds 1 – 3 but remember, the names that are in the top 36 are names you normally hear about on ESPN or see in the game highlights Sunday night. Depth is the key and outside of those top 36 lies your 3rd and 4th tier players who make up the majority of your roster.
Prepwork, buy the book. Many FF’ers will tell you to buy a book. Each one has one or two that they will toss out as suggestions. Walk past the magazine aisle at your local grocery and you will be tempted by 3 or 4 different mags. While some will tell you to buy a few of them, you only need 1. I recommend purchasing 2 magazines, one for the upcoming season such as an “Athlon Sports” and one dedicated to FF entirely. The reason is simple. Athlon looks at the entire upcoming season, FF is only a small part of it. Therefore you get a feel of what “teams” are likely to do in real time…let’s face it, every league has different scoring…remember that. The best knowledge you can have is to know what is going to happen in the NFL…not just in the NFL fantasy world.
The 2nd book should be the primary focus of your attention though. It is all about FF. It should have cheat sheets, it should have mock drafts, it should have stats and projections, but more imporatantly, it needs to connect with you. It sounds strange I know, but flipping through a FF magazine and feeling lost our out of your league will not help you. If you can’t find that quick reference because the mag is scattered between this expert and that expert, you don’t need to waste your money. Buy something easy to read…whether your a seasoned pro or a newbie.
Charting your players takes time, ranking them takes even longer. If your doing a “90 Second” draft (a draft online with strict time limits on your picks) you will need to join the league and then immediately begin work on your ranking. Most FF web sites will alllow you to use your rankings on multiple teams so you shouldn’t have to do this more than once per screen name. There is nothing worse than getting “booted” offline in the middle of your “live” draft. Except maybe half the league not showing up for the draft itself.
Never rely on the draft rankings of your league provider. It is a recipe for losing.
Charting your players can be easy. The most important thing you can do is list your players with a simple cross reference. The biggest reference is the bye week. You do not want to have too many players on your roster with the same bye week. It is a recipe for disaster and will lead to frantic trading on your part.
The 2nd cross is position. Know what your plan is. Formulate early and stick with it. If you have the patience, try different variations in different drafts and see what works out the best for you in terms of compiling the best roster possible. This is great for beginners who have yet to find their “niche” in drafting success.
The most important part of any prep work is patience. You must be able to sit back and do the work. As bad as it sounds, the toilet is probably the best place to really look at your plans…your uninterrupted and your a captive audience.
Read the headlines. There are 4 websites that are must haves for FF’ers. Espn, NFL.com, FFtoolbox and Rotoworld,. The latter is a great source of information for your fantasy prep work and everything leading up to your draft in fact, you can have their top news stories fed to your internet home page. Espn and NFL.com are important as well as the latest news that could effect your decisions are right there for you to read. While you might miss the fact some RB is looking at a DUI charge that could lead to a suspension, you will have at your fingertips the news that he in fact will be suspended. Use them all in tandem. Of course don’t forget www.phinphanatic.com either.
While you ready yourself for the upcoming fantasy season, I am set on providing you with the knowledge of how to approach it. Below are articles that I have already written but have not been published as a main page blog. Click on those links provided to read more concerning the types of leagues and drafts, and FF 101 for beginners.
Coming tomorrow: As I continue the focus on fantasy football, I will start the task of breaking down the positions. I will be bringing in some blogger analysis from other team websites to give their thoughts on their top 2 players in relations to the fantasy football season. So join me then.