Basics(If you’ve played for a few years, feel free to skip this section)
1. Knowledge is power. You HAVE to know your league’s settings. This is non-negotiable. Know what positions are required (2 QBs? 3 flex? No flex?), know how the scoring is broken down, know if bonus points are awarded, etc. You can throw a wrench into your season from the very beginning by not understanding your league’s settings.
2. Do your research. You don’t need to know who has what assignment on an A-gap overload zone blitz (is that even a real thing?), but it’s important to know who the starting running back and receivers are for the Jaguars, who some of the backups are in Dallas and Philadelphia, and so on.
3. Personal touch. Make your own rankings. Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS, etc. are all going to have their own set of rankings, but yours may look a lot different — especially when you move beyond the top 30-40 or so. Your rankings will reflect your research and your strategy and will help you have an easier time during the draft.
4. Patience is a virtue.Don’t be the person who jumps on a kicker or defense a round or three too early. Not only will you announce yourself as fresh meat, but you could significantly lower your team’s ceiling.
5. Fantasy football “fitbit”. Everyone wants to get his and her steps these days. Use that same mentality in fantasy football. Be active on the wire, consume information, start players who are actually starting on game day. You’ll be surprised what simply being an active owner can do for you even if you had a lackluster draft.
1. Pitch selection. One of the most basic things you’ll hear someone say regarding draft strategy is “get as much value as possible”. That’s certainly true, but “value” is such a fluid concept in a draft. At any point, the best value may be that boring, steady vet with the established ceiling and high floor. Sometimes it’s the flashy young player with high risk but an even higher ceiling. The key is knowing when to simply move the chains and when to toss the Hail Mary. Whatever you do, try to avoid “throwaway picks”. That’s not the official term, but you know it when you see it. “Oh, it’s the 12th round, Trent Richardson and his 3.3 yards per carry will come in handy at some point, right?” No! Even late in the draft, you want to avoid wasting picks on players that you know won’t give you anything. If you’re going to take a zero anyway, you might as well swing for the fences.
2. “Last man standing”. In this day of specialization and committees, it can be difficult to sort through backfield pecking orders. It’s one thing if you know that Player A is going to handle early-down work and give way in passing situations or if Player B is a goal-line specialist, but how do you handle a situation like Cleveland or Dallas where multiple backs with similar skillsets are going to be battling for carries? Instead of guessing, just wait and pluck the second or third guy in the competition. Not only are you getting him at a cheaper price, but chances are solid that you’ll end up with the top option. You can also avoid these murky situations altogether, but it’s getting increasingly more difficult to build a team without dipping into these muddled competitions.
3. Stacking. While you shouldn’t necessarily set out to draft excess depth at a position or a number of players with the same bye, you shouldn’t be afraid to build on it if that’s how your draft has unfolded. Quality depth is never a bad thing, and you can usually trade from a surplus. As far as byes are concerned, I’ll reiterate that you shouldn’t go out of your way to have all of your players on one bye week, but sacrificing one automatic loss in exchange for a higher chance at a win in several other weeks isn’t an awful trade.