Fantasy football is a lot of fun, but it’s a little less fun when you lose week after week. You’d like fantasy football more if you had a winning team, but you’re not sure what you’re doing wrong. How can you get better at fantasy football?
It starts with properly identifying your mistakes — and we may be able to help on that front. We’ve laid out some of the most common reasons that fantasy football teams hit the rocks. Find the sins that you’re guilty of, course correct, and enjoy a better fantasy season this year.
You focus too much on positions during the draft
You can make your first fantasy football mistakes before the season even begins. In fact, the mistakes that you make during your fantasy football draft can be the most consequential and lasting ones of the season — so be sure to get this right. Do your research, prepare carefully, and show up to your draft with the best sense you can get of how players stack up.
And once you have rankings and tier lists in your head, use them to pick the best players available. Most of the time, that’s going to serve you better than obsessing over picks position by position. If two great wide receivers fall to you in the early rounds, grab them. If they’re that much better than alternatives at that position, it will more than make up for the fact that you didn’t grab your top running back until late in the draft. You can make exceptions to this rule, of course (don’t wait too long to fill out your whole roster, and never overdraft backups), but be sure you don’t start picking lousy players early just because you “need” that position.
You don’t keep up with mid-season fantasy analysis
Most of us at least glance at predraft rankings and tier lists before we draft our team. But, after that, it’s too easy to think of players as static. We drafted this or that player in the fourth round, so we had better hold onto him until he performs better!
But he might never get better — and you might have a better sense of just how far his stock has fallen if you were to tune into a fantasy football podcast once in a while. Reading updated rankings and fantasy analysis mid-season might turn you on to some new pickup or trade idea, too. Keep up with the latest and greatest news and analysis, and you’ll be much more likely to field the best team week after week.
You’re overthinking matchups
There’s a certain danger to becoming obsessed with the latest fantasy news and speculation. When you’re hearing about the best upside starters in 20-team leagues, you may start thinking about options that would be disastrous in your 10-person family league. Sure, maybe that up-and-coming quarterback will do well against the lousy pass defense in Pittsburgh — but is that really a good reason to bench Aaron Rodgers against the tougher Rams defense? Definitely not. If you draft stars, use your stars. Matchups only go so far, and overthinking things can lead you to start inferior players. You’ll look like a genius when it works, but it usually won’t, and you’ll usually lose.
You’re missing deadlines
If we had a dollar for every time someone lost a fantasy matchup because they forgot to set their lineup, we’d be rich indeed. If you’re going to win this year, you need to make sure that you’re checking your lineup before every relevant deadline. That means you need to check for injuries and potential substitutions on Thursday afternoon (before Thursday Night Football), Sunday morning, and Monday afternoon. The closer to game time you look, the better — you never know when last-minute injury information will leak.
Don’t forget about the waiver deadline, too. Mastering your timing on the waiver wire can help you score sought-after players without having to use your waiver pick. But to be sure that you’ll get who you want, you need to be ready to pounce at the moment that waivers clear.
There’s a bit of luck to fantasy football, but there’s also plenty of skill involved. So take a good hard look at your game, and stop making dumb mistakes. When you make the right changes, you’ll put your team on the track to big wins.