by Kristine Reese and Corinna Evans
With Fantasy Football season in full swing, the ladies at Aerys Offsides would like to give you our fantasy football advice! What is the better reward for winning your fantasy football league.. Money or a year’s worth of bragging rights? While money is always nice, chances are you will spend it in a few days & the joy of winning will soon be over. On the other hand bragging rights never get old, even after a year. Whatever your incentive may be for playing there is one scenario we all want, the first draft pick!
Stick to the plan but don’t let the plan get you stuck-
Hopefully you have done some kind of research at this point and have a little strategy in mind about how you would like to build your team. Most people approach the draft in one of two ways: Rank or Value Based Strategy. Rank based strategy looks at how the players are ranked in the preseason by Fantasy Football experts; value based strategy involves taking into account what the others around you have done and trying to “outscore” them with your selections. We recommend combining both ideas to get the best result.
We would also suggest you make a little sheet with names of guys that you would like to have (based on the research that I hope you have done!) so that you are not caught off guard or frazzled when it’s your turn to make a selection. A few other items you will want to cover in your research and might want to include on your cheat sheet:
- ADP- Average Draft Position.
- How the player factors in to their respective offense (average number of carries and touchdowns).
- Injury Reports.
- Bye weeks.
Lastly, feel free to come up with a little strategy of your own. For example, you could pass on a top quarterback and pick 2 mid-ranked guys in later rounds instead. You could then start those players based on match-ups. This strategy would allow you to draft a bunch of skill position guys in earlier rounds and get some really nice depth. Just a suggestion, but definitely something to think about.
If you see people doing things that interfere with your plan, don’t panic. Do your best to stick with your gut and don’t overreact if someone reaches for a guy early and panic ensues. At the same time, don’t let your plan interfere with filling out your roster according to the tempo of the draft. I know this sounds contradictory but basically what I am saying is: Don’t get intimidated. Stick to what you think is best and press on.
“Do I really need to draft a running back first?”
This is one of the most frequently asked questions in all of Fantasy Football. Everyone is always talking about running back, running back, running back. Does this mean that a stud running back is the only way to win your league? No. Just follow your gut and remember your research. Selecting a running back first does not guarantee a winning season, regardless of what anyone tells you. Most average fantasy football players would suggest you load up on the best RB’s early in the draft. This is because running backs are the heart of your fantasy team. They are the one’s either putting up the points or letting you down each week. If your team even has the slightest chance at winning they will need a strong running back. This position is one of the most important in your league, but it is important to keep in mind that just like quarterbacks, there will be running backs lingering in the later rounds that could be putting up serious points during the season. When drafting a running back for your league it is important to keep in mind whether or not they will be the team’s main running back. The last thing you want is to share your running back’s rushing yards with another player, or even worse that the team puts in another running back for red zone plays.
“When is the best time to draft a wide receiver?”
The wide receiver position has become more important over the last few seasons, especially if your league plays points per reception. As stated before, the average fantasy football players will stack up on running backs; this leaves the top tier wide receivers available for you! Running backs maybe the bread & butter, but drafting a high ranked wide receiver over a mediocre running back is a solid plan.
“Since the quarterbacks make or break an NFL team, do I need to pick them first in Fantasy?”
Quarterbacks also seem to get all the hype so does that mean you should pick them first? Even though quarterbacks generally lead the team, it is not always necessary to pick them up first. In the NFL there are limited top tier QB’s, where there are many quarterbacks that would put up adequate fantasy points. Getting a decent quarterback is definitely important but it should not be on the top of your list.
Don’t assume that good teams equal good fantasy players-
A good offense does not directly equal a good fantasy player. Look at the Saints, for example. Sean Peyton has a lot of backs at his disposal (and if we learned anything from last season, it’s highly probable he may need every single one of them) but there is no way to predict how these guys will be used from game to game and even if we know who is starting, they are likely to spread out the workload. This makes for a very effective run game but very unpredictable fantasy players. I would avoid any Saints running back as a #1 or #2 option, but rather use them in the flex position or #3 spot. (By the way, this is just one example of a team that I would be mindful of. There are many others).
To handcuff or not to handcuff?
A lot people will tell you to “handcuff” your valuable players (First Round Picks, High Value Guys):
First – Let’s explain what a handcuff is. Handcuffing means drafting (or picking up off the free-agent wire) the back-up player to your starter. For example, Adrian Peterson, who is first on many people’s list of running backs, could be handcuffed by Toby Gerhart.
Second – What do I think about handcuffing? We don’t disagree with this method entirely but would advise you to consider several factors before you do. For the most part, you cannot expect the same production for the majority of these handcuff players and you might just be better off filling your bench with other viable options (perhaps starters on other teams who may not have been drafted) than wasting bench space with a less valuable option. Or you could take a chance or a high-risk/high-reward player that no one else wants to touch and see how that pans out. Our advice? There will always be handcuff guys left over to pick up off waivers after the draft so I would probably just wait it out.
“I don’t want to waste a pick so when do I start looking at Tight-Ends &Defenses?”
These are the positions anyone with fantasy football experience would tell you to save for last. However, do you always need to save them for dead last? That all just depends on the scenario. As with anything in sports, there is no exact science. However, it could be beneficial to your team to draft a top tier tight-end over your 4th running back. As the draft winds down, it is important to look at the best available player & see where they could fit in your line up. While the defense may not be on the top of your list, they do have the potential to put up massive points for your team. It is always important to keep in mind that in football you have to put aside your difference for the betterment of your team. Yes I know it may be hard to pick up Ben Roethlisberger if you are a Ravens fan, but sometimes you just have to do things in life you wouldn’t normally do. If you do draft your team based on fandom you will be seriously disappointed once the bye weeks come through.
The only rule in Fantasy Football: ALWAYS Draft Your Kicker Last!
This is really the number one piece of Fantasy advice that, as a new player, you should follow. Draft your kicker in the last round and just know that you can swap out kickers at any time and go with the hot foot. The kicker position will probably not be a deal breaking position, but with that being said we also strongly dislike the idea that kickers and defenses “don’t matter”. If there is a category in your league, then guess what? It matters. You can win or lose a league or a match-up because of one point. One field goal. One sack. It matters. Anyone who tells you it doesn’t is lying to themselves and you.
How soon is “too soon”?
There are many people who advise against taking a defense or a tight end “too soon” but it is often difficult to identify what exactly they mean by “too soon”. We recommend paying attention to what is the left on the board and what you have rather than abiding by some rule. There really isn’t a “too soon” rule, there is really just one person’s opinion. There really aren’t “rules” in fantasy. Well, except for that kicker rule (and even that is more of a STRONG suggestion).
The bottom line is:
- Do your research! Having a cheat sheet of the players you want to draft & in which order will be crucial, especially if someone else takes your top pick.
- Be a fantasy football team owner first, and a fan second.
- Always check who the best player available is, even if it doesn’t go with your plan. You never know when you will need them as trade bait.
- Remember, if the draft doesn’t go the way you planned it is not the end of the world. There are always trades, players that have a breakout season & players that completely crap the bed. (Sorry for the lack of a better term)
Kristine Reese is the lead New York Jets writer and Corinna Evans is the lead Jacksonville Jaguars writer for Aerys Sports. They are also regular contributors of Fantasy content for Aerys Offsides. You can follow them on Twitter @kristinereese or @RoarBlackNTeal.