Fantasy Football Maniaxs

September 18, 2009 4:06 PM

Fantasy 101: Early Season Dos and Don'ts

Many of you that visit MVN, especially you frequent viewers, are what many define as the "hardcore" fan. You know the ins and outs of all the teams, you're up to the minute on your injury reports, and you're generally the most knowledgeable guy around the water cooler on Monday. You're the ultimate Fantasy guy, with more updates, scores, injury alerts than Jay Cutler has interceptions this season (too soon?). And then, there are those of you that are new, that are just getting into the fantasy world. You love football, and you wanna give this a shot. More than likely, you have no stinkin' idea what you're doing, just like Jay Cu... never mind. Many of you are already a week into your league. Some of you (really?) still have a draft this week. So, here we go. Fantasy 101. What you need to know, both to start your season, and from week to week. The Draft Do: Prerank your players. Nothing is more important that this. Use someone's pre-rankings to get you started, then start going through and making your own "Hot or Not" list. Knowing who you want on your team can be the biggest boost to any team. Do: Participate in mock drafts. It's a free and helpful resource that many of the online leagues (ESPN, Yahoo!) offer. Whether you're drafting live or online, doing a couple of these can help you plan ahead for some of the wrinkles that are bound to make their way into your rankings. Do: Draft your running back(s) early! "But why, Nic? Why would I draft a running back (or two) so early in the draft?" Well, thanks for asking, random voice in my head. Let me use my league as an example: 10 team league, giving points for catches/carries, yards, and scores. Points are pretty high in this league compared to what I'm used to. 9 running backs netted 20+ points in week 1. Just 9. One team has both Thomas Jones and Fred Jackson (22 and 24 points, respectively). I've got Peterson (38). That leaves 6 20+ point week 1 backs for the other 8 teams in my league. QBs and WRs are all over the map, but RBs are either really good, or really not. Do: Pay attention to bye weeks. Picking up certain bench players to fill in gaps in your lineup is key. I pretty much gave my week 8 game away because I ignored this advice. Every point counts, from week to week and overall. Do: Know your league rules. I'd totally forgotten that I was playing in a Points Per Yard (PPY) league this year, and I didn't realize that we got points for every carry/reception. This almost killed me, but Cutler redeemed himself by being the starting QB for my opponent. Do: Pay attention during your draft. You know that ESPN commercial, where the guy gets ridiculed for choosing someone that's already taken? Trust me, most people aren't that nice in real life. Pay attention to who takes whom, have a couple guys ready so that you can take your player when it's your turn. And for the love of Reggie Bush, don't take a long snapper. Don't: Go into the draft ignorant. What, Brandon Marshall isn't playing? Crabtree hasn't signed yet? Why didn't I know that? Seriously, just don't be that guy. Know what's going down, know your rankings... knowledge is power. Don't: Take a kicker before the final round. This goes back to what I was saying about running backs earlier. The point spread between the top tier QB/WR/TE/RB/DEF is pretty varied... I can't remember the exact statistic, but I believe the spread for the top 10 kickers over the entire season last year was something like 2 points per game. If your kicker's points are making or breaking your team, you might want to analyze your draft strategy. Don't: Reach. Have a man crush on Brady Quinn? Think that Crabtree will sign and be outstanding? See Brett Favre creeping towards the top of the value list? Chill. Follow your rankings, don't reach and try and snag sleepers before you have the solid foundations of your team established. So your draft is complete, you've got your team, and you're pretty happy. Maybe you've got a week played already. What do you do now? Week-to-week Do: Readjust your team (when necessary). Make sure your starters are, in fact, starting. Simple. Do: Pay attention to who plays whom. This goes along with the first point, but deserves its own mention. Paying attention to who your players are playing against is a huge deal. Like this week, do I play Ben Watson against the Jets, or Dallas Clark against Miami? Roy Williams against the Giants or Mark Clayton against San Diego? Paying attention to keys like that will really help make or break your team each and every week. Do: Realize the ultimate goal. Making the playoffs of your league is the most important thing. Manage your team well, look for the hot players/teams, and make smart decisions. Don't: Reach for short-term solutions. Don't panic. Don't overreact. Don't trade everyone and their mother away. Right now, the bottom 3 teams in my league have 3, 9, and 8 trades for their team, while the top 3 teams (woo, go me!) have 1, none, and none (though I did just make 3 trades today... I knew I shouldn't have hoped on Shonn Greene). There are tons of one-hit wonders, especially in week 1, that people decide to (literally) tackle in order to get them on their team. The result? Usually a lot of words I'm not allowed to write on here. Don't: Quit. This is probably the most annoying, frustrating, and obnoxious thing any one person can do to a league. You were usually invited into that league for a reason. Who cares if you had a bad draft, if your starting running back has a bum ankle, or if someone else took your kicker? You didn't see the Lions quit last year. Play the league out, live and learn, and do the other people in your league a huge favor. So there you go. Follow these relatively simple rules, have fun, and enjoy this 2009 NFL Football season. I know I will.

Nic Lake is the author of Words to Play By, encapsulating sports, satire, and humor along with personal experiences for your reading pleasure.

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