10 fantasy football tips

Here comes training camp, and your draft isn't far behind

Mike Schopp
July 10, 2018 - 11:33 am

Photo: Troy Wayrynen - USA TODAY Sports

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I've mentioned plenty of times over the last year or two how much time and effort I've spent on fantasy football. I really love all of it -- the mental exercises, the social element, and all the strategy. Here are 10 small bits of advice I'd offer up:

1.) Read and compile

There's more fantasy-football content online than ever. Read as much of it as you can, and keep track of what you're reading. In terms of strategy, that one article you just read might be a outlier. If you don't read the bulk of them you might not know that, for example, last year alone doesn't make Alex Smith a Top-5 quarterback in this year's draft, or that T.Y. Hilton is still excellent.


2.) Play in at least two leagues

It seems the popular thing to say is that you want to keep a reasonable cap on how many leagues you're in. I don't know, does it look loser-ish if you're in too many? My response to that: Who cares if it does?! If you can handle one league, you can handle at least one more. Playing in multiple leagues will allow to compare strategies and learn more. Hopefully, also win more! I feel that my knowledge and preparation are strong, and the logical extension of that in a gambling sense is that I should play in as many leagues as I can handle. Think of a top poker player: If he has the time, why would he turn down any game?


3.) Never play favorites

You like a player because he was good for you last year? Last year is over. Make the right choice and give yourself the best odds of liking someone new. You like a player because he's on your favorite team? So what. To the Bills fan that always over-drafts Bills, the rest of us thank you. Likewise, don't be shy about drafting players on teams you dislike (you know, like the Patriots for the last two decades).


4.) Stay relatively sober

Can that "one more" not wait until the draft is over? You're going to blow through most drafts in 2-3 hours. Mix in that water! The way my process works, I'm not so much at risk of picking the wrong players. But if I'm drinking I can get sloppy with my tracking, and then I get behind. Once behind I can miss something that affects my plans, or rush into something unwanted. Draft smartly, drink later -- to celebrate!


5.) Wait on kicker and defense until the last possible moments

I see players draft defense with a few rounds to spare. I think they do it because they're unimpressed with any remaining running back/receiver/tight end options. Still, never do this! There are injuries, the league is unpredictable ... I know you're not excited but those depth guys are more valuable than you think. If you're still not convinced, go back to last year and check out the order in which defenses were selected in your league. Then compare that to how the season went. Way off!


6.) Don't go too gaga for rookies

Every league has that guy that is all about the upside. Sure, there are times when it pays off. But boringly consistent veterans are very often draft bargains. In 2016 I was in a draft where I got ridiculed for drafting Larry Fitzgerald. He was money, and then last year I showed up and drafted him again. Guess what -- I was mocked again! My response: He led the league in catches! Here comes 2018 and Fitzgerald is once again a strong draft candidate. Will somebody draft D.J. Moore ahead of him in your league? It could pay off, but I won't be doing that.


7.) Try an auction draft

If you have a long-standing group so this transition wouldn't be pulling teeth, propose moving to an auction format. It's so much better! Snake drafts are almost all the same. Further, serious players want there to be as much skill as possible. Auctions bring in more strategy. If you're like me, the preparation is really fun. (In a snake draft, the prep is almost nil.)


8.) (or 7b.) For your auction, get an auctioneer

We had an auction draft in June. As a host and a league member, there was a lot to make sure of. One thing I knew I didn't want to have to worry about was running the draft. A coworker, Nick, came and did a great job. He did it in exchange for pizza, which I'm not sure was enough.


9.) Never hold a draft at your house

Like I said before, I had a lot on my mind beyond who to pick and when. Is your chair comfortable? Can you hear the auctioneer well enough? Is your drink cold? Are you in for pizza? Have you paid yet? When I write it out like this no wonder I stopped short on Ezekiel Elliott. Ugh!


10.) Once you're done drafting, stay patient

You're going to like some of your picks, and you're going to dislike others. There will be a temptation to get to work tweaking your roster, either through trades or early-season waivers. Be careful! The season itself is a small sample, so don't fall victim to a player that surprises in Weeks 1 and 2. After David Johnson went down in last year's opener, who in your league won the sprint to Kerwynn Williams? (Not a perfect example because you have to replace a guy headed to IR, but if you're in a league that at all limits moves I suggest using your bench first and staying cool in free agency.)


Happy drafting!

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