Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football

A Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football

The history of fantasy football

It appears that fantasy football came onto the scene during the 1962 NFL season when part-owner of the Oakland Raiders, Wilfred Winkenbach and two writers for an Oakland newspaper put together an eight-team fantasy league. It never really caught on with the mainstream public due to the amount of work involved in calculating statistics from newspapers on a weekly basis. The hobby began to boom in the mid-90s as the Internet craze began to surface. Now it is one of the most popular hobbies in all of North America.

What exactly is fantasy football?

For most football fans, owning an NFL franchise of their own is a dream that will never happen. Are you a person who believes he can do a great job of building, managing and coaching a team to the championship game? Would you love a chance to draft a Tom Brady or a Calvin Johnson and build a great team around them? If you answer yes to those questions, fantasy football is a game for you. In a nutshell, fantasy football is a game in which you participate as the owner / general manager / coach of a franchise and you draft real NFL players to score points for your fantasy team. We will go over scoring in more detail later on, but as a brief synopsis of the game, you get points for various things that occur during an actual NFL game such as touchdowns, field goals and yardage gained. There are many different types of leagues, rules, starting lineups and strategy possible in this hobby which we will touch on as this tutorial goes on.

Why should I play?

The best response to that question is another, "Why shouldn't you play?" If you are a football fan, participating in a fantasy league only makes sense. It is a great way to stay in contact with friends you have met throughout your life. Many fantasy leagues have been going strong for 20+ years with no signs of slowing down. It is a terrific way to make new friends, through local leagues or by signing up to play in leagues via the Internet. One of the best reasons to participate in this hobby is because it adds a level of exhilaration that makes the games you are watching that much more gripping. Normally, watching a game between two bottom feeder teams doesn't exactly cause a football fan to be glued to his television. However if you are watching that same game and need the running back from one of the teams to rush for 80 yards and score a touchdown or the quarterback to pass for three touchdowns in order for you to win your game that week, that commonplace game becomes so gripping you can't look away from the contest. It gives you, the owner, yet another excuse to scream, yell, cheer, laugh, and cry on a weekly basis. There is something about this hobby that appeals to both the casual and diehard football fans alike and once you sign up to join a fantasy league, you'll likely be hooked for life.

What does this series cover?

From predraft preparation to the stretch drive heading into your fantasy playoffs, this series will give you all the insight, tools, and knowledge necessary for dominating your league. From the beginning basics to advanced techniques, this feature has something that everybody can use, no matter what level of past experience to improve and become a champion in your league.

What are fantasy football information websites?

Considering you have found your way to our football community, in part you already know what brought you to our doors. In a nutshell, what we do at Footballguys.com is spend countless hours breaking down every aspect of the upcoming NFL football season so you do not have to. It is a daunting task for a football fan to pore over all statistics, roster changes, injuries, coaching changes, offensive line analysis, defensive schemes, etc. to really have a handle on the league. With our large staff of football enthusiasts, we put that time in for you, giving you the tools you will need to dominate your league. Whether it is having all the statistics and past records for you to analyze for yourself or the simple basics of a draft cheatsheet and weekly Who Do I Start page, we have something for everyone and our past record speaks for itself.

An Overview of Basic League Types

This section will give you a rundown on the different types of fantasy leagues that one can participate in. From a standard redraft league to a full-fledged dynasty league to an IDP league, there are many styles of leagues that all offer various challenges and enjoyments to the fantasy footballer.

STANDARD REDRAFT LEAGUES (HEAD-TO-HEAD)

The standard redraft leagues are by far the most common fantasy leagues. The league has a draft that is usually serpentine in nature (first pick overall in round one will pick last in round two, the last pick in round one will pick first in round two, etc.). The owners will pick out a starting lineup each week depending on the regulations of the league and match up against a different owner each week. Scoring more points than your opponent results in a win whereas scoring fewer points will result in a loss. The best win/loss records meet in the playoffs. Each new season, all of the NFL players go back into the pool and can be drafted all over again.

Example of Head-to-head Competition

Team 1
Team 2
Pos
Starter
Pts
Pos
Starter
Pts
QB
Philip Rivers
23
QB
Eli Manning
18
RB
Devonta Freeman
17
RB
Carlos Hyde
6
RB
Jordan Howard
14
RB
Christian McCaffrey
16
WR
Larry Fitzgerald
16
WR
Mike Evans
10
WR
Demaryius Thomas
14
WR
Dez Bryant
11
WR
Pierre Garcon
8
WR
SeSean Jackson
22
TE
Jack Doyle
7
TE
Hunter Henry
5
PK
Sebastian Janikowski
7
PK
Chris Boswell
6
Def
Seattle Sehawks
7
Def
Houston Texans
10
Starters' Total Points
113
Starters' Total Points
104

Team 1 would win the above head-to-head matchup by a score of 113-104.

STANDARD REDRAFT LEAGUES (TOTAL POINTS)

These leagues start off the same as head-to-head leagues. Once the draft is finished however the ultimate goal is to finish with the most points overall instead of the most wins. There is no weekly head-to-head schedule and it is simply a matter of building up as many points as possible. Over the last decade or so, the total points' leagues have become less popular.

Example of Total Points League

Tm
W1
W2
W3
W4
W5
W6
W7
W8
W9
W10
W11
W12
W13
W14
W15
W16
Tot
10
82
103
87
104
113
108
94
143
108
114
80
100
119
89
136
103
1684
4
81
102
74
122
133
107
94
112
98
95
99
103
107
132
108
102
1667
1
112
78
113
98
94
127
85
111
76
137
82
90
89
136
130
98
1657
8
107
104
70
67
67
83
98
75
133
122
128
97
115
100
88
110
1564
5
61
94
78
83
92
72
112
103
84
116
64
97
88
110
108
102
1465
7
64
115
82
58
96
92
67
99
88
44
99
106
138
127
95
91
1463
12
71
102
78
88
79
100
102
99
80
94
77
111
105
84
77
128
1434
11
94
87
78
92
82
97
81
83
86
71
138
75
68
103
92
80
1410
6
90
98
81
95
81
81
87
74
82
56
119
106
93
67
118
68
1396
3
68
88
74
144
105
82
101
107
98
62
87
77
97
58
90
56
1395
2
125
117
102
76
79
73
97
91
77
93
59
80
82
72
64
92
1378
9
84
90
61
74
87
45
119
55
74
83
107
99
77
110
95
91
1351

Team 10 would win the above league because they scored the most points over the 16-week season.

AUCTION DRAFT LEAGUES

Auction drafts can be a ton of fun and offer unique challenges but it also takes up a lot more time on average than a standard draft. Some owners swear by these leagues as every player is available depending on how much you wish to spend. As an owner in an auction draft, make sure to devote a block of six to ten hours in order to complete your draft. Each owner in this kind of league gets a sum of play money in which they will use in order to build their fantasy roster. Each owner can bid on any player on the auction block as long as he/she has enough money remaining to win the bid. The best part of an auction draft is simply that every player in the league is available to a fantasy owner. If an owner wants to build a squad featuring Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and Alshon Jeffery as part of their starting unit, they can do so (although he won't have much, if any, money left to add other strong players).

Example of the first six bids of an auction draft

Pos
Player Selected
Team
Draft By
Cost
QB
Aaron Rodgers
GB
Team 1
$34
QB
Matt Ryan
Atl
Team 4
$18
WR
Kevin White
Phi
Team 7
$9
Def
Pittsburgh Steelers
Pit
Team 4
$1
WR
Sammy Watkins
Buf
Team 10
$23
TE
Rob Gronkowski
NE
Team 1
$37

"Thus those skilled in war subdue the enemy's army without battle .... They conquer by strategy." - Sun Tzu, Art of War

KEEPER LEAGUES

This style of league is very similar to the leagues above. The difference being that the owner can keep a predetermined number of players from his draft in the previous season to carry forward into the new campaign. In some leagues you can keep one player, in others three and in others five or more. Sometimes it costs an owner a draft pick to keep a player from the previous season and sometimes no penalty is paid. It really depends on the leagues rules.

Example of a 4-player keeper league
(the teams will keep the players in bold)

Team 1
Team 2
Pos
Starter
Team
Pos
Starter
Team
QB
Andrew Luck
Ind
QB
Drew Brees
NO
QB
Sam Bradford
Min
QB
Joe Flacco
Bal
QB
Jared Goff
LA
RB
LeSean McCoy
Buf
RB
DeMarco Murray
Ten
RB
Melvin Gordon
SD
RB
Doug Martin
TB
RB
Bilal Powell
NYJ
RB
Thomas Rawls
Sea
RB
Derrick Henry
Ten
RB
Christine Michael
GB
RB
Charles Sims
TB
WR
Antonio Brown
Pit
WR
A.J. Green
Cin
WR
T.Y. Hilton
Ind
WR
Brandin Cooks
NO
WR
Terrell Pryor
Cle
WR
Doug Baldwin
Sea
WR
Dontrelle Inman
SD
WR
Taylor Gabriel
Atl
WR
Eli Rogers
Pit
WR
Brandon LaFell
Cin
TE
Jason Witten
Dal
WR
Tyler Lockett
Sea
TE
Vernon Davis
Was
TE
Kyle Rudolph
Min
PK
Matt Bryant
Atl
TE
C.J. Fiedorowicz
Hou
PK
Stephen Gostkowski
NE
TE
Ladarius Green
Pit
DT
New York Giants
NYG
PK
Caleb Sturgis
Phi
DT
Atlanta Falcons
Atl
DT
Cincinnati Bengals
Cin

DYNASTY LEAGUES

A dynasty league is similar to a keeper league but each team can keep their entire roster of players from one year to the next. After the inaugural draft in year one, the players will stay on the team they are drafted to unless they are traded away or released. Each offseason a rookie draft will take place in which the owners can add talent to their rosters. These leagues can be really challenging to rebuild a poor roster as it may take years of wise trading and shrewd drafting in order to rise to the top. Great leagues if you want to challenge yourself.

SURVIVOR DRAFT LEAGUES

These leagues can use either the auction draft or the standard draft. Once the rosters have been filled out however the rules are much different. Similar to the television show Survivor, in this style of league, the team with the fewest points scored in a week is booted out for the season. It is very important in this kind of league to build a well-rounded squad that can withstand the perils of injuries, bye weeks and other similar challenges. Usually in this kind of league, no free agent pickups or trades are allowed. Because of the format, there is possibly a higher degree of luck involved as you can have one bad week and be eliminated from the title chase.

IDP LEAGUES

These leagues use defensive players as well as offensive players. This is only for the diehard fantasy player as it takes a lot more research, knowledge and experience to know not only what defensive players to draft but when. Depending on the scoring rules, offensive or defensive players may fly off the draft boards in the early rounds.

A Look at Scoring Systems

One of the most essential aspects of fantasy football success is to understand your league's scoring rules inside and out. The different nuances of scoring from one league to the next can make a big difference in which players you should (a) target in your fantasy drafts and (b) start in certain weeks. In reality, there are thousands of different scoring variations that can show up in fantasy football that can have an effect on your roster but this section will break down the most obvious differences and give you an idea what to look for when scouring your own scoring rules.

While there are almost an unlimited number of different scoring rules you can use in fantasy football, there are two main branches to deal with.

PERFORMANCE SCORING

This is the most common amongst fantasy leagues. It rewards points for both touchdowns and yardage gained. For example, if a running back gains 120 yards rushing, 30 yards receiving and scores one touchdown, he could total 21 points in one league (1 pt every ten rushing/receiving yards + 6 points per touchdown), 11 points in another league (1 pt every 25 rushing/receiving yards + 6 points per touchdown) and 31 points in a different league (1 pt every ten rushing/receiving yards + 6 points per touchdown + 10 bonus points for a hundred yard rushing game). There truly are countless different ways these leagues can be set up. The important thing to remember as a fantasy owner is to take the time to really scrutinize your scoring system and change your drafting style to reflect those rules.

Examples of different styles of performance scoring

  • League A
    • 1 point every 10 yards rushing
    • 1 point every 10 yards receiving
    • 1 point every 25 yards passing
    • 4 points for each touchdown pass
    • 6 points for each touchdown run
    • -1 point for each interception
    • 1 point for each extra point
    • 3 points for each field goal
  • League B
    • 1 point every 10 yards rushing/receiving
    • 1 point every 10 yards passing
    • 6 points for each touchdown pass
    • 6 points for each touchdown run
    • 1 point for each extra point
    • 3 points for each field goal
    • 5 bonus points for each 100-yard rushing/receiving game
    • 5 bonus points for each 300-yard passing game
    • 2 bonus points for each field goal over 50 yards
  • League C
    • 1 point every 10 yards rushing
    • 1 point every 10 yards receiving
    • 1 point for each reception
    • 1 point every 50 yards passing
    • 4 points for each passing touchdown
    • 6 points for each rushing touchdown
    • -2 points for each interception
    • 1 point for each extra point
    • 3 points for each field goal

COMPARING THE THREE LEAGUES ABOVE

Each of these leagues should influence the way you go about your fantasy draft.

  • In League A, quarterbacks, running back and receivers are all giving pretty even billing. The scoring in that first league is about as standard as it comes and the value for each position should be easy to determine.
  • In League B, bonuses are rewarded to players who achieve certain objectives such as 100-yard rushing games and 300-yard passing games. That makes players such as QB Andrew Luck, RB DeMarco Murray, and WR Antonio Brown that much more attractive than in other leagues. In addition, quarterbacks in this league are huge point scorers with the 1 pt every 10 passing yards and 6 points per touchdown. It makes more sense in this type of system to target a quarterback like Drew Brees in round one whereas you may typically hold off until later in the draft to pick a quarterback.
  • In League C, running backs and receivers have much more value than the quarterbacks do. Not only are quarterbacks really devalued with the 1 point every 50 passing yards in addition to losing 2 points for each interception but the extra point per reception really places value on pass-catching running backs and receivers. In this kind of league, it would make sense to target both running backs and receivers early and pick up a serviceable quarterback much later in the draft.

Examples of scoring from all three leagues

  • QB Andrew Luck: 370 passing yards / 4 TD passes / 1 INT / 42 rushing yards
    • League A - 34.0 fantasy points
    • League B - 70.2 fantasy points
    • League C - 25.6 fantasy points
  • RB DeMarco Murray: 162 rushing yards / 6 receptions for 45 receiving yards / 2 touchdowns
    • League A - 32.7 fantasy points
    • League B - 37.7 fantasy points
    • League C - 38.7 fantasy points
  • WR Antonio Brown: 11 receptions for 120 receiving yards and 1 touchdown
    • League A - 18 fantasy points
    • League B - 23 fantasy points
    • League C - 29 fantasy points

TD-ONLY SCORING

This is a very basic, easy-to-understand league. The only thing that counts for points to a fantasy owner is touchdowns, field goals and extra points. In a league such as this, a running back such as Matt Asiata - who ran for only 570 yards last year but scored 10 total touchdowns -is more valuable then a player like LeSean McCoy - who rushed for 1,319 yards but scored just 5 times.

In these kinds of leagues, it doesn't matter if a running back explodes for 250 yards rushing in one game. All that matters is if he can score touchdowns

"Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period." -- Lou Holtz

IN CONCLUSION

With the countless different types of scoring available in fantasy football, what is important as a fantasy owner is to not only know your scoring rules but also to have a game plan heading into your draft. Knowing why Player A is a better option for your squad than Player B based on your scoring rules puts you ahead of many potential owners in your leagues.

Looking at Different Starting Lineups

Since you now know what fantasy football is, why we play it, and how various scoring rules can impact your fantasy roster. You are well on your way to doing well in this hobby but there is much more to learn still.

In this section, we will walk you through some different types of starting lineup requirements and the impact it can have on your fantasy roster. Starting lineup rules for a league is every bit as important as the scoring rules. The positions you will target early in your draft and directly impacted by these rules and your pre-draft and ongoing-draft strategies will shift and adjust based on these rules.

* NOTE: David Dodds puts together a Perfect Draft series in August that is a must read every football season.

1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF

In the past, this was one of the most common starting lineups used in fantasy football. In this type of league, running backs are definitely the position that needs to be targeted the most. Breaking down each position really illustrates why drafting running backs early is so critical to a fantasy squad's success. We will breakdown these positions based on a 12-team league with performance scoring.

Let's start with the quarterback position. There are 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Not all of them are worth starting in fantasy football but only 12 are needed within these rules. It is easy enough to find a serviceable starting quarterback later on in the draft unless exceptional value presents itself early on.

Also, only 24 starting receivers are needed each week and with many teams having two viable options at the position (Broncos - Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders / Raiders - Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to name a couple) it is not too difficult to find good value in your fantasy draft. At the running back position, 24 starters are needed as well but unlike receivers, it gets difficult to find worthy starters. Many teams utilize the dreaded running back by committee approach and that is a fantasy owner's nightmare. When a team likes to share carries, often there is challenges picking which running back will get the lion's share of the carries week in and week out.

The tight end position can almost always be left until the mid-rounds of the draft unless terrific value presents itself with the top tight ends such as Rob Gronkowski, who has developed into a fantasy monster from the tight end position. The kicker and defense slots should always be filled in the back end of a draft where value can always be found.

In this type of league, it makes a lot of sense to take two running backs in the first two rounds to build your foundation. Only target a receiver or tight end in those rounds if exceptional value presents itself such as receivers Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr, or Julio Jones and tight end Rob Gronkowski. It is important that a roster has three running backs on it by the end of round six or the owner will have to scramble all year to field a competitive squad.

Example of the Start of a Team's Draft in This Type of League

  • Round 1: RB David Johnson, Cardinals
  • Round 2: TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
  • Round 3: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
  • Round 4: WR Julian Edeman, Patriots
  • Round 5: WR Larry Fitzgerald, Packers
  • Round 6: WR Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
  • Round 7: RB Eddie Lacy, Seahawks
  • Round 8: RB Frank Gore, Colts

Roster After Round Eight (starters in bold)

  • QB Aaron Rodgers
  • RB David Johnson
  • RB Eddie Lacy
  • RB Frank Gore
  • WR Julian Edelman
  • WR Larry Fitzgerald
  • WR Emmanuel Sanders
  • TE Rob Gronkowski

1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF

This is a more common lineup. The strategy in this kind of league is quite similar to the first one except that receivers jump up in value somewhat due to the extra starting slot used in the position. It becomes harder to find a viable starter at the receiver position in leagues that must start three. In leagues such as this, it can make sense to pick up a receiver or two in the first couple of rounds but it then becomes absolutely vital that you target running backs in the next few rounds. For example, with the final pick in round one, you don't see any real value at the running back position but both Demaryius Thomas and Calvin Johnson are available. It makes a lot of sense to grab both. However it is very important in rounds three through six if you use this thinking to pick up at least three running backs while there are still decent options to be had. Not selecting a running back early makes it extremely challenging to compete unless you get lucky with a late round flyer in your draft.

In most cases, an owner should always emerge with at least one solid running back in the first two rounds. It becomes very difficult to find value at the position after the first few rounds. It makes sense once again to ignore the quarterback position early on unless value presents itself.

Example of the Start of a Team's Draft in This Type of League

  • Round 1: WR Mike Evans, Buccaneers
  • Round 2: RB Jordan Howard, Bears
  • Round 3: WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
  • Round 4: WR Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
  • Round 5: RB Ty Montgomery, Packers
  • Round 6: QB Russell Wilson, Seahawks
  • Round 7: WR Brandon Marshawl, Giants
  • Round 8: TE Jack Doyle, Colts

Roster After Round Eight (starters in bold)

  • QB Russell Wilson
  • RB Jordan Howard
  • RB Ty Montgomery
  • WR Mike Evans
  • WR Tyreek Hill
  • WR Alshon Jeffery
  • WR Brandon Marshall
  • TE Jack Doyle

1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 2 FLEX (RB/WR), 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF

The flex position can add a lot to a league. It gives owners different branches he can head down during a draft. The most important aspect to remember for an owner in a league that utilizes a FLEX position is to remain flexible. Sure starting three running backs can be a major coupe but it isn't always possible to land three great backs. However in many cases, while other owners scramble to pick running backs, exceptional value at receiver remains on the board. If you can land a trio of receivers such as Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, and Emmanuel Sanders with the first three picks, do so and don't look back. Make sure to land a couple of decent running backs in the next couple of rounds and your team would be set for a run to the championship. Basically, be flexible enough to change your strategy on the fly (the VBD theory will be covered in the next section and it is perfect to help owners capitalize on value). Don't be afraid to go with a 1 RB / 4 WRs starting lineup or a 3 RBs / 2 WRs lineup depending on how the draft falls to you each round.

Two Different Examples of the Start of a Team's Draft in a Flex League

Example #1
Rnd
Example #2
Pos
Player
Pos
Player
WR
Julio Jones
1
RB
Devonta Freeman
WR
Dez Bryant
2
WR
Dez Bryant
WR
Davante Adams
3
RB
Marshawn Lynch
RB
Carlos Hyde
4
WR
Alshon Jeffery
WR
Jamison Crowder
5
WR
Jamison Crowder
RB
C.J. Anderson
6
RB
C.J. Anderson
QB
Derek Carr
7
QB
Derek Carr
TE
Delanie Walker
8
TE
Delanie Walker

Example Rosters After Round Eight (starters in bold)

Example #1
Example #2
Pos
Player
Pos
Player
QB
Derek Carr
QB
Derek Carr
RB
Carlos Hyde
RB
Devonta Freeman
RB
C.J. Anderson
RB
Marshawn Lynch
WR
Julio Jones
RB
C.J. Anderson
WR
Dez Bryant
WR
Dez Bryant
WR
Davante Adams
WR
Alshon Jeffery
WR
Jamison Crowder
WR
Jamison Crowder
TE
Delanie Walker
TE
Delanie Walker

2 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF

Some leagues like to incorporate a second quarterback slot in order to give the position more clout in the draft. If you are in a league that does start two players at the quarterback position, it definitely should change your drafting philosophy. Once again, using the VBD theory is a great help in determining value at each position. In a league such as this, 24 quarterbacks must start in the league each week. It is very difficult to find 24 quarterbacks capable of putting up fantasy numbers in a given week and during bye weeks it can be almost impossible. Quarterbacks become almost as sought after in the early rounds as running backs and wide receiver position definitely becomes the third option. In a draft like this, it could be very probably that an owner drafts three quarterbacks and three running backs before even considering the receiver position.

Example of the Start of a Team's Draft in This Type of League

  • Round 1: RB Le'Veon Bell, Steelers
  • Round 2: QB Drew Brees, Saints
  • Round 3: WR Amari Cooper, Raiders
  • Round 4: QB Kirk Cousins, Redskins
  • Round 5: RB Marshawn Lynch, Raiders
  • Round 6: TE Tyler Eifert, Bengals
  • Round 7: WR Terrelle Pryor, Redskins
  • Round 8: QB Blake Bortles, Jaguars

Roster After Round Eight (starters in bold)

  • QB Drew Brees
  • QB Kirk Cousins
  • QB Blake Bortles
  • RB Le'Veon Bell
  • RB Marshawn Lynch
  • WR Amari Cooper
  • WR Terrelle Pryor
  • TE Tyler Eifert

IN CONCLUSION

"Inspiration and genius - one and the same." -- Victor Hugo

As illustrated above, different starting lineup requirements can, and should, change an owner's perspective during his fantasy draft. It is vital to take the time to scrutinize both the scoring rules and the starting lineup rules and understand how both ultimately affect the fantasy league. Go into your fantasy draft with a strategy that involves your starting lineup requirements in addition to your scoring rules but don't be afraid to adjust your strategy if value presents itself. Just remember that if you do step outside of your strategy going into a draft, you must make adjustments going forward. If you are in a league that starts two running backs and two receivers and you scoop up Antonio Brown and Randall Cobb with your first two picks, make sure that you target running back over the next few rounds to maximize your chances at that position. You can certainly afford to wait on the receiver position with your two starters already sewn up.

Just remember that understanding your league rules will go a long way towards your ultimate success in the league. If you remember that and do your homework, victories and championships will inevitably follow.

Helpful Tools Available at Footballguys.com

Once you have a good understanding of your league rules, it is time to begin the early prep work for your fantasy draft. It can be very daunting for a new fantasy owner to come up with a great set of fantasy rankings. However there are excellent tools, features and articles at your disposal that will help you succeed in this endeavor. This section will illustrate some of those features on Footballguys.com. As these features are added in the coming weeks, links will appear throughout this article..

EXPERT STAFF RANKINGS

For the owner that doesn't want to put together his own set of rankings, Footballguys.com has a great feature to utilize. The expert staff rankings take the opinions of many of the site's writers and post them to the net. Each person compiles their selections of the top players at each position and the picks are then uploaded to the site in an easy to use format that allows for sorting and comparisons. The feature also takes the average ranking of each player and it is easy to sort the rankings by the average, the site's rankings or by your favorite writer's rankings. It can save a fantasy owner a lot of time to simply take one of the rankings from this feature to use as his own.

OFFENSIVE PROJECTIONS

For owners who want to do their own rankings based on projections but don't have the time to compile their own projections, this is the feature for you. Footballguys.com spends countless hours poring over past history and analyzing each team's potential to come up with a strong set of projections. These projections are tweaked often and it is a simple task for an owner to take these numbers and adjust them according to his thoughts on each team and player. This is a solid feature for owners wanting some hands-on action with their rankings but not having the time or energy to devote hours and hours to the task.

AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION (ADP)

ADP is a great tool to help owners anticipate when a player will be taken in the draft. It is very helpful when an owner has a player ranked 7th in his rankings but the ADP of the player slots him as being the 27th player taken at his position. Knowing information such as this can really help an owner determine when to draft a player and when to hold off for another round or two.

SORTABLE TARGET NUMBERS

For the owner wanting to do all of his own projections, the sortable target numbers is a handy tool. It breaks down how many passes were thrown to each player on every NFL team. Knowing that Emmanuel Sanders had 137 passes thrown his way while Demaryius Thomas had 144 targets really helps when it comes to accurately projecting statistics.

NEWS BLOGGER

Our news page is an invaluable feature that tracks all of the relevant news for each NFL team. There is no danger of drafting an injured player, a retired player or even a deceased player if you visit the Blogger on a daily basis. Using the Blogger is a must if an owner wants to maximize his chances of success each season. It would take an owner 50+ hours of research per week to keep on top of the news in the same way as the Blogger does.

OFFENSIVE DEPTH CHARTS

Just who is the third receiver in Oakland? Which running back will back up LeSean McCoy in 2017? If you have questions such as those, you can check out our news page or you can click on the Footballguys.com depth charts which is updated frequently.

VBD APPLICATIONS / DRAFT DOMINATOR

"Try not to become a man of success but a man of value." -- Albert Einstein

The Draft Dominator is the perfect tool to have a successful fantasy draft but we will take a look at it in more detail when we get to Section VII - Dominating on Draft Day. The VBD application tools are an excellent help for owners looking for an edge on their competition. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term VBD, let me fill you in on the best thing since sliced bread. Here are Joe Bryant's thoughts on the idea of VBD:

...This method is something I began evangelizing to the public way back in 1996 when guys like Keyshawn Johnson, Eddie George and Marvin Harrison had yet to play an NFL down. It's called the Value Based Draft System (or VBD for short) and today, you'll find it's the hot ticket among serious FF Owners. Even among other writers. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Lets just say I'm flattered and leave it at that. But my system has gained wide popularity for one reason: It works.

With my VBD System you'll be able to finally place a tangible value on these players that makes sense to you. Always before, no one really knew if a QB throwing 22 TDs / 3000 yards is more valuable than a RB scoring 9 TDs / 1000 yards or a WR posting 7 TDs / 1100 yards. Now you'll know.

I'm here to tell you that success in your Fantasy Football Draft is all about understanding "Peer Pressure". And I'm not talking about being the last guy on the planet to get a tattoo (that was last year) What I'm talking about is the surest way I know of to accurately place a value on Fantasy Football Players for your draft.

In it's simplest form: The value of a player is determined not by the number of points he scores, but by how much he outscores his peers at his particular position.

Think about it for a moment. The goal is not to score a ton of points. You can score a ton of points and still lose. The goal is to outscore your competition. In other words, the goal is to distance yourself ahead of the competition. How do you best do that? You do that by selecting players who outscore their peers, not necessarily the players who score a ton of points as you fill a roster with a specified number of players at specified positions. This is extremely important. Copy this and paste it somewhere prominent. It's the key to success in this game...

You can read this excellent article here.

OTHER TOOLS AND FEATURES

In a nutshell, anything you may need you will likely find within the Tools section of the Footballguys.com site. If you need strength of schedule, past statistics, top 300 lists, dynasty rankingsrookie rankings, team reports, and/or articles on fantasy football strategy, all you have to do is sign up and reap the benefits of having a large staff of fantasy fanatics doing everything to help you succeed in this hobby.

IN CONCLUSION

Whether you simply want a list to draft off of or whether you wish to do all of your projections/rankings yourself, Footballguys.com has all of the tools and features you will need to make your fantasy season a successful one. Take the time to visit all of the features we have to offer and determine which ones you will need to help you get ready for the fantasy season. The next feature Section VI will give you the secrets on how to prepare for the fantasy draft.

Preparing for Your Draft

Now that you have decided to take the plunge, and have a working knowledge of different league structure variations, and have familiarized yourself with the your league's rules and scoring system, you are a step closer to the big event, the draft itself. One thing about the draft, it will be the main factor determining how your team ultimately does during the season (granted you can modify your team in season through savvy trading and targeted acquisitions from the waiver wire, subjects covered in later chapters of this guide). Draft well, and enjoy the benefits of success for the whole season. Draft poorly... well that really isn't even an option for a Footballguy, especially one schooled in this course. Just like taking a test or going into an interview, it is better to do so from a place of confidence and relaxed focus, which flows effortlessly from and is a byproduct of having done your homework beforehand. Don't be like those guys that grab a fantasy football magazine on the way from work, and look at it for the first time the night of the draft (at least give it a cursory look at lunch that day, dude!). Last minute scrambling can lead to disorganized and incoherent draft selections and team building.

The main areas that will be covered under this section's theme of Preparing for the Fantasy Draft will include the following (and they will be broken up into separate components and studied in isolation first, before combining the different strands of information and knowledge later):

  1. Scouting reports and player profiles
  2. Rankings and lists
  3. Mock drafts
  4. Thinking about what you know and putting it all together

SCOUTING REPORTS AND PLAYER PROFILES

The information and knowledge acquired about individual players, and the roles that connect them to their team's offensive schemes and plans can be likened to the building blocks and bricks that are the constituent parts of the team you will build. One of the most useful sources is Footballguys.com, including the player profiles, team reports, expert rankings, rookie impact reports, and faceoff series.

The information to be found at this site doesn't just passively regurgitate a dry recitation of disjointed facts, in an un-interpreted, mentally "undigested" state... look for content/style in which there is a sense of an active mind behind the scenes, pointing the way, identifying important things, making connections not apparent to the general reader, and suggesting likely implications, so others can make judgments, form plans and arrive at good decisions based on this. The best Footballguys.com breakdowns, analysis and commentary can serve an important purpose and fill a largely unmet niche and need - that of framing and having a clear and lucid sense of context and relevance.

RANKINGS AND LISTS

If scouting reports and player profiles were likened to the building blocks that will comprise your team, rankings and lists could be viewed as building codes and ordinances that guide an architect's decision on what can and can't be built, and what is functional. Footballguys.com expert positional rankings (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, place kicker, team defense, defensive lineman, linebacker, and defensive back) are a great source for compiling rankings, orderings and lists. Some other resources for this can include positional scoring leader tables from other leagues and prior seasons, so you don't need to reinvent the wheel. These can also be found at Footballguys.com in places like the Shark Pool message board. The Footballguys.com depth charts can be handy, if you are uncertain if a given player is a starter or reserve, depth-type player.

Season-to-season and game-to-game statistical breakdowns are ideal for hardcore trend spotting and sleeper-trolling. You get to see not only the stats, but also the distribution of the stats spread out over the course of the season. Kind of like unrolling a large tapestry, where you need to stand back to see the pattern and organizing principles writ large. Trends can really roar off the page and announce their presence with almost no mental effort expended on the part of the pattern recognizer. You miss this critically important opportunity when the cumulative season-long stats are merely summed and all rolled together.

Age is sometimes a consideration when putting together your rankings and lists. Age is very important in a positional sense. If a running back is 32, that might give someone more pause to rank them highly than if they were a wide receiver or quarterback. Running backs typically have already peaked and seen their best days when they are still south of 30. Pedigree can be vital, and this kind of information can be found in numerous places around the net. They help to answer questions like... did prospect have a distinguished collegiate career, and maybe going even further back, did they stand out among all their prep counterparts across the nation? If a prospect has succeeded at every level they have ever played at, and rose to Top 10 status in high school, then once again in college, doesn't guarantee success, but all things being equal, the athlete with the better pedigree will sometimes be weighed more heavily. This can be an important, underestimated, and not to be neglected factor when assembling rankings and lists and merging multiple, different and competing criteria.

MOCK DRAFTS

After having the building blocks, and a working knowledge of building codes, the next step is to have a blueprint for what your eventual team will look like. Architects don't just start building randomly and haphazardly to see what happens. They have a plan (usually visual and bound by 3-D constraints), with the foresight and vision to prefigure what things will look like, and are grounded enough in that vision to see the steps needed to realize its completion. Footballguys.com is a great source for mock drafts. The better the quality of your scouting reports and player profiles, the better will be the accuracy and relevance of your positional lists. These in turn will better inform your mock drafts, whether you do your own or follow along with the experts. Mock drafts are very important, because they give you a sense of where the tiers of talent are bundled and clustered, and where the talent drop-offs are located, which punctuate and demarcate the lines of talent. There will be points in every draft, and no doubt in every one of yours, where positional runs occur. One of the skeleton keys of success is identifying and recognizing when to stay within a positional run, if that is where the value resides. Following from this is an understanding of where the talent tier drop-offs are, and when to break from the pack and go in a different, better direction. Knowing when the best running backs begin to thin out into more marginal types, can point you towards timing decisions on when to make the first move towards a higher tiered wide receiver or quarterback and just as importantly, when to go back to the running back well. More than anything else, pre-draft preparation along the following outline will help you to nail down these vexing matters and solve them to your own specifications.

By the end of the preseason, we will have many featured drafts at our site featuring David Dodds, Jason Wood, Matt Waldman, Sigmund Bloom, and members of the Shark Pool. Not only do we give you our picks in these drafts, we explain our thought processes behind our strategy in the draft. Each of the participants has a ton of experience and knowledge and the drafts are always ultra-competitive.

After a few/couple dozen/hundreds of mock drafts, depending on your time, inclination and level of obsession, you are almost ready for the draft.

THINKING ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW AND PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

The final level, not to press the analogy too far, is that of a city planner, and seeing how the parts fit in a balanced way.

The use of several layers and levels of informational streams (i.e. scouting reports, player profiles, team reports, expert rankings, face-offs, etc.) can better inform your lists and rankings, which will translate to more accurate and relevant mock drafts, and better enable you to hunt sleepers and run them to ground.

Using resources such as those found on Footballguys.com are invaluable. In order to build a bridge between the consensus emerging from scouting profiles, how those prospects fit in with their team's plans, data such as that found in league scoring leader tables (parsed by position and back tested with two-three seasons of stats) and to connect and hook that up with the rankings, lists and mocks, we all need - thoughts! In a vacuum, without the proper context and framework, information and events can seem random, fragmented, disorganized and transient, like trying to do a land survey on quicksand. But all the various magazines, guides and sites give you thoughts to think with!! And by which you can gain the information, knowledge and detachment to orient yourself and render intelligible what was before a vast and disconcerting conceptual wilderness.

If you take nothing else away from this part of the Beginners Guide series, let that be your sole recollection and conceptual scaffolding taken away from this reading. A ladder is a tool. Once you climb up to where you need to go, you don't thereafter have to carry it on your back. It serves its purpose if it raises you to the level you wish to rise to. Footballguys.com in general and this series specifically will arm you with tools needed to actively think about these matters strategically, to see connections, suggest implications, recognize patterns, identify trends, etc.

Many find the Shark Pool one of the greatest tools in the tool kit. Even if some of you already use some of the above layers and levels of informational strands, and some of these thought processes make sense and seem to hold forth potential usefulness, there will still probably always be times when, due to gaps in knowledge of players, teams, coaches, systems, schemes, historical changes over time, projections into new positions, player movement, etc. in which you may have some of the pieces of the puzzle, but you are missing some important part. The piece that will snap it into a gestalt and enable you to see the larger pattern that links and connects the disjointed parts into a unified whole is the message board. Avail yourself of the board as a resource. Resident football minds in the Shark Pool and IDP board, in aggregate mental horsepower, are the closest thing you will likely come across in your cyber wanderings, to a thousand-eyed monster that sees everything.

** A critically important lesson to learn before the draft is to not fall in love with players. It is common to read a blurb out of context and hone in on a player, effectively stopping your background search at that point. Better to think of, and constantly be on the lookout for why not to select a player. You are more likely to continue your search further, to the point where you can attain a better balanced, more rounded and well informed appraisal with this sort of method and mindset.

CONCLUSION

"All men by nature desire knowledge" -- Aristotle

The keys to the weeks leading up to your draft are as follows:

  1. Research, Research, Research
  2. Analyzing each of the 32 NFL teams
  3. Breaking down the potential of each individual player
  4. Projecting your thoughts into numbers (or use the Footballguys.com projections)
  5. Sort your projections into cheat sheets taking into account injury risk, competition, etc (again, the Draft Dominator does this best)
  6. Look at your cheat sheets and determine if anything looks out of place
  7. Compare your rankings to the average draft position of each player to find value and reaches before the draft begins
  8. Tag the players in your cheat sheet you feel you can 'steal' later than the average draft position
  9. Adjust the projections as breaking news occurs such as injuries, waiver wire movements and trades
  10. Keep on top of the news right up until the start of your draft

Knowledge is power and the key to success within fantasy football. Take the time before your draft to prepare, and you will dominate your league.

Having a Successful Draft

It has finally arrived. Draft day. This is your first real taste of fantasy football as a new owner, and the first head-to-head competition you will have against the other owners in your league. Your entire season will spring from this one day. It is a fantastic mix of tension, excitement, anxiety, anticipation, disappointment, and flat out fun. To be successful, you need to out draft your opponents. You need to jump before they jump and restrain yourself when they overreact. In short, you need to dominate your draft - leaving the others wondering what happened to them. Here's how.

GENERAL TIPS

Here are a few general tips to observe during your draft:

  • Arrive on time. A few minutes early would be even better. No one likes to wait.
  • Be prepared for each pick. When you time comes, double check your short list and make your selection. Don't go over your time.
  • Stay focused. If your opponents are in the middle of a backup quarterback run, don't get caught up in it. Stick to your list.
  • Keep a clear head. Save the serious drinking for after the draft.

OPENING ROUNDS

When the draft starts, you should have your first two or three picks in mind. These guys will be the bread and butter of your team. They need to be guys who will consistently score better than 80% of the other players in the league. They'll build the foundation for your team each week. That probably means that you'll need two solid running backs in the first three picks although that isn't written in stone. Don't panic if running backs start flying off the boards. Just follow your list and select the best player based on who is available. These rounds are pretty easy. It's during the later rounds that things really become interesting. As things start to heat up, make sure to keep a close eye on the players that other owners are drafting. Pay particular attention to anyone who is in your division/conference, especially if you will face them more than once.

Don't be afraid to skirt the running back position if tremendous value presents itself. If owners are reaching for questionable running back talent in rounds two and three, buck that trend and scoop a top quarterback or receiver instead. It is always nice to have two running backs after the first two rounds but don't reach for a questionable talent with top-tier talent at the other positions still on board. You will be able to find running backs with upside in rounds five or later. If you can start a fantasy draft with only one running back in the first four rounds but emerge with a top quarterback and two of the better receivers along with the running back then go for it.

As you head into rounds four through seven, start looking for a way to break from the pack. If every other team has taken a quarterback by this point, you don't gain much by taking one now. Focus your attention on another position where you can pick up a stud No. 1 or solid No. 2 guy. Look at the teams who will draft in between your next few picks. Can you see a possible run on one position about to start? If so, grab the highest player from that position now and start the run. When your next pick comes up, start the next trend. If you can stay ahead of these runs, you'll be able to consistently out draft your opponents at every position, and even control the flow of the draft.

MIDDLE ROUNDS

Here is where all of your pre-draft preparation comes into play. As you try to decide whether to add depth, or finish out your starting lineup, a lot will depend on who is available. Your list will tell you which way to go. Continue to draft the best player available, regardless of position. In rounds eight, nine and ten you should focus on guys who have big upsides, or players who can post big games during the season. These guys can take over for your starters in the event of an injury, or streak of bad play. Keep your off weeks in mind here, and try to balance them whenever possible. Don't bypass a player strictly because they are off the same week as your starter. However, if all things are equal, take the guy who can start when your No. 1 guy is off.

Most owners will wait until after round ten to take a kicker and/or team defense. While this is a good general strategy, at some point is will become obvious that you should take one or both. Again, trust your list. If your opponents are waiting too long to fill these positions, it might be time to start another run. If your list is telling you that it is better to take a defense than to add another wide receiver, you should not be afraid to do so. Your pre-draft preparation was done when you were thinking objectively about how each player could benefit your team. Don't lose that objectivity in the heat of the moment.

Never pigeon hole yourself into one strategy but rather let the draft come to you. It is perfectly acceptable not to select two running backs in the first two rounds but you then must focus your attention on the position in three of the next four rounds before the viable candidates vanish. If you take three running backs in the first three rounds, it would be a smart move to avoid the position for the next few rounds, focusing on the other key positions. Flexibility is one of the keys to a great draft.

LATER ROUNDS

As you enter the later rounds, your focus should turn to filling your roster gaps. If you have off week issues draft players to fill those holes. If you have starters who are injury-prone, consider drafting their backups as insurance (otherwise known as handcuffing). Once all of your bases are covered, take a flyer or two on some of the guys that you have earmarked as sleepers. Look at your opponents and see if they have made any mistakes in their drafting. Look to exploit those mistakes at this point as well.

Don't get hung up on drafting a backup for every position. Many teams will go into the season with only one kicker and one defense, adding a backup during free agency. If you are confident in your draft, consider this as well. You can add an additional sleeper or two now, and cut the dead wood from your roster during the regular season. If one of your sleepers works out, it will be well worth it.

KEEPING TRACK OF IT ALL

Keeping track of everything is a daunting task. Managing your team is hard enough, but following every team in the league is even harder. Analyzing every team on the fly, looking for drafting trends, off week gaps and other mistakes that you can exploit can seem like an impossible task. It is not. Everything that you need is already taken care of by the Footballguys Draft Dominator. Should you take a wide receiver, or a tight end? The Dominator will analyze your opponent's rosters and suggest which player is best for you. Can you lay off a quarterback for a round or two? The Dominator will look at the teams around you and determine if you should wait or not. Have any of your division rivals drafted a defense yet? The Dominator can tell you with a few quick clicks. Based on your scoring rules, your opponents' rosters and the current drafting trends, The Draft Dominator will suggest which available player is best for your team. Just download projections into it, and let the program do all the work. This year's model has even more features than ever. If you really want to dominate your draft, and put yourself in a great position to win your championship, you need to check this program out. Your opponents won't have a chance.

Note: On the Draft Dominator, if you haven't taken the time to download this program and play with it, you are really missing out on something wonderful. For years, I would use an excel-based cheatsheet that I came up with that would help me track the various things happening during a draft. I felt that I really had a step up on my competition in understanding what was going to take place next.

However the Draft Dominator takes that excel-based sheet and expands on it to the 10th degree. Once you are familiar with the various functions of the program, you will have incredible insight to what the other owners in your league are doing, what their next picks are likely to be and which players you should be targeting in your drafts.

Here are some comments by David Dodds on the Draft Dominator tool:

"I am clearly biased but I believe it represents a new breed of logical drafting. Things someone could never do without the aid of the computer. Just as VBD and later Dynamic VBD made their marks on this hobby, the Dominator will change how you draft.

  1. Imagine if during a draft, you could look at your lineup against your opponent's lineup and attempt to predict team strength, scoring margin, etc. for every single week of the season while the draft was happening.
  2. Assume for a moment that you could also emphasize or de-emphasize certain weeks during the draft based on how you are faring against your opponents, league rules, etc.
  3. Imagine an auction draft where you know exactly how much everyone has spent, has left and has dynamically adjusted player values after every pick.
  4. Imagine a program that you can tell it not to look for a kicker or defense until after nine have been taken.
  5. Imagine being able to assign distributions to players (other than normal) for how they will score their points. Think Le'Veon Bell here who will be suspended to start the season.
  6. Imagine a program that analyzes schedule strength and applies it to select complimentary players for your roster.
  7. Imagine a product that recommends different picks to different teams based on their need and how those players would maximize their head to head play.
  8. Imagine a program that works for all positions (IDP included) and virtually any scoring criteria.

You know what. I do not have to imagine these things. The new Dominator does every one of these and a lot more. I know it does these things because Bruce Henderson and I have been working for the past four years to deliver the best product ever to this industry. For those not in the know, Bruce Henderson is a full-time C++ programmer in his normal job. He also is a very skilled fantasy football player. And now working with our staff and soliciting all of the input last season for improvements, we have put together something that WE KNOW will change the industry.

I will say it right now. If you are playing in a high stakes contest (FFPC, etc.) this season and are not using the Draft Dominator, you are playing from behind. I know that to be true."

David Dodds, Footballguys.com

Analyzing Your Roster

You just spent countless hours devoting yourself to the fantasy draft, poring over countless notes, articles, statistics and everything else you could read in order to have the best possible draft. You arrived at the draft confident and prepared, knowing that you were going to have the preeminent draft possible this season. The past 4+ hours were spent drafting the players you believe will carry you to the league championship. You know that the draft went smoothly and you weren't left scrambling at any point. More than likely, as a Footballguys.com subscriber, you were ready thanks to our articles, features and tools such as our very own Draft Dominator and the fantasy draft unfolded beautifully in front of you, leaving you great value to pick up throughout the process.

After the draft, you have a couple cold ones, talk some trash with your league mates and then have a choice to make:

  1. Congratulate yourself for having the perfect draft and wait for the season to begin
    or
  2. Take stock of your roster, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each position

Many fantasy owners do not take the time to reflect on their own rosters and that is a poor decision. No matter how marvelous your draft was, there will always be some positions stronger than others and it is important to highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of your roster to properly etch out your plan of attack going forward.

After your draft, really take the time to give serious reflection in regards to your roster. Try to look at the players impartially as there are many different aspects of your roster to look at after the draft.

  1. Bye-week strength and conflict
  2. Starting lineup strength
  3. Back up strength
  4. Best position(s)
  5. Worst position(s)
  6. Possible trade bait

Here is a look at a potential draft for an owner in a league where you must start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 TD.

Pick
Overall
Pos
Player
Tm/Bye
1.09
9
RB
Devonta Freeman
Atl/8
2.04
16
WR
Michael Thomas
NO/5
3.09
33
WR
Allen Robinson
Jac/8
4.04
40
WR
Demaryius Thomas
Den/5
5.09
57
RB
Paul Perkins
NYG/8
6.04
64
RB
Doug Martin
TB/11
7.09
81
RB
Theo Riddick
Det/7
8.04
88
QB
Kirk Cousins
Was/5
9.09
105
TE
Zach Ertz
Phi/10
10.04
112
WR
Kevin White
Chi/9
11.09
129
QB
Philip Rivers
LAC/9
12.04
136
WR
Marvin Jones
Det/7
13.09
153
RB
James Conner
Pit/9
14.04
160
DT
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jac/8
15.09
177
PK
Mason Crosby
GB/8
16.04
184
WR
Robert Woods
LAR/8

Take this information and break it down by position.

Pos
Player
Team
Bye
QB
Kirk Cousins
Was
5
QB
Philip Rivers
LAC
9
RB
Devonta Freeman
Atl
8
RB
Paul Perkins
NYG
8
RB
Doug Martin
TB
11
RB
Theo Riddick
Det
7
RB
James Conner
Pit
9
WR
Michael Thomas
NO
5
WR
Allen Robinson
Jac
8
WR
Demaryius Thomas
Den
5
WR
Kevin White
Chi
9
WR
Marvin Jones
Det
7
WR
Robert Woods
LAR
8
TE
Zach Ertz
Phi
10
PK
Mason Crosby
GB
8
DT
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jac
8

Do a detailed breakdown of each position.

  • Quarterbacks - Grade: 8/10
    • Two capable starting fantasy quarterbacks with some upside heading into the season
  • Running Backs - Grade: 7.5/10
    • Very good starting RB1 in Freeman
    • Perkins is a good RB2 considering his draft position
    • Martin is a great reserve back with good upside once he's back from suspension
    • Riddick and Conner each could be solid options if things fall their way
  • Wide Receivers - Grade: 9/10
    • Three players are capable of WR1 spot
    • Nice reserves in White, Jones, and Woods
    • Bye week 5 could be an issue
  • Tight Ends - Grade: 8/10
    • Ertz is not elite, but he's a solid fantasy tight end
  • Place Kicker - Grade: 8.5/10
    • Great kicker in a great situation
  • Defenses - Grade 7.5/10
    • A good defense

Thoughts on this roster going forward

  • Quarterback position is strong and shouldn't need much attention going forward.
  • Some question at the running back position in behind the starting two.
    Wide receiver is a big strength. Possibility to package one of the receivers to increase running back strength.
  • Tight end, kicker, and defense starting strength is good. There is no depth, but these positions usually have solid players available on most leagues' waiver wires.

Once you have identified the various weaknesses and strengths of your fantasy roster, it will be time to take steps to strengthen the roster. You will be able to use trades and waiver wire pickups to turn around the weaker aspects of your roster, and you should take the time to target teams that have weakness in positions that you have significant strength (receiver in the example above). One of the better aspects of the Draft Dominator is the ability to see the projected total scoring for each of the franchises in your league. You can compare your draft to the others in your league using this feature and can target teams with strong running games, great quarterback play and questionable receiver ability just by clicking a button. It is a fabulous tool that helps you truly break down your fantasy draft.

Now you are ready to begin tweaking your roster and to start the season in your quest for the championship. Track all of the fantasy football news leading up to and through the entire season using our free Daily UpdatesFootballguys News Blogger and The Shark Pool and you will be well on your way to a dominant fantasy season.

Improving Your Roster Post-draft

In the last section, we took a look at how to properly analyze your fantasy roster following a draft to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your roster. We also touched on using the Draft Dominator to break down the strengths and weaknesses of the other squads as well. This section will take a look at the two ways you can improve your roster before and during your fantasy season. Part A will break down trading in fantasy football, how to target potential trading partners and how to ultimately close the deal. Part B will brush upon the free agent market and how to target potential breakout players available via the waiver wire.

THE ART OF THE DEAL

Step 1: Evaluate your team weaknesses

No matter how strong of an owner you are when it comes the fantasy draft and waiver wire pickups, there are always improvements to be made to your roster. Take a good look at your squad and determine what needs to be added to reach the top and stay there. Perhaps one more starting receiver or a better quarterback will put you over the top. Discover exactly what you need to improve. We will use the example from the prior section here.

Example roster from previous section:

Pos
Player
Team
Bye
QB
Kirk Cousins
Was
5
QB
Philip Rivers
LAC
9
RB
Devonta Freeman
Atl
8
RB
Paul Perkins
NYG
8
RB
Doug Martin
TB
11
RB
Theo Riddick
Det
7
RB
James Conner
Pit
9
WR
Michael Thomas
NO
5
WR
Allen Robinson
Jac
8
WR
Demaryius Thomas
Den
5
WR
Kevin White
Chi
9
WR
Marvin Jones
Det
7
WR
Robert Woods
LAR
8
TE
Zach Ertz
Phi
10
PK
Mason Crosby
GB
8
DT
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jac
8

Step 2: Breaking Down Your Opponents' Rosters

Your league starts 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 3 wide receivers, and 1 tight end. You have a solid quarterback duo, tremendous wide receiver strength, a question mark at RB2 and solid starters with no depth at tight end, kicker and defense. Furthermore you have a potential problem at receiver with three off on bye during week five. The obvious move for this owner is to move one of his big name receivers with a week-five bye in order to strengthen his running back spot.

There are not many foolish owners anymore in fantasy football with all the information that is available to help the casual owner. Therefore it is crucial to find an owner desperate to add talent to a particular position on his team. Find an owner that is weak in a position in which you have a wealth of talent and you are well on your way to completing a deal. Just remember that the only deals that will be made in this day and age are the ones that help to strengthen both squads going forward. Don't try to cheat your fellow owner and fleece him in the deal, but rather go for fair value.

Potential trading partner: One owner has good running back strength in Jay Ajayi, Isaiah Crowell, and Spencer Ware, good quarterback strength in Derek Carr and Dak Prescott, and a solid tight end in Delanie Walker. However this owner has very poor receiver talent in T.Y. Hilton, Jarvis Landry, Cameron Meredith, Allen Hurns, and Curtis Samuel. Let's say for the sake of this study that to make things worse, Hilton is injured and out for the year. This team has lost two games in a row and having three strong running backs doesn't help him when his receiver corps is in shambles. At this point, he will likely be more than willing to trade a running back for a strong receiver.

Step 3: Approach the Owner

You have identified the owner who will be the most likely to deal with you. Great. Now what? This is the most important part of the trade. You need to approach this owner and propose a deal to him. It has to be good enough to grab his attention but not so strong that you ultimately hurt your own chances to win the league. You are going to have to offer strength to get strength back so you need to decide which player you ultimately want to offer up via the trade route.

Make the deal look as fair as you can to begin with or it may kill any trade talk between the teams. Also make sure to stress the fact that it doesn't do him any good to have two of his running backs sitting on his bench. In addition, you are aware of your deficiency at receiver and how unlikely it is he will make a run to the title without improved receiver play. A great strategy is to drop a 'name' player on him that is a known commodity but not likely to start on your roster.

"Hello Owner X, this is Chris of the Footballguys. I was looking at your roster and noticed that you are in big trouble at the receiver position. I happen to have an overabundance of talent at that spot and perhaps we can reach a trade that can help both of us get to the playoffs.

I will give you Demaryius Thomas and Theo Riddick in return for Isaiah Crowell and Allen Hurns. This is a trade that immediately makes both of our rosters stronger going forward. You can still start a great duo at running back in Jay Ajayi and Spencer Ware, and adding Thomas to the mix will give you a legitimate WR1 that your roster solely needs while I get a starter that could make my running back starters more explosive going forward. Let me know what you think."

This will not be an easy trade offer for the owner to accept. McCoy is a top fantasy weapon while Perriman is good but not his best option at receiver. He is likely to counter with a Allen Robinson or even a Michael Thomas substitute for Demaryius Thomas, but being desperate he may indeed agree on the original trade offer. It all depends on the owner and their tendencies. If he does counter with an offer like the one suggested, it can be accepted, improving the talent at running back, or an owner can play hard ball and stand firm, hoping the desperate owner will buckle.

FINAL STEPS

What you write to the fantasy owner should not completely mirror your own thoughts. This owner is desperate and he knows he must upgrade his receiving core. The reality is getting an great running back such as Crowell for a receiver would be a major coupe and he knows that as well as you do. However he must upgrade his receiving core to have a chance at playoffs so there is a very strong possibility that a trade gets done here.

Changes to Starting Lineup After Trade

Starters Prior to Trade
Starters After Trade
QB
Kirk Cousins
Was
QB
Kirk Cousins
Was
RB
Devonta Freeman
Atl
RB
Devonta Freeman
Atl
RB
Paul Perkins
NYG
RB
Isaiah Crowell
Cle
WR
Michael Thomas
NO
WR
Michael Thomas
NO
WR
Allen Robinson
Jac
WR
Allen Robinson
Jac
WR
Demaryius Thomas
Den
WR
Kevin White
Chi

Looking at the starting lineup before and after the trade, it is clear to see how wheeling and dealing can help your fantasy team reach the ultimate goal - your league championship. Many times it takes determination to make a trade like this happen. However the end result is so fantastic that it is well worth the frequent e-mail, phone calls or banter back and forth when trying to wrap the deal up. The key is to always make the deal look as great as you can to the other owner while getting exactly what you want on this end. The Art of a Deal can be the difference maker from being an also ran to the kingpin of your league. Give it a go!

PRESEASON FREE AGENCY

Free agency will be discussed in greater detail in Section X. However, in the preseason, it should be approached a little differently. When trying to fill a preseason gap, there are a couple of things that you need to focus on.

Teams with training camp battles should be your main focus. If the rookie has a chance to beat out the veteran starter by the end of camp, you need to keep an eye on the situation to see if someone emerges as the clear favorite. Grab them before they are named the starter. This way you stay ahead of the pack. Focus on your area of need, but don't be afraid to increase an area of strength as well. If you can add another quality player to your squad, you can leverage this depth in the future to trade with a weaker team.

If a team loses a starter to injury, even a short-term one, you need to be ready to pounce. Grabbing a short-term backup can help you trade with the team that holds the starter, or give you a quality starter for a good part of your season. Taking advantage of a player's injury may seem like a dark approach to the game, but injuries happen all the time in the NFL. It is something that every team owner needs to deal with throughout the season.

Above all else, remember why you drafted these guys in the first place. If you really think a particular player is going to be someone special, don't cut or trade them unless you really have to. A lot of things can happen during the early part of the season, and it may be better for you to ride the bumps and see what happens in the long run.

Using the Waiver Wire

The draft may be over, and the season may have already started, but if you really want to succeed in Fantasy Football, you're going to keep looking to improve your team each and every week. For every team that derails their season with a poor draft, there is one that turns their season around with a free agency pickup. Every year there are players that emerge from near-obscurity to dominate the fantasy scene. In some leagues last year, Tyrell Williams, James White, and Tyreek Hill were exceptional discoveries. For every team that drafts a playoff-quality squad from the start, there is one that makes the playoffs because of someone they added during the regular season. Here are a couple of areas that you can focus on to find players who may have been overlooked by the other owners in your league.

EMERGING STARS

It seems like every year, there is a rookie player who was drafted in the middle rounds that seems to explode onto the scene. These guys are often overlooked in a fantasy draft because they are just too risky to spend a roster slot on. Catch one of these rising stars early enough, and you can ride them right into the playoffs. Finding one of these guys creates one of the greatest feelings you can ever have in fantasy football: You feel great because you have outguessed every other owner in your league, and as your star continues to rise, every other owner in the league will be reminded of it! There is no better way to trash talk than to be massively successful!

Finding these guys is tricky, but certainly not impossible. You just have to look beyond the game stats. Look for a young player stuck behind a struggling veteran. In the win now attitude of the NFL, loyalty to a veteran player only goes so far. A team may want to shake up the lineup, and give the younger player a shot. If that younger player gets their opening, they may never look back. Pickup the backup before the veteran is replaced, and you'll be smiling all the way to the championship.

ROOKIES ON WEAK TEAMS

By the 10th week of the season, it is pretty clear which teams are not going to make the playoffs. With 16 teams in each conference, even teams with 9-7 records can find themselves watching the playoffs from home in January. Teams with less than four wins by Week 10 will probably not make the playoffs, and may begin to focus on next year. Younger players on these teams can start to see more playing time as the season winds down. Grabbing a rookie or two from one of these teams can give you a player whose stats will increase as the NFL season draws to a close. This kind of performance is perfect for fantasy owners looking for a player who can give them a boost during the playoffs.

To find these guys, you have to do a bit of mid-season projecting. Fantasy free agency typically closes around this time of the season. To see a team that may throw in the towel, you'll have to look at their remaining games. Try to project how they will do in Week 10 though Week 13. A chain of losses during this stretch can kill a season for a team, and may lead a coach to call up the younger guys.

SEASON-ENDING INJURIES

It goes without saying that players get hurt in the NFL. Year after year, a guy who is untouchable as an NFL starter goes down to an injury and is finished for the season. When this happens, a backup player who would never see the field is suddenly cemented into the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. Backup players don't hope that their teammates get hurt, but they make damn sure they are ready to take over if they are needed. As a fantasy football player, you need to be ready for this as well. Grabbing one of these guys can give you a solid starter that you would not have had without the injury. It can turn your season around if you have been struggling, or can take you deep into the playoffs if you are doing well. Taking advantage of an NFL player's injury may not be a feel good way to improve your team, but it is a big part of the mid-season free agency activity, and should not be ignored.

A fantasy owner can take a good draft, and ride it all the way to a very successful season. If the cards fall right, they might even take home the super bowl crown. But a true fantasy competitor is always looking to improve their team whenever they can. One key free agent pickup can turn a weak team into a strong one, or a strong one into a champion. Don't be afraid to hit the free agency wire early and often. It can pay huge dividends for your team in the end.

A Brief Look at Making Starting Lineup Decisions

Okay, you've selected your players, analyzed your strengths, grabbed a couple free agents, pulled a trade or two and now you're ready for Game 1. So you glance down at your roster and try to decide who is going to give you that all-important first win. Here are a few tips on how to ensure that your team not only notches its first win, but also keeps you in every game, even against the league champion.

KNOW YOUR DEADLINES

This is the single most important piece of information when determining your lineup from week to week. All the research and breaking news in the world won't mean much if it's too late to change your lineup. It is critical that you know when your starting lineup is frozen.

It may sound silly to state this as the most important rule, but you will be surprised at how often it is missed. During the course of the regular season, someone will forget that there's a Thursday game, or that their stud running back is off this week. By the time they realize their mistake, it will be past the deadline, and they'll start someone who is off or sit someone who they should not have.

On Wednesday of each week, grab the schedule and glance at it for a few minutes. Make note of any Thursday or Saturday games that may be scheduled that week. Also note which teams are off that week. Compare these teams with your roster players and make your changes early. As the deadline approaches, adjust your lineup as necessary.

KNOW YOUR STUDS

Another simple rule that sometimes is overlooked. If you've got the No. 4 running back in the league, but they are facing the No. 1 run defense in the league, do you bench them for someone else? No way! Not unless you're lucky enough to have three stud runners on your roster. Your stud players are the guys who will be there week in and out for you. These guys always find a way to contribute. They might not chip in 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns every week, but even against the toughest defenses, these guys can have an impact. Never sit your studs unless they are injured. Period.

KNOW YOUR MATCHUPS

The key to posting solid numbers week after week is to put the best team possible on the field. If you can correctly determine your highest scoring player at every position (100% scoring efficiency) you'll win most of your games. It sounds simple, but it's really not. After every loss, you will probably be able to look back on your roster and see a guy who would have won the game for you, if only you had started him.

The key to putting the best team on the field is to look at the opponents of all your players. Is your backup running back playing a team with a weak run defense? If so, you might slip him in as your No. 2. Is your backup quarterback playing a team with a banged up secondary? You might want to start him this week. Is your starting kicker playing outside in the rain or snow? You might want to start your backup instead. Knowing who your players are matched up against can really help maximize your scoring each week.

One very important thing needs to be mentioned again here. Never bench your stud players because your backups have an easier opponent. It is a very bad idea. Don't do it. Always start your stud players. This can't be stressed enough.

KNOW YOUR INTANGIBLES

Here are a few other things to consider when rounding out your lineup.

  • If your league allows flex positions, always start the players who average the most points each week.
  • If one of your players is on a hot streak, take a chance and move them into the starting lineup in place of your No. 2 guy.
  • If everything else is equal between two players, start the one who is not listed on the injury report. Some points are better than none.
  • As the deadline for your lineup approaches, check for breaking news about injured players. Was your starter downgraded on the injury report? Was a player injured at practice later in the week? A last minute change in the injury status of a player can leave you with a guaranteed zero from one of your starters. Avoid this if you can.

Follow these simple rules, and you will find that your team will be competitive week after week. Pulling out one or two close victories during the regular season can boost you into the playoffs, or give you a higher overall rank at the end of the year.

Looking to the Playoffs

You have received sufficient advice in other sections regarding how to improve your team at different positions through waiver-wire work and through getting the best you can in trades. So, this section assumes you can already evaluate players and their worth to your team. When evaluating what to do with your team during your push for the playoffs, there are three major issues to consider:

  1. Is my team's personnel ready to make a push?
  2. If I am fairly certain I am making the playoffs, do I have the right players to make a run for the championship?
  3. Does my league have roster move deadlines that will force me to add depth in case of catastrophic injury?

IS MY TEAM'S PERSONNEL READY TO MAKE THE PUSH?

It is past the fantasy mid-season and you are seriously worried about whether you will make the playoffs. What you need to do is evaluate your personnel to see if tinkering is required. If your team is strong but has had bad luck, or has players returning from injury, or is about to hit some favorable matchups for your key players, doing nothing may be the best advice you can give yourself. But, to make an evaluation, you must take a hard look at your team's strength and weaknesses. You need to devalue players who have upside but are not reaching it and you need to be extraordinarily active in seeking a trade or two that will improve your weekly starting lineup over the last half of the season. Of course, don't ignore the waiver wire either.

First, identify your core players and your basic weaknesses. If you have been winning on the strength of starting three running backs in a flex league, consider that strength untouchable. If you have been getting stud quarterback and solid wide receiver play, along with Rob Gronkowski at the tight end spot, to compensate for weak running back play, those are the players that are untouchable. At this point, it is not recommended that you patch a weakness by sacrificing a strength. Amplify your strength by lifting the weak areas of your starting lineup and be prepared to sacrifice some depth. To use a colloquialism, don't change horses in the middle of the stream.

Second, identify the position(s) not pulling their weight. No position is minimal when you are making a playoff push. At this point, adding two to four extra points per week from your off positions could be the deciding factor in winning a game here or there or in accumulating enough points to win tiebreakers that get you into the playoffs. Just as in the NFL playoff pushes, the fantasy push requires increased production from unexpected places. A defense or a kicker with a hot stretch of games could be your edge into the playoffs.

Third, if you are deep in a couple of key areas, especially in areas of your core strengths, it is definitely time to work a trade for a quality player. Players on your bench will not help you get into the playoffs, and if you don't get into the playoffs, nice depth on your squad is meaningless. While it is unlikely you will be able to pry a top notch running back away from your opponents, you may be able to trade one of your starting backs, plus a backup player from a deep position of strength, for an overall improvement to your weak starting backfield. Unless you have a weekly stud at quarterback, you can try to trade for one who has a favorable stretch of games upcoming. And don't overlook trading depth at a skill position, or even a starter who can be nearly matched by one of your backups, for a top notch kicker or defense. It is not necessarily a good idea to value those positions in your draft, but during the year, and especially during your push, those positions score well and can make the difference in winning each week.

For a concrete example, if your starting flex running back is getting you eight points a game while your backup is getting you six, and your defense is getting you nine points a game, trading your starting RB2 for a defense that is getting 14 points a game is a net improvement to your starting lineup of three points a game. You now start a squad that is that much closer to having an edge in head to head scoring.

Fourth, it is also probably about time to give up on those sleepers and flyers that did not pan out. Players need to contribute immediately, and last time I checked, potential points are worth nothing. These players also may hold sufficient name value in trade to someone else to help improve your squad with players ready for the push - at the least, they are taking up space for waiver wire additions ready to contribute now. While it always hurts to trade a player who blows up, you have to decide at this point whether you are going to ride the potential on your bench, or put more potential points into your starting lineup. You might even be able to work a two-for-one running back trade of your starting RB2 and a bench back with upside for a more solid starting RB2.

Fifth, on the waiver wire, look for players who have temporarily high value. You need a few weeks of high quality efforts from your team. Players who step in during the season and put up some solid numbers really can push the squads to the playoffs and the titles.

Sixth, a strategy exists in leagues that allow unlimited roster moves of working the waiver wire each week for your kicker and defense based on the most favorable matchups offered that week from among what is available. That strategy can work, but it can be a really difficult thing to manage properly and you end up every other week forced to make a move because you have only added waiver-wire quality players to your team.

When trading and making waiver wire decisions during your push, target players with favorable schedules over the next several weeks and into the playoffs rather than looking purely at weekly average scoring. If you are looking at those factors and others are not, you can make some very wise trades without sacrificing as much as the player is worth to you Keep in mind that quarterbacks are the position most susceptible to matchups It might be a good idea to look for that quarterback with a favorable schedule down the stretch and trade away your solid starting quarterback who has the better name. The overriding concern is making the playoffs and hoping for a run that takes you to the championship - but getting in is the goal right now. Always remember that the push requires a starting lineup that is strong for the rest of the season. Sacrificing some valuable running back/wide receiver depth may be necessary to create that lineup.

DO I HAVE THE RIGHT PLAYERS TO MAKE A RUN FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP?

Maybe you have decided that major tinkering with your team is not the right thing to do, that your team is strong enough along the starting lineup to make the playoffs, and that the first line of backup depth is too good to sacrifice. Your focus now is squarely on performance once you are in the playoffs - examine your backup players' matchups during the playoff run and see if any minor moves could be made for comparable players with a more favorable schedule during the fantasy playoffs. Your studs and starters should perform regardless, but worry about your normally reliable backups being pressed into action during a month that happens to be their toughest part of the schedule - and your most important part of the year.

Getting hot during the playoffs is how many championships are won, but you can manipulate that heat with a little oven work on your backups. You do not want to alter the starting lineup that you are happy with. But, for instance, make sure that if your backup running back is pressed into action during your playoff run, that he isn't facing Seattle, San Francisco and Baltimore, in succession over weeks 14-16. Even a solid starting running back would have a tough go in the playoffs facing those teams. Maybe trade that backup running back and another player for a comparable running back who has a more favorable schedule plus a kicker or defense that improves your squad or has a more favorable playoff schedule than your starter.

Many of the principles from part one are obviously applicable to part two. If making moves, focus on what teams that player faces in the playoffs as much as how many points a game he is scoring.

Very important to keep in mind is the NFL reality you will be facing in December. This includes things like whether a losing NFL team will be looking to play its younger players more, whether a warm weather/indoor team with players you have been riding (read: Atlanta, Indianapolis, Houston, Miami, or Detroit) have an inordinate number of December games outdoors in bad weather cities, and whether the team is likely to be playoff bound or eliminated. Also project whether your players are going to be playing away games in stadiums where the home team needs to win to get in. You simply hate playing your Cleveland players in Baltimore in December if the Ravens need to win to get in the playoffs.

Keep in mind that rookie receivers might get significantly more looks in the passing game during the last few games of the year. They will have passed the learning curve for first year players and, as their teams are eliminated from contention, they will send more looks the rookies' way. NFL reality also includes the give up factor - some veterans simply stop working as hard, and stop getting as much offensive attention after their teams are facing a losing season.

So, if you are looking to turn your team from a playoff bound team into a hot team during the playoffs, analyze what is probably going to be happening for your players over the last month of the NFL season. NFL concerns dominate how players are used. Your championship run just happens to coincide with the NFL's playoff push, so those two events are inextricably aligned. While we all know how unpredictable the NFL is during its playoff push, you can consider the fact that some teams collapse each year in December, some teams make a push, and some players get stronger in December. Use that in deciding whether your fantasy squad is ready to get hot in December.

DOES MY LEAGUE HAVE ROSTER MOVE DEADLINES?

It is Week 10 or so of the regular season, and your fantasy team is just rolling along. You have either clinched a playoff spot or are fairly close to doing so. You are stockpiled with solid starters and nice depth behind them. However, your league rules mandate that roster moves will end after all bye weeks are completed. Or when the playoffs start. You have dropped those unnecessary backup tight ends and kickers to give you room for important RB/WR depth, and you have three quarterbacks because your starter has been dinged up a bit.

If your league allows moves through the playoffs, this section is unnecessary. However, many leagues end moves a few weeks before the playoffs, or when the playoffs start. Do not forget an essential part of fantasy depth - Murphy's Law: "Whatever can go wrong, will." If you leave yourself only one kicker after all roster moves are done, it is almost a guarantee that the first play of your fantasy playoffs, your kicker pulls his groin.

For years, even though I hated watching my ditched talent accumulate points on the waiver wire or someone else's team, I have made sure that before my roster was closed, I have a backup tight end and a backup kicker, and that I drop to only one backup quarterback and only one defense. I also always try, if possible, to have the backup to my starting RB1. Moreover, I tend to have no more than one backup for each starting wide receiver. If we start two, I have at most four on my roster and if we start three, I have at most six. If I have a flex spot, I will use the backup wide receivers for that flex spot provided I don't already plug in a running back. If my backup receivers (who sit on the bench anyway) are too valuable to simply drop, they need to be traded for improvement elsewhere - even for improvement to my starting kicker or tight end. Any leftover space goes to running backs for depth at that key position.

In this way, I am prepared for the possibility of a catastrophic injury at any position. It is a very difficult thing to do if you are restricted by how many roster moves you can make per week or if you have a very limited roster size, but it is worth losing solid depth all the way down to WR5 and RB5 in order to still have a shot at the crown if I lose my starting kicker.

You may need to make some tough choices regarding backups. For instance, figuring out which player is the immediate backup for your starting running back can be tricky, but that is the individual you keep instead of either that RBBC guy you have for depth or that rookie you have been hanging onto hoping he'd emerge. You might err on whom you ditch, but you will be better insured against injury to your RB1 since you will have your starter's replacement. Of course, you need confidence that the coaches will use the backup that you kept to the same degree as the starter was used.

In deciding how to backup the non-skill tight end and kicker positions, any warm body that gets points each week will do, but look for one that has favorable matchups during your fantasy playoff. Dump that defense by committee and commit to one defense with a favorable playoff schedule. Do, as you will in managing your team's injury risk. Just remember that during the playoffs there is nothing worse than guaranteeing yourself a zero at a kicker or tight end position, when you have an otherwise Super Bowl ready squad.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Congratulations on reaching the end of this series and you are well on your way to becoming a strong owner in your fantasy league. There is a lot of information to digest in the previous pages, but learning the information above will make you a competitive owner each and every year of your league. Taking the time to prepare with a commitment to excellence will enable you to have the perfect draft, post-draft, and season on your way to the playoffs. Thanks for reading, have a wonderful season.