August can be a depressing month for a lot of people. The summer is winding down, which means the warmer weather will leave us soon and many of us will be heading back to work or school shortly. But if there’s one thing to get excited about in August—at least from a man’s point of view—it’s your fantasy football draft.
Sadly, throughout the years, there are few things that I anticipate more than my fantasy football draft. Every year I prepare more for my draft than I probably did for my GMAT, SAT and every final I ever took in college. I leave no stone unturned. I read up on ESPN.com during my lunch break and comb through fantasy football magazines when I sit on the toilet. My hard work has paid off as I have become the most decorated manager in my league, winning three times in seven years…and yes, my Mother is very proud.
Now today, I give you my keys to my success….
Consistency is Everything
When targeting players for my draft, I am always looking for consistent scorers. There are some players out there who will put up huge numbers one week and then have one catch for three yards the following week (yes, I’m talking about you Santana Moss). This can drive a fantasy owner mad. Sure it’s nice when a guy puts up a huge week like that, but it really doesn’t matter if I win by 30 points or win by one point. I’ll take a guy who puts up fewer points but is fairly consistent from week-to-week.
Philip Rivers is one of my favorite fantasy players because he is basically a lock for 250+ yards passing and two TD’s every week. I had him last year and I rode his arrogant ass to the title. A quick look at his stats from 2009 will show that he threw for under 200 yards only once all season, had nine multiple touchdown games and never threw more than two picks in a single game. He is the model of consistency.
How do you tell who will be the most consistent players? The key is to look at the yardage totals and ignore the touchdowns. Touchdowns are almost impossible to predict from year-to-year, so don’t even bother looking at that. If a player constantly puts up good yardage numbers, don’t worry if his TD total was low the previous season. If the player racks up enough yards, then he’ll likely get his share of scores.
The old adage in fantasy football is to be sure to draft running backs early. This has changed over the years due to the increase in the number of teams using runningbacks-by-committee. I prefer to take WR’s early. Now don’t get me wrong, if I draw an early pick I will gladly take my pick of Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew. But after that, I’m probably looking for a receiver. There are a number of reasons for this:
Reason #1 There’s Always a Guy Who Comes out of Nowhere to Have a Big Year
Every year there is a RB that no one had on their radar who has a ridiculous season. Last year it was Ray Rice and Rashard Mendenall. I managed to grab BOTH of those guys late and they carried my team to the promise land. The key to landing one of these breakout players is to draft LOTS of running backs. I typically draft two established guys and then look for 2 or 3 “high upside” guys in hopes that at least one of them fulfills that potential. If I can get one of these guys to pan out, I can use my early picks on an elite WR instead.
Reason #2 Elite WR’s are at a Premium
There are very few elite WR’s out there. In my opinion, there are only four elite receivers in 2010 (Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall). There are eight other very good receivers that are just a notch below these four stud receivers, whom I’d be happy to have as well (Reggie Wayne, Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, Marques Colston, Greg Jennings, and Anquan Boldin). After that, there is a big drop off. I typically like to have two of these guys on my squad and I’ll have to use early picks to make sure that happens.
Also, unlike the RB position, it’s rare to see a younger guy have a breakout season. Typically its takes three years before a wide receiver has his first big year. Because of this, it’s much harder to find that diamond-in-the-rough at the wide receiver position.
When you consider that many leagues have three WR slots and sometimes four (if you have a flex position) to fill, it’s vital to get good WR’s.
Huh? Don’t draft anyone on the Colts? Are you kidding me?
YES. I’m serious. Sure, Peyton Manning is a machine and he turns guys like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie into fantasy studs. If you draft a bunch of players on the Colts, you’ll likely dominate the regular season. You’ll sing Peyton’s praises every time you see his goofy face on a commercial, you’ll establish a man-crush for Dallas Clark and you’ll talk shit to all the other managers, while boasting in your glory.
Then week 16 will come around, the Colts will have wrapped up a first-round bye for three weeks now, and all their starters will be resting up for the playoffs, and you’ll be stuck starting Jason Campbell in the championship game. Good luck with that!
This is my most important rule in fantasy football. Match-ups are everything. The key to winning in fantasy football is to exploit weak match-ups and bench the guys going up against tough defenses. You can give yourself the best match-ups each week by giving yourself a lot of options.
With the exception of my likely fourth round pick of Philip Rivers, I will probably draft either a RB or WR in each of the first ten rounds. By stocking up on WR’s and RB’s, I give myself the best chance to have favorable match-ups at the two most important positions from week-to-week.
Those are my keys to fantasy football greatness. Hopefully no one in my league reads this.
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