People seem to think that Fantasy Football is this vast and complicated game. Everyone creates their own player ranking system and participates in mock draft after mock draft. They stress over match-ups and have a heart attack when they realize their two best players have the same bye week. Fantasy Football is not a science. You can never predict the amount of fantasy points a player will put up from week to week. Most of the time, it’s completely random.
With that said, there is a system that you can use that will help you at least give yourself a chance to win your league. I’ve used it in the past with great success. It doesn’t involve player rankings or mock drafts. All you really need is a general understanding of NFL teams and how the NFL game is played. Here are eight rules, which if followed will at the least, put you in position to win your Fantasy Football league. Because when it comes down to it, your fate is mostly up to chance.
1. Understand the Nature of the NFL
The first step to winning a Fantasy Football league is coming to grips with the fact that you can never be the reason that your team wins, but you can sure as hell be the reason that it loses. NFL coaches aren’t concerned with fantasy points. They’re more concerned with keeping their job and pissing away valuable years of their lives. The sooner you realize this, the better off you’ll be. To that point, players will have off games. Either because they weren’t featured in the game plan that week or maybe they just had a bad game. Players will always regress to their mean. If you have a good player, don’t bench him after one bad game or even two bad games. If you’re confident that he’s a good player, ride out the slump until he gets back on track.
2. Understand What Makes Someone a Good Fantasy Player
There are three factors that contribute to being a good Fantasy player:
All you need for this is a basic understanding of how good NFL players are. Obviously, Peyton Manning is a lot better than Mark Sanchez. Simple enough. If you need to cheat, use Madden ratings.
Is the player featured in the offense? How many touches a game does he usually get? If he’s a running back, does he split carries with someone else? If he’s a Quarterback or Wide receiver, does his team pass a lot? If he’s a Running back, does his team run a lot? Basically, you want players who will get the most touches at their position on their team.
Teams pass when they’re behind and run when they’re ahead. You need to use this knowledge to your advantage. You should try to start a Quarterback if you think his team will lose and start a running back if you think his team will win. If the Patriots are up by 40 at the half, there’s no way in hell Bill Bellichick lets Tom Brady play more than a drive in the second half. Steven Ridley on the other hand will see a massive increase in carries.
3. Use Your First Round Pick Wisely
It’s been said before, you can’t win your league in the first round but you can lose it. Understand that in the first round, everyone is basically getting the same player: An elite player who will get the most touches on his team and put up big numbers. All you have to do in the first round is MAKE SURE you get one of those players. There’s not much of a difference between guys like Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. Either way, you’re getting someone that you can put into your starting lineup and leave there the whole season. You should expect that whoever you pick in the first round will be your starter all season.
4. Accumulate as Many Assets as Possible
When it’s your turn to make the pick, always draft the best player available. Don’t ever be afraid to duplicate talent. This goes for mid-season pickups as well. If you happen to be watching NFL Redzone and some little-know player is having the game of his life, and he isn’t on anyone’s roster, jump on that shit IMMEDIATELY. The more assets you have, the better off you’ll be (and the worse off everyone else will be). It doesn’t matter if you have a 20+ point Running back riding your bench all year long. What’s more important is that he’s NOT on someone else’s roster. Not only that, having several sought-after players will give you a lot of flexibility if you have a hole on your roster that you want to fill with a trade.
5. Monitor Injuries
If you want to have success in Fantasy Football, it is imperative to keep an eye on the injury report, for both your players as well as players on other teams. Take a guy like Michael Bush for instance. On the surface, he’s a poor fantasy prospect. He’s Matt Forte’s backup and probably won’t get more than 10 touches a game. But as soon as Forte goes down writhing in pain, Bush instantly becomes a top 15 running back. Grab injured players’ backups as soon as possible. ESPECIALLY, if the injured player is on your roster.
In addition, keep an eye on your players status before games. Nothing kills you more than having your Quarterback put up a big fat zero because of knee tendinitis. Most teams are very secretive about their injury reports so you may have to stayed glued to your TV up until the last minute. If that means you have to skip church then do it! God will understand.
6. Be a Savvy Negotiator
Don’t be so willing to accept trades. Sometimes you need to be a dick and make your friend throw in a little sweetener into the deal. Be very careful to make sure that you’ll be able to easily replace whatever you’re giving up. Don’t trade Calvin Johnson if the other two receivers on your roster are Santana Moss and Jerome Simpson. Ideally, it’s better to trade players from your bench than from your starting lineup.
7. Understand that Kickers Are Random
Get a kicker who plays for a good offensive team on your roster and leave him there. Fantasy production for kickers is completely random from week to week. There will be games where he’ll put up three points and there will be games where he puts up 15. Like I said before, you just have to ride out the slumps and hope for the best. And for God’s sake, don’t EVER trade for a kicker.
8. Sometimes You Just Get Screwed
Whether a player gets injured, benched, suspended or maybe his team just sucks; sometimes you just get screwed. You can follow all the steps above: draft a great roster, play the free agency field and make good trades; and It’s still very possible that you lose by one point in the first round of the playoffs. Sometimes all it takes is one missed tackle that allows your opponents Running back to break a 60 yard run or one missed field goal when you’re down by two points. The important thing is not to beat yourself up about it. Shit happens and sometimes it happens on you. That is unless you bench Peyton Manning in the championship game because he had two bad games in a row, and he ends up going off for 45 points. Then it is your fault. Then you just look like an asshole.