The primary principles of fantasy football are simple; scout players, draft your team, give yourself the best chance to win week after week, make the playoffs, win the league. While those principles are easy enough, it’s everything in between that can be intimidating for rookie owners. Well drinkfive is here to help with our first ever “How To” guide to fantasy football.
(note: These are simply the basic to wet your whistle; they will vary depending on your leagues set up and rules)
Scouting: Simply the process of doing research on NFL players to ensure you know enough to put a good team together.
- Create/Find a draft cheat sheet that you feel comfortable going into your draft with
- Develop a system or strategy for drafting your team
- Test your strategy in mock drafts
No matter what you know, or think you know, about the NFL, fantasy football requires research if you want to compete. This means taking the time to sit down and pour over statistics and trends. That’s right rookies, T-I-M-E; time is the key to fantasy football, so make sure you have plenty of it before getting involved.
Once you’ve decided to dive in and become an owner your first goal is to create a draft cheat sheet. A draft cheat sheet is a list of players that you will want to have in some order of value (i.e. Aaron Rodgers should be ranking higher than Jay Cutler). A player’s fantasy value is the most important aspect to fantasy football, you’ll learn why later.
There are numerous strategies developed for fantasy football, but I can legitimately tell you that not one of them is a sure fire way to win. Whether you look up a strategy to follow, or develop some super secret strategy of your own, you MUST HAVE A STRATEGY entering draft day. Your strategy must be; non-biased, organized, and tested. That means do not diminish the value of Aaron Rodgers because you’re a Bears fan, or increase the value of a player because he’s “your boy”. Be organized enough to think on your feet. Most drafts are timed; meaning you only have so much time to make your pick, which is easy in the early rounds, but it gets more difficult later in the draft.
That brings me to my third point; test your strategy. Mock Drafts are an important tool heading into the fantasy season. Not only can you test your strategy in a “realistic” situation, but you can get an idea of what the fantasy world is thinking. Pay attention and participate in as many mock drafts as you can, then pour over your results to spot the trends and tighten up your strategy heading into draft day.
Draft Day: The best part of the fantasy season. Draft day is the where it all begins, and where it all can go downhill. Don’t get it? You will after your first draft.
- Stay focused and clear headed
- Draft the best team you can, or most valuable team you can (there is a difference)
- Establish a connection with the rest of your league
Some drafts take place at bars, some drafts online, and some drafts at your buddy’s house, who is undoubtedly single. No matter where the draft takes place the goals are the same; draft the best damn team you can and start your road to victory. In order to do that you have to stay clear headed. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, it just means you need to avoid making those slobbering drunkin draft choices because “your gut tells you he going to be the best damn back up kicker in the league” (yes, an exaggeration I know, but you get the idea). By all means, drink beer, have fun, and talk trash; but don’t let yourself get too distracted or too intoxicated. It will not be a fun season if your draft does not go well, remember that.
Upon draft day you may have delusions of grandeur that you’re going to get the all star team of fantasy football, but it won’t happen. Remember, fantasy football is a football fans dungeon and dragons, everyone does their research, everyone wants to win, and everyone will be taking it seriously. The first few rounds will fly by as tier one players drop off the board, and provided you’ve done your research you shouldn’t worry too much about your picks in the first couple rounds. As you work into the middle rounds, that is were winners are made.
You can follow one of two basic strategies; Drafting for need, or drafting for value. Drafting for need is looking at your roster and examining what position you need filled. There are plenty of strategies surrounding this basic idea, and you should certainly try a couple out to see how you like them. Drafting for need is a safe drafting strategy in that you know you will have all your positions filled with a player of your choosing. The con to this strategy is what you’re missing in value. Just because you need a running back and its round 10, doesn’t necessarily mean that is the pick to take a running back with.
Drafting for value is a bit more risky because you’re taking a gamble. When you draft for value you are looking at all the players available at their positions, then you decide who the most valuable one with that pick is. So when you picks come up you look at the best available QB’s, RB’s, WR’s, and TE’s, then compare them to who is left in those positions to see how valuable they are with that pick. If you’re still not getting it, try searching for “value based drafting”. The con to value drafting is that value is a relative term. We all do our best to predict the most valuable players, but there is no guarantee you are making the correct “value based” pick.
The last goal of draft day should be to establish a connection with the league. Whether you are all good friends, or coworkers; it is important to establish a “professional” connection. What I mean is; you are an owner now, so act like one. Talk to the other team owners and pick their brain; find out who they like on their team and who they aren’t so sure about, find out if they plan on making trades or building off the waiver wire, at the very least exchange emails so you can get a hold of them when you need to make a move because you’re first round Jamaal Charles pick just flopped down clutching his knee on the sidelines in Detroit (I’ll never forget!).
Waiver Wire and Trades: The end of the draft is just the beginning of the season. Before you take a breath remember that you still need to win this thing, and your best weapons are the waiver wire and trades.
- Put the best starting lineup out there from week to week
- Don’t get screwed in a trade
- Don’t drop Cam Newton before week 1 (only applies to my drinkfive editor: Jason Evans)
We’ll start by explaining the waiver wire because it is undoubtedly your best chance to add talent to your team. The waiver wire is simply the players who are not on a team. Here are the basics. Every league has different rules as far as when you can and cannot use the waiver wire, so make sure you clarify this with your league and commissioner beforehand. Also, when a player is dropped from a team and put on waivers, it usually means he is not available for a certain amount of time. You can only have so many players on your team, which means you must drop a person onto waivers before picking somebody up.
By no means should you assume that your draft was so ungodly perfect by every owner that the waiver wire has no talent on it. You will learn quickly that all the advice and educated guesses in the world cannot predict the outcomes of NFL seasons, or we would all be filthy rich. After drafting you will want to go onto the waiver wire and flag players you think could be valuable. This will allow you pay closer attention to them specifically and compare them side by side. You may also want to start deciding which players on your roster you’d be willing to drop, it’s a tough choice, but you’re an owner now and you can't worry about the player’s feelings (they have no idea you’re dropping them anyway). However you use the wire, make sure you are on it consistently enough so that you don’t miss out. The goal is to put the best roster up every week and a waiver pick up may be the deciding factor in a win or a loss.
Besides the waiver wire you can make trades. Depending on your league trading may happen regularly, or it may happen very rarely. The biggest, absolute most important rule to remember when making a trade is to take your time and do as much research as you can. DO NOT GET SCREWED. It happens every year in every league; somebody gets talked into a bad deal. Trades can be the difference between a winning record and losing record, so try to make them if it is necessary. You should also hear out trade proposals when they come your way, you never know how desperate the other guy is. Most importantly is bargaining; do not accept the first deal you get until you have bargained or counter offered.
Those are the very basics to fantasy football and from this point on you’ll be hooked. There are all kinds of terms and words exclusive to fantasy football that you should know; which you can check out here at drinkfive.com.
Good Luck Owners.