With millions of American televisions tuned in to NFL football every Sunday in the fall, it comes as no surprise that more and more people are taking the plunge into the world of fantasy football. Fantasy football is a great way for the average fan to become more involved and emotionally invested in the games in which his or her favorite team isn't playing, and it also allows fans to learn more about the league. But in order to have fun playing fantasy football, one must first draft a winning team. Here are some sure-fire tips to help you raise the championship trophy at the end of the year.
Tip #1: Make sure you're prepared for the draft. You don't need to know every stat for every player, but it's a good idea to at least have a general idea of how well they are capable of producing. Read articles and message boards to learn which players are expected to improve in the coming season, and which are expected to regress. Monitor training camp position battles prior to your draft. Keep a lookout for injuries to top players. Make sure you arrive at the draft prepared with a cheat sheet.
Tip #2: Know your league's scoring system. Does your league award points per reception (PPR)? Do kick return yards count for offensive players? Subtle differences such as these can drastically affect the value of a player. Make sure you adjust your rankings to reflect the scoring system of your league.
Tip #3: Have a definite strategy. The old school of thought in fantasy football was to load up on running backs early. These days, with more teams using a committee approach to the running back position and with the increase in pass-first offenses, that strategy isn't necessarily as sound. Based on your league's scoring system, your cheat sheet, and your draft position, plan out which positions you would like to fill early on, and which positions you feel can wait until the later rounds.
Tip #4: Don't be afraid to improvise. Inevitably, at some point during the draft you will see a player that you had rated fairly high still available many rounds later than you thought he would be. Many times it's worth it to go ahead and draft that player, even if you're already strong in the position he plays. In a game where injuries are a way of life, it's not a bad thing to have extra depth for your own use, or to trade to another team.
Tip #5: Bye weeks are overrated. Many people will say that you should avoid having too many players with the same bye week. As far as you should be concerned, it's worth sacrificing one week of your season if you have a dominant team that can win most other weeks. Don't sacrifice quality just because you don't want to have 4 guys with the same bye week.
Tip #6: Patience is a virtue. Just because the last 3 players drafted tight ends doesn't mean that you have to follow suit, especially if following suit means that you're reaching for somebody before they should be drafted. Stick to your plan.
Tip #7: Remember: your roster to start the season will probably not look a whole lot like your roster to end the season. You are not stuck with this team for the rest of the year. Injuries will happen, and breakout stars will pop out of the woodwork. If you're weak at a position leaving the draft, you will have the opportunity to fix this weakness via trade or the waiver wire.
Tip #8: Never draft a kicker before the last round. The difference between the best and worst kickers is marginal at best. Your kicker absolutely will not make or break your season.
If you stick to these eight tips, you should be able to draft a winner. Hopefully, with enough luck and appropriate in-season management, you will have bragging rights at the end of the year.