Try some of the strategies that have helped me win

I’ve played fantasy football for over a decade, and I think I’ve developed some tips that work to greatly improve my chances of winning the fantasy championship (which I’ve done a few times).  Of course, there is more than one way to win, but these strategies work well for me.  And of course your strategy always depends on your situation. For example, you may enter your draft with a plan to draft a QB in the second round, but when the second round gets to you you don’t see any QB’s worth the pick, but there’s a great RB that has fallen beyond your expectations.  In this case, you may say screw your plan and just take the best value.

Rule number 1.  The golden rule of all fantasy sports.  Before you draft, you must know the rules and scoring settings of your league and how it impacts draft strategy.  ESPN rankings and Fantasy Draft Guides are not so relevant if they are based on a fantasy scoring system and roster structure that is different from yours.  You should know how players should rank in your league.  For starters, you can go to the players tab in your league’s fantasy site and list their stats from last year, then sort the players by fantasy points.  This will give you an idea of how the players would have been ranked last year according to your leauge’s settings .

Do your draft research so you don’t draft injured/suspended players and you can jump on quality sleepers.  Arian Foster was not a surprise for anyone who read fantasy news last summer.  Read at least.

Go after elite receivers (Andre, Calvin, Roddy, Larry, Reggie...).  There are usually 4 or less WR that are even close to top 10 RB’s.  The WR cliff is steeper than the RB cliff and the top RB’s are less predictable than you think, so if you miss out on the top sure-bet RB’s in the first round you might as well take a sure bet WR over a risky RB.  And you will be more likely to find a top flight RB than a WR in rounds 3, 4, and 5.  The more WR’s your league requires you start and the deeper the league you’re in, the more essential it is to acquire WR’s early.   Loading up on RB’s early is not as successful as you think.  I typically pick up a WR in the first round or second round.  

Get one of these quarterbacks
Rodgers, Manning, Brees, Brady, Rivers, Schaub.  Don’t worry which one.  There’s a chance that one of these guys will have a record breaking year.  But you never know which one it will be.  If you can tolerate more risk, go ahead and take Mike Vick or even Matt Ryan.  I prefer the guys above because they’ve been consistent, top performers for years.

Under most circumstances an elite tight end is a must have.  I’ve never regretting using a high pick on Antonio Gates.  It usually pays off more than grabbing a second WR or third RB, because those are usually easy to find, but there are only a few TE in the whole league worth owning.  This is very important if your league is shallow or doesn’t start many positions.   In these cases, it is essential that your TE performs like a big boy and not a fantasy afterthought.

PIT defense never fails.  Green Bay should be solid.  Other D’s can be good in real life, but not necessarily good fantasy teams (e.g. NYJ defense did not give up many points, but they also did not get many INT’s, which you need for fantasy football).  If you don’t have an elite defense, consider picking a new defense week to week.  I picked up a new defense every week last season, targeting the defense of whoever was facing Carolina, SF, or Cleveland that week and did quite well with that strategy.

Draft a kicker in the last round. Kicker performance is completely unpredictable.  The top kickers each year are often undrafted and the top drafted kickers are often not even top 10 performers.  Playing in a dome or being on a potent offense are not good indicators despite the obvious logic.  Don’t waste a pick.  Just keep an eye on the hot kickers in free agency.

Go big at the end of your draft.  When Kevin Kolb went down last year, I didn’t even bother jumping on to my computer to grab Mike Vick.  I already knew he was owned in my league, because someone in my league drafted him in the last round and made a huge deal about it.  That was some last round pick!

Don’t succumb to runs - Oh uh there’s a run on tight ends - I better get one!  You can find great value at other positions when other folks place fear over value.

If you can, avoid drafting guys with the same bye week as your QB.  You can’t drop your star QB to pick up a one week starter, so don’t give yourself a bye week crisis on that week.  Any week but that one.

Work the waiver wires especially in the first few weeks.  Scavenge for fill-in running backs and break out stars.  I picked up Peyton Hillis from the free agency last year and never looked back.

If you have a dilemma about dropping a good player for a tight end on Bye week, you should consider not playing a tight end at all.  Chances are the pickings are slim for tight ends on the free agency and the 1 or 2 points you may pick is probably not worth dropping a valued member of your team.