Fantasy football is right around the corner, literally, as our first draft on Yahoo is Sunday evening. Seems kind of early, but it’s never too early to start thinking about America’s favorite fantasy pastime.
This is the first part of a two-part series to prep for the 2019 fantasy football season, yet everyone should remember that of all fantasy sports, football involves the most luck. There are limited opportunities; there are always injuries; there are always fluke statistical anomalies that both help and hinder you each week.
That being said, good luck. We all need it when it comes to fantasy football.
Try to Execute These Plans:
1. Understand the New NFL Order for Running Backs: The NFL has changed in the sense that most teams do not have a single, dominating running back who gets 300-plus carries a year and catches 50 passes, too. Most teams go RB by committee these days, so if you cannot get one of the top RBs early in the first round, don’t bother reaching for “anyone” soon thereafter. Focus on other positions of strength, like wide receiver or even an elite tight end.
2. Analyze Your League Rules: The biggest rule to know is whether or not you’re playing in a point-per-reception league, where passing-catching RBs have just as much value as traditional RBs. Likewise, the elite WRs who will catch 100-plus passes this season have a lot more value, and generally, there also will be a lot more depth at WR, too. Study the rules before the draft. This may seem obviously, but … you’d be surprised.
3. A Great Defense Can Be an Offensive Weapon: When a team’s defense has a great season, the extra points from that defense each week can add up fast. However, it’s always tough picking a good defense, and season to season, predicting which “fantasy defenses” are going to be the best ones is hard. Look for dominant star players on a team’s defense when picking a fantasy defense, as individual efforts impact the whole.
4. Know Your Bye Weeks: This is an underrated reality of draft strategy, for if you select multiple players at the same position that also have the same bye week, you’re punting away a win in the middle of the season which will come back and haunt you in the end. Have a list handy so you know when that third RB on the roster is sitting.
Week 4: New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers
Week 5: Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins
Week 6: Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders
Week 7: Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 8: Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys
Week 9: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints
Week 10: Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
Week 11: Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans
Week 12: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings
Try to Avoid These Traps:
1. Don’t Pick a QB in the First Round: There are a few elite QBs, but the difference in total points scored for the season between a top-tier, real-life QB and a good-enough fantasy QB isn’t much. You can snare two good QBs in the middle rounds and manage matchups all season long to get excellent production from the position without sacrificing a high draft pick. Just don’t draft two QBs with the same bye week.
2. Desperation Picks Will Cost You: It’s always the challenge in a draft to avoid falling into the rut of picking a certain position player because the five owners before you all picked from that position, too. You suddenly think you better grab someone before it’s too late. That’s where you end up reaching, more often than not, for any player rather than the right player. With rare exceptions, sticking to your own strategy pays off later.
3. Picking Your Hometown Favorites Might Not Always Work Out: You a big Cowboys fan? Don’t load up your roster with Cowboys. Don’t reach for a Cowboys player. Know your own team, and make sure you understand the small, select group of players worth drafting in fantasy football, because that third-string RB in Dallas isn’t a good idea to grab in the eighth round of the draft, on the longshot idea he will get playing time in 2019.
4. Never Pick a Kicker Until the Last Round(s): There is so little separation between the top kickers and the average kickers that is never worth it to waste a draft pick on one of them. When that owner in your league inevitably picks a kicker in Round 6, go ahead and chuckle knowing s/he will finish at the bottom of the league because they passed up a point-scoring machine at WR for that barely above-average kicker.