Five Tips for a Successful NFL Fantasy Season

| by Sports Nickel

Fantasy Football for Rookies

Football season is around the corner and for most of us that means….it’s fantasy football season as well! Draft days are coming up for all of us and it’s time to start making your strategy. Those 2-3 draft hours play a crucial part in how your fantasy season will pan out. Of course it is not the total factor in success but they usually supply about 2/3 of your total points (the others come from free agents due to injury, lack of production by your starters, etc). Just so you don’t think I’m some random Joe telling you pointers, I will give you some credentials. I am upon my fourth year (3rd year commissioner) and was the number one offense in both my leagues last year for most of the season. I fell a game short in both leagues for the championship due to either a player on the opposing team having a freak game or probably last year’s biggest upset… the Cowboys dethroning the undefeated Saints. Tony Romo and Drew Brees were my two QBs and instead of going with my gut feeling (more on that later), I went with the “smart” thing and played Brees. Any fantasy football veteran would have done the same thing. Romo had an above average game and only put a few points more than Brees. That is fine and dandy but when you lose by a point, it matters. It matters $1200.  

So am I the best? No. Fantasy football is the most unpredictable and shocking game and that is the beauty of it. Brett Favre can throw 6 TDs in a game and break your heart the rest of the season. I drafted Chris Johnson 10th in my league and he had a record breaking season. You can just never tell what’s going to happen on NFL Sunday and that is what makes this hobby more than a hobby. Sundays are not the same during football season after you start playing. You don’t just watch your favorite team; you watch your fantasy football starters. You find yourself checking on the Lions and Rams game to see if your guys are going to help you out. You find yourself turning your back on your favorite team by playing the other guy (and losing $1200) when you have sworn your allegiance to that team at birth. Now keep in mind this article is for people who at least have the basics of fantasy football down and understand how the system works. These five rules will help you become more successful in the year to come.  So here we go!

1)      Running backs will lead you to victory- When draft day comes you will notice that in most drafts the first round is all running backs with a stud QB here and there. It is simple. Running backs touch the ball the most so therefore they usually are the most consistent players on your teams. However, in today’s NFL, more and more teams are going with multiple running backs. Keep an eye on that before you draft. Maurice Jones Drew’s stock went up once Fred Taylor left.  Marion Barber’s stock dropped when Felix Jones was drafted and Tashard Choice was found. If you draft two strong running backs with your first two picks you probably know what you are doing. Of course there are exceptions to the rule but more on that later. The golden rule in fantasy football is to go running back heavy. 

2)      Do not be afraid to draft a Juggernaut QB in the first round- OK, for your rookies your asking who are the juggernaut QBs? Straight up they are Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers. These guys can win the game for you singly handedly. Drew Brees helped a lot in my league for me and always picked up the slack. Aaron Rodgers was my quarterback in my other league. Not only was he consistently putting up 25-30 points, he had a more than one freak games last year. When I say freak games I mean about 45+ points a game. I know this contradicts my first rule but like I said, there are exceptions to the rules. Another example is my father had a horrible draft in my league but had Peyton Manning as his QB.  His season was still a wreck but because of one player he didn’t match the Lions and go 0-16.  So remember, keep an eye on these guys and keep your fingers crossed you land one of these studs.

3)      Don’t be afraid to follow that “gut feeling”-  Now this is one of the hardest rules to follow but sometimes when you just have that gut feeling this player is going to have a breakout game and you need to take the chance….take it. You may be surprised. A perfect example was my infamous playoff loss by starting Brees and not Romo like I wanted. I had a gut feeling that the Cowboys were going to knock those Saints off that high horse of theirs. I had a feeling that the Cowboys were going to make a nice little run and end their December curse. I had a feeling that the Cowboys were going to win their first playoff game in years. I’m sounding like MLK over here, but bottom line, if you got that gut feeling, follow it. Now if you have these gut feelings every week and you have yet to see one pay off, check yourself. It may just be gas.

4)      Free Agency is your friend/ Do not coast! – I am cheating here and giving you two rules. They are a little more minor than the other four but are still very important.  Free agency could turn your bad season around. If your number two running back is a bust this year and you see a breakout rookie sitting in free agency rolling over defenses… bust a move! One thing you will learn quickly is just because this player had an amazing season the year before they will have no problem breaking your heart this year. Keep an eye out for this stuff and don’t let your line up just coast the whole season. Some guys have a tendency to let their line up just “coast” either because they are lazy or dumb. When I say coast, I mean these guys just leave these players in their lineup during their bye week and contribute nothing to the team. This happens because they are too lazy to go to the computer and make some moves.  Most of us veterans call it “our bye week” because their friend on the other side of the computer partied too much Saturday night and forget their lineups constantly. This can be annoying to the league and is downright not fair.  Bottom line…do not…DO NOT be as coaster.

5)      Defenses are pretty much worthless- First off I will say there are a few defenses that will put up some points and actually help you out. Very few. Draft a defense in the way later rounds. Kickers are more valuable then these beasts most weeks. That’s right. These puny soccer rejects are more valuable than those animals breaking necks on defenses. I can’t remember the last time a defense saved my week. Now some people will say this is wrong and a good defense is a necessity to be successful. I am going to say BS! My first year, we had a guy show up late to the draft and was on the clock. He ran in and had this look on his face like he had the best idea since sliced bread. He slams his hand on the table and yells “Chicago Bears Defense!”  Epic fail. Everyone looked at him like he just admitted he was on Team Jacob. I mean I get it. The Bears had just came off their Super Bowl loss the year before after they carried that scrub Rex Grossman all season. But what happened to this genius’s season? Another epic fail.   He stopped playing halfway through. He became a coaster and pretty much broke every rule on this list. Don’t be that guy.

So there it is. These rules have helped me every year and for the most part, have always been successful.  Along the way you will find your own rules that you believe in but these five can never lead you down the wrong path. I wish all of you good luck on the season to come as you discover your new favorite hobby.

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