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So you’ve seen your friends play fantasy football for a few years, and now you’re finally ready to dive in. Or maybe you’ve been out of the game for a few years, and don’t understand new statistical measurements.
Worry not my friend, The Checkdown has your back. Fantasy Football is simple, fun, and most importantly for some, a minor time commitment for casual players. With some internet savvy, anybody, including me, can become a fantasy expert.
All leagues start with a draft. Some are auction, most are snake, and all will be blown out of proportion. You cannot win your league during your draft, but you can certainly lose it. With a few key tips, you’ll be able to avoid some simple mistakes and start your season on the right foot.
in this article you won’t find any rankings or cheat sheets. Here are just a few basic tips you might not have heard before, and ones that will definitely steer you in the right direction. Still lost? Message me on Twitter @TheRickRosen and we’ll put some training wheels on.
Editor’s note: What’s The Checkdown? It’s Heavy.com’s weekly fantasy football advice show, airing Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern on YouTube. Anyone can pop in, ask a question, and see it live answered on-air. To be notified when the next episode airs, click here to subscribe to Heavy’s YouTube channel.
1. Ignore Bye Weeks*
So here’s this scenario: You take Odell Beckham with the first pick, DeMarco Murray with the second, and you’re thinking about taking Todd Gurley in round three. The only problem is that all three of these players share a bye week in 2017 (Week 11).
The solution? Stop caring about bye weeks.
The objective of the draft is to fill out your roster with as many talented players as possible. Then, take that roster and win 16 individual weeks. Even if your team is weakened during that week, that leaves a full 15 weeks of your best players.
With injuries and waivers, your team should never look the same by season’s end. So at the start, why not give yourself the best players possible? Ignore the bye weeks when it comes to your starters, and rely on your roster depth for those shorthanded weeks.
*: This rule does NOT apply to quarterbacks. If you roster two quarterbacks, the entire purpose is to give yourself options each week. Make sure that your passers have different bye weeks, preventing you from ever needing to add a third arm.
2. Wait on a Kicker & Defense
There is no reason to draft a kicker in your fantasy draft. There are just too many talented backs and receivers for you to give a pick to a kicker. Of course there are more talented kickers than others, but the individual skill just doesn’t matter as much compared to the skill positions.
The ideal kicker plays on an offense that is competent, but not dominant. While it’s not an exact science, it’s clear that the best offenses do not get the most points out of their kickers.
The teams that scored the most points in 2016:
The kickers that made the most field goals in 2016:
Justin Tucker (Ravens)
Caleb Sturgis (Eagles)
Nick Novak (Texans)
In the most logical world, the teams that score the most would utilize their kicker the most. But teams like Baltimore and Houston have average offenses and good defenses, giving them a solid starting field position. That always puts them in striking distance, but their own ineptitude often leads to them falling short. That’s where a handy kicker comes in, and that’s who you’ll be picking this season.
Pick up a kicker the day before the season starts.
As for a defense, this is a little tougher to predict. My favorite defensive strategy is streaming, which involves picking up a different free agent defense each week and playing the matchups. For example: I can personally guarantee that nobody in your league will draft the Bills DST. However, Buffalo opens their season against Josh McCown and the Jets. I’m taking the Bills, and I’m ;laughing at my leaguemates for wasting a pick on the Broncos D.
3. Always (Always) Google a Player Before You Draft
This seems like a dumb rule. It sounds super basic and almost patronizing. But every year, at every draft, someone tries to draft a player that already had their season ended by injury.
Don’t. Be. That. Person.
It takes a second of your time, and saves you more than that in ridicule. Fantasy sites like ESPN and Yahoo won’t pull players from their rankings, leaving landmines like Spencer Ware and Julian Edelman on your draft board.
Doing your homework is overrated. Give the players you’re interested in a quick search, and you’ll learn everything you need to know to make the right decision.