The great Fantasy 2012 weekend is upon us. Traditionally, this is the weekend where the pudding is proved, all those sweat and tears from this summer’s two-a-days are finally justified, those fruitless hours spent watching ESPN and NFL Network and perusing countless websites and magazine articles searching desperately for an edge (even an extremely dull one) will finally blossom into a delicious apple.
I apologize if this is getting to you after your draft, this article WILL be the difference between your team being Jake “The Snake” Roberts or the ultimate champion Ric Flair. Don’t get me wrong, “The Snake” was an amazing wrestler. He had style, schtick, an enticing dark charisma and a killer signature move (credited inventor of the DDT) but he lacked the championship edge. This article is what “The Nature Boy” had, a killer instinct with his eye always on the prize, winning 16 World Championships and 30 major titles. WOOOOOO! (Read on if you have already drafted, there is some essential tips for post-draft scheming.
Before I start readers MUST know that Drew has already done you a favor, espousing his advanced knowledge with his Draft Plan and I am a believer in The Word of Drew. Drink that Kool-Aid, take everything he wrote seriously and than read the rest of this and take some of these valuable nuggets from this gold mine to solidify for your roster and catapult you over the top. These are strategies and tips I’ve developed, collected and pulled out of my nether regions over the years that have helped me and/or others be successful in their Fantasy season.
Now all the pomp and fanfare is out of the way, lets get to the grit and start digging for that gold!
1. Don’t pick a player just because you like/love/OMG he’s the greatest ever OMG!!!!
This is a dangerous strategy, one that I used to follow religiously, and it is easy to fall into. I try to leave all emotion out of drafting, your team is a business. If a dude is super funny, awesome to hang out with, tells the best jokes and just an all around good guy but sucks at his work and hemorrhages money from your company you have to dump him. As much as it hurts that he won’t be around everyday, you got to make that tough choice. Same goes with fantasy, as cool and awesome as it is putting your favorite players in the starting line-up, watching them perform for you, their owner, you have to restrain yourself. Favorite players often cause reaching a couple, or even more, rounds to secure him. Sit back, relax, let other owners reach on their favorite players, take a deep breath and make business decisions. If your favorite player falls to you where they should (or after) Great! Jump On It! But in the meantime, keep emotions out and make business decisions.
2. Stay away from long holdouts (Especially RBs and QBs)
That means MJD. A couple RBs have had pretty awesome years after lengthy holdouts (see Steven Jackson and Eric Dickerson’s 1st hold out) and others have just plain sucked (sorry former Larry Johnson and Chris Johnson owners…) MJD gets even trickier with the Jags team owner threatening to trade Maurice if he won’t play nice. I’m all for Maurice trying to get his pay but I’m not all for drafting him or you may be spending a lot of time like this. I say especially RBs (I’d put QBs in this category to) because they need a rhythm and live action to perform at their best, stepping straight into game situations after 8-9 months off there is bound to be some rust that just won’t shake off whereas WRs can do whatever they want.
3. Take a chance on a rookie WR
Every year there seems to be a rookie WR who just slays. Think Randy Moss, Dez Bryant,, DeSean Jackson, A.J Green, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Crabtree, Torrey Smith, Mike Williams, Austin Collie, Marques Colston (TE my ass) and on and on and on. I could list for days. My point is WR is the easiest transition for a skill player and rookie WRs always make fantasy impact. There is tons of talent and potentially huge fantasy impact with WRs Justin Blackmon (if he stays out of trouble), Kendall Wright (especially with Kenny Britt’s likely suspension and knee surgeries), Michael Floyd (with the great advantage of playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald), Alshon Jeffery (I like Jay Cutler this year), Stephen Hill, Josh Gordon, Rueben Randle, Mohamed Sanu, etc. There are some potential players in this group to help make that playoff push so do some research, take a chance and roll the dice on at least one rookie WR that you like in your later rounds. Bonus value is added for those of you in keeper leagues.
4. If a run starts, don’t be afraid to stuff it at the line
Other than the first and last rounds, I don’t like following runs. In a lot of drafts I’ve participated in, runs wreak havoc on teams that were looking to be pretty good. What happens is when someone picks a TE in the 3rd or 4th or a Defense in the 6th or god forbid a kicker in the 10th other owners panic and feel they too must own a TE or a defense and a kicker way way way way to early. Let people pick their TEs but when your pick comes up make the decision that will best
help your team. If a TE or Defense or Kicker is sitting there and you have a high value attached to him/them, go for it, but again make business decisions. Don’t freak out just because 4 TEs were taking right before you pick, you can still get a great value later in the draft. Figure out what best suits your individual team and go from there.
5. When ranking your RBs and WRs remove TDs from point totals (for the most part)
I realize certain players do have a certain knack for finding the end zone but total TDs is a scary, inconsistent stat in my book. Chris Johnson was finding the end zone a lot before last year (9, 14, 11, 4) but each season he rushed for over 1,000 yards. The 2011 season was definitely a drop off for CJ but he still had a solid year stat-wise. His fantasy value is
what was really killed. Why? Lack of TDs. TDs are a big score in fantasy but so hard to predict for players. Take another example of Victor Cruz of the NY Football Giants. He scored a total of 9 TDs, 5 of which came on plays of 50
yards or more. Those 5 represent an anomaly that should be taken into consideration when ranking Victor before your draft. How likely is that he’ll have that big play potential that much this season? He’s definitely got that homerun capability I just think it’s foolish to rely on it 5 times a season. Take this advice with a grain of salt, some players are targeted in short yardage situations (although TEs seem to be really streaky with this), there are shifty skill players with a nose for the end zone, short yardage backs score some TDs, I am just wanting you to consider this information.
6. Avoid Bleacher Report
That website sucks and is annoying.
7. Enjoy your draft party/live on-line draft or whatever else y’all will be doing
The summer is coming to an unfortunate end. The cool breezes will start blowing and Ol’ Man Winter will be following soon behind it. Enjoy however you celebrate your draft, grill some burgers, grab some beers or soda, talk
trash with your friends and have some fun in the sun. Treat your fantasy team/draft seriously but have fun, wait until later in the season when your team is mired at 3-3 and you are trying to pull off a miraculous trade in order to save your season to stress out.
8. Be Flexible
We all have draft strategies, but drafts never go as we imagine/hope/plan. Drafts can be thrown off from the very beginning with someone drafting a player you never would ever dream would be drafted in the 4th round much less 1st overall, so stay calm, take a deep breath, stick to your guns, laugh at those jerks, make business decisions, drink a beer and pick your highest rated player. I’m a big proponent of drafting on rankings over positions especially early in the draft. If you draft two WRs to begin your draft, no sweat. Did you get 3 RBs in first 4 rounds? Awesome. You’ll be just fine, let the draft go as it goes, your team will flesh itself out. There are always quality, boom/bust, and potential steals throughout the draft so pick your battles, take players when you see fit, come with a plan but know it probably won’t go as seamlessly as you had hoped.
9. Be like Nike, Just Do It. Take some calculated risks
Personally, I think Randy Moss has huge upside this year. So does Jay Cutler, and Isaiah Pead, Davone Bess, Toby Gerhart, Greg Little, Andre Johnson, Jacob Tamme, and Titus Young. Shoot I even drafted Martellus Bennett and Jacquizz Rodgers higher than what most “experts” say is safe but I’m high on them. These are all personal opinions and I’m sure you have some too. If you have a gut feeling, are super sure, or even think a player has a chance of helping out your team significantly I strongly urge you to take a chance on him. It won’t hurt your team “wasting” a pick on a potential star that could make you into a championship contender. I really like using my bench and a few starter positions on players you like but others may perceive as risky.
10. After the draft…
Your team is now complete and seems perfect, but its not. Injuries happen, players decline and don’t perform as expected, late round picks surprise, early picks disappoint and other chaos ensues as the regular season kicks off. So after the draft keep an eagle eye on the waivers and free agency pool. Look for potential trades that will be mutually beneficial (and if you can pull it off in a skilled and tactful way, make trades that only benefit you). Trades that benefit both teams make you an owner that is respected in your league and other teams will be more willing to work with you. If you gain a stigma as a dick, and a con-artist you will find yourself on the outs in your league and blacklisted by all other owners. This will leave your team in the lurch when you are truly desperate when the inevitable injury/disappointment finds your team and leave you praying a FA pays off. Don’t find yourself here.
Well, those are my steps to success. I hope you enjoyed this installment of Opinionated Nation with your host, me. I wish you all fantasy success and hope just the tip(s) help propel your team to championship caliber this season.
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