Say NO to Rookies
Before I get slammed for this let me clarify, when I say “Say No to Rookies” what I mean is say no to rookies as your first pick per position (rookies are for second helpings, or thirds, and so on) Or, to state this plainly, unless your rookie pick comes with a personal guarantee on pain of death of superior production you better be taking a veteran first. Why? Because no matter how talented a player is, no matter how high the expectations, rookies will make cliché rookie mistakes that result in turnovers, lost yardage, injuries, etc. and you cannot predict how a particular player will react in this situation; some will grow from these mistakes, some will collapse under pressure and others will maintain, but you don’t know who will do what until it happens. Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re going through your mind finding exceptions to this rule such as Marshawn Lynch or Vince Young, but that’s the point, you have to search for exceptions and even then exceptions may still not beat out the production value of veterans in their positions. To help illustrate my point, here is a list of the first two players drafted to each position (first round only) and how they finished in fantasy points for their position in the respective year:
QB- Vince Young, Matt Leinart 9, 24
RB- Reggie Bush, Laurence Maroney 17, 28
WR- Santonio Holmes, 40
QB- JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn 62, 75
RB- Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch 32, 12
WR-Calvin Johnson, Ted Ginn, Jr. 35, 76
QB- Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco 15, 18
RB- Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart 45, 24
WR- no WR taken until the 2nd round
Don’t Be a Homer
One of the biggest mistakes people make in drafting is by overvaluing players from their favorite teams or taking them out of loyalty. Don’t be ashamed, we’ve all done it. Every time I pass over Roethlisberger for a better producing QB (fantasy wise) I feel a tinge of guilt. However you just have to realize that when it comes to fantasy football, picking a better producing player from a rival team is not cheating nor does it make you any less of a fan. (At least that’s what I tell myself) An important thing to remember in fantasy football is to be objective and look at building your team like you would an enterprise. If you choose players based on personal bias for a franchise, like a nepotant father you may find yourself working with some of your favorite players, but not necessarily those best suited to help you be the best in your league.
Do Not Build a Team Around One Player
Depending too heavily on one player is never a good idea. No matter how tried and true a player is he is always susceptible to injury. Overdependence arises in two different scenarios:
(1) Auction leagues - Spending an absurd amount of money on one player is incredibly risky and while it can have a tremendous payoff (Tom Brady-2007) it can also destroy your season completely (Tom Brady – 2008).
(2) All leagues – Drafting several players who rely on the play of one… i.e. nabbing two receivers from the same team or picking a QB-WR combo.
Take Into Consideration a Player’s Team
Even if you choose to ignore everything else I’ve written, please, for your own sake, take this last rule to heart for it is, what I consider to be, the Holy Grail of rules to fantasy football drafting. In evaluating a player it’s crucial that you look beyond the talent and accomplishments of that specific player and to several other factors which impact fantasy performance such as surrounding talent, team strategy and division/schedule. With respect to surrounding talent, this aspect is pretty straightforward: you can draft the most talented quarterback in the league, but if his offensive line is nonexistent, he won’t be picking up many points. Similarly, even if you have a good WR-QB pairing, if there isn’t a solid secondary receiver, chances are your star WR will be swamped downfield , forcing more dependence on the run game and limiting both your WR’s and QB’s fantasy value. Team strategy and consideration of division/schedule are intertwined and go towards evaluating whether the manner of play and types of opponents faced will allow your pick to maximize their value. For example, when drafting a RB you want to look at: (1) whether his team’s gameplan is traditionally run heavy, (2) whether the team runs a two back system and carries will be split pretty evenly and (3) division rivals (as well as other scheduled opponents) defensive strength against the run, among other things. Remember, having a RB who squares off against the Steelers and the Ravens twice a season will yield different results than if that same RB is division opponents of the Broncos and Chiefs.