So you’re going to compete in a fantasy football league. You’ve always been a fan of the NFL, and you’re pretty sure you’re smarter than most of the general managers. Just remember that putting together a great fantasy team isn’t quite the same as building a strong, enduring NFL franchise. So let’s focus on the task at hand. Here are Eight Tips to Win Your Fantasy Football League.
Focus on running backs.
This is huge. Most experts think it’s the most important element of fantasy football success. So when it’s draft day, make sure you have a running back strategy that delivers the goods. When you do your research, a serious chunk of time needs to be devoted to this one position.
Getting the right running backs is not without challenges. Fact is, the type of running backs who reward fantasy football players are in short supply, and in this era of specialization, their numbers are dwindling.
What kind of running back delivers the goods in fantasy football? It’s the old-fashioned workhouse, the guy who gets the ball multiple times every game under an offensive coordinator who believes in ground-and-pound. That means you have to look beyond the flashiest runners out there, and avoid the teams that are in love with Running-Back-By-Committee. That may help them win games but it won’t boost your results in your fantasy football league.
On your draft day, keep picking running backs longer than anyone else. Don’t be distracted as their focus shifts to quarterbacks and wide receivers. If you put together the strongest running back corps, you’ll have a team that will perform week after week.
See through the hype.
Athletes are performers. And some football players get more positive praise than they might deserve. Not always, but sometimes an overall image makes it more difficult to see the actual results they can deliver.
Think about some of the players now known for being among the best at their position. Remember when Baker Mayfield was considered better than Josh Allen? Or how some were ready to say Jimmy Garropolo was the next Tom Brady? You’re not picking players based on their most recent season, but on the one you expect them to have next. And you definitely need to make sure you’re not picking a player because they keep popping up in every endorsement deal or because they’re a favorite of their former coach who’s now a talking head on television.
Forget media popularity. Think about upside and the team system.
Don’t draft your quarterback too early.
Sure, quarterbacks win football games. They lead teams. They can win Super Bowls. What they don’t do, even the greatest ones, is outperform other positions in the formulas used for fantasy football.
You want the best quarterback you can get, but don’t go into draft day intent on landing the absolute top performer in the league. The difference between the #1 QB and another Top 10 QB isn’t enough to grab a player at this position before someone else. You’re better off building that stable of great running backs and putting together a solid group of wide receivers before you spring for a QB.
There is a lot of depth at the quarterback position. Let others pick a superstar while you keep adding those tireless running backs. When you do pick a quarterback, look for the guy with upside who may be underrated and don’t be afraid to draft a backup who could be a good performer on an otherwise mediocre team. If you can wait until the fifth or sixth round to pull the trigger on a QB, you’re making a good decision.
Follow the waiver wire.
Guess what? Football is probably the least predictable of all professional sports, and the most physically demanding. A torn ACL, a lingering concussion, a separated shoulder—you have to expect injuries. When they do happen, you need to know who’s available on the waiver wire so you can act quickly. Don’t wait until you absolutely need a player to start looking—follow it every week so you know your options.
And don’t forget about bye weeks. It’s a serious rookie mistake to keep a player in the lineup, only to find out on Sunday afternoon that their team isn’t even playing.
Don’t stick with your mistakes.
It can be hard to admit that your first or second round pick is a dud. Remember when we mentioned the struggles following career seasons? It happens more than most of us realize.
It’s easy to want to stick with your draft day picks, since swapping them out for other players means admitting you made some wrong calls. Don’t let your ego block your path to success—you still have time to salvage your season if you don’t let a stubborn nature get in your way.
Root for your team. But don’t let them influence your choices.
Let’s say you love the Jets. (Sorry about that.) Don’t let your optimism about their chances this upcoming season cloud your draft decisions or keep you from making changes throughout the year.
After all, there are plenty of fantasy players have loathed Tom Brady or couldn’t stand Randy Moss. But guess what? The smart ones were happy to have them in their lineups and racked up fantasy league wins because of them. So go ahead and cheer for your Jets or your Chargers or your Jaguars—just don’t waste your fantasy dollars on them.
Know how your fantasy football league works.
Not every fantasy football league operates from the same playbook. If you’re in a new league or you’re just dipping your toe into the waters of fantasy football, study the rules. Know how many points are awarded for things like passing touchdowns—some leagues give it four but others award the whole six. Are there bonuses for things like 100 rushing yards in a game? Are there points per reception? When you have a solid understanding of the rules of your league, you gain an advantage over the players that are too lazy to research them.
Remember when you played sports as a kid and you were told to have fun? Remember how you usually performed better when you did? Take that same approach into your fantasy football league. If it’s fun, you’ll want to put the time in and you’ll likely do well. If it feels like a stressful job? You’re probably not going to make great decisions and maybe it’s time to retire!