Tips and Tricks for Fantasy Football Newbies
After all these years you finally decided to take the plunge and play fantasy football for the first time. Well if this is you, hopefully, this message finds you well. When I first had the opportunity to play fantasy football it was over two decades ago back in 2000. New millennium new adventures for me to be sure. A year or two prior to that, my friends kept on talking about this game they played called fantasy football during the football season when we would hang out to watch Dolphins games. So I asked them if there was ever a spot for me to please let me know.
Well, what do you know I got the call later that summer that made me look at football in a whole new light. This was the first time I got my cherry popped playing fantasy football and by season’s end, after this rookie came in and finished second, I was hooked for life. Back then I had no idea what the hell I was doing, and wish I had someone to provide me some guidance. Now 22 years later, I’m hoping that I can be that person that can help someone get their bearings in the right direction and not only be competitive in their first year but win that mother f-er!
Choosing the League
When it comes to fantasy football, leagues come in all types and sizes. You may want to do some research to see which league type may interest you, but here are several leagues types to get you familiarized with the terminology of the different leagues to get your wheels turning:
- Standard League - This is the O.G. of fantasy football leagues. It’s as basic of a league as they come. These leagues are hard to come by nowadays, but here are the basic rules: one point for every 10 rushing yards, one point for every 10 receiving yards, six points for every rushing/receiving touchdown, one point for every 25 passing yards, and four points per passing touchdown.
- Point Per Reception (PPR) League - Now this is the most popular type of league around today. These types of leagues have all the rules from the standard league, plus you get a point for every reception that a running back, wide receiver or tight end brings in. These leagues change the values of certain players, especially players that tend to receive plenty of targets and receptions. PPR leagues are more the standard of today’s fantasy football leagues. The point value of the reception can vary in different leagues and by different positions, so always check the scoring settings.
- Two-Quaterback Leagues - These leagues implement the roster setting that you must start two quarterbacks every week. This league adds a ton of value to the quarterback position that regular leagues just don’t. You will see quarterbacks come off the board early and often in this league setting.
- Super-Flex League - The flex position in a league, means that you normally have the option of either starting a running back, wide receiver, or tight end at that flex spot. When you hear the word super-flex that means you can also start a quarterback in that position which essentially means this is a league you better draft quarterbacks a little earlier than normal in order to take advantage of an extra quarterbacks production in that flex spot.
- Best Ball League - This is where you just draft your players and the football site will automatically start the most optimal point scoring line-up for you each week. These are low-maintenance leagues and are favorites for the hard-core fantasy football managers who love participating in these leagues during the offseason.
- Auction League - This type of league gives a set amount of salary and you have to build your roster with that set amount in the draft. During the draft, a fantasy manager will bring up a player to bid on, and then all the fantasy managers start bidding on the player, and whoever bids the most wins the player. These leagues are very strategic drafts and a lot of fun. It also gives everyone the chance to get the player they want.
- Keeper/Dynasty League - These leagues let fantasy managers keep a certain amount of players for multiple years. Keeper leagues normally let you keep a player or two, while dynasty leagues allow you to keep numerous players that become your team and make you feel like a real general manager of your team. These leagues also tend to be more strategic and take fantasy football leagues to the next level.
These types of leagues are just to name a few. Whichever league you decide to take on, as briefly mentioned before you check out the league rules and settings. These are the rules that govern the league and let the fantasy manager know what type of league you are getting yourself into. After reviewing the league setting and rules it’s time to plan to see what type of strategy you may want to implement in your fantasy football draft.
This is arguably one of the most enjoyable parts of joining a fantasy football league. Preferably doing an in-person draft is the way to go. It’s an avenue to build some comradery with fellow league mates, usually, family and friends, allowing for a little in-person trash-talking. Whether you finally do a live draft or online, one should always try and have a game plan. Knowing the scoring settings will dictate the best strategy to use. Here are a few strategies that may be helpful.
- Zero RB - Also known as the Kevin Tompkins special, sorry Kevin I couldn’t resist. With this strategy, you hammer wide receivers and an occasional elite tight end if the price is right for the first few rounds while waiting to draft running backs later in the draft. With this strategy, you need to be sure and aim for the running back to targets that have some stand-alone values, especially if they are more active in the receiving game.
- Hero RB - This is the opposite of Zero RB, as you draft running backs early and often. If one is implementing this approach that means the fantasy manager is drafting at least two running backs with their first two picks and maybe even the first three of the first four picks.
- Best Available Drafting - This is where you are just going through the draft and just drafting either by Rankings or Average Draft Position (ADP) and picking the best player available.
- No Plan Strategy - To me I would say I probably fall in this kind of drafter. Every draft is its own animal and it can go in any number of ways. No one really knows how a draft will go so I just adapt to each draft as it goes. I do this while trying to build a balanced team so that I am not weak at any position, that way my team should be able to contend with either the Zero RB drafter or the Hero RB drafter.
The main thing for fantasy football drafts is to be prepared. Do your research and try to find where values can be had. Have rankings or a cheat sheet handy that can be a guide for you on draft day. There are even Apps that can be an amazing tool on draft day as well. A good way to see how a draft may go is by dabbling in some mock drafts. This is where you draft with other fantasy managers and draft to see how different strategies may work for you. It gives one a little experience of the real thing. I highly recommend partaking in as many of these as you can. You may also try drafting in some best ball leagues where I think they are more accurate than mocks because all the participants are putting in a little bit of money. Money usually will get your attention even more so than a mock.
Draft Day Tips
Here are some draft day tips that will keep you on your toes and put your fellow league mates on notice that you will not be a pushover:
- Be observant of the draft board and the drafters drafting around you. During the draft, if you see that going the other way on the draft board almost everyone has a quarterback and you still have not drafted a quarterback, and there are two or three quarterbacks still on the board that you like, draft another player that has value like a running back or wide receiver, then draft a quarterback when it comes back to you.
- On draft day, just try to have one list or resource to use during the draft. Sometimes if you have multiple resources you may spend too much time scratching players off your list and miss a player that may still be on the board.
- Try to draft at least one anchor at running back and wide receiver if you can. These will be the rock-steady players that will keep you in games each week with their consistent play. If you can select more than just one of each go for it.
- If you miss out on the elite tight ends like Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, George Kittle, and Darren Waller, just wait on drafting on the position until round nine or ten. After those elite tight ends are gone, the rest of them are just about the same and not worth drafting in the middle rounds. This will allow you to stock up on running backs and wide receivers during that stretch of the draft.
- If you are in a single quarterback league you can wait on the position. There are plenty of starting-caliber quarterbacks in the league. Try to have a tier of ready in mind so that when quarterbacks are taken from that group you’ll know when too much.
- Know the room. As you start drafting with the same fantasy managers you will notice that some managers have tendencies of drafting a certain way. For instance, some managers love drafting running backs, while others grab a quarterback early.
- If you are in a league that has kickers but are not required to draft one, draft a rookie or young running back or wide receiver late in the drafts to see if that player pans out to be a starter or will have a big role in the offense. Most kickers will have the same range of outcomes and you can just pick up one right before the season starts. But if you decide to draft a kicker wait until the last round to do so.
- Don’t be afraid to zag when everyone is zigging. Meaning if you have several fantasy managers drafting running back after running back, go and attack and draft wide receivers. Don’t feel obligated that you have to draft the same position because there is a run on a certain position.
- Don’t let bye weeks influence your draft picks. If you have the opportunity to draft a quality player at a great value but have the same bye week as another player or two already on your team, don’t worry about that. By the time those bye weeks actually arrive your team will be looking much differently by then.
Above all these tips, the main thing is to have fun and enjoy kicking some ass. Hopefully, you will find this helpful and gives you some ideas and thoughts as you walk into your first draft. Stay tuned, because as we get closer to the start of the season I will give you some tips and tricks for in-season management. That’s when championships are won!
Let me know what tips and tricks you implement on your draft day. You can reach me on Twitter at @smooth1074.
A couple of the images used are from the old television show The League that was on FX a few years back.