In the last article we touched on scoring formats; hopefully you’ll consider playing PPR this year if you don’t already. In this article, we’ll hit on some key things you should do to be successful this upcoming season.
DO: LOOK FOR LEAGUES WITH 10-12 TEAMS
10 – 12 team leagues are just right; there’s more than enough players out there for everyone to field a competitive team. In a 10-team league, everyone is guaranteed two top-20 players based on ADP. In a 12-team league, anyone with the 5th pick or lower is guaranteed two top-20 players. The better the teams, the more active the owners are because they know they have a legit shot at making the playoffs and possibly winning a championship. The bigger the league, the more work that’s going to be required to be successful, but in 10 – 12-team leagues there’s still enough meat on the bone for active people to find players.
DON’T: PLAY IN LEAGUES WITH 14 OR MORE TEAMS
Experts and fantasy savants tend to play in these leagues, so you’ll need to step your game up to be competitive. In a 14-team league, only the people with the 9th pick or lower will get two top-20 guys, so hitting those first 2-3 picks is extremely important in these fatter leagues. Because viable consistent starters will be gone earlier in the draft, you’ll have to use guys with way more volatility just to fill your starting lineups. Your bench will be filled with guys that don’t play much, hoping for an injury or a change in philosophy so you’ll already have these guys rostered when they get their opportunity. Plus, you’ll be scraping the bottom of the barrel, particularly during bye weeks. The frustration isn’t worth it. You’re better off getting a couple more friends involved and playing two separate 8-team leagues.
DO: PLAY IN LEAGUES WITH IDP
Individual defensive players is the way to go. Instead of choosing from 32 defenses, you’ll have your choice of hundreds of guys at various defensive spots and getting points for their production, just like your offensive guys. With way more options to choose from, you’re practically guaranteed to get a decent amount of points in your lineup every week. If your league gives points for kick and punt return yardage and scores, you can really find some sneaky plays at defensive back (cough…DESMOND KING…cough) If you can find a league that runs the IDP format, go for it.
DON’T: PLAY IN LEAGUES WITH DEFENSES (ducks shoes and vegetables being thrown my way)
I know, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to have to play in leagues with defenses because IDP hasn’t gotten much traction. But defenses should go the way of standard scoring: AWAY. Scoring in the NFL has gone up, and leagues that use defenses will commonly have defenses that put up very few, if any points. Sometimes they will even lose points depending on the scoring system. The last league I played with that had a defense, punt returns and kick returns counted as defensive points. I had Tarik Cohen, the other guy had the Bears defense. I lost that game, primarily because he got credit for a Tarik Cohen TD and I didn’t. That is unacceptable and would never happen in an IDP league. If you must play in a league with a defense, make sure you check your scoring and ensure that you don’t start losing points until the defense gives up at least 28-30 points.
DO: WORK THE WAIVER WIRE CONSTANTLY
Drafting is important, but what’s even more important is working the waiver wire each week. You have to watch as much football as possible and identify trends so you can scoop players up before they come on your competition’s radar. This also gives you bench depth, which can open up trade possibilities.
DON’T: PLAY FOR FREE
You want to catch a nut when you have sex, right? Well playing fantasy for free is like having sex without the payoff. If you’re new to fantasy football and you’re just trying to get your feet wet, then play in a few leagues to get a feel for things before laying out your cash. But once you have a solid understanding of how to draft and operate your team during the season, you need to play for cash. My past experience in every league I’ve played in is that the average fantasy league has 1-2 players that don’t manage their teams much. Near the end of the season, they may have checked out altogether. In free leagues, that number is closer to half. It’s absolutely no fun to play in a league where you and 1-2 other people are active. In a money league, that doesn’t happen as often because people have a vested interest to play. I’d rather lose in a competitive money league than win a free league. Trash-talking in a free league doesn’t pay any bills.
BONUS NUGGET: CHECK YOUR FANDOM AT THE DOOR
You may be the biggest Patriot fan in the world, but don’t go loading up on as many Pats as you can. You MUST be objective. Playing fantasy football means you’re inevitably going to be put in a position where you’ve got a player going against your favorite squad. The typical Eagles fan would rather eat at Arby’s than root for a Cowboys player; but if that Eagles fan wants to be a successful fantasy player, he/she will gladly draft Ezekiel Elliott if he’s available. If that puts you in a moral conundrum, then you’re probably not built for fantasy football. If you want to win championships (and some cash), get the guys that are going to produce, regardless of the team.