Fantasy football has grown more and more in popularity over the course of the last few years. It has gotten to the point that many fans of the NFL also play some form of fantasy football. There are tons of different ways fans can get in on the fun with all of the different forms it takes.
Some fans prefer the Draft Kings or Fanduel approach, which gives them the ability to have new players to cheer for each week. You can pick players based off the match-ups and do not need to concern yourself with season long health of players. This is the quick fix version of fantasy football, as you can jump in any given week, in any number of different contests.
But the real fun comes in the form of the season long style leagues. This leagues require research before the season begins, plus in season management of the guys you draft before the season’s fun begins. It provides a longer amount of time to enjoy the mega power that is the NFL. And that is because you get to prepare for a draft, or a few, along with with the draft itself. And then after you draft your players, the season kicks off and you can see your guys in action!
And that fun of prepping for your drafts always starts right around this time of year. The fantasy football magazines are on the shelves. The fantasy content is hitting the internet left and right (We have plenty of it right here at INSC – be sure to check it out).
So with all of the information one must absorb, where can you possibly start? Well any successful fantasy football season requires a plan, and that plan starts with your research. So a good way to kick things off right about now would be to take a broad overview of each and every team. Do not get into the individual player stuff right off the bat.
When you look at a team as a whole, you will have a better understanding of how they operate. Were there any coaching changes that could impact how a team runs things? Did the offensive line loose some key pieces in the off-season that could turn a quarterback into a bad fantasy option? Did the team add a complimentary wide receiver that may take away some looks from the running back in the passing game?
These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself when you look at a team as a whole. If you jump into things from a player view, these over-arcing angles can be easily missed. But once you have those team overviews down and have a better feel for how each team will operate, you can go down to the player level.
This is best done from a position angle. I will typically start at quarterback, and then work my way down the line to receivers, running backs and so on. Decide on which positions you value the most and go in that order. That way if you run out of time, you can just gamble on a kicker who is on a good team because you did not read up on them (since they should be last on your list).
Now once in those positional categories, those team overviews should help you rank the field. Maybe you think two guys are fairly equal in value and had similar seasons last year. But QB A’s team just bolstered their offensive line, while QB B lost his favorite wide receiver. Going through the team previews will give you a general feel for these players before getting to the positions, so this step should be pretty easy.
Then after a few weeks of research go by, and training camps are in full force. The preseason slate is under way and you can now watch the guys you are reading up on. Maybe you like a team’s defense, but have some questions on the secondary. So tune into their games and pay close attention to how they are handling the pass.
Enter every preseason game with at least one question for each team. It will give you a real reason to watch this game that means nothing statistically at the end of the day. It can help sway you one way or another on a player. But try to watch a least two games for a given question, since a single bad day or extremely good day could be an outlier.
During this process you should also be building your cheat sheet. I can never understand when I sit down for a live draft and some drafters show up with nothing. Sure I have a good understanding of the player pool, but having something in front of me makes the draft go way smoother. Plus it helps you identify a player that has fallen well past where he should. When you have nothing, you cannot cross off names and you may assume a guy is gone since he should be. You also do not want to be the guy that says “I’ll take Allen Hurns” only to find out he went three rounds ago.
So let the preparations begin! Some of you may be doing an online league on ESPN, NFL.com or Yahoo with your buddies. Some will be for fun and others will be for fun and money. Some will do snake drafts, and others will do auctions. Some will partake in national contests online. And some will attend a live draft, whether it be a local league or for a national contest.
For those looking to partake in a national contest but have never really heard of one, may I recommend the NFFC (National Fantasy Football Championship). They offer a wide variety of different formats. There are Draft Championships, Cutlines, Auctions, some of which are national contests and more. You can draft your team online or in person, with some leagues being held in New York and others in Las Vegas. I have had the pleasure of participating in some of these events with my dad since I was about 10 years old.
Training camp is only a few days away, so get going on that research. Draft season is fast approaching, and you want to be prepared. A successful draft day could lead to a successful season, and a championship of some form!