How to Win Your Fantasy Football League AFTER the Draft
If you found your way to this article, chances are you recently drafted a fantasy football team. It’s a great feeling to sit back and admire your completed roster. You nailed your early-round picks, used your late-round darts to load up on your favorite rookies, and avoided all the busts. You feel set to dominate your league.
That’s exactly how I felt after finishing my home league draft last weekend. After relishing the near perfection of my team for the requisite three hours, I decided I would peruse my league mates’ rosters. I was looking forward to a little laugh as I picked apart the other eleven teams in the league. After all, this league is full of casuals, there’s no way they can hang with me, right?
Oh, hubris was I wrong. As I moved from opponent to opponent, I liked most of the other rosters in the league nearly as much as my own, especially when looking at the starting lineups. That’s when I came to a realization: It’s getting easier for everybody to put together a strong fantasy draft. Platform rankings and ADPs may not be perfect, but they are lightyears ahead of where they used to be. On top of that, a quick Google search will return mediocre but serviceable rankings. The fantasy football industry at large is doing a good job.
Don’t get me wrong, or read what I’m not typing. You can still get an edge in your draft. Using the Ultimate Draft Kit and following along with The Fantasy Footballers team all year round will give you an advantage, but it may not be as big as it used to be. You can, however, increase that advantage by getting to work after the draft.
If you’ve listened to The Ballers for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard them champion the phrase “You don’t win your fantasy league at the draft” with the caveat that “you use it to set the foundation for winning your league”. So once that foundation is set, how do you construct a championship-caliber fantasy team?
Here’s how to win your fantasy football team after the draft.
The fantasy football season will be full of unexpected twists and turns. You have to be willing to react sooner than later. I want to take a moment and emphasize the importance of simply reacting, as opposed to over or under-reacting. Dropping your highest drafted running back after three weeks because he’s yet to score a touchdown is an overreaction. Last season Jonathan Taylor didn’t find the end zone and only averaged 9.6 fantasy points/game over the first three weeks. Conversely, hanging on to your favorite wide receiver who isn’t involved through the first few weeks is an underreaction, as anybody who held on to Allen Robinson too long last year will tell you.
While you stay level-headed, there’s a good chance that your league mates don’t. Take advantage. Make trade offers for those early-round studs that get off to disappointingly slow starts. Get a haul for that late-round draft pick that gets off to an unsustainably hot start. Pragmatically make your roster better by exploiting the emotional swings of the others in your league.
Ride the Waiver Wire
Playing the waiver wire is arguably the biggest key to season-long success in fantasy football. Every season we see prized players scooped up off the waivers, most often in the first weeks. NFL teams don’t typically show us their sincere plans in the preseason, and we get a lot wrong when we guess. That makes it vital to pay attention to usage stats like carries, targets, and snap counts immediately. Then be willing to spend FAAB or a high waiver priority early. If you’ve been following the preseason buzz and especially if you have the Ultimate Draft Kit, you already know what situations and players to pay attention to early in the season.
As the season progresses, we start understanding how the NFL teams operate. We tend to see less surprising changes in usage, with two exceptions: injuries and rookies. Reacting to injuries seems relatively obvious. When a player misses time due to injuries, opportunity opens up for other players. What’s less obvious is the significance of each injury, which is why it’s so important to follow our injury expert Matthew Betz for the necessary nuance of injury analysis.
Tracking rookies on the waiver wire is more subtle. It often takes rookies longer to acclimate to the NFL and earn trust from their coaching staff. Be cautious before jettisoning a rookie early in the season, they may be on the brink of a rookie breakout. By the same token, monitor rookies that get dropped by opposing league mates. Bye weeks are a good marker to keep in mind for the first-year players, as they can frequently see a “post-bye rookie bump” later in the season as they get up to speed in the league.
Find Your Routine
Consistency is key to success in many areas, including fantasy football. Finding a weekly routine is a tremendous help in staying consistent. There are certain checkpoints along the way each week, and you can give each one a dedicated day/time. From setting your initial lineup, to making your waiver claims, to checking in on all the incredible Fantasy Footballers content, to tweaking and finalizing your lineup, to looking ahead to future weeks, all the essential factors for your fantasy week should have their dedicated time.
Stay Tuned in to Everything Fantasy Footballers
Everything I already mentioned gets easier if you stay tuned here at the Fantasy Footballers. Of course, the main show is the flagship and should be listened to, or watched, every day, but there are even more resources here to help you all season long. You already found this article, but during the season there are multiple weekly recurring article series to keep you in the know, and they are consistently published at the same time each week. You can follow the whole team on Twitter for fantasy tidbits (and other nonsense) all season long. There is also a plethora of invaluable #FootClan tools on the site to help you navigate the season. We really have it all here.
Don’t Give Up!
The final tip here is another one frequently repeated on the show, “don’t give up!”. Stick to your routine and stay locked in all season, even if it doesn’t get off to an ideal start. Every year we hear stories of fantasy teams turning their season around and taking home a #FootClan title. Now go out there and get yours!