Fantasy Football: Top 10 Tips & Tricks

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On the Friday, August 18, 2017 episode of the podcast, Andy, Mike, and Jason gave you their top 10 tips and tricks for taking your fantasy game to the next level. Just in case you missed the show or needed them just a click away, here is my recap of those Tips and Tricks, with a little personal spin along the way.

#10 – Don’t Get Sentimental/Emotional About Players (Mike)

As a parent, I couldn’t help but hear Elsa’s “Let It Go!” in my head while writing this one up. Fantasy Football can be an emotional roller-coaster. There are so many heartbreak stories, last-second losses to a kicker or wins because your opponent’s kicker didn’t get that extra point due to the team going for two. It happens. But the reality is that we have zero control over the outcomes. Just because you’ve been burned by Keenan Allen the past two seasons doesn’t mean he should be completely ignored in drafts. Likewise, you obviously cannot draft Robert Griffin III or Jamaal Charles because they “led you to the promised land” years ago. Let it go. Draft based on this year, not the past.

#9 – Quarterbacks: Take A Number (Andy)

Every year, owners are fooled into drafting QBs early because “they score the most points”. The missing part of that statement is that, relative to the rest of the QBs, the top QBs just don’t outscore the lower ranked QBs by that much, compared to RBs or WRs. The way to win championships is by getting the most potential points out of each player at each draft pick. There are always QBs available on the waiver wire who have great seasons and in most normal leagues, only 16-18 QBs are typically rosters, leaving 5-6 viable starters on waiver most weeks. Your goal should be to find the best value later in the draft, with the intention of landing a later round QB who turns into your weekly starter. Obviously, this changes with different league settings, such as a 2-QB league, so know your rules before employing this strategy.

#8 – Be a (Draft) Stalker (Jason)

If you play in a league with Jason, I would suggest you check over your shoulder before opening your cheat sheet! In all seriousness, what this means is simply tracking what your league mates are doing and react accordingly. It may initially seem unnecessary to track every single draft pick your opponents make, but it can and will come in handy, especially later in the draft. I covered this same idea in my Mock Draft Like a Champ article. The idea is to know exactly when to pounce and when to wait on certain players or positions. If you get to round 9 and decide you’re ready to draft a QB, first look at the owners between this pick and your next. If they each have a QB already on their roster, you can be pretty confident they won’t be drafting another QB before your next pick, so you can wait. Additionally, if you see they need a player at a certain position and you see a player you like at that position, you can “snipe” them and take that player. Simply put; tracking your opponent’s needs will give you the confidence to wait for another round or to pounce on an opportunity. I have always gone old school with a pen and paper to scribble down the position each team drafts. This year, I suggest stepping up to the mobile age and using the new Baller’s Preferred DraftDay App!

#7 – Level Up With Tiers (Mike)

One of the most popular parts of the Ultimate Draft Kit is the tiered rankings. The advantage of tiers is to show you where there are big differences between players. As Mike highlighted, you don’t want to draft straight down a top 200 list. Just because you have the 34th pick does mean that the 34th ranked player is the best choice. Tiered rankings help you see where values may be present. Think of a tier as a bucket of similar players. Any player from that tier is expected to be very similar to the rest of the players. If RB Buckets 1 and 2 are empty, don’t take a lower RB from Bucket 3 when there is still a WR from Bucket 1 available! Tiers can also prevent you from chasing a positional run. If you want an even more detailed look at using tiers, check out my article from earlier this year: Understanding Tier-Based Drafting

#6 – Know Your Surroundings (Andy)

If you don’t know all the rules of your league, you’re playing at a disadvantage. If you play in multiple leagues, don’t assume they are all the same. While Andy first said to find ways to exploit your rules, it doesn’t mean cheating. What he meant was to utilize those setting to the benefit of your team. One of the most common settings is requiring your league to draft an entire starting roster at the draft, including kickers and defenses. First, if your league does not require that, DON’T DRAFT A KICKER OR A DEFENSE! Draft two extra flyers who could find sudden value in the preseason. If your league does require you to draft a kicker and a defense, it probably doesn’t require to you keep them on your roster at all times. If you have a waiver run after the draft but before the season, drop the Kicker and Defense and pick up some flyers. Worst case scenario, you drop them right before week 1 and fill in the Kicker and Defense slots. Best case scenario, you stashed a player who, through attrition in the preseason, suddenly holds a lot more value to you and your team. Similarly, if you can stash players on your IR slot who is currently injured but destined to return after a few weeks, pick them up and stash them. Using the league settings to their full potential is not cheating, it’s putting you ahead of the curve!

#5 – Drop Watch (Jason)

Always pay close attention to who your opponents are dropping for this week’s waiver wire wonder. Not only will it give you insight as to how they view their team’s construction, they just might be dropping a player you think is destined for big things. I’ll never forget David Johnson’s rookie season. I wanted DJ on every team, but there was one league I wasn’t able to draft him. After a few weeks, the other owner dropped him and I swooped in to stash him on my bench. A few weeks later, David Johnson was leading my team to a #footclantitle! Being a waiver wire hawk is a key method to win your league.

Getty Images Sport / Joe Robbins

#4 – Backs to The Future! (Mike)

“Great Scott!” Regardless of your draft day plan or strategy, one thing is clear; You should roster as many RBs as possible. It doesn’t matter if you’re building your squad with early RBs or going ZeroRB, you need to be prepared for the inevitable. RBs have a greater tendency to get hurt or to bust as their production is directly tied to the performance of the players around them. If you have historically drafted Backup QBs, TEs, Kickers or Defenses, now is the time to stop. Roster just one of each and load up on those RBs. I personally roster 5-7 at any given time, because you just never know when you might be holding the next big thing!

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#3 – Master of Trades (Andy)

Trading is one of the most exciting aspects of fantasy football and quickest ways to improve your team. Don’t be afraid of trading away more players than you get in return. The most overlooked aspect of a 2-for-1 or 3-for-2 trade is the open roster spot. It’s very common to look at your roster and say “I wish I could pick up this player, but I just can’t drop anyone.” If that ever happens, start proposing 2-for-1 trades. Sell it to your league mate as to how this deal will improve their team at two positions. Always analyze the trade on your side as the player you are receiving PLUS the player you intend to roster off waivers. When you do that, it quickly becomes obvious that this is a positive trade for you to make.

You also need to be creative. Don’t just spam out trade offers through the league site and wait for replies. Call up your league mates or meet them for coffee or a happy hour. Get a feel for how they value the players on your team without an immediate trade offer. Use another league to get their advice. “I have this other league where I own player X. Should I trade him?” or “I’m thinking of trading to acquire Player Y in my other league, what do you think about him?”. Suddenly, you’ve opened their eyes to the availability of that player in THIS league. A subtle, “wow, you really like him that much? I’ll trade him to you in our league if you want him”, is a really quick way to make trades happen. This is especially effective when a player just had a few monster games in a row but is not on a sustainable pace. If you owned Jay Ajayi last year and traded him away after his three straight monster games in Weeks 6, 7 & 9 (Week 8 bye), your opponent received a player who busted three times and didn’t break 14 PPR points until Week 16. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em!

#2 – You Don’t Win at the Draft (And You Certainly Don’t Win in the First Two Rounds) (Jason)

It happens every year. Owner’s spend so much time debating and worrying about the first few picks that they lose sight of what’s truly important to their draft. There are so many debates on various platforms about who to pick at #1. Here’s the truth: It doesn’t matter.

What matters is hitting on the right combination of players throughout your entire draft. But once the draft is over, the league is just getting started. Most active owners will only have 3-5 players on their week 16 roster that they originally drafted. Don’t get hung-up on one draft pick. By recognizing that you’ll only have a handful of players from your original draft, you’ll realize the importance of being active all season. Trades and waivers will reshape your roster and those weekly start/sit decisions are what will bring you to fantasy glory!

#1 – More than Wins and Losses; Enjoy the Season and Your League

When it’s all said and done, we play fantasy football for fun. It’s a wonderfully exciting game that brings people together from across the country and around the globe. Don’t take things too seriously that you lose out on the fun aspects. Make silly traditions with your league mates, buy a championship trophy, belt or ring (and a toilet seat that the worst team must wear as a necklace to next year’s draft!).

Speaking of drafts, whenever possible, host your draft LIVE! and in-person. You absolutely cannot compare the excitement of a live draft to a cold, isolated online draft. If you can’t draft together in person, find a way to see each other and create a virtual experience with video chats. Even getting just a few people together for the draft is better than sitting alone.

In-season, keep everyone connected. Create a group chat on your favorite messaging platform. Start a league Facebook page to highlight the biggest margin of victory or taunt the owner who lost by .01 points. Make it the central location to discuss trades or recent player news. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge, it will only make the league more fun and challenging. Remember, you may teach them everything they know, but not everything YOU know!

Don’t forget to create ways and reasons for everyone to stay active during the season. Create a consolation bracket that determines next year’s draft order. In my main league this year, I’m instituting a prize for the weekly high scorer. Even if you realize you’re going to miss the playoffs, you’ll still have a reason to set your best lineup each week. Create an award for the most points scored in Week 17. Why? Because we only have 17 weeks to enjoy this game; make the most of it!
(But DO NOT, under any circumstances, make Week 17 your championship game. That’s a terrible idea.)

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