I have learned two things in 12 seasons as a fantasy football owner: Never take fantasy too seriously and never be the hipster who thinks he’s smart enough to win without elite running backs.
The point is this: fantasy is fun. Fantasy is not rocket science or even a 101 class. It’s more like a stat-based Madden franchise against actual people who won’t give you the first 53 picks in the draft.
So stay loose, have fun with it, listen to the rankings in the early rounds, burn them after round four, and never overthink a decision. Once you do, you have already made the wrong one.
Here are 10 tips for dominating your drafts. Happy Fantasy!
10. Don’t draft Philip Rivers
He racks up yards as the focal point of a productive offense. Seems like a starting quarterback on a playoff team right? Wrong.
I have started Rivers on five fantasy teams. Not one reached the playoffs. For some reason that goes beyond math and the rest of my roster, Phillip Rivers equals 6-6.
9. Draft Robbie Gould
Robbie Gould has never missed a kick. Look it up on Wikipedia or Pro Football Reference. It’s true. Okay it’s not true. But it seems true. He is the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history and scored 100 or more points in seven seasons.
The guy is an institution, like Jason Hanson was for the Lions. I have a rule for fantasy kickers: Draft institutions. All of my fantasy teams with either Hanson or Gould made the playoffs. They are the anti-Phillip Rivers.
8. Play for a lot of money
Otherwise, why would you care?
7. Do not draft before the preseason ends
You will get burned. Ask Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin owners. Last Tuesday, I drafted Benjamin in the fourth round to be my number one receiver. The next morning he was carted off the field with a torn left ACL.
My high school friends and I follow this rule. If your league doesn’t, lobby for it like the NRA.
6. Draft the first defense/special teams
Think about it: You can either search the waiver wire for 12 weeks or you can draft a defense that will produce 10 or more points no matter the opponent.
Drafting a defense in the seventh or eighth round is also not a reach. You should already have your skill position starters and a few backups.
5. Draft upside guys
These are rookies, sophomores coming off good rookie seasons, contract-year guys, stars coming off injury, quality players who just signed with a playoff-caliber team, and young guys stepping in for a departed veteran.
Draft a team of these guys after you get your stars. You will either be a genius or an idiot. Either way it’s a thrill.
4. Listen to rankings in the first four rounds
Stars are easy to rank. Le’Veon Bell is the best running back because he produces like a number one running back and a top receiver. Andrew Luck is the number one quarterback because he threw the most touchdowns last season.
You are not smarter than stats. Not in fantasy football at least.
3. Burn the rankings after round four
At this point, most players produced similar numbers in 2014. So draft upside, draft guys on good teams, listen to your gut, and don’t think twice.
2. Draft a QB-WR Tandem
2012: I drafted Calvin Johnson in the second round and Matthew Stafford in the 10th. My friends laughed at the Stafford selection because he had never played a full season. Four months, 57 touchdowns, and a championship later, you get the idea.
The QB-WR tandem is the common denominator on the two best teams I have ever drafted.
1. Draft two top 10 RB’s
This may not be possible. But if it is, do it. Running backs are more valuable now than ever before. No position offers more of a dual threat and has fewer productive starters.
The stud second running back is the most valuable commodity in fantasy. One or two teams get them per year. Be one.