Extra Goodies

There is a lot to learn about when trying to improve your chances of winning in Fantasy Football. There are lots of places you can go to get information on players and upcoming games to help you with your Fantasy Football Strategy, but there are also a few things that you can do to keep it fun that really have nothing to do with the final outcome other than bragging rights. Some sites, like Yahoo!, have little “Games within the Game” that you can play. Ultimately they have no effect on who has a better team but it can make things fun and actually helps you learn about how to play a little quicker.

Some of these games you might actually be doing without even knowing it. There is a “Medal” you can win for winning that week with the largest margin or having the best defense that week. If you score by a larger margin that week than anyone else in your league, then you get the “Biggest Blowout” medal. You really have no way of choosing to do this, you just pick your best players and if they score way more than the team you are up against that week you might get it. There are some that you have to actually try to get or do something out of the ordinary to obtain. One of these is to visit the “Toyota Hall of Fame“. Most people don’t even know about the Toyota Hall of Fame unless they look through the available medals that you can earn. (Most people don’t even know about the medals unless they spend too much time on their fantasy football site…) Most of these medals mean nothing to anyone except those others who are trying to collect medals, but some are naturally part of being a good team. There are a few that you get for having players that score more than 100 yards or if you win the league that season.

There is also a medal for playing other games, which kind of helps segue into this next section. You can get a medal if you can accurately predict which teams in your league will win that week. In the “League Pick’em” you are given the match ups for each week (who plays who in the league) and try to guess which member will win the match up. Usually the team who has been winning the most will beat the team who has been losing the most, but you never know. Sometimes the top scoring player will get hurt or a defense will wise up and double team Jimmy Graham and serve an upsetting shutout. There is also a chance that a team manager has a baby born that week and forgets to adjust his roster and loses when he could have easily won if he was paying attention to his team rather than spending time with his new daughter. Usually they will list the “Favorite” and “Underdog” based on the projected points of the players listed in the starting positions on that team’s current roster not adjusting for the bye week their QB has in week 9. This means that if you just go through and pick the “Favorite” for each week you will not have a very good chance of winning the medal. The best way to play this game is to go in and chose the team who has been winning recently. You can predict the entire season right now, so fill it out now then go back every week and change your predictions as you see fit. This way, if you forget to do it a week, you have something already there so you can get some credit. Again, this has nothing to do with anything other than bragging rights, but it is fun to do, and it helps you keep track of who has a good team and who you might be playing in the playoffs (not that there is any thing you can do to prepare to play against a certain team).

You can also participate in mock drafts. This is actually something that can help in your game play. Most people play the mock drafts before the football season officially starts and you get your actual team, but you can play these through out the first part of the season as well. Unfortunately most people that play this during the season end up skipping out before the game starts so you are left playing against the computer which is nothing like how real people would play and more like how an auto-draft would work if that is how your league picks players. There are basically 2 kinds of drafts, the standard “Snake” draft where you take turns picking players much the same way the actual NFL drafts players; and the “Auction Draft” where you are given virtual money to bid on players. Usually the top few players go for about 1/4 the money allowed and near the end they are picked up for only a dollar or 2. The standard draft is the most popular because it is easiest to understand, if it is your turn, you pick the best available player. The auction draft is best suited for people who understand the psychology of betting, like in poker. If you know how to work it, you can get a team you are more happy with than the standard draft, but it takes a few practice runs to figure out how to work it. After 4 or 5 tries, I was getting pretty good at it and actually prefer the auction draft. Almost everyone ends up with a team they like in this system. You feel like you have more input on who you get. There is also the “Auto-Draft”. This is where the computer decides for you who you will get. It is based off the “Snake” style draft, and it is smart enough not to get you 5 QBs. If you already have a few players in a position it will move on to the next most important position for you. Learning how the players are picked by playing a bunch of bots in a mock draft will help you understand how the auto-draft will work. You do have the ability to manipulate the results a bit by filling out a list of players you really really want and those you straight up refuse to play. I know Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best WRs in the NFL but I HATE Arizona and could never bring myself to cheer for anyone on their team, so I listed him on the list of players I do not want. You can also list a certain QB near the top of your wish list to almost guarantee you will get him. This is where knowing how bots chose players in the “Snake-Draft” helps you. The first 3 or 4 rounds will be your RBs and WRs, so if you have a good feel for when the QBs will be picked, you can list the one you want a few spots before then and as long as he is available then, you will get him. You can read more about improving your Fantasy Football Strategy through playing mock-drafts if you click here.

There are also a few things you can do in your league to mix things up a bit. You can make your league a PPR, meaning you get a few extra points for each reception a person makes, rather than just how many yards they earn, say 0.3 points per catch. This gives a little more value to the WR and TE positions. You can have a QB-Flex slot. This allows you to add a second quarterback on your active roster. You can also allow for an IDP position. This is where you can chose an “Individual Defensive Player”. This way can guess who will get the most interceptions or sacks in a game, and if you own the defense he plays for, you will be getting double points.

Apart from the side games available in your actual league’s site, you can find a number of websites that let you play Fantasy Football related games. There are also a few sites that let you play week by week so you are not stuck with the same players the whole season. I have not played on any of these sites so I can not help you with how to play there, but just know there are places to go if you are not getting your fill by playing in your normal league. Some of these sites will offer $1000 or more for predicting the top players of the week or even allow you to wager real money for a chance to win big bucks! (Since first writing this, I joined DraftKings to try it out. Signed up with $25, used $13 of it to test it out and won $75! Not bad (-; ) Whatever you decide to do, make sure you do not spend more than you can afford, be careful of scams, do research on these websites, and above all, don’t spend too much time playing fantasy football, remember that real life is more important!!

Daily Schedule

After you get your team tweaked and sorted to perfection you will find as the season goes on that your best running back just isn’t playing like he used to or your tight end gets hurt and is out for a few games. There is also the inevitable bye week that you must deal with for every player. In this article we will deal less with how to tweak your line up and more with what to do each day of the week to keep your roster up to date with your best players playing. This is an important part of fantasy football strategy since some decisions are very time sensitive because some players have gotten hurt at practice during the week, like Dennis Pitta, and if you were not aware of this, you might be starting a hurt player and once his game starts you are out of luck.

As always, this is not a perfect system, but it is something you can do just a few minutes a day to keep from getting caught with your pants down.

This is technically the last day of the week as far as football goes, but this is where you will start thinking of who you will be playing, sitting, dropping, grabbing, and trading. Most players on the wire will not be available until Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how your league is set up, but there will be a few Free Agents (FAs) who you can pick up today or maybe at midnight Pacific time (usually the time Fantasy Leagues officially rolls over to the next week). Most of Monday will be spent enjoying your first day back to work after the weekend. It is also the last day of the NFL week and while you are watching some Monday Night Football, you can be researching players who look hot for next week. Look over your roster to see who is “out” or “questionable”, and who has a bye week coming up. Take a look on the wire to see who is available on the wire in those positions. Go to FantasyFootballFreaks and check out their Player Comparison Page and check to see if your back up player is going up against a hard team while your main player is on a bye week, you might need to get someone else in there. Also look to see if anyone from your league has a pending transaction and when it will take effect. It might not happen for a few days, but it is a good idea to know which players will become available in the next few days. It is also useful to know who is usually active on the wire and who likes to stick with their players longer. If you can stay awake until 12 am Pacific time, you can usually get the jump on the competition. Some leagues will let you grab a play the instant he is off a roster, others make you wait a few days so that those who need to be work in the morning have a more equal chance, but even then, you can usually get your first pick in before the others. But don’t spend too much time on your roster on Mondays since you can’t really do too much until Tuesday anyway. Get informed and make mental notes, but save the big transactions for the next few days.

This is the day you want to grab the “hot” players. Even if you need to wait for the waiver period, you can still get “dibs” on them before someone else gets them. In my league, you usually have to wait until Thursday before snatching up a recently dropped player, but you can usually indicate you want someone, and you will be awarded the player if you have a better spot on the “Waiver” list (which works more or less like the snake-draft if you select more than one player off the wire). It is sometimes frustrating to finish watching Monday Night Football and jump on the computer only to find that you can’t really start planning your roster yet. Today is the day you can, most sites update their rankings for this coming week so you can move on. Head over to FantasyPros and see their Consensus Rankings. This will give you an idea of who you might want to sit and who you might want to grab off the wire (if you have your team registered with them, they will color code the players to make it easier to see who you have and who is available). Keep in mind that selecting a player on the “waiver” will either push you to the end of the list next week or add points to your waiver stats which could add up and effect your rank later, depending on your league’s rules. Have your leagues player list open as well so you can see who is available now and who you have to wait for or might need to trade to get. FAs you can grab right away, but those on the waiver will usually indicate which day they will be available. Your research done on Monday will usually help you decide who to grab on Tuesday, but keep in mind that rankings can change quite a bit between Tuesday and Sunday morning. I had a bye week coming up for my defense and the top 2 available defenses were Jacksonville and Atlanta. They were both playing pretty easy teams so that didn’t help much but Jacksonville was ranked 4 spots above Atlanta on Tuesday. I looked and saw no one else in my league had a defense on a bye that week so I could take a few days before having to make a decision. By Sunday morning, Jacksonville dropped 5 spots and Atlanta climbed 3 spots and so I grabbed Atlanta and was happy I waited, Jacksonville only got 1 point that week (even though Atlanta didn’t do much better, they still got me a few more points). Tuesday is also a good day to make trades. Usually a trade takes a few days to go through so you want to make this happen earlier in the week, this way you have a day or 2 to make some adjustments if you need to. You also need to pay attention to who is playing Thursday. If one of the teams you are thinking of grabbing is playing, you do not have as long to wait for the rankings to settle down. Make sure you get the players you think might be grabbed by someone else this week, but if you think you can hold off a few days, wait until Sunday morning (or Thursday) before doing too much today.

You will be doing most of the same things you did on Tuesday but keep in mind that there is a game coming up tomorrow. Look to see if there are any players playing Thursday night that you might want to grab, there is a chance someone else might want them also, especially if they had a good game last week. Don’t feel too much pressure though, there are only 2 teams playing tomorrow, but if they are good teams, you might need to make some decisions today. For the most part, you will just do a few minutes of research and watch to see who is hurt or coming off an IR list. It was a Wednesday that Chris Johnson was dropped last year the week before he blew up on the scene and I was lucky enough to see he was available and that the games he had left were supposed to be really good for him, so I grabbed him. Wednesday is also a good day to do some planning. You don’t have much going on today so you can look ahead a few weeks to when your starting QB has a bye and find someone who should have a good week that week. Start keeping track of 2 or 3 guys that can fill that spot and watch them so you get a feel for how they are doing against certain teams. You will usually want to grab these guys a week or 2 in advance and sit on them until that weeks comes so that they are available and you don’t end up getting blind-sided with no one but the 3rd string Raider’s QB to fill the spot.

There is a game tonight so pay attention to anyone on your roster who is playing, especially if they are on your bench. You also want to make sure the guy you were thinking of picking up, who is playing, is picked up. Again, don’t feel that you NEED to grab him just because he has a game, but if you are going to get him anyway, make sure you do before his game starts. Run through your roster and make sure anyone on your bench you were going to play this week is starting. I like to keep the “Flex” spot open for Sundays just in case I have a last minute change of mind about who to play this week, meaning that if you are going to play someone on a Thursday, place him in his actual position (if he is a tight end, put him in the TE slot rather than the “Flex”) this way when your star running back ends up coming of the IR list because of a game-time decision, you still have a spot for him available. And if he stays on the IR, you can still throw in your other TE or a WR to cover the difference. Thursdays are still like Tuesday and Wednesday in that it is mostly a preparation day with the exception that a few players might be playing today. The majority of the players still have a few more days before you need to make a decision on them.

Almost everyone should be available off the waiver today, so your adds should be instantaneous. This is good in that you don’t need to wait to know if you are going to actually get someone, but it is also dangerous in that once you pick someone and drop someone else, you can’t just cancel the swap like you could on an earlier day, you will have to wait a few days when they come back off the waiver. Sometimes this will actually be after he starts his game that week (it happened to me once). Make sure that anyone you added or traded for are in the position you need them to be, make sure there are no empty slots. If you dropped a kicker for another, the system SHOULD place your new kicker in the K spot, but sometimes there are glitches. This doesn’t take long, but it sucks if you miss this. Most of your trades and early adds should have gone through by now so just double check to see that everything is in order.

College Football Day! While you are watching the Ducks run up the score on some poor 2 and 6 team, you can get on your computer and check on your team. For the most part your roster should be ready to go, but there might be a few transactions that were scheduled for today. Make sure all your positions are accounted for, and keep in mind that some transactions might not happen until late Sunday morning so CYA just in case. If you did a late trade, do not keep the spot for that guy open, put someone in there just in case, if the trade happens and you do not wake up early enough to place the new guy in that spot, you might end up with no one in there. It is better to get 4 points than nothing. But if you do end up with an empty chair, you can usually grab someone from a late Sunday game or Monday just to avoid a big fat 0. You want to have your roster pretty close to finalized, but there is still a little time before your final decisions. You want to have had all your transactions finished by today and just work on who is starting and who is sitting out. If someone is still “Questionable” today put him on the bench. Again, you don’t want to be caught with your pants down when the games start Sunday morning.

GAME DAY!! Most of your players will be starting their games at 1 pm Eastern Time, so set your alarm to wake up at least an hour before to check on your “Questionable” players and see who is or isn’t playing after the “Game-Time” decisions have been made. Make sure no one is “Out” or on a bye, and make sure you don’t have any empty seats. You should have every your roster finalized before the games start. If you have the wrong people in when their games start you will not be able to change them. Once the games start there is really nothing much you can do but sit back and watch your players score points. Open your league’s “Stat Tracker” and see how well your players do. Pay attention to who is racking up points, especially those who you never heard of before, but be careful at the same time. You want to get the up and coming players before anyone else gets them, but you have to pay attention to why they had a good week. Was he a 3rd string player who got in because the starting RB was injured and they played against the worst team in the league? You can always grab him and try and pawn him off onto someone else who got caught up in the hype, but don’t drop him for a legitimate player just yet. If you were using a temporary kicker that week, yeah, grab him, but just know that it might be the only week he will be playing. Also keep in mind that there are a few late games and a Monday night game that you need to be watching out for. You might still have a few players you need to adjust, but for the most part you will not really do much after the first set of games have started.

It is nice to see that you have a lot of points up after Thursday night, but it is also fun to see your players make a big comeback on Monday night! If I have a spot that has a couple of players that are neck and neck in the rankings I will sometimes pick the guy who plays Monday just so I can have that last minute save. It honestly makes no difference which day your team scores their points, but it is more fun to watch Monday Night Football when you still have a stake in the game.

Remember, you don’t need to get the most points in your league to win, you just need more than the guy you are matched up against. In fact, last week I had the 2nd least points in the league, but actually won the “Biggest Blowout” award because the guy I was matched up against had about the worst luck possible that week. Of course it is nice to know you had the best team in your league, but most leagues are designed to allow anyone a chance to come from behind and win in the last few weeks. Last year I had 100 more total points than the next guy but came within 5 points of losing the season because the playoffs are decided on “W”s and even if you had the least amount of points going into the playoffs, you only need to beat the guy you are matched up against the following few weeks and you can win the season! This gives hope to those who started out weak, and if this was you, just know that you still have a chance, so don’t give up just yet! If you start paying attention to how things work during the regular season, you have a better chance of surviving your leagues playoffs (which is a few weeks before the actual NFL’s playoffs). And by following this Fantasy Football Strategy, especially this daily schedule, you will have a better chance of taking the whole thing!

Using Websites to your Advantage

As you read in my other article, most people do not have enough time and money to devote the majority of their life to doing enough personal research to pick a perfect line up every week for your fantasy football team. There are some websites and magazines devoted to helping you make the best decisions written and maintained by people who actually do have the time and money to do this. Some of these sites have a handful of really good experts and other sites compile the predictions from a vast selection of these other sites. There is a good chance that the website you use to play fantasy football has a few different ways to help you predict who to pick this week. Unfortunately they usually only use a few people on their staff. These guys are pretty good and can usually help with the more obvious choices and usually better when looking at your specific league, but more than likely the sites I will show you are already using their predictions in their results as well.

I play on Yahoo! and find that their tools are nice and I will sometimes use them for certain decisions but for the most part the information I get from FantasyPros.com is more accurate. FantasyPros changed their website a few weeks ago, and normally I would squawk really loud about changing your website look and feel mid season, but they did 2 things right: first they kept the older, more familiar pages working like people are used to so that you can still get the information you need the way you were expecting to; second they made a huge improvement on how they display information you want to see quickly and so much better than before to the point where you can’t possibly complain, unless your complaint is that you don’t waste enough time any more. Before I go into detail about how to use FantasyPros, lets start by saying the absolute best way to use it is to register and import your team. You can import form most major sites, like Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS, NFL.com, etc. I am not an affiliate of theirs and get nothing for promoting them, but I have been using their site for a couple of years and have never gotten spammed or had any problems with using them. After you have registered, you can see instantly who you should start and who you should sit out. When you log in you should be directed to “My Playbook“. This page shows you the suggested line for your current team. The top graphic shows you your suggested players as compared to the other players in their position in the league you are in. It then lists them with who they are playing this week and what rank they are overall in their positions, so your RB might be 3rd best in the RB2 position, but he could be ranked 10th best RB of all RBs. You can look at the list of all players in a given position on the “Consensus Rankings” page. This is where they compile the data from 50 or 60 experts, including the experts that give you predictions at Yahoo!, and tell you how each player is ranked and what the standard deviation is (basically how far off the prediction might be). Here is where you can make decisions on who you might want to pick up off the wire this week. It will show you in green the players you have on your roster, in grey the players that are on other people’s rosters, and then those in white are available to pick up. So say you need a WR this week you would chose the WR tab on the page and look to see who the top few available players are. Usually they are ranked bellow the taken players, but sometimes you can find someone that is having a bad season but who should be ready to take off this week. I grabbed Joique Bell when he was listed pretty high. At the time I didn’t know it but Reggie Bush was hurt and Joique was going to be running the ball a lot that week. He had a really good few weeks until Bush came back. This is the best way to look for players that might not be good to have except for a few weeks when they are taking over for an injured player.

FantasyPros main focus is with their “Who should I start” tool. The most common way to use this tool is to type the names of 2 players and look to see who is supposed to have a better week. They give you the average rank as given by the 50-60 experts then the best and worst rankings for both of the players. You can also see the points predicted and the average points their opponent for the week have allowed. If you are registered, it will give you a list of the players you have and the top available players for that position. Usually you have the top 2 or 3 players picked and are just looking for who to place in your flex position. This is where you can compare your bottom 2 RBs against the guys off the wire to see if you might want to drop someone and pick someone off the wire. The best time to use FantasyPros is an hour before the games start. Some of their data does not come until the last minute and I have grabbed players off the wire on a Tuesday only to see that their rank dropped sharply by the time Sunday came around. This site is the best I have found for predictions because it pools from so many sources. I like their new functionality and highly recommend it. You can use a few of their tools without registering, like their “Who should I start” tool, but the bulk of the site’s power comes from knowing who you have and who you are up against.

The hardest part to deal with when using this site is that they are only focused on this week’s ranks, so if you are looking to grab someone to replace your QB in 4 weeks when he has a bye, this is not the site you want to use. Although it is nearly impossible to know who will be good or even able to play 4 weeks from now, you can at least see who they will be playing and how those defenses are doing. For future picks I like to go to FantasyFootballFreaks.com. They have a few different tools, but the only one I really use is their “Player Comparison“, and you don’t need to register to use this tool. Here you can choose up to 4 players and see how hard their opponents are going to be on any given week and when your players are going to have a bye week. They have some graphics under the names of the players you chose that give you some useful information, but the one I use all the time is at the bottom where they list which teams they are going to play for the rest of the season. Lets say you have Peyton Manning as your QB and Andrew Luck on your bench. You plug in Peyton and Luck and see that Peyton has a bye in week 9 but Luck is playing Houston that week and they are listed is hard (a red X). You run over to FantasyPros.com and see that Aaron Rogers and Philip Rivers are listed pretty high on the charts and are available. Going back to FantasyFootballFreaks you enter in Rogers and Rivers along with Peyton and Luck. You drop down to week 9 and see that Rogers plays Chicago, one of the best defenses, but Rivers plays Washington, a fairly easy defense. You can wait 4 weeks and try and grab Rogers and hope no one else got him before you did or you can grab him now. That really depends on your league and how active they are on the waiver wire. You also have to decide if Rogers, who is quite a bit higher ranked than Rivers, will get more points against Chicago or will Rivers do better against Washington. This is where I wish FantasyPros would predict further past the games than just this week. You can always grab both of them, if you can afford it 😉 You will also notice that Luck only has a couple more weeks of “easy teams” and you might want to drop him after next week and just keep Rogers who has a whole slew of easy teams coming up soon. Sometimes I will list a few defense teams and see who they are playing and try and get players from the teams that are listed as “hard”, this is kind of backwards from how it was intended, but it has helped in the past.

As I said before, I play in a Yahoo! Fantasy Football league. Although I don’t use them for weekly predictions, it is a really good way to see who is available and who is doing well. One of my favorite tools is to use the “players” tool and filter for “Next 4 Weeks (proj)”. This usually gives you a pretty good idea of who will be doing will in the near future. Say your TE is going to be playing a few tough teams the next few weeks. You go into the players list, select “TE” and “Next 4 Weeks (proj)” and you can see who is listed as going to have a few good weeks coming up. Last year I did this for a back up running back and found Chris Johnson the week before he exploded onto the scene. Sometimes you can find someone before they become a hot item. You might need to bench them a week or 2 while they play the harder games, but its better than waiting too long and watching someone else grab them before you do.

By using the methods described here you can greatly improve your chances of getting the best weekly line up and winning your league this season. There is no perfect fantasy football strategy, even the best of the best only have a 66% average for their picks, but using their advice is going to be better for you in the long run.

Mock Drafts

In this article, you will learn how to improve your Fantasy Football Strategy by learning how the “Mock-Draft” works. If your league has a live draft, you will definitely want to play a number of mock-drafts before you participate in the draft. Even if your league uses an “Auto-Draft”, you can learn a few things about how the draft works and I will even walk you through how to manipulate the draft in your favor through totally legal tools, your fantasy football website actually provides you with these tools. Although most mock-drafts are only available a month or so before the season starts through the first month or so of the season, it can help ease your “Jones” for football season before the NFL starts playing games. It can also give you some good insight on who you should and shouldn’t pick. A few years ago I had a friend who was excited to see that Peyton Manning was available pretty far into the draft. He picked him up thinking he was going to dominate the season, only to find out later that Manning was not playing that season because he just had neck surgery. He could have avoided this problem if he ran through a few mock-drafts and found that no one was picking him, then he could have done some research and found out why.

Draft Styles

Standard “Snake” Draft
For the most part there are 2 basic styles of drafts. The most popular is the standard “Snake” style draft. This is where each person in the league takes turns picking a player. The reason it is called “Snake-Style” is that the even rounds reverse the order of the picks. This means that the first player to pick the first round is the last person in the second round and the last player gets first pick in the second round. This is more or less how the actual NFL draft works. This is the most popular because it is pretty easy to understand, when it is your turn, pick the best player available. The auto-draft is based off of this style of draft and I will explain later why this is important for you to know if your league uses an auto-draft. Most draft systems will show you a list of all the available players in the order they have been ranked, usually decided on an algorithm of how they played the year before and how they have been picked in recent drafts. The easiest way to do this draft is to pick the guy at the top of the list. You can chose anyone from any part of the list, but I would stick to top guys offered the first few rounds. After you get a good starting base of RBs and WRs, grab the best QB you can. You also want to pay attention to the top 2 or 3 TEs and Defenses, Jimmy Graham and Seattle can bring in more points than most WRs and QBs, so if they are available around the 5th round or 6th round, don’t be scared to pick them up, BUT, if the few pre-determined players in those slots are not available, do not grab anyone in those slots until after the rest of your line up is picked. There are only a handful of players in the TE, K, DST positions that are worth fighting for, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, Seattle, even the best TE or WR can be shut out in games, where a mediocre QB will always get you a few points, even if they throw 6 picks a game.

Auction Draft
In the Auction-Draft you are given some virtual money to use to bid on players you want. You are still given a position but it really doesn’t effect the players you can get. Everyone will have an equal chance to get Adrian Peterson, who was listed as #1 for the draft this year. This style of draft is a little more complicated, but only slightly, and after you get used to it there is little chance you will want to go back to the “Snake-Draft”. Almost everyone in an auction draft is happy with the team they end up with. If you want Russell Wilson or Adrian Peterson bad enough you are almost guaranteed to get them, but be aware that the rest of your team might suck, but HEY! You got Russell Wilson! In the Yahoo! auction draft everyone starts out with $200. The fist person will nominate a player to bid on, usually Adrian Peterson, and then the bidding starts. The person nominating can start the bidding with the default value, usually $1, or decide on another value. Peterson usually went for about $70, so you might start him at say $55, this will make the process go a little faster so that not everyone is jumping in with $1 increments for the next few minutes. After the bidding is won, the person in the #2 spot picks someone, this year it was Arian Foster, who usually went for about $5 less than Peterson. This goes on for a while until you see people are down to their last $9. You MUST buy someone for no less than $1, so if you have 9 slots left including your bench, you can’t bid your last $9. Normally this is where people log off and let the bots pick for you, but there is a strategy I have found that will give you enough money to win in the last half of the draft. If you have ever played Texas Hold’em this strategy will come a little easier for you. You know that the top 20 players will always be nominated, for example there is no way Adrian Peterson will not be nominated by someone, and if you are willing to go to $75 or $80 for him, you will get him, so don’t waste your turn nominating him or anyone in the top 30, they will come around so relax. Find a few high ranked players not in the RB position who you will not pick unless they come cheep. I like to nominate players like Tony Romo and Tom Brady. Don’t throw in garbage players like Tim Tebow because there is a chance you will be stuck with them and they will take up slots in your roster. People will be forced to bid on them or risk not getting them and be willing to spend more than they would later, especially this early in the draft they will not be so tight with their money. Bots will refuse to give up a player for bellow their projected value, so if you have a few bots that are jacking up your bids, find players in their roster they need who are projected to be of high value but you do not want, nominate them and the bots will fight each other over them and waste their money. In the second half of the draft they will be left with $1 per player and you can grab anyone you want for just a few dollars. In the first half of the draft, bid on almost ANYONE at $8. This will fill your roster with good players for cheep if you do win the bid, and force people up if you don’t get it. Be prepared to pay a lot for the few players you want, but if they are not the top 3 or 4 players you have decided on, do not spend more than $20 on anyone. This will ensure that you get a decent roster all the way across. Be aware that some people will call you some harsh names for throwing out RG3 to bid on when you should be nominating Arian Foster, but you have to decide if you want to be socially accepted for being the same as everyone or if you want a better roster than the rest of them.

Manipulate your Auto-Draft
After playing a few drafts, you will come to find that some people leave the draft early and bots will take over. This is frustrating at times, but it will help you understand how bots work. It might even be a good idea to join a few drafts that are empty just to see how bots work. This will help a lot if your league uses an “Auto-Draft”. The same bots that you play against in the mock-draft will be the ones that run your auto-draft. If you learn how they work, you can use some available tools to help in your actual draft. Most sites, like Yahoo!, will provide you with a “Wish List” and a “Do not Draft” list. Usually the first round will be all RBs. The second and 3rd rounds will start to see WRs and then QBs. Around the 7th and 9th rounds will bring in the TEs and later will come the DSTs and Kickers. Through playing in the mock-drafts you will find which players will be picked in the first few rounds, but also pay attention to the first 3 or 4 TEs and DSTs, write these names down. Since the bots are programmed to fill out your starting line up before moving onto the bench players, you will have an advantage if you use this knowledge. As I said, there are really only a few players in the TE, K, DST positions that are worth fighting for. The rest you will place on the “Do not Draft” list. This will ensure that you are getting better 3rd string RBs and WRs when everyone else is getting TEs that will be getting garbage points the whole season. You might also add the few players you can’t stand or who have disappointed you in the past to the list, but remember, even if you hate Peyton Manning, he WILL put up mass points!
Now for the meat of the system. This is a little more complicated, but after thinking about it for a little bit it will make sense. You will have to tweak this algorithm depending on the size of your league, but the basics will be the same. The bots are programmed to pick the top players as they are listed by your league’s site, in Yahoo! the first batch is the RBs, then the WRs, then the QBs, then the TEs, then DSTs and Kickers. The bots are also designed to fill the slots evenly so that you are not getting 5 RBs before you get your kicker. You will get 2 RBs and 1 or 2 WRs before you start getting your QB then a TE. Basically, if you have an 8 team league, the top 16 RBs and 16 WRs will be picked and then the top 8 QBs, etc. Add the top 10 or 12 RBs to your “Wish List”, then the top 10-12 WRs. This will get you the better WRs while other teams are getting the mediocre RBs. Add the top 5 or 6 QBs, then only the very best 2 or 3 TEs and then the DSTs you know will deliver game after game, then MAYBE Matt Bryant and Blair Walsh, the other kickers are basically better to just pick up of the wire on a weekly basis. With your lists set this way, you might not get any good WR3s, but the best TEs and kickers will deliver more points than the average WR3, and this is what you are aiming to do. You will usually end up dropping you WR3 after a few games for someone off the wire anyway, but if you have a good kicker, you will keep him for the season and he will net you more points than most WR3s and even a lot of WR2s. Knowing how the bots do the draft will help you determine how to set up your lists. If you want better WRs you can reduce the number of RBs and if you think any kicker is a waste of time, eliminate them completely off your list for a better chance at the middle tier RBs and WRs. After listing your DSTs and Ks, let the bots do the rest. You will still have a few starting positions open like the WR, but the bots will grab the better selection for you while doling out the garbage point TEs and DSTs since you have already listed everyone else in these positions as “Do not Draft”. Even if you finish the draft with a TE and DST missing, you can always get these off the wire and the few points you might be missing out on by not getting the 5th ranked TE will be more than made up by ensuring you have the better players in the other positions.

Regardless of how much research you do, no one could have told you that Adrian Peterson would be the top Fantasy Football points scorer the year after he blew out his ACL, nor could they have predicted that he would drop to the middle of the pack the year after he was one play away from breaking the record for most rushing yards in a season. There are so many intangibles that go into why a player has a good or bad season. Torrey Smith lost his brother, and that could have easily caused him to drop off the face of the Earth, but instead he used it as a catalyst to launch him from virtual obscurity to become one of the best fantasy players of the year. Even the best professional Fantasy Football predictors average about 66% accuracy, they get things wrong 1/3rd of the time. In the end, after you have done all the research you can do, you should ultimately use your instincts and best judgment for the harder choices you might have to make.

Fantasy Football Strategy

Unless you are a professional fantasy football statistician who gets paid a living wage to to follow the lives and game stats of all 1,696 or so NFL players, there is a good chance that you do not have enough time to find out all the little factors that might effect the performance of your players. Some people like to pick their favorite players and just stick with them even though their best years are behind them. Some of these people might get lucky and see their players have a resurgence like those who took Peyton Manning or even Tony Romo. Not many experts were listing either of them very high this year but they are toping the charts this season after a few years of nothing but misery for their previous owners. There are also some of those who will pick players from their favorite team and hope for the best. If you are a Broncos or Seattle fan you would be doing pretty good. You can still chose a few players in this manor but be prepared to sit your favorites if they are not going to perform as well as you would like them to if you want to be winning your fantasy games. Of course you only need to beat the guy you are up against this week, so if he forgets to swap out his bye-week players you can throw in a few sentimental picks just to show your support. I will help you find a better Fantasy Football Strategy for pick players for your line up.

If you want to win every week against some smart team owners you are going to have to bite the bullet and pick some players from teams you love to hate if they are going to give you points. My first year I traded away some really good players just because I couldn’t bring myself to cheer for them in real life. Although I still want their team to lose, I have come to terms with the fact that I need the best players from which ever team they are on if I want to win. I am not a complete football freak like the stereotypical fantasy football owner. I know the top names like Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning, but I never heard of Jamal Charles until he was picked for me in the automated draft, and he was listed as the 3rd to be picked this year behind Peterson and Arian Foster. I know we can go on for weeks discussing the pre-draft preparation and the nuances of how the various draft options are better for certain leagues, like the snake draft vs auction, but my league used an automated draft so we will skip this. There is a way to select certain players you refuse to take and ones you will try to get before other positions are chosen, so you CAN manipulate your automated draft a bit, and this takes a little research too, but be careful, Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster were listed as the 2 top scorers where Peyton Manning and Tony Romo were listed WAY down on the list pre-season, but the first few games showed that pre-season predictions might not always pan out the way you might expect.

When you decide to do some research for your fantasy team, you might want to find places to go where someone else has already done most of the work. There are a ton of websites that are designed to help you find the best line up for your team and give you the best suggestions for who to start. I would love to be able to give you the best advice for your team but I just don’t have the time to do all the research necessary to do that. I will however show you where to go and how to use some of these sites to your best advantage. I have found that even the best, most well paid experts only get their picks right 66% of the time. This is a little better than a coin flip, so when you see that 2 of your players are listed neck and neck, go with your gut instinct if there is only a few positions difference. You will want to think about the defense they are playing against, and maybe even pick the guy from the team you like at this point. But if one is listed in the #2 spot and the other is in the #38 spot you should generally pick that guy in the #2 spot. Also keep in mind that NO ONE can predict an injury, you never know when RG3 will run for extra yards and have his knee blown out by a hit, but you might really pay attention to high risk players like Mike Vick who loves to scramble vs someone like Peyton Manning who loves to stay safe in the pocket.

Now that you have some idea of how things work, you should head over to my article on how to use various websites to your advantage. Although there are some that are really good at predicting the best players for the week they have some drawbacks that usually require some supplemental sites to help with other decisions like who to pull off the wire and who to hang onto for a few weeks when your star QB has a bye or is going to be playing a really tough defense. Above all remember, this is all about having fun so don’t stress out too much and only put in the amount of effort to keep it fun, and don’t forget, it is a lot more fun when you are winning!