The dog days of summer have always been a downtime for sports fans. With LeBron’s “Decision” finally past us, ESPN will turn its focus to Brett Favre’s “Decision” (take 5), but since it is now August, only one thing matters: Fantasy Football and your draft day decisions! I have gone undefeated over the last six fantasy leagues I’ve been a part of, including football, baseball and basketball, and want to share some helpful tips I use during each draft with the COED Community, as well as giving you my sure pick and sleeper pick for each position. So grab your cheat sheets and mock drafts, add this list to the pile, and good luck!
Now, I’ll admit it, dual eligibility isn’t as vital in Fantasy Football as it is in basketball and baseball, but it is still an important tip to have in the back of your mind. Whenever a player can get you multiple positions, it is always a plus and if this was baseball or basketball, dual eligibility would be ranked top two. In most football leagues, the defense and special teams are considered one. Therefore, if the league you’re in rewards more points for special teams (return yardage), it doesn’t necessarily mean the best defense is the smartest pick. Chances are, if a team puts up big return numbers in the special teams, it means they’re returning a lot of kickoffs, which means their defense is giving up a lot of scores. See?
Defense/Special Teams Sure Pick: NY Jets
Defense/Special Teams Sleeper Pick: Houston Texans
Before the draft, make sure you know which teams have which bye weeks. Similar to dual eligibility, but more important when it comes to Fantasy Football, making sure you know the bye weeks can guarantee you fill every slot each and every week. Missed games are worse than a bad game from your best player, because missed games obviously get you zero points, which is never a good thing. So use the bye week knowledge to your advantage when drafting, even if it means going deeper on the depth chart than you’d like, just to be sure you can get players that can actually get you points when others are off.
Tight End Sure Pick: Dallas Clark
Tight End Sleeper Pick: Dustin Keller
In order to win in fantasy sports, just like real sports, you must secure your bench. Bench players fill the spots left open by injuries, bye weeks, rest and suspensions. Going back to the previous two tips, the goal is to have every roster spot filled each and every week. Also, proper planning in the draft can help in multiple ways when it comes to your bench. It all depends on the league you’re in as to how many bench spots you have, so plan accordingly. It is important to have an above average bench player for your top point getting positions. For example, if your league is point heavy for running backs, and you’re allowed two RB’s to start and three total bench players, it would be wise to draft three or even four running backs before even selecting a defense, kicker or even tight end. Not only will you have backups for the most injury prone position, but you can take better talent away from your competitors and have good trade chips in case you want to make a deal.
Wide Receiver Sure Pick: Andre Johnson
Wide Receiver Sleeper Pick: Santana Moss
Each league will have its own rules on transactions, so make sure you know them going into the season. Transactions are a good way to improve your team during the season, as long as you use them wisely. Don’t jump the gun on an available player because he had a good game. My biggest tip to a successful transaction is to go by average points. You want consistency on your team, so if a decent player goes off on a particular week, which happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean he will produce over the entire season. Also, don’t blow your transactions in the first few weeks. Save as many as you can just in case you need them when it gets closer to the playoffs. You never know when a key player will go down with an injury so its best to save your transactions until you absolutely need them.
Running Back Sure Pick: Chris Johnson
Running Back Sleeper Pick: Cedric Benson
It’s pretty basic, but using your gut instinct is vital to a successful Fantasy Football franchise. Don’t get too caught up in last years numbers or the hype around some big name players. Top players, running backs especially, seem to differ from year to year. Of course you have the Peyton Manning’s, Drew Brees’s and Tom Brady’s who will consistently put up great numbers each year, but you can’t just count on ESPN’s Draft Kit to bring home the championship. If you know a player is in a contract year (Cedric Benson), is on a new team (Terrell Owens) or has new players surrounding him (Santana Moss), don’t be afraid to take a chance on him even if he’s lower on the depth chart. Just don’t use your number one pick on him. It can work the other way too. The new team might not fit the player’s skills as previous teams where he succeeded (Terrell Owens in Buffalo). This all comes down to your gut instinct. If your draft takes place before Brett Favre’s “Decision”, but you feel he’s coming back, don’t be afraid to take a chance on him or the Minnesota Viking’s receiving corps in the later rounds.
Quarterback Sure Pick: Drew Brees
Quarterback Sleeper Pick: Chad Henne
So there you have it! Hopefully these tips can help you beatdown your friends, classmates or coworkers during the upcoming football season. Oh, there ‘s one more pick: the all important kicker (sarcasm for most leagues).
Kicker Sure Pick: Stephen Gostkowski
Kicker Sleeper Pick: Garrett Hartley