To achieve NFL Fantasy Football championship glory, one must avoid as many mistakes and/or pitfalls as possible. Most NFL Fantasy Football champions avoid mistakes. NFL Fantasy Football is absolute fun and the object of the fun is to win it all! But certain mistakes and/or pitfalls will only lead to a less-than-stellar league finish. Managing an NFL Fantasy Football team is not complicated at all, championship success will only come to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes or lapses in judgement come draft day.
Every year, at SafePicks.com, I get questions regarding NFL Fantasy Football – and how to avoid making those dreaded mistakes. Now remember, at SafePicks.com, we tailor our site content for beginners and pros by wording our site in such a way that everyone can enjoy. In that vein, I also make myself available by email as best I can to help our users, which is a huge benefit for many of our ‘beginner’ users. My cousin Josh just joined our NFL Fantasy league… then recently he asked me for some tips or more specifically, what mistakes should he watch out for. So he is trying to seek out some NFL Fantasy Football tips and pointers for avoiding mistakes. I thought it was a good question: and then I decided to post about that here. So Josh, this is for you and anyone else looking to avoid making those mistakes when it comes to NFL Fantasy Football.
Now, before I get any unwarranted comments: please note, as an NFL Fantasy team owner in 4 leagues this year, (with past championship wins and ‘in the money’ wins myself), these are just my opinions only on how I move when it comes to NFL Fantasy Football:
Top NFL Fantasy Football Mistakes, Blunders and More:
1) Do NOT Forget To Do Your Homework: This cannot be stressed enough! To enter any NFL Fantasy Football draft without doing even an ounce of homework would be foolish, and is bound to result in end of season NFL Fantasy Football failure. Do not enter your NFL Fantasy draft without doing at least a little homework. There are a plethora of resource options out there from magazines to the Internet. Tons of information out there, so readily available, just waiting to be read! If you’re strapped for time, then at least know the current NFL Fantasy rankings for each draft position in your league. Know who the best player is and who might be the worst for the player-categories concerned. Be careful with some of those magazine publications, as most are published early spring – well before any NFL Fantasy league draft. So likely, what you might read then – will most often change come draft time months later!
So it always helps to do some homework a week or two before your draft so the information obtained is current as possible. NFL depth charts will help you avoid drafting someone who may be injured or is not expected to start on game day. There is nothing worse than drafting a useless player, which is an utter waste of a draft pick, and further diminishes chances for NFL Fantasy Football success. Research the players, research the teams, research! Have a draft plan. Do not limit information resources, try to feed off of anything that’s out there… knowledge is power, in this case anyway.
2) Itchy Trigger Fingers Could Be Costly: A lack of patience tends to hurt chances for success in the long run. Patience is indeed a virtue. Don’t be quick to pull the trigger! Don’t let a loss or two dictate your decision-making. Don’t start making irrational trades, drops, or adds without surrendering a little patience. Now yes, every situation is unique. But I do know that two seasons ago I started out 1-5 to finish up 10 wins and in the money – patience paid me off. Had I pulled the trigger as I wanted to so badly, I’m pretty sure I would have not finished tops. Is there a gauge to tell when to pull the trigger (so to speak, of course)? No. Just use the tons of information out there on the Web, use good judgement and instinct. Angrily ridding your team of an under-performing player or two simply can have more negative consequences in the long run. I am for being just a little patient, another week or two – then decide what is best. Scoring slumps are a fact of life – but so is the fact that many snap out of those slumps more often than not.
3) Know League Scoring Structures (Points): Every NFL Fantasy Football league will have different varying rules and scoring systems that may vary. Do not make the mistake of drafting players with zero regard or understanding for the league’s scoring system (i.e. standard vs PPR). So it’s critical to know what type of player you are drafting and how many points that player could possible achieve week in and week out. So for example, Wes Welker’s value is different in a PPR league with a point for every 10 yards than it is in a league without PPR and a point for every 20 or 25 yards. In a yardage & PPR league, I am loading up on the heavily targeted players who consistently put up points every week. This is just me. The point is that it’s best to know how your league scores before venturing out into your draft and building a team.
4) Un-biased Drafting Is Best: Eliminate favoritism in NFL Fantasy Football drafts, such tend to cloud judgments and may have an impact on an overall sound draft. So instead of honing in on one favorite, mark down a few players in the category that are the best points producer. This is better versus a drafting philosophy of acquiring best liked players. This also means, if you were a Niners die-hard fan, and Seahawks RB Lynch was available to you last season but you avoided anyone that would play for the enemy – that’s a bad move. Or, locking in players all from your favorite team is also not the best move, chances for success are better when diversifying (talented players from different NFL teams), never mind the little points you would get on that favorite team’s bye week (off week). If you insist on having a favorite player to target, the main thing is to ensure that player is talented and can deliver in points. We’re in this for points! Dispense with the feelings, the fandemonium, and the favoritism. Go for the talent and points no matter if you like the player or not. As well, do not fall for over-hyped rookies as this is another no no. Yes, there have been exceptions to the rule, last season clearly indicated that – but instances are few and far between. Don’t instant-like rookies no matter how much praise they garner on TV or magazine, because it’s a risk to favorite anyone coming fresh out of college and into the NFL. Then, we always remind our users at SafePicks.com of this truth, that prior success (no matter how great) is never an indication of future success. After an NFL season closes, another one starts, with many elements changing in the offseason for every NFL team. So avoid the trap of chasing down an NFL Fantasy player(s) coming off a great year. In fact, it’s one of the most common traps that NFL Fantasy team owners fall into.
5) Waiver Wire, Adding/Dropping: If applicable, know when to add and drop. Know the talent pool that is out there in your NFL Fantasy league and do as you need to improve your NFL Fantasy team. If trades are allowed, see if this might be an option amongst your fellow league players. One your draft day team is set, remember it is not set in stone and almost likely by watching the waiver wire, adding/dropping or trading to help improve end of year success is a good thing.
6) Understand Teams, Matchups, And Schedules: Know who your NFL fantasy players are, know which team they play for and know how their schedule pans out. Know the bye weeks that will impact point production for any of your player(s). Understand NFL teams, their general philosophies (i.e. conservative, aggressive, offensively gifted, etc.). It’s always good to know, for example, if one wide receiver for that aggressive team will be better off than that wide receiver playing for a more conservative team. Or, for example, I will likely change my defense from week to week, depending on who the opponent will be. If the opponent has an error-prone offense, I will try to add a defense that is most opportunistic (whoever is best on the board). Matchups are always good to know to help improve your scoring situation. Don’t overkill the thought process on matchups though. If in your head it’s a tie or close between 2 good backs, for example, then go with the one facing the worse run-defense team.
7) Do NOT Over-Think Kicker and Defense: To me, these two categories could get a little over-rated. In the end, it all depends on your league’s point scoring system. Deciding on the Kicker for us is much dependent on the kind of offense the team is running, and the kind of opponents that team will face this year. If a kicker is in the groove, we look for head coach (types) that capitalize on it by giving that kicker many an opportunity for points. The other thing we consider are the hot and cold trends that may (or may not) plague Kickers, the colder they get – the closer they get to being unemployed the next day! Remember, last year’s top kicker entering the season came apart undone and ended up missing an NFL-high 14 field goals, that was David Akers. Such a phenomenon only really happens with the kicker position, where fantasy football is concerned. The difference between the top kicker in any given season and the 10th best kicker in the last 4 years have been about 25-30 points, which is about 1.65 points difference each week. So yes, it’s nice to grab a good consistent kicker if possible in a later round, but we simply don’t rake ourselves over the coals on it. Usually, we will take what is left in the later rounds, and focus on building the “top-end” of our fantasy football team (RBs, QBs, etc.). For our Defense, similar to the Kicker position, unless I can get a top-tier point-producing Defense in the 5th or 6th round, then I will pass and build upon the “top-end” of my fantasy football team. To me, I would love to have the top-ranked defense in the league, but if they are taken, then my focus will be on solidifying the RB, WR and QB spot with pure talent – then settle for a opportunistic defense ranked 10th or so. I can always change my defense week to week, which is what I usually do anyway depending on the matchup/opponent strength & weakness. So my defense tends to change week to week because I don’t get bent of shape wasting an early round pick on a top ranked defense. I save all my early round picks for building my point getters (QBs, RBs, WRs, TE). In the end, to me, there is more value in shoring up top-tier positions than overpaying (wasting early picks) on K or D.
8) Keep The Faith! Yes, it might be fair to argue that in some NFL Fantasy Football leagues, drafting in the top 6th or even 7th position statistically gives you a better chance at winning then let’s say the one who’s’drafting in the 12th position. In fact, those with No. 1 picks are almost twice as likely to win their NFL Fantasy league. But there are so many variables that impact NFL Fantasy football. There are so many unforeseen circumstances which could rear its ugly head at any point of the season. It is never over until it’s over! Keep the faith and have some fun. Never quit because anything can (and will) happen on Sunday!
9) Don’t Bank All-In On The QB: In my past experiences of winning NFL Fantasy Football leagues, if there was an above-average QB – I would take him if drafting I were drafting in a top-3 spot. If not, then for me, there is value in passing on a 4700 yard passer with 40 TDs, and waiting until the 4th or 5th round to take a 4000 yard passer who can hit 30 TDs. If it’s an absolute top tier point generating monster QB, go for it if you’re in 1st or 2nd draft pick in the opening round. If not, while my competition may solidify their QBs, I will go and get the top tier RBs. This has proved to be a formidable strategy.. for us at SafePicks.com anyway. As for QBs that have a thing for running the ball, we avoid them. Why test inevitable fate? RG3 is a perfect example of that. These running QBs, on average, will be hit 27% of the time they have the ball, they will get hit and hit again, and you run the risk of injury. It only takes one hit to destroy a season, ask the many Fantasy team owners who had RG3 last season in a solo-QB league. Using my first 2 picks on 2 QBs seems to be a waste for me as well, in the long run. I say it’s better to have top performers in point-heavy categories instead of banking on 2 QBs and missing out on the rest.
10) Have A Draft Day Strategy: Be aware of your draft-positioning in the draft order and make sure to have a plan. For me, if I am 1st or 2nd in the draft order, I have a specific draft plan. However, if I am 6th or 8th in the draft order, I will have a different specific draft plan (as hinted in #9). Basically, it really helps to have a plan, one that has different scenarios. ‘Winging it’ is for those that live and love lady luck! But for me, planning and employing a draft-day strategy really helps to improve overall success with my NFL Fantasy team.