Every year, workplaces around the country become entrenched in the late summer scramble to fill up the office pool with participants for the annual fantasy football league. Sure, Jim from accounting might have won three years in a row, but do not let Jim’s dominance stop you from paying league dues, starting up a team, and drafting your way toward dethroning the king.
Fantasy football is a multi-billion dollar cash cow. It’s changed the way the casual fan watches NFL football, and it continues to grow in popularity year after year — a rate that might eclipse the current state of the NFL. Regardless of allegiance, fantasy football is a completely different animal, and it only requires a few simple tips and tricks to make you a champion.
So, snatch up all the cheat sheet reading material you can, follow Adam Schefter on Twitter for all your player news and notes, and don’t spill any of the following secrets to Jim from accounting.
Your path to drafting a fantasy champion starts now.
1. Start With a Great Name
More important than draft position, every fantasy football championship run starts with having the best name in the league. You need to intimidate your opponent week after week, and the best way to do that is with a name unlike any other. When league players gossip at the water cooler, they won’t be mentioning “Jim’s Tigers.” You have to bring some pizazz! You have to be witty and creative — your pro tip here is to choose a player on your team, and craft a sweet pun around their name.
2. Create a Rivalry
Oh yeah, Jim from accounting, it’s on. Greater than draft strategy, this might be the most important tip I can give you. Having a rival drives competition the entire year and sets you up for two weeks out of the year that are more important than the rest. Even if your team washes out with injuries, you still have the bragging rights the entire year about how you beat your rival by 50 points. Also, imagine if you play them for the championship? This is what fantasy sports is all about.
3. Build a Basic Draft Strategy
When people talk about fantasy football draft strategy, it sounds way more daunting than it actually is. You can mock draft all you want, but things change when it comes time to for the real thing. There are only a few rules that you need to follow to ensure you have a well rounded team that is built to last.
- Draft two running backs in the first three rounds
- Know your league scoring! Points per reception (PPR) makes wide receivers even more valuable.
- Don’t draft a QB until round five unless their names are Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady
- Get a good tight end — the difference between the No. 1 and No. 10 TE last year was 100 points
- Good team offenses = Good fantasy football players
- Don’t be the first to get a D/ST and K — Take chances on position players first before you worry about these points.
- Don’t stress on late round picks. Your team is going to change dramatically by the end of the season anyways.
4. Talk as Much Trash as Possible
Do you want to know the easiest way to win every week? Get someone so nervous to play you that they make a mistake and start the wrong player. Plus, if you aren’t having a little honest fun playing with coworkers, family and friends, then what is the point? Trash talk keeps everyone involved and builds the allure that fantasy football is more than just a computer game. This is your team. Don’t let Jim from accounting keep talking about his championships of years past. Remind him that he has a mustard stain on his shirt and his team is going down.
5. Check the Waiver Wire Every Monday
While you are sitting at work checking your fantasy score Monday afternoon, slacking off after the long weekend, take 10 minutes to see who is a free agent on the waiver wire. The key to improving your team is paying attention on a weekly basis, especially as injuries happen and players settling into their team roles. Your starting lineup is fluid, and you always want to add the best player available. When you submit an add/drop for a player, the changes take affect every Tuesday. Be the first to get a player like Cooper Kupp or Alvin Kamara. Both were top-25 scorers at their position and went undrafted in many leagues last year.
6. Play for the Playoffs
Win the league, win the money. Play for the playoffs. If your team is 0-3 after the first three weeks, you’re still in good shape. As long as you make it to the end of the season dance, you can win the entire thing. Draft players who won’t be active the first few weeks, but will return with major roles late in the year — this season, that means take a chance on RB Mark Ingram and WR Julian Edelman. You can roster them for a few weeks until they come back and are threats to be a top fantasy scorer week after week. Have a contingency plan, build a deep bench and settle in for the long haul.
7. Pray to the Fantasy Football Gods
Sorry, folks. Sadly, none of the aforementioned tips and techniques are a full-proof way to win; you need a little luck on your side. Last year, everyone who took David Johnson or Odell Beckham probably had a down season. Yes, I was one of those people. You can have a championship caliber team in Week 1, but be totally dismantled by Week 13. The best we can do is drop to our knees, and hope someone is listening. Fantasy football is a gamble, but it sure is one hell of a good time.
May the fantasy football odds be ever in your favor.