Every year, workplaces around the country become entrenched in the late-summer scramble to fill the office pool with players for its 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. Regardless of your allegiance, owning a fantasy football team is a completely different animal, and it only requires a few simple tips and tricks to make you a champion.
How to Win at Fantasy Football
So, snatch up all the cheat sheet reading material you can, listen to a few hundred podcasts, follow Adam Schefter on Twitter for all your training camp 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 your fantasy football league. You need to intimidate your opponent week after week, and the best way to do that is with a team name unlike any other. When league owners gossip at the water cooler, they won’t be mentioning “Jim’s Tigers.” 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 heated rivalry drives competition the entire year and sets you up for two weeks that are more important than the rest. Even if your team washes out with injuries, you still have the bragging rights the entire offseason 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 for the real thing. There are only a few rules that you need to follow to ensure you have a well-rounded team that’s built to last.
- Draft two running backs in the first three rounds
- Know your league scoring system! Points per reception (PPR leagues) makes wide receivers even more valuable.
- Don’t draft a QB until round five unless his names is Patrick Mahomes
- Get a reliable tight end — the difference between the No. 1 and No. 6 TE last year was 131 points
- Good team offenses = Good fantasy football players
- Don’t be the first to get a defense or kicker — Take chances on position players first before you worry about these points.
- Don’t stress on later round picks. Your team will change dramatically by the end of the regular season anyways.
- NEVER forget bye weeks! Some owners spread them out, others draft their key players all with the same bye week, but make no mistake: this really matters.
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 leagues are more than just computer games. This is your fantasy 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 Tuesday
While you are sitting at work checking your fantasy score Tuesday morning, 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 settle 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 the very next day.
6. Play for the Playoffs
Win the league, you 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 Melvin Gordon and WR A.J. Green. 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 and a lot of touchdowns on your side. Last year, everyone who took Le’Veon Bell or Devonta Freeman probably had a bad fantasy football 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.