It is that time of year my friends, fantasy football is upon us. Let the heavens shine down, the angles sing, and the beer flow. I can’t wait to criticize some guy I don’t even know with words I wouldn’t say to Hitler. Or to totally binge for about five hours on Doritos, Cheetos, burritos, and anything else I can shove in my mouth that ends in o’s. It is a time to get all the guys together and insult each other while we attempt to play GM for the day. Projections, rankings, cheat sheets, anything you can find that could be used to rank a player will be sitting on some out of shape guys lap. Rock your favorite team’s colors, or wear a hockey jersey and get ridiculed. The point is, it doesn’t matter. Anything goes at a fantasy football draft, bring an executioners mask and a whip, take a cab because you will drink yourself into thinking your team is good, hire a hooker to make your picks; it’s probably your best chance. This article will dive into everything regarding fantasy football so pull up a chair and enjoy. We will discuss some sleepers and some guys to stay away from. We will talk about the types of fantasy football players and the different ways to draft. I am drawing wood just thinking about it, buckle up because here we go!
I first want to give you some perspective on the types of people you may run into at the draft.
1. The Analyst- This is probably my least favorite guy at the draft. He’s got 17 notebooks that he likes to cross-reference and you need to remind him of the time limit every pick. He could have the first pick in the draft and not make up his mind. He runs background checks on his players and gets doctor’s records from when they were camp counselors growing up. This guy will give you all the statistics on why his team will be successful and then all of the reasons why he missed the playoffs yet again.
2. The Loudmouth- This guy will most likely bring a friend with him because he’s been telling him how he dominates the league. The reality is that its protection from the rest of the guys drafting who want to bludgeon him. He doesn’t stop talking the whole draft and feels the need to shout his picks out in case a plane were taking off at the bar you’re in.
3. The Expert- Not to be confused with the analyst, the expert will criticize every one else’s pick and only like his team. You take Chris Johnson overall and this guy has ten reasons why he would’ve taken another guy. Your 17th round defensive selection isn’t up to snuff and is ridiculed just as your first round pick. This guy loves getting people not involved in the draft on his side like the waitress or the bartender. This is the second worst guy to sit near aside from loudmouth.
4. The Timid Guy- This guy is new to your league and has probably only played in a free league where they play for bragging rights at the water cooler. More than likely some guy from your league brought him in as a filler for the guy who got arrested for looking at child porn. He second guesses himself on every pick and the loudmouth and expert are making him very nervous. After he reaches on the Jets defense in the 6th round, it’s all downhill from there. Each pick after that is just eyes closed gulping hoping he will get a “nice pick man” or “damn, that was my guy”, but that doesn’t happen. Awkward silence follows every pick from timid guy furthering him into his shell.
5. The You Stole My Pick Guy- Let me be frank here, this guy wins the no shit award. He will have the eleventh pick in the first round and be pissed that AP didn’t fall to him. After seemingly every pick in the draft he chimes in with, “damn man that was my pick”. He will then take almost as much time as the analyst because he hasn’t accounted for someone else picking a player on his rankings. You are better off bringing a muzzle to the draft because he gets as bad as loudmouth.
6. The Even Keel Guy- Not to be confused with timid guy, this guy has no opinion on anything. He doesn’t acknowledge really anyone at the draft and drinks cranberry juice the whole time. He shows up right on time and doesn’t wait for Mr. Irrelevant to be picked. Once his roster is full he ducks out to go home and paint figurines pants. The worst part about this guy, he doesn’t give a shit and wins almost every year!
7. The Homer Guy- This guy is crucial to have in any draft. He overvalues players on his favorite team so much that when all is said and done his backup quarterback is actually his favorite team’s backup. These guys allow the valuable players to fall to you in the first round. The only problem is that when you are drafting behind them and are targeting someone from his team you realize your bubble is burst.
8. The Commissioner- This guy runs the league and I feel bad for him. He loves fantasy football so much that he takes the reigns and runs the league. He’s planned the venue, gotten all of the food, and bought the draft kit. He is so busy planning everything and sticking player’s names on the board that his team takes a serious hit. Don’t worry about the commissioner though, he knows every guy in the draft and probably works with half of them. He will manipulate the guys that had good drafts to give up players for lesser value during the season so he makes a playoff run and usually finishes in the money.
9. The Returning Champ Guy- This guy won the league last year and takes every moment possible to remind everyone of this throughout the draft. He justifies every pick with one response, “that’s why I won the championship last year”. God forbid you criticize this guy, or bring up the fact that the only reason he won was because Peyton Manning came out of the game early, or the five previous season of him missing the playoffs never happened. He will more than likely miss the playoffs this season because he has tasted victory and has lost his passion, and because it was a fluke.
Now that we have reviewed the types of people you will be dealing with, I will go over drafting strategy.
There are many ways to attack a draft and for this reason I will try to be as brief as possible. The first thing to do is to identify what type of league you are in and how the points are awarded, is it PPR? Know the roster breakdown, is there a flex position or is it standard format (1 QB 2 RB 3WR 1 TE 1 K 1 DEF). Once you have the format of the league down you can begin your assessment and start you rankings.
When ranking players I have one major piece of advice for you. Do not solely go by what a player did last year!!!! This is a huge mistake made by most players around the world. You have the list of players and just rate them on their statistics from the previous year. It is well documented that the rate at which a player repeats his stats from last year are very minimal and this is a direct reflection in your top 15 running backs. The rate at which these guys repeat is not as common as you would think. There are a handful of guys who could be top 5 one year but end up being the 18th scoring back the next. For this reason my recent draft strategy has been to target wide receivers’.
Do your homework on receivers and unless you get a top four pick this year plan on taking a wide out. The old fantasy strategies of the past where guys would take a running back with his first two picks without blinking an eye are over. If you are going to stockpile early, it better be at the receiver position. I am a big fan of drafting a ton of running backs, but the value in the later round is there, trust me.
I won’t go into depth about the statistics like the fantasy magazines because quite frankly I am not getting paid to write this article, unless you take into consideration that I am at work writing this. Bottom line, you need to think ahead of the curve, take the guy that you want when you want. Sometimes you need to reach on guys earlier than projected, sometimes players fall into your lap. The key is to have a strategy going into it and only deviate if something drastic happens. Like having Jones-drew fall to pick five when you were sure you would be getting Andre Johnson. If this happens, I would love to join your league.
I will end this article with a few players to keep away from and some sleepers.
STAY AWAY from Rashard Mendenhall. I know, I’m an idiot. Hear me out though, He has only carried the load for about three quarters of a season and more importantly, his offensive line sucks!!!! Couple that with the loss of a starting quarterback to keep defenses honest and hello 9 in the box! Oh yeah did I mention he plays the Ravens and Bengals twice. If that weren’t enough to convince you here’s another scheduling conflict- weeks 13, 14, and 15 he plays CIN, BAL, and the Jets!!! An awful way to end the year for your number one pick. You’re welcome.
Another guy I’m staying away from this season is Steve Slaton. This guy couldn’t be more in the dog house if he were rooming with Michael Vick. Yeah it was lame, but would prefer a baha men reference? This guy cannot hold onto the ball much less his job. Ben Tate going down kept Slaton from being cut but trust me Kubiak hates Slaton. You cannot fumble the ball and stay in the lineup as a running back. I know you’re probably thinking about targeting him in the middle to late rounds of the draft, don’t. Reach on Arian Foster and thank me later.
Jermichael my favorite Finley is another guy I am staying away from. At this point you are probably about to stop reading but hear me out. This guy is being drafted before Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, and in some cases Dallas Clark. I love Finley’s talent don’t get me wrong the guy is a beast. The only reason I say stay away is because the value at this position is probably the highest its been in a long time. You can get a valuable tight end much later in the draft and create a solid roster without reaching for a tight end and missing out on some value at other positions.
I love me some Chad Henne. Now before you call me the Homer Guy, Henne passed for over 300 yards in 3 of his last five games and I’m not sure if you heard this but, he is throwing to Brandon Marshall!!! Marshall made Kyle Orton relevant last year and with a great running game (4th in the NFL) Henne will have plenty of opportunities to make a splash. The round you can get him in raises the value in my opinion. You can land Henne in the 11th round in most drafts which for the production would be a steal.
If you have been paying attention, I am high on Arian Foster. Foster has the advantage of being the only running back in good standing with his head coach, and coming off a strong season. This isn’t a case of taking stats from last year; it’s a case of reading the writing on the wall. The changing of the guard in Houston will be complete and with this high scoring offense Foster will have to try to not put up numbers. He just might be my favorite player in the draft this year.
It’s safe to say the Darren McFadden experiment has failed. Michael Bush is the guy I like in Oakland and he is still going late enough to be a value pick. The Raiders are on the upswing, let me repeat that, the Raiders are up and coming. The addition to Jason Campbell provides the Raiders with something they haven’t had in a while (since Rich Gannon) stability at the quarterback position. This will allow the offense to have some balance and in turn thrust Bush into the spotlight. Enough about thrusting Bush, that’s just weird its 2010. The fact is that Bush’s only downfall is that he isn’t great catching the ball out of the backfield. I expect that to change because Campbell is a check down master.
Target the three I have listed and cross off the guys I am staying away from and you should be OK this year.