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Updated June 1st, 2007
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fantasy FOOTBALL - GUIDE TO FANTASY FOOTBALL drafts
Before you get in to deep
we'd like to give you some advice on how to do a live
draft online properly for your fantasy football leagues.
Construct the perfect
fantasy football roster on draft day.
Fantasy Football drafts are soon
to be in full swing as the calendar draws closer to
NFL Opening Day. Depth charts are studied. A list
of sleepers and busts is compiled. Owners spend hours
absorbing every piece of knowledge possible with one
goal in mind: Build the most feared roster...ever.
With that in mind, we offer even more rules for constructing
the most productive and well-rounded roster. If there
were a foolproof method for drafting a Fantasy Team
Priest Holmes would be an annual 2,000-yard back,
Daunte Culpepper would never get hurt and we'd set
up shop in Vegas. But there is no such thing as an
infallible master plan, nor any single draft design
that gives an owner his best chance to come out ahead
of the game. It just doesn't work that way.
What do you expect from a game based off a league
in which two teams can finish a combined 11-21 only
a year after facing each other in the championship
game? (Take a bow, Bucs and Raiders.) But even if
there is no such thing as the perfect draft, an owner
can prepare himself for much of the expected waiting
around the bend by following a few guiding principles.
It also helps to have an idea of how most drafts go
down. Below is a primer worth checking out whether
you're a fantasy newbie or you conduct mock drafts
in your sleep.
Round 1: The opening
stanza is an absolute free-for-all on franchise backs.
And no matter what you have heard or might think,
it should be. Relative value and the premium placed
on rushing production by the vast majority of fantasy
leagues dictates that running backs should rule the
roost. Priests and LTs don't grow on trees, kids.
Still, it's a perfectly reasonable strategy to select
the top quarterback or receiver at the back end of
the round if you can get a running back of roughly
equal value on the wraparound. Always think ahead
to what might be available when your next pick arrives.
Round 2: Backs continue
to fly off the board, but the top tiers of quarterbacks
and receivers usually get snapped up here as well.
By the end of this round, the sure producers at running
back are gone -- along with a few who will turn out
to be not-so-sure producers. Some owners feel pressured
into filling both starting running back slots in the
first two rounds, but that is bad business. Consider,
Tiki Barber was projected as a second-rounder last
year by several fantasy information outlets. A few
of the names that likely could have been had instead:
Ahman Green, Jamal Lewis, Edgerrin James and Fred
Taylor. All is not lost if you haven't snagged a back
before Round 3.
Rounds 3 and 4: More
running backs, yes. But this is where receivers
and quarterbacks begin to outnumber the runners.
Even the top tight ends can (and, in some cases,
should) go this early. Often times, this is where
leagues are won or lost. Picked Edgerrin James
when you should have said Ronnie Brown?
Sorry. Drafted Kelvin Winslow -- along with his knee
-- when you could have had a top receiver? Tough
noogies, bro. Just keep that relative-value concept
in mind and don't panic if you haven't grabbed a
quarterback, or even a No. 2 running back, just yet.
Seems like Brett Favre falls to the sixth or seventh
round every year. And last year a lot of folks picked
up a great 2nd running back after the first 50 picks
came and went.
Rounds 5 and 6: Receivers
dominate these rounds, with running backs, quarterbacks
and the occasional tight end breaking up the flow.
It's a good idea to take inventory before these
rounds: Determine your needs, decide what will be
available and set your course from there. First
priority: What does your running back situation
look like? If you aren't grinning from ear to ear,
you'll want to grab at least one more runner in
these rounds. If you're missing a quarterback, is
it safe to wait another round or two to bite? If
10 owners have filled their top spot and the four
best available passers on the board have similar
value, it's safe to load up on receivers and running
back depth. The best tight ends will be gone after
these rounds, but don't freak. The difference between
the No. 6 and No. 12 tight end isn't all that great,
and there always is a decent starter or three to
be found on the waiver wire during the season.
Rounds 7, 8 and 9:
Don't assume that you're finished if you didn't take
a quarterback before now. Imagine drafting Steve
McNair, Matt Leinart, Vince Young or Mark Bulger
this late. You could have in many drafts last season.
(This year? Look for Chad Pennington, Brady Quinn
and Tony Romo.) But consider coming
back with your No. 2 soon thereafter, just to cover
yourself. Otherwise, you should be building your
depth at running back and receiver and rounding
out your starters at the skill positions. The top
kickers and defense/special teams units might start
to go somewhere late in this stage, but try not
to get wrapped up in it. Baltimore and New England
aren't too risky here, but waiting on a kicker
is always prudent. Josh Brown, Adam Vinatieri
and Jeff Wilkins look like world-beaters now, but
most of us could have picked either of them off
somewhere in the last few rounds of the draf. Someone
new shines every year. Plus Jason Elam is the only
kicker that is consistently putting up the same
amount of points every single year.
Round 10 and on: It's
all about depth now. If you don't enter this last
phase with at least three running backs and two receivers,
you're probably toast. But other than those guidelines,
there is no single blueprint for a fantasy winner.
It isn't advised, but you might even be able to wait
and find a starting quarterback this late. You certainly
needn't worry if you haven't added a tight end, kicker
and defense before now. In fact, it isn't at all uncommon
to find starter-caliber options at all three of those
spots as late as the final round, or even on waivers
after the draft. When rounding out your depth in these
rounds, consider upside over opportunity. Most of
the remaining backs and receivers are backups for
their respective teams, so they probably will need
to catch a break to have great value anyway. But if
they do, make sure you have the right player. In other
words, take a rookie #3 WR over a veteran #4 reciever
every time. He can do more for you here.
Be prepared: It ain't
just for Boy Scouts, Alice. You don't have to bring
reams of stat projections and every season preview
magazine known to man to your draft. Just make sure
you show up with some sort of cheat sheet that you
trust and that you're familiar with it. Check off
player names as they are drafted and, ideally, keep
a running log of the draft. It's the best way to
maximize your time on the clock and to know what
is (and likely will be) available when your picks
Know Your Scoring
Sounds obvious, but if you aren't
absolutely sure how Steve McNair compares to Tom
Brady, you could be sorry. Points awarded for receptions,
passing TDs and rushing yards by quarterbacks (among
other categories) can vary from league to league,
turning Tiki Barber into a stud or setting Michael
Vick's value back five rounds. Run the previous
year's numbers through your scoring format and,
if you can, get your hands on stat projections from
a few different sources for the upcoming season.
on top of the NFL News:
Sure, most of us have actual lives
to lead, but at least try to know which of the top
players have changed teams, which are hurt and which
are fighting for a job. An expert in one league
made the wise decision to draft Dominic Rhodes as
insurance against an Edgerrin James injury in 2002
... except Rhodes himself was lost for the season
after suffering his own knee injury only days earlier.
Don't follow this through to the
point of neglecting your other positions, but if
there is one area at which no one can afford to
go without depth, it is running back. At worst,
if you wind up with three very good ones, the trade
market for backs always favors a seller.
Blow off the Bye Weeks:
It's a good way to cost yourself a
win (and maybe two) before getting a chance to so
much as admire your draft handiwork. Your top two
running backs have a Week 5 bye? Might as well pack
it in, Skippy. Even a couple of receivers with the
same bye week can be devastating, so pay attention.
And don't let down your guard once the season starts.
Trade acquisitions and waiver-wire pickups can hurt
by being unavailable one week as much as they can
help by playing the others. _ Take a kicker high.
It's just silly. Let that other sap take Mike Vanderjagt.
If the V-man puts another 51 balls up without miss,
more power to him. You can always grab Matt Stover,
Jason Elam or some other steady, proven commodity
near the bottom. And if you miss out, a few kickers
that can be plucked from the free-agent scrap heap
always surprise by turning in unexpectedly decent
value (Doug Brien and Shayne Graham, to name two
Fall head over
heels for rookies: Only
one kind of first-year player is worth getting doe-eyed
over, and those are the stud running backs. So which
ones are those? Well, uh ... sometimes it's tough
to know. Which is yet another reason to avoid drafting
the rooks too high. This doesn't mean you should
stubbornly pass on Cadillac Williams in the 5th
round if you already own Larry Johnson. Just don't
put too much stock in the college production of
any player, especially receivers and quarterbacks.
Don't sweat it if "your guy"
goes one spot ahead of your pick. And hold it together
if you look up in Round 6 and you still don't have
a quarterback. An owner's worst gaffes often occur
while trying to make up for another. There aren't
many mistakes that can't be rectified with savvy free-agent
moves during the season. Enjoy the season everyone,
and email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click Here For Our 2007 Fantasy Football Draft Guide