If you are like most red-blooded football fans, you are probably gearing up for your big Fantasy Football draft. Pride — and maybe a little cash money — will be laid out on the line once again this year as you try to pick the best and brightest of the NFL.
The draft is always a lively affair as league owners hurl trash talk across the room at each other. It is important to go in with a strong strategy. While Fantasy Football is certainly not won or lost at the draft — it’s all about in-season moves — you can put yourself in a great position if you choose wisely.
For this reason, here are five surefire tips that will help you draft a great team.
Do not draft a kicker, or, in some cases, a tight end
There is no such thing as a stud kicker — I don’t care what numbers you throw at me. Do not even waste your last round pick on a kicker. You will do just fine grabbing one off the waiver wire from week to week. Use every draft pick to create depth at the skill positions. This way, if an unlikely star emerges, he’s not sitting out there as a free agent for anyone to get at. Anticipate that star!
The same argument could be made for a tight end. Now, you’ll probably want to draft a tight end late in the draft, but you shouldn’t waste your time early in the draft unless you’re grabbing a difference maker like Jimmy Graham (New Orleans Saints) or Rob Gronkowksi (New England Patriots). These guys are basically glorified wide receivers.
Focus on big point producers on defense
If you are drafting individual defensive players, focus on linebackers. These will be the guys that make a big difference in points. Your defensive secondary will be next on the ladder of importance. As far as defensive linemen, there isn’t a rush to draft these guys. Look at how many points the top 10 fantasy linemen scored last year. Compare that to the No. 50 lineman. Not a huge difference in points. Choosing the “right” defensive lineman isn’t going to be a huge point swing for you, even if you do it brilliantly.
Of course, J.J. Watt (Houston Texans) is the only exception to this rule. He’s a beastly defensive lineman and racks up points.
Don’t mess with youth unless you’re in a keeper league
Keeper leagues are a whole different animal. In those leagues, you want to invest in the future. Most people aren’t in a keeper league, though. Therefore, you need guys that can produce right away.
Traditionally, young guys, no matter how promising they may be, are not great early in their NFL careers. For instance, you might like rookie Le’Veon Bell’s chances at running back in Pittsburgh, but more seasoned guys like Matt Forte (Chicago Bears) or Chris Johnson (Houston Texans) are the better picks.
A stud running back is the Holy Grail
Getting dibs on an elite running back is the name of the game. We’re talking Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings), Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs), Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Bucs) and so on. These are in such limited supply that some teams will inevitably be stuck with a not-so-viable running back or two. Do not let this be you.
Focus on drafting running backs in the first couple of rounds before shifting your attention to wide receivers. Even though quarterbacks are huge point getters, don’t rush to get one. There are plenty of high-performing quarterbacks to go around.
Stock up on trade bait
If you are chock full at wide receiver, but there are still some decent prospects out there, scoop them up! You might not be able to use them, but when another owner comes shopping around for a wide receiver that contributes, you might be able to fill a hole in your roster with a nice trade.