The 2011 season is getting closer and chances are you have already drafted your fantasy football roster and are ready to roll into the 2011 season, but before all the fake football excitement gets rolling, here are some tips and tools for anyone who is new to the game of fantasy football.
These tips and tools are not meant to be an all inclusive list… I cannot give away everything I know… Some of you probably play in some of the same leagues I do.
Some tips and tools are useful before the draft, some are useful throughout the season and some will simply help boost the enjoyment of playing the game. Hopefully, these tips and tools will come in handy for those of you who are fantasy football veterans as well. As always, let me know your thoughts, or add to the list in the comments section below.
Fantasy Football Tips
Join a money league
To me, this is one of the biggest things to help boost the enjoyment of playing the game. Who cares if you have won a free league on ESPN for 5 straight years? Nobody! In most free leagues, nearly half of the league will become noncompetitive midway through the season and the owner will bail on their team. Even if you are in a family league, convince everyone to toss in $10 each… The level of interest will be increased ten-fold.
Stay active, no matter what!
The more active you are in a league, the more enjoyment you will get out of it….. Regardless of your final record.
Offer trades on a regular basis; this will let other teams know you are fully committed to the game. When offered a trade, review it and reply to it in a timely manner. ALWAYS include a message when you decline a trade. Let the other owner know if the player he/she wants is untouchable or if you want more or different players.
Actively improve your roster weekly… Or more often. No matter your record, always try to improve… When you are out of playoff contention, helping knock your #1 rival out of the playoffs can be nearly as satisfying as being there yourself.
Talk trash: Don’t be a dick, but friendly trash talk about trades made, match-ups to come and friendly wagers will make your league much more entertaining. As example: A buddy and I always bet the name of our teams when we match-up each season… Winner naming the losers team for the remainder of the year.
Find out how each owner prefers to communicate. Some owners prefer email, some text message, some phone call, some Facebook, some Twitter… I think you get the point… Everyone prefers to communicate in a different manner. When you’re trying to work out a trade, bend to their preference, even if it means going outside your preferred method of communication.
Know and understand the rules
Spend five minutes and read the league rules. Any decent league commissioner will have a written rules document which explains anything that may be confusing, but if not, send an email or make a message board post asking for clarification… This will save you from looking like a dumb ass later in the season when you accidentally break a rule.
Fantasy Football Tools
Every fantasy player needs to have a cheat sheet in front of them on draft day. Generally, this is a list of players listed in an overall ranking, and also broken down by position. If you’re drafting online, your live draft room has a cheat sheet built in, but remember, everyone else who is in the draft room has this SAME cheat sheet. Find one you like from a site different than where your league is hosted, then tweak it to your liking. This way, your list will not be identical to the list everyone else is looking at.
- ESPN Standard Cheat Sheet
- FF Tool Box Cheat Sheets
- KFFL Cheat Sheets
- CBS Sports Fantasy Football Draft Kit
You can even buy a fantasy football preview magazine, but keep in mind, most of these cheat sheets are a month or more old. Most websites update their cheat sheets weekly, or even daily!
Average Draft Position (ADP)
ADP is similar to a cheat sheet, even used by some owners instead of cheat sheets. ADP lists can come in handy to find out the consensus of fantasy football players and how they are currently viewing the value of a player. The difference? Cheat sheets are the rankings of the website, ADP is actual data from drafts/mock drafts as how actual fantasy players are selecting NFL players. There are many sources for ADP lists, just search for “Fantasy Football ADP” in Google. Here are some of the best:
- MyFantasyLeague.com - My favorite, MFL doesn’t offer free leagues, so their ADP is based off people who pay to play. You can also select basic setting to display the list as close to your league as possible.
- FFtoolbox.com - Taken from a mix of mock and real drafts.
- FantasyFootballCalculator.com - ADP info is based off mock drafts FFC mock drafts.
- ESPN Live Draft Results - ESPN also offers a list based on mock drafts… Stay completely away from that one.
When using ADP as a tool, remember, it is only a tool to help you stay within a range. Don’t feel obligated to stick exactly to the ADP when drafting.
Essentially practice drafts. Many website offer mock drafts for you to practice drafting so you can get a feeling for where players are being drafted and their value. Most mock draft websites allow “rules” to be set up to be similar to those of your real league. Some sites:
I tend to stay away from ESPN… There are a lot of people who register, then don’t show or bail out after the 1st round… It isn’t until later in the draft where you can get some great deals, and that’s what I am most interested in.
If you haven’t used Twitter before now, fantasy football is your chance to get quality use out of the website. When explaining Twitter to a new or potential user, I describe it as: On Facebook, you have conversations about things you don’t care about with people you know. On Twitter, you have conversations about things you care about with people you don’t know.
Yes, there are also people on Twitter who only talk about what they had for lunch, their brat children, etc… but Twitter can be MUCH more useful for up to the second information, news and advice.
One thing I will add to the Twitter section: Find a team’s/player’s local sports writers, bloggers and sports talk personalities. The information they give is usually more valuable than that of the national media. These people cover the team/player on a day-to-day basis, therefore have more invested in getting the information correct, rather than just being first to report it.
This also goes for local newspapers online, sports radio broadcasts online, team blogs. When you hear national news about your player, a player you want to trade for or pickup in free agency, check the player’s local media for REAL information.
This section ties to the local media and Twitter sections. I NEVER listen to ESPN (or CBS Sports, etc) when it comes to fantasy football… Why? Everyone else is getting the exact same advice. Stay away from the information listed on the website where your league is hosted. Instead, go out and find you own, unique sources of info/advice.
In addition to everyone getting this information, ESPN always has a tendency to sensationalize EVERYTHING for ratings, so the advicce given by the large media outlets may, in fact, not have the viewer’s/reader’s best interest at heart.
Email bloggers and websites with questions and/or ask on Twitter… Twitter is FULL of fantasy football Q&A every Sunday morning! Make sure these bloggers give you reasons… Not only recommendations. You need to know WHY, not simply WHO!
If you need fantasy advice, send Chiefs Command an email, we answer every question!
Update September 8, 2011
I thought of a few more tips right after submitting the post, so here are some more:
- Unless required by the league rules, only draft 1QB, 1K, 1TE and 1 D/ST. Anything more is a waste of roster space. These extra roster spots are much more valuable when used to block other owners from improving their rosters.
- Make an effort in every round of the draft, don’t give up in the late rounds. Great point producers can be found in every round and you will have the advantage when other owners have given up.
- Don’t be a homer! This point ties into the previous tip. In mid to late rounds of the draft, many owners will mindlessly begin taking their hometown team’s players. Let them. Owners will always overpay for players on their favorite team, saving draft day bargains for you.
- When deciding between players in the draft or free agency, don’t put too much weight into the opinions of league-mates, no matter how good of a friend they are. Do your own research. They will not always have your best interest at heart.
- Practice and master the art of disinformation. Misleading league-mates about the value you place on players can benefit you greatly. Talk up the ability and skills of all of your players. When your players have a good game, make a post on the message board telling everyone how good your player is. Send similar text messages to friends in the league. Then, when they buy into your comments as well, you can get the most value out of him in a trade.
By using these few simple tips and tools, the new fantasy football player can quickly catch up to, and even surpass many veteran fantasy football players… Especially those who think they know-it-all, yet refuse to use all the tools available to them.