Monday, August 1, 2011

What You Should Be Doing During NFL Pre-Season: My Fantasy Football Draft Primer Pt. 3

Many of you fantasy football addicts out there have probably already scheduled your fantasy draft, or will do so very soon.  If you have any way to control this, I say STOP!!!

Tip #1 - Don't draft until the last week of pre-season!!

I abhor drafting before the final week of pre-season.  It's far too easy for your #1 pick, that star running back everyone says is going to have an awesome season, to tear his ACL within the first 10 days of training camp opening (Jamal Lewis, 2000).  Even that stud quarterback predicted to have an All-Pro year could have his knee blown out by a random tackle and miss the entire year (Trent Green, 1999).

Everyone is eager to get their teams together for the season, but keep in mind that actual NFL teams rosters are continuing to fluctuate and will for a few more weeks.  There's some sort of Fantasy Football Murphy's law that says that the most prepared person in any fantasy league that drafts early in pre-season will be the one to have his top guys go down before the season starts.  Be patient.  The season is long enough as it is.

Tip #2 - Don't listen to every pre-season hack analyst who tells you that THIS year will be the year for ____ (running back).

The fact is that nobody knows who is going to be the next Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson.  The one thing that no one really does is look at someone's fantasy projections before the year starts and then goes back after the year to see how right/wrong they are.

How you research depends on how knowledgeable you are about football.  I might utilize the pre-draft position rankings on, but that's just to organize my own list.  However, someone who doesn't know as much about football might want to simply take those rankings (or Yahoo's, or verbatim.

If you're a football junkie, then make sure you look at running back depth charts, team schedule, and then watch how that back you want is doing in pre-season (if he even plays much).  Listen to what's coming out of training camps.  Has your guy come in at top shape? The guy behind him on the depth chart isn't getting that much attention, is he?

Case in point: Last year, many expected Shonn Greene to have his breakout year. Instead, the Jets brought in LaDanian Tomlinson and it was LT that actually had a great year.  The signs were there in camp, with everyone talking about how great LT was playing.  Keep your eyes and ears open.

Tip #3 - Lastly, Keep An Open Mind

Don't get locked into your fantasy draft strategy too soon before your draft.  While it's helpful to have an idea of how you want to draft, keep listening out for that report that Player Y, who maybe had a down year last year, is tearing it up in camp this year.

Stay on top of the football news throughout camp.  I honestly think Twitter is the best resource for up to date news concerning the NFL.  Follow Jay Glazer, Adam Schefter, or John Clayton (actually, just follow all three; Glazer and Clayton usually break news, but Schefter always repeats it so you shouldn't miss anything).  They're also really helpful on gameday for telling you who's playing that day and who's still injured (more on that in a later primer).

Another thing to keep in mind is what you'd need to do if that stud wide receiver you planned on drafting in the third round gets hurt an hour before you draft.  You need multiple backup plans/contingenies for that possibility, and you need to have looked into these guys during pre-season, not when it's an emergency 45 minutes prior to the start of the draft.

In the next primer, we'll look at actual draft strategies and present some pros/cons for them.

Primer #2 - Are there any rookies worth picking on my fantasy team?
Primer #1 - Free Agent Quarterbacks And Their Fantasy Projections

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