Fantasy football has become quite popular over the last decade, and as another NFL season draws closer, the multitudes who engage in it are starting to prepare. Billions of dollars will be spent, won, and lost. Countless hours, conversations, and articles will be committed. If you’re planning on joining in, it’s in your best interest to get serious about it and fast.
From draft picks and contracts to engaging in some serious math, improving your fantasy football skills isn’t for the faint of heart. That being said, it’s still totally possible to go from being someone with a casual interest in the league to a die-hard and unbeatable fantasy football aficionado — all it takes is time and skill. Here are a handful of ways to improve your fantasy football prospects for the upcoming season.
Develop a Draft Strategy
While a draft strategy need never be set in stone, not having a draft strategy is downright foolish. To start, aim for your favorites — you know, the ones whose NFL jerseys you love to wear — but don’t ignore overall stats. Just because someone doesn’t excite you with his play doesn’t mean you should forego adding him to your fantasy roster. After stats, you’ll need to stay abreast of any injuries that occur during training camps. Look at local papers — not just NFL.com and ESPN — to stay in the know.
Pay attention to any runs on positions that may be happening. While you may be hoping to draft your wide receiver in the third round, if wide receivers are getting snagged earlier, don’t stick to your third-round ideals. While it can be tempting to do otherwise, only hone in on kickers and defense after all your skill positions have been filled. Finally, pick up players who are in the last year of their contracts as they tend to perform at a higher level than players with a guaranteed future salary.
Play for Money
While fantasy football is enjoyable whether you play for money or not, if you do play for money, your chances of working harder to succeed greatly increase. Whether it’s the thrill of winning cash or the fear of losing it, players who wager — even if it’s a small amount — tend to spend extra time and energy each week, which affords them the information required to fare better than those who don’t. And, if you’re actually really good at it, you can actually win some substantial money.
While fantasy football leagues aim to be unbiased in their scoring, the chances are still pretty good that the one you’re in is either weighted toward running backs or quarterbacks. To find out, take your league’s scoring system, and sit down with a calculator and your newspaper’s box score to determine which way the bias falls. Once you determine the weight in scoring, play accordingly.
Because crazy things can happen during a football season, and there are only so many games, it’s important to keep a diversified roster. Don’t grab players from the same team or division, because a single odd week — crazy amounts of snow in a certain location, for instance — can result in lousy scoring.
Instead, keep your team varied enough to keep you afloat when the unusual occurs.
Perhaps the most important advice for anyone looking to improve his or her fantasy football game is to remain diligent week in and week out over the course of the entire season. Even when you prepare well for your draft — and you manage to get the players you want — some players won’t pan out. It’s important to see who is and isn’t performing well and act quickly to make adjustments to your roster.
If someone gets injured, be the first person to snag his backup. If someone has a surprise great game, sign him up before your opponents can. Follow football news closely, and always pay attention to the week’s matchups. Any time a particular running back’s stats are starting to improve, snag him. Running backs are great to have in trade situations, and if you really do have a breakout star, he’ll form an invaluable lynchpin in your offense.
In many ways, improving at fantasy football is like improving at any other skill or hobby. It takes intentional effort and increased knowledge — something everyone can earn, so long as they put in the time.