Last Updated: Jul 15, 2014 1:09 PM
Fantasy Football University – Class II
How to Prepare for a League
We keep things basic in this early course, and the later sessions will become more advanced, like how to uncover sleepers and evaluate talent. We'll go into MUCH more depth on our advanced drafting strategies in our Draft Kit as well as some video explanations on FFChamps TV.
Know the Variations
The first thing to do when preparing for a fantasy league is being aware of the variations in roster and scoring, which will affect your strategy. You cannot approach every draft for every league the same unless the scoring systems and starting requirements are identical.
Depending on the scoring system, the actual rankings at each position will change. Quarterbacks become more valuable in leagues that award six points for touchdown passes, rather than three or four. Running backs who are featured in the passing attack are more valuable in PPR leagues (Points Per Reception), than runners who don't see much action as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, like Cedric Benson of Cincinnati. Reggie Bush is among the players who receive a boost in the rankings in PPR leagues, as he is not a featured running back in New Orleans but averages 65 catches over his last four seasons.
The actual starter requirements is the other key factor that will determine your drafting strategy. It is less essential to grab a stud wide receiver in fantasy leagues that only start two receivers rather than three, as the talent pool is not stretched out as thin in the early rounds.
Going back to the PPR format, possession receivers who catch a lot of passes get a boost in value. Steve Smith of New York comes to mind as an example. He held more value in PPR leagues rather than traditional leagues last year, as he ranked second in the NFL with 107 receptions. Also, T.J. Houshmandzadeh of Seattle underperformed for traditional leagues with just 911 yards and three touchdowns –- but he was useful in PPR leagues as he ranked 16th in the NFL with 79 receptions. The opposite can occur as well. Vincent Jackson of San Diego was a force in standard leagues with 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns –- but was less valuable in PPR leagues with just 68 receptions.
Next we come to the FLEX position. Be aware if your league uses this spot, and what positions are eligible. Running backs touch the ball the most and are the most productive, making them more ideal for the FLEX spot than a receiver. It is never a bad idea to stock up on running backs in the opening rounds of drafts, and it becomes even more advantageous if you can start three running backs with the third as a FLEX play. That is not the case if your league allows for a quarterback to be used as a FLEX though. In this scenario, it is wiser to try to get 2 solid QBs as they tend to score the most points, so it would be advantageous to use a QB as your flex whenever possible. Again, the ley here is to know your league's variations.
Be aware if your league requires a tight end in the starting lineup. Don't be the fantasy owner who misses out on a stud tight end after overlooking that your league has a starting spot for the position. There are very few stud tight ends (although this year the position is a little deeper than in the pasa), and having one gives you a nice edge over the fantasy owners who are without one.
We now come to distance scoring. This format puts a premium on big plays, like when Michael Turner tears up the Georgia Dome with a long scamper to the end zone. Other home-run threats like DeSean Jackson become more valuable as well. Jackson led all receivers with 10 catches longer than 40 yards last year by the way. This can relate to kickers too, as some leagues reward bonus points for long field goals. Another key factor is if a WR or RB gets credit for return yards if they play special teams. This format will give guys like Percy Harvin or DeSean Jackson an additional boost in rankings.
This last one should be a no-brainer. Don't forget to bring your tiered FF Champs cheatsheet to the draft, and stay focused on the mission at hand, which is dominating your league.
Types of Drafts
There are online drafts which can be done from the comfort of your own home, and then there are drafts that are done in person, generally the re-draft type. It is more fun to draft in person, and you can use a bit of strategy to talk up a player that you do not want and feel will be a bust, in a bid to get another owner to bite on him early.
The auction league and IDP league take the most preparation. In auction leagues be sure to get the amount of the salary cap beforehand. This is to plan your budget, allotting the most money for studs and thinking about the sleepers and fliers who can get for a bargain. IDP drafts are for the more hardcore fantasy gamers, and are usually done in the auction format as well. Every once in a while you run into an owner who shows up to a draft not aware that it is the IDP format, and goes in ready to draft a team defense (thanks for the donation).
One last point to make here is that you can use online drafts to your advantage. It is easy to find online leagues that are free, and they can serve as good practice for your larger leagues, such as the high-stakes WCOFF.