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Prepare For Your Draft

Contributed by: Billy E and Billy E
Last Updated: Jul 15, 2014 1:10 PM

Fantasy Football University – Class IV

Prepare For Your Draft

You learned what you need to know and how to prepare for a fantasy league in Class II, now it is time to brush up for your upcoming drafts.  

Player and Coach Movement and Their Impact on Fantasy Football

Often a player can benefit from a coaching change. For example if a running back is limited in a pass-happy offense, and then gets to play in a more balanced or run-heavy attack –- then his fantasy stock will undoubtedly be on the rise, as he will be touching the ball more and utilizing his talent. As an example of how a solid player can impact his new team, let us look at the 2010 Lions. Calvin Johnson has tremendous ability, but was held to just 67 catches for 984 yards and five scores over 14 games last season. He had trouble staying healthy, but his fantasy value was more greatly limited by the lack of a viable wingman as the No. 2 receiver and the fact he was working with a rookie QB who got banged up a lot preventing them from developing a solid rapport.

Detroit remedied the problem with the addition of Nate Burleson in the off-season, and we are banking on Johnson performing like the stud that he is this year. As for Burleson, he should also benefit from less attention from opposing defenses as they focus on stopping Megatron. You also CAN NOT underestimate the value of an entire off season of getting to work with his new up and coming QB. They're timing will only get better and better every practice, so they already know each other much better than any time last year, and that will only continue.

This is actually an important aspect of analyzing any player who came to a new team last year. It's not easy to learn a new offense and get used to new team members right away. That goes for rookie and veterans. You will often see a 2nd year player explode onto the scene after taking a full year to adjust to the intricacies of the NFL game and lifestyle.

You will often even see veteran free agents needing a year to adjust to new teammates and a new offense, so look for guys who were big name free agents last year, but perhaps underperformed so may be undervalued with another full off season on the new team..

Players leaving town could also make an impact on their former team. Thomas Jones left New York for Kansas City, which opens the door for second-round pro Shonn Greene to shine as the Jets' featured running back. Speaking of the Jets, look for quarterback Mark Sanchez to benefit from the addition of vertical threat Santonio Holmes. 

All of these are examples who players and coaches movement affects fantasy football. We put out numerous articles throughout he pre season detailing every move and what the impact of each is on the different teams, so these are a MUST READ in your draft prep. 

Evaluating Talent

The reason that you evaluate talent is easy, it is because you want to be able to make a rankings list or “Cheatsheet,” so that you can bring it to your draft. We think there are two things to consider above and beyond figuring out how the core group of players is going to perform. What I mean by “core group” are the guys that everyone else knows about. The first is players to avoid. After you rate the core group and figure out what players that you want to avoid, you have to uncover the sleepers. They can make or break your season. This may sound like a lot to figure out, here's the good news… here at FFChamps.com we do ALL of this for you!  We have the EXACT same cheatsheets our staff of pros use at their drafts available for you to print and they are updated daily.

We also have our C3 (Champ's Customizable Cheatsheet) so you can use our projections and plug in ANY type of scoring system to get a custom Cheatsheet.

However you create your Cheatsheet is up to you, but the key is to have one for ready to go fro your draft.

So here is what we have:

Ranking the Core Group

We all know who the core group of players is -- what we don't know is which player is going to perform the best and which player is going to perform the worst.  There are many factors that go into evaluating the players. Let's take a look:

3 Groups - There are three groups of core players. They are Superstars, Rising Stars, and Solid Players.  For the purpose of ranking your players this will give you a good outline at the beginning. Superstars are first, Rising Stars are second and Solid Players are third.  Obviously this isn't set in stone and you will end up with the groups meshing a little bit.  If you look at the Champs Cheatsheet you will notice that the top RB's (Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice) are all superstars.

Training Camp (and mini-camps) - Training camp will give a small insight into how the season will unfold.  Players will get injured, players will emerge, coaches will talk about players (good and bad), players will win and lose starting jobs, etc. It is important to follow the news through FF Champs breaking news page to see what is developing. You can also get all of this news sent to your phone if you follow us on Twitter.

We also do that for you as well, and adjust our rankings accordingly. Can Clinton Portis rebound from his concussion issue? How large of a role will Thomas Jones play in Kansas City behind Jamaal Charles? We need to see what happens in camp and then we will tell you. Is Knowshon Moreno ready to lead the Broncos as their No. 1 running back? We will get a better idea in camp. 

Uncovering Sleepers

Sleepers are what we fantasy geeks live for. what we are concerned with right now is how do we spot them? They will begin to reveal themselves when you are looking over personnel changes, tracking free agents, and watching what happens in training camp. Two years ago we spotted DeAngelo Williams.  Last year it was Ray Rice.  Let's look at how we spotted Rice.

We are always looking for personnel changes and players on the rise.  Last year that guy was Joe Flacco.  Flacco's improvement in his second year with Baltimore last year did two things to help Rice break out.  First, opposing defenses were not able to gang up on Rice by frequently stacking eight men in the box. Second, Flacco's improved efficiency helped move the chains more often, hence giving Rice more chances to touch the ball and gobble up yardage.

These types of situations will unfold if you do your homework. They all won't work out but the ones that do will pay huge dividends. 

There are two distinct situations that a lot of people don't know about that will cause a player to break out.  

1.    Young QB's that are consistently lowering their TD to interception ratio are usually on the verge of breaking out. You can get a backup using this system and watch him blossom into a star.  

2.    WR's tend to break out in their third year. The reason for this is that it is very difficult to understand all the different cover schemes that are used in the NFL. It takes a receiver about two years of repetitions to be comfortable. It also takes the receiver two years to get his body into the kind of shape that it needs to be in to withstand the pounding that it will take over 16 games. You can look back at all the good receivers and you will see that most of them break out in their third year. Sometimes in their 2nd (Randy Moss and Terry Glenn are two that have broken the trend. Can you name another?)   

How will you spot the Sleepers?

Easy, we'll tell you! Right on our Cheatsheets we denote sleepers with an asterisk (*).  In addition to that we've already posted our annual “Big Sleeper List” with dozens of sleepers at each position and we continue to add to that list right up until September. It's all available right in the FFChamps Draft Kit. 

Targeting Players

When targeting players, favor youth and those who have a lot to prove –- like those entering a contract year and angling for a new deal. Also look for players that work in efficient offenses, like New Orleans and New England. A No. 2 receiver on a good team (Wes Welker) could be far more valuable than a No. 1 receiver (Dwayne Bowe) on a mediocre one.

Taking players from the next great offenses is also ideal in winning at fantasy football (see the 10 Commandments for Winning at Fantasy Football). One team that comes to mind for 2010 is the Lions, with Matthew Stafford one year wiser as their field general, and with the acquisitions of receiver Nate Burleson, tight end Tony Scheffler, and pass-catching rookie running back Jahvid Best.

Lastly, look for running backs that operate in a run-heavy offense, and receivers that work in a pass-heavy system -- which could have led fantasy owners to take a flier on gem Pierre Garcon of the Colts last year after Anthony Gonzalez went down.  

Players and Teams to Avoid

This is a tough area because they have to appear on your draft board. What happens if there comes a time in your draft to take this player? It is up to you, you are the one that wanted to avoid him in the first place. We usually skip that player unless the value is too good to be true. There are a few factors in figuring players to avoid.  

1.  Quality of the team - If the team is really bad the chances are that the fantasy production will be really bad. Last year, were there any Browns you would have really wanted on your team?  NO. How about any Bills or Raiders? The answer is NO.  Remember that I am not talking about the 23rd and 24th players on your roster. I am talking about core guys. Guys like Ryan Grant and Roddy White. This year there will be bad teams too.  One prime candidate is the Chiefs.  Players like Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones and Dwayne Bowe will certainly be tempting to take, won't they? 

2.   Age and Injuries - There comes a time in every player's career that age catches up to him, he starts to break down, and he has to make way for the younger guys. As owners, we usually want the guy who is young and strong rather than the guy that is old and on his way out. I know that those old guys were responsible for winning us trophies but sometimes we just have to move on.  Hasselbeck or Delhomme, Ladainian Tomlinson or Brian Westbrook, Torry Holt or Laveranues Coles.  You get the drift. 

3. Training Camp - Like I said before, this is the time that players and coaches will give you insight as to what is going to happen during the season. You will see situations arise where you say to yourself, “I don't want that guy on my team,” LISTEN!!!



In order to rank the aforementioned core group, you start out with the three sub groups. You rank the players as to how you think they are going to perform. Then you spend some time looking over number 2 & 3. When things stand out you make the proper adjustments. Then for the next month or two you have to follow what goes on in the NFL and make decisions on what you see and hear. It is important that you make these changes. If you don't adjust your rankings they can never get better.

Also, don't be afraid to be wrong.  Everyone will be wrong sometimes; the object is to be wrong less than the other guy. Now, while you are checking out personnel changes and coaching changes you will start to see players that have a good chance of having breakout years, you will also see some players and teams that you want to have nothing to do with. This is how we come up with the other two categories. 

This may all sound a lot, but it's the work you need to put in to win your Fantasy league. The good news, is we do all of this and more for you! IF you want to do it yourself, by all means, but if you're OK with teaming up with the winningest Experts in Fantasy Football, get all of that an more in the FFChamps Draft Kit.

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