and Ian Millman
Last Updated: Jul 14, 2010 7:36 PM
10 Commandments for Winning at Fantasy Football
This is the first in a series of articles geared toward winning at fantasy football. To find more content on useful ways you can win your league, click here
Fantasy Football's 1st Commandment: Know Thy Scoring System…
This is one of the most critical aspects of winning any league, and it pertains to several aspects each of which is important. Here are the keys we're focusing on at a minimum:
All leagues are different and you MUST fully know and understand how players score in your league. Sometimes you get 1 point per reception, sometimes you don't. Sometimes only certain positions get points for receptions. If you get points per reception (ppr), often that bumps up the value of WRs, and always bumps up the value of receiving RBs within the Running Back rankings.
Another major divergence amongst scoring systems is for Passing TDs and yardage. This rule is VERY important to know as it will help you decide when to take a QB. Typically leagues award 4 points per pass TD and either 1 point per 20 or 25 passing yards. In these scoring systems, we generally advocate waiting on your QB until nearly your whole league has a starter so you can load up on RBs and WRs and still get one of the top 10 or so QBs we like (see the 5th Commandment). However, sometimes you will see QBs getting 6 points per pass TD and/or 1 point per 15 passing yards, and in those leagues we do look to get elite QBs on our teams if the price isn't too costly.
There are many scoring intricacies that will help you decide the best picks each round, and that may include players getting credit for return yards and TDs, or it could be players losing points for int's or fumbles, but the key is to FULLY know and understand your scoring system.
The next most critical aspect of each league is how many players at each position you start. A typical league generally starts: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, 1D.
Often you will see a flex option that can be a RB, WR or a TE instead of, or in addition to 1 of those spots above. Sometimes you may be able to flex in a QB in that flex spot. Sometimes TE's are counted as WRs, sometimes they are not. There are MANY variances to starter requirements and every one of them will impact how you should build your team. Here are some examples:
-If you start 2 RBs and 3 WRs and have a flex spot (like the WCOFF scoring system), you may be starting either 3 RBs or 4 WRs each week. In this league I would almost always wait on a QB as I will need to accumulate as many productive WRs and RBs as possible.
-One league I am in let's you flex any position in that spot (QB or Defense included). Defenses score a lot in this league, but QBs score the most (as in most leagues), so I make sure to not only NOT wait on a QB, I try to take 2 early. Maybe even 2 within the first 4 rounds, as I want a decided advantage over my competition every week at that position, (FYI, I've won that league the last 2 years and came in 2nd year before).
-Another league I start 2 RBs and 2 WRs every week with no flex, so I feel I can wait a little longer at WR and risk being a little weak there as I only start 2 of them and a strong RB corps can make that up.
-In another league I have to start 3 WRs, but only 1 RB and then there's a flex spot. Some weeks I start 2 RBs and 3 WRs and others I start 1 RB and 4 WRs. I generally look to get WRs early and often and make sure not to overlook the position (see the 6th Commandment), as I always will be starting at least 3 of them.
By now you get the point… every league has its own scoring system, and therefore its own custom strategy that is needed to take advantage of it. The good news is we are here to help you devise that strategy!
This is the next most critical aspect of knowing your league, as it will determine how many backups you can carry at each position. Some leagues may also have a maximum or minimum you have to carry at each position, so you want to know this in advance. Examples:
-If a league has a small roster, maybe 16 or 18 slots, you generally want to carry only 1 Kicker and Defense, so you have spots left to Back up your Studs (see the 7th Commandment). We generally want the backup of our top QB if he's good and almost always our top RB and maybe even our #2 (depending on the backup, again, be sure to read the 7th Commandment).
-If a league has a large and open roster (20 spots or so), then you can have some backups, maybe even a 2nd Defense to play matchups, and definitely some of our fliers or deep sleepers or even rookies that are a bit unknown.
The point is, know how many you can or can't draft beforehand and devise a strategy to best use those spots.
Free Agent Periods
This is more of In-Season maintenance, but knowing when you can pick up Free Agents and how to do it is CRITICAL to your success. I've always said:
“Championships are not Won at the Draft, but they are born there. They are won on the waiver wire”.
You can't win your league at the draft, but you can lose it if you really have a bad draft. But the fact is every league I've won I've done well on the waiver wire. Sometimes it's only 1 or 2 key pickups, but they are absolutely imperative to your success throughout the season. So to succeed on the wire, you must know:
1 – How you pick up players – Does it go by the reverse order of the standings each week, or is it Blind Bidding, or something else?
2 – When you pick up your players - Is there 1 Free Agent period per week, or multiple? Is there a Free for all period? Can you pick up guys on Sunday?
All of these are options in different leagues I am in and I am sure there are many more options, so make sure to know yours and make moves every week to improve your team.
Number of Teams
This is getting a bit more intricate, but there are differences with how to draft in a 10, 12 or 14+ team league. Without getting too specific, be sure to know how many teams there are. It will affect how long you can wait for your QB, or other positions knowing if the talent pool is a bit deeper, like in a 10 team league, or much thinner as in a big league.
In summary, the message here is to take the time to decipher and dissect your league scoring and then to develop a custom strategy for building a team to take advantage of it. If you are not sure what that is, be sure to use one of your Live Advice tokens and one of our experts here on staff will assist you.