Sports Check Blog

5 ways to win your fantasy football league

Some may call them nerds. Some call them delusional. Some would even go so far as to call them losers.

I call them geniuses.

That’s right, I’m talking about the brave men and women who don’t suit up or step on the field every Sunday but the ones who plop down in front of a flat screen with a six pack and a bag of Doritos.

Fantasy football nuts are some of the most interesting and coolest people on the planet.

Honestly, who cares about a mortgage payment or even an electric bill? I’m talking about those of you who routinely join 10-15 money leagues and drop anywhere from $200 to $1,000 on fantasy football each year.

Then there’s some of you who just do it for fun and don’t factor in money. Don’t worry, you’ll eventually get hooked to a point where it will come down to the cable bill or another online league. Who needs cable?

It’s National Fantasy Football League Draft week, and I’m going to give you five simple tips on how to win your league, earn bragging rights with your friends and avoid that week-long fight with your wife. You know, the one that would surely occur once you broke the news to her that little Johnny’s traveling league fee money went instead to a fantasy football league named “Green Bay Groupies.”

This is for seasoned veterans along with free-agent rookies, kind of like my dad, who will join his first fantasy football league at age 77 this fall.

Personally, I’m up to six money leagues this year, and one is for $50. My wife doesn’t tend to read my stuff anyway, so I may be fine. Keep it on the down low.

I’m not a fantasy expert by any means, but I have won two leagues in 10 years. Twenty percent ain’t good, but it’s not bad, either.

Without further adieu, use these five tips when drafting this week:

1. Quarterbacks can wait

Remember RG3’s magical rookie season in 2012?

He dominated week in and week out and almost single-handedly led a team in one of my leagues to the title.

You need someone like that, right? Wrong.

What isn’t as publicized is the fact that a guy like Tony Romo, drafted in the ninth or 10th round in most leagues, only scored maybe 40 or 50 points less than him.

Also, a handful of guys like Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck weren’t much worse, either.

Don’t waste a first-round draft pick, or even a second or third, on Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. If you have the 12th pick and they fall to you, consider it, but you can wait until the eighth or ninth round and get Romo or Ryan.

There are around 15 solid fantasy quarterbacks, and at the end of the season, their point totals are pretty similar.

This year, Brees is my favorite QB, but don’t sleep on Tom Brady, who will have another big season and don’t forget about RG3.

He is cleared to play Week 1, and he went in the eighth round in a draft I did Sunday.

2. Pick studs early and often

In PPR formats, wide receivers who catch a lot of passes and running backs who can receive are king.

We’ve learned you can hold off on a quarterback, and here’s why: There are only a handful of “studs” who can end up winning your league for you.

Guys like Ray Rice, C.J. Spiller, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant and Adrian Peterson are premier talents who don’t come around very often.

Draft them!

Whereas 20 NFL QBs can get you big points, only seven to 10 RBs and WRs have the capability of carrying your team.

As a general rule, I try to go RB, WR, RB or WR, RB, WR in the first three rounds. This way, I stack my studs, or my players with the most scoring potential.

Twenty points in a week is a big week, but if you can start three guys capable of 30 points on any given Sunday, you can beat anybody.

An example would be to draft Spiller in round 1, Dez Bryant in round 2, maybe Reggie Bush in round 3 and then wait until round 8 to take Stafford or Romo.

If you wait until the fourth or fifth round to get your first running back, you may have to settle for Ahmad Bradshaw. Nobody wants that, not even Ahmad.

Studs will win your league every year.

3. Remember: It’s about stats, not wins and losses

The Green Bay Packers are my favorite team. Year in and year out, I cheer and swear at the TV louder than just about anybody.

I love A-Rodg, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy and all of the star players. But just because a player is on a winning team doesn’t mean you should draft him.

A lot of factors help determine whether someone is draftable: talent, offense, depth chart, who his quarterback is.

Though Jordy Nelson is an excellent receiver, you must consider a lot of his passes will go to Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley.

And now that Green Bay may run more, that takes catches away from receivers, too.

A guy like Cecil Shorts plays for a terrible team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, he is the No. 1 receiver and has big-play ability. He may have as much or even more value than Nelson.

Another good example is Trent Richardson. A bona fide stud, Richardson is a workhorse for the lowly Cleveland Browns. The more times a player touches the ball, the more valuable they are.

Richardson is bound to get 25-30 touches per game, even when the Browns are losing by 30 points.

4. The waiver wire is your friend

Three years ago, one of my best friends told me to pick up Vincent Jackson for my playoff run. Well, I did, and he came through with a 36-point game and I won my league.

The waiver wire is your buddy, and it should be considered every week, even if you’re happy with your current team.

While some guys are consistent studs, there are always hidden gems who come out of nowhere and put five or six big games together in a row. The no-name who’s hot can be just as valuable as the big name who’s inconsistent.

Take Danario Alexander last year. He wasn’t even playing to start the season then came on to have about five straight monster games.

On Wednesday mornings, or as soon as you can grab someone, don’t hesitate to put in a claim for a guy.

There will most likely be one or two guys on your team that either get hurt or severely underperform. You will need to find the right replacement. So check up on your team briefly every day.

5. High-risk, high-reward guys are huge

RG3 is a prime example here. Sure, he’s CLEARED to play Week 1. But is his ACL fully recovered after surgery only nine months ago? Probably not.

AP slipped a bit in drafts last year due to injury concerns. All he did was miss the single-season rushing record by nine yards.

Another guy this season is Colin Kaepernick. The cocky dual threat at QB caught lightning in a bottle last season, performing the last nine games like a Hall of Famer.

But the tape is out on Kaepernick, and teams won’t be surprised anymore.

With only nine NFL starts under his belt, he could be in for a sophomore slump.

But the sky’s the limit with this guy. He could be this year’s RG3 and could easily average 250 yards passing and 75 yards rushing per game. Toss in a rushing touchdown with two passing touchdowns and we’re looking at a can’t-miss stud.

However, Kaepernick is slipping to the sixth and even seventh round, so don’t jump the gun on him.

Another high-risk, high-reward pick is Green Bay rookie running back Eddie Lacy.

He’s the No. 1 guy, and the Packers claim they are committed to running more.

But Lacy is a rookie, and that’s never a sure thing. Plus, Jonathan Franklin may get the call on third downs.

At the same time, a guy like Lacy has star potential and can win your league. He can run for 1,000 yards and can give you 10 TD’s with his goal-line power running.

Bottom line: Don’t hesitate to draft high-risk, high-reward guys once you’ve secured your studs.



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