Getting Started with Fantasy Football: From Zero to Legit in One Day

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Which brings us meandering slowly via a semi-awkward segue my specialty! Been a minute, hasn't it? I've been in the same fantasy baseball league with my friend Don Smith for 33 years now. He was my very first commissioner, and on draft day, every year for 33 straight years, he shakes my hand and says the same thing.

There's nothing better than draft day, and frankly, nothing more important. And that's why we are here: to get you ready for draft day. For almost two decades, we've been doing the Manifesto, and as always, some things in here are unchanged from last year: The basic blueprint for ways to start to construct a championship team, some of the strategy and, of course, as I was just telling everyone in the "deep sleepers" chat room on my free Fantasy Life app, there will be some over-the-top self-serving promotion.

And, as always, it's crazy-long, so get comfortable, or better yet, save it for about two hours after lunch.

But don't worry. There's also new research, new analysis and at least one new joke for my editor. Editor's note: That wasn't it. Let's start with the most important thing about this. If you take only one thing from this entire article, it should be this, especially since I already worked in the plug for the app. The secret to winning fantasy football is, very simply, this:. At a fundamental level, fantasy football is all about minimizing risk and giving yourself the best odds to win on a weekly basis. I write it every year because it's not only true, but it's also very easy to lose sight of.

Exactly one year ago, no one thought the backup running back for the Falcons with just three career carries inside the tackles would wind up as the No. That a backup in Pittsburgh who got double-digit carries in only eight games would be the fourth-best RB. That a year-old tight end in his ninth season playing with a variety of QBs would be the fourth-best tight end in fantasy And that Tim Hightower , who hadn't played in the NFL since , would be the second-highest-scoring fantasy running back during the season's final four weeks.

You can't predict the future. I definitely can't predict the future. No one can predict the future. I literally had the main playcaller of a team with a running back by committee RBBC tell me one of the two guys was going to have a big week last season because of what they were scheming and what they saw on tape. Now, this person has given me good info for a number of years. Second series, the "other guy" broke a big play and that was all she wrote. The one guy barely touched the ball again, as the "other" RB had a big game. The coach texted after the game, "Sorry, man.

After that run, he wasn't coming out. He stayed hot all game. It is what it is. So all you can do is stack the odds in your favor as much as possible. How do we do that?

Answer this question: What's most likely to happen? And then do that. Does Paul definitely need to donate? Will his kid screw up? Who knows.

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But from talking to Paul, if he's playing the "what's most likely to happen" game, the answer is "yes" to both questions. So he's donating to the college, he's gonna offer internships to the college's business department and whatever else he needs to do, because his kid is a bit of a screw-up and he wants to put his son in the best position to win. It may not work.

At some point, the kid has to figure it out on his own, at least on some level, but Paul is doing what he can to stack the odds in his favor. It's not fair, it's not just, but it is the reality of the situation, so I understand why Paul is doing whatever he can. Save me the "kid needs to learn for himself" emails, tweets, snaps and Facebook messages.

New To Fantasy Football? Here's How To Get Started

I'm just relaying the story that Paul told me. But I get it. If you have the means and you've been told that that's the deal I'm not gonna judge a guy for doing whatever he can for his kid. The truth is, be it college, fantasy football or any other aspect of life, the advice is the same:. The way to give yourself the best odds at getting the outcome you want is to minimize risk and play the percentages that give you the best chance to win.

It won't always work, and there will be long shots from others that pay off, but it will work a lot more often than not. So how do you stack the odds, lower risk and put yourself in the best position to win? Do the following:. As you start reading, watching and listening this preseason, you'll hear a lot of suggestions on what to do in your draft. If you keep reading this or hell, who are we kidding, skimming this , I am going to tell you my take on each position.

But the most important thing to realize is that there a lot of paths to glory on draft day. With an awesome free app! Seriously, wait 'til you use it! ESPN leagues are fully customizable, he said, slipping in one more plug. I like PPR, too, but it is not "what everyone plays. Here's the list of most common players on teams that played in the championship last season on ESPN. I used 15 percent ownership as the cutoff, and that's the list. No kicker got more than 11 percent. Last season was a such a weird year with all the injuries, and you don't have to look further than Tim Hightower, Charcandrick West or Gary Barnidge to know how important staying active on the wire during the season is BUT, last year, both Adrian Peterson and Antonio Brown were consensus first-round picks and millions of people who went RB in the first made the championship game, just like millions of people who went WR.

And in case you were wondering, Rob Gronkowski showed up on I am a big believer in "best player available" for the draft. By the time you are done with this article looking like middle of next week at this pace , you'll have the tools and pieces in place to be able to make any decision to put yourself in the best possible position to win, no matter what happens in your draft. That's the point. Not having any one specific way to draft, but rather a framework that allows you to do whatever the draft brings you.

I promise, they're not all this obvious, but you'd be amazed at how many people don't know all the rules of their league. Playing with three wide receivers in your starting lineup is different than playing with two.

Players can deduct fantasy football expenses

What's your roster size? How often can you make moves? What's your waiver system like? Do tight ends get 2 PPR? How much for a TD pass? Does your defense score points for holding opposing teams to certain yardage totals or is it yardage totals and scoring totals? When's your trade deadline? How many teams make the playoffs and when do they start? All of these things and, frankly, every rule you have in your league helps shape a player's value.

Frank Gore has more value in a re-draft league this year than in a dynasty startup, you know? And how can you evaluate players unless you know their value? You need to know your league's rules inside and out, backward and forward. Because that knowledge is what you'll use to legally!


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Is there an injury slot s in addition to the normal roster, like a DL slot in baseball? You can be more aggressive with talented but injury-prone guys, in that case. Are you required to leave the draft with a full lineup? I say you should have to, but if not, don't bother with a kicker or a defense, and use those two slots for extra position picks.

Fantasy Football 101 – The Zero RB Draft Strategy

Realize that the roster you construct on draft day is not what you are stuck with for the whole season unless it's a" best ball" type league , so knowing what kind of movement is allowed is important. Allow me to use this moment to say that if you don't have a constitution for your league, you must have one. The more clarity, the fewer fights.

I also suggest have a three-person "competition committee" that anyone in the league can appeal to if there is a dispute with the commish that you disagree with. And there should be two alternates in case the dispute involves the commish, a member of the committee or that the complainant is on the competition committee.

OK, I said they weren't all going to be that obvious, but I didn't say none of them would be obvious.