It’s so close.
Thankfully, the drab summer days of watching baseball are coming to an end and America’s No. 1 sport, football, is gearing up. Ah, I can almost hear that beautiful thud as pigskin prepares to meet foot in slightly more than a week.
Nothing defines or encapsulates our country’s desire for athletic competition like pro football. Guys love it. Girls love it. Even grandmothers love it. And with baseball scheduled to shoot itself in the foot (make that both feet) at the end of this week, football can clearly make a case for the moniker America’s Pastime.
No one supports their teams the way football fans do (soccer hooligans notwithstanding), but perhaps an even better way to enhance the NFL season is to join a fantasy football league.
Fantasy football’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years. Partly because of the fun involved in playing against and talking trash with other owners (I suffered through an entire year of ridicule from my girlfriend after she beat me last year), but mostly because it gives fans an even better excuse to pay attention to each and every game. In fact, many of my friends are in two or more leagues.
With the season starting next Thursday, most leagues will conduct their draft sometime this weekend. Draft day is clearly the most crucial part of the season, and I have laid down some tips to help you get the most out of your selections.
Have a strategy – Map out a formula you want to follow in your draft and stick to it. If you place more emphasis on getting a top running back as opposed to a top quarterback, do so, providing you have your eye on an attainable quarterback in later rounds. Make a wish list of players, based on your personal strategy
Don’t draft with your heart – In my initial season of fantasy football in 1995, I made the mistake of taking players all from my favorite NFL team. The Philadelphia Eagles were horrible that year, and I wound up with a goose egg in the win column at the end of the fantasy season.
Guard your information – “No. 3, never trust nobody.” That line from the greatest MC who ever lived, Biggie Smalls, in “The Ten Crack Commandments,” will save you heartache and keep you from potentially mauling the person drafting ahead of you in a fit of rage.
If you were telling him what a breakout season Chris Chambers will have this season before the draft started and he nabs him just before you can, you’ll spend the rest of the afternoon wiping the egg from your face.
Do your homework – As far as importance, this might be paramount to your success. Go into the draft without doing research, and you can kiss your entrance fee and dignity goodbye. After the disaster of my inaugural season, I studied feverishly and proceeded to finish second, first, first and third in the next four years.
However, my arrogant nature led me to believe I could win the last two drafts on general football knowledge alone. The result: two straight years of missing the playoffs and the aforementioned crushing defeat to my better half.
Do your homework … better than the next owner – Having stated the necessity for research, one up your competition by going on-line to get the latest news around the league.
There are a multitude of free Web sites that offer useful information regarding everything from injuries to depth charts to how many times Santana Moss blew his nose last week.
If you want to invest a little extra cash, subscribe to an on-line Web site (i.e. ). Most fantasy football magazines on the newsstand were printed in mid-May, so the information is outdated. Stay one step ahead of your other owners with these sites.
Don’t throw away picks – For anyone who has done a league of at least 12 teams, you know the draft takes about four hours. Keeping this amount of people in one spot for that long, regardless of beer consumption, leads to irritability and impatience to get the draft done.
Hence, many owners will just waste their final picks on names to fill their rosters. This is a mistake. Use the later round picks to snatch up backups (in case the player starting in front of them gets injured) or lesser know commodities you think have a chance to breakout.
Value each pick – Along the same lines of the last tip but follow the logic. Just because you are really high on Antwan Randle-El, don’t waste a second-round pick on him. Gauge how low in the draft Randle-El will fall and try to get him in the mid-to-late rounds, using that second-round choice for a more proven and valuable commodity.
Pay attention to other owners. Listen closely, because other owners might not adhere to tip No. 3 and let you onto valuable information.
Also keep track of who other owners select. The draft order goes from 1-12, then 12-1 and so on, so if you’re drafting No. 10 in a 12-team league and Nos. 11 and 12 already have a tight end and need a running back, but you have a RB but need a TE, choose wisely.
If you are torn between Alge Crumpler and Michael Pittman, take Pittman because the two owners proceeding you already have a TE and are in need of RBs. This way, you’ll screw them over and still probably get Crumpler five picks later.