I graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2008 with a degree in communications. I am a very big sports fan, except for hockey.
The NFL is the biggest sport in the United States right now, and the fantasy football industry has boomed because of it. I have been playing for roughly 19 years and I still can't get enough. With the playoffs starting soon, this makes the 2nd year in a row in which I have made the playoffs in all three of my leagues (brag alert!).
The following are the ten tips (or rules) that have allowed me to enjoy success in fantasy football. These rules are for season-long fantasy football and not for daily fantasy football. These rules are also meant for fantasy leagues of 10, 12, or 14 teams with standard starting rosters: 1QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1TE, 1FLEX, 1 TM DEF, and 1 K.
10 Pro Tips for Winning a Fantasy League
1. Have a Plan on Draft Day
The players you select in your draft are going to be the ones you rely on heavily for the rest of the season. You need to have some sort of plan. Do you want to draft two running backs in your first two rounds? Do you want to be the first owner in your league to take a quarterback? Just about every site that offers fantasy football also offers you to participate in a mock draft. Participate in mock drafts to develop your plan!
2. Play the Waiver Wire
Fantasy football is very unpredictable. Injuries happen. Players don't perform up to the level they are accustomed to. Every player has a bye week. Some of the players that help you win your fantasy league will undoubtedly be claimed on the waiver wire. Look at the players that are available to you every week to see if you can improve your team.
3. Listen to a Podcast or Consult Experts
Some fantasy players think that they know more about football than anyone. That might very well be true. Those people may have knowledge about the actual game of football but they don't have the same access to the NFL teams as the experts do. This is the experts' jobs. The experts either talk to the coaches and coordinators directly or they know people that do. The best part is: The experts' job is to provide that information to you! Listen to them. I know what you're saying: "Great. nerds talking about numbers." Actually, most of the podcasts are pretty funny. Don't get me wrong: There is a lot of nerding out and stats thrown around but most podcasts are pretty entertaining.
4. Put Away Bias
Draft or pick up players that are going to help your team. Don't worry that the player you are picking up or drafting played for your favorite college team's arch-rival or currently plays for your favorite NFL team's rival. I am a Bears fan. I hate the Packers. It's only natural. Want to guess who my fantasy quarterback is? That's right. It's Aaron Rodgers. I don't love rooting for him on Sundays but I love watching my fantasy point total go up when he throws touchdowns.
5. Know Your League's Rules and Scoring
This seems like a no-brainer, right? Far too many players do not know all of the rules of the leagues they are playing in. Is your league a point per reception league or standard league? Does your team get 4 points or 6 points for passing touchdowns? Do you receive bonus points for long scores or for your running back gaining over 100 yards? Knowing the rules will help you when you are deciding on who you want to draft or pick up. See how all of this is tying in together?
6. Offer (Fair) Trades
One of the biggest advantages year-long leagues have over daily fantasy leagues is the ability to trade. Trading is fun and can help both teams involved. Just be sure to offer good trades. Before submitting a trade, look at the roster of the person you are trying to trade with and ask yourself: Would I accept this trade if I was him?
7. Ask for Advice
If you are having trouble deciding who to pick up, which player to start, or which player to drop to complete a transaction, there is nothing wrong with asking a friend his/her thoughts. 2 minds are usually better than one.
8. Play Your Best Players
There will be a time during the season when one of your best players has a tough matchup and a lesser player is playing a soft defense. You may have the urge to substitute the lesser player in for your elite player. I would advise against that thought. Your elite player is one of the best at a thing (the NFL) that only a select few get to participate in. He is the elite of the elite. Take your chances with that guy!
9. Don't Just Start a Player Because You Drafted Him Early
As stated above, there are always players that underachieve. i know: He was so awesome last season and you drafted him with your 2nd overall pick! If it is week 7 or 8 and this player is only getting you 4 points every week, it is time to start someone else (if you have better options.) He is hurting your team and you can do better. This game is about winning as many weeks as you can, not being loyal.
10. Be Elite at 2 or More Positions
Having the best collective players at 2 or more positions puts you in a great position to be successful rather than being average or above average at all positions. This will mean you will likely have to sacrifice being average at other positions. Here is my team, for example, I drafted Odell Beckam with my 1st overall pick. Later, in separate trades, I gave away Jonathan Stewart, Spencer Ware, Ty Montgomery, Stefon Diggs, Isiaah Crowell, and Melvin Gordon for Amari Cooper and Antonio Brown. While this made me very vulnerable at running back, it made me elite at the WR position (Brown, Beckham) and at the FLEX position (Cooper.) I also drafted Aaron Rodgers, whom I consider elite. I pieced together a decent running back corps through the waiver wire: Kenneth Dixon, James Stark, and Robert Kelley to go along with my 3rd round draft pick, Latavius Murray.
Fantasy football is highly unpredictable. if you follow these rules and have a little bit of luck you should have a legitimate chance at getting into the playoffs. And if the fantasy gods smile down on your team you just might win your league!