Countdown to Game Day: Fantasy Football Guide

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Countdown to Game Day: Fantasy Football Guide

Running backs like Arian Foster of the Houston Texans can carry your fantasy team. Courtesy of AJ Guel Photography

Running backs like Arian Foster of the Houston Texans can carry your fantasy team. Courtesy of AJ Guel Photography

Running backs like Arian Foster of the Houston Texans can carry your fantasy team. Courtesy of AJ Guel Photography

Running backs like Arian Foster of the Houston Texans can carry your fantasy team. Courtesy of AJ Guel Photography

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Seven days. Seven days until the 2013 NFL season kicks off. Sure, for those who have not been blessed by the football gods, the closest way to get in on the action as fans is by passionately shouting at a television screen for three hours on Sunday alongside some snacks and a few buddies. But what about those who want more? Luckily, there’s a vast world on the glorious Internet that’s a home for the most fanatic of football fans. NFL Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Football offers fans a chance to throw on their own sleeveless Bill Belichick hoodies and take a stab at that coaching headset for a change. Members can start their own leagues (normally 10-12 players), and draft players from any of the 32 teams in football to create a team   of nine starters and seven bench players. Don’t let the word “fantasy” fool you. Once the draft is complete and the rosters are set, members follow the live football season and earn points according to how their players perform in real life. Most leagues select “Head to Head” match-ups, where two members compete each week to earn the most points, and the teams with the best overall records move on to the playoffs to vie for top spot.

Drafting can make or break a fantasy team. There’s a reason why not everyone in the world can be general manager of a professional sports team. It’s tough. In a fantasy world, however, it can be a place for sports lovers to really shine. And for beginners, have no fear. In sports, what do coaches always say to do when you’re feeling panicked or lost? Go back to the fundamentals. Here are some basic tips to ensure your Fantasy Football experience goes smoothly.

Find a clipboard and some Oakley’s. It’s time to scout.

Professional football is a complicated, but fast moving game, always susceptible to change. Relying on big names may not always guarantee a good fantasy team. Yes, there are exceptions. (If for some ridiculous reason Adrian Peterson is up for grabs, take him!) But in order to calculate which player will fit best for your team, you will need to do your homework. Watch preseason games. Listen to some sports talk on ESPN. Find a cheat sheet online that compiles all the need-to-know information in once place. Just remember, Fantasy points are not based on wins and losses, but on player and team statistics. Pay close attention to individual performances, and look for those breakouts and sleepers. Loading your team with big guns is fine, but injuries can happen at any moment, so make sure you have found some low-key players that are good enough to offer your roster some depth. Remember, a team is only as good as its worst player.

Football’s got the need for speed. Jump out ahead of the race and grab an elite running back! Quarterbacks can wait a round or two…

While quarterbacks may offer the greatest opportunity for big points, drafting a running back in the first round can save your team. Why go for a running back over a quarterback? The NFL is full of quarterbacks who can put up big numbers in a season. Keep in mind, Matt Schaub put up 4,770 passing yards in 2009 with a team that was 9-7. Just because you don’t draft a Drew Brees or an Aaron Rogers doesn’t mean that your quarterback spot is shot. There are plenty of others to choose from, even elite ones. More importantly, Fantasy Football is about finding the best deal, and the elite running back position is not exactly crowded. Don’t waste your number one pick on an abundant quarterback pool and lose your chance to secure your team with knock-out rushing numbers. In fantasy football, running backs with huge stats are the most valuable because of their impact and rarity.

Don’t forget about the dreaded bye week.

In a game where monstrous human beings crash into each other for a living, it’s understandable that each team in the NFL gets one week off to rest. This is known as a bye week. While nice for players, bye weeks can be detrimental to fantasy teams. If you don’t keep up with your players’ bye weeks, you may end up with a hole in a major position come game day. Know who is sitting out when, so you can plan your alternates ahead of time. This goes back to creating depth in your team and building up that bench because of the two things that make fantasy teams cringe. Bye weeks and injures. No player can play forever.

How do we survive in this world? By adapting! Change is your friend.

Once your draft is complete, you’ll want to sit back and take a breather. You feel confident in your team, and you’re ready to relax, watch some football and let the real players do the work. Not so fast. This is your team, which means you are general manager, and the general manager’s job is to keep his team on top in a changing football world. Keep your eye on the market for free agents or potential trades in your league. Look closely at season schedules to get a feel for the players’ competition. (Better competition most likely means lower numbers). Be ready to make a change. I know you thought your rookie wide receiver was going to have a breakout year, but it’s just not happening. Cut your losses and put someone else in. You are the coach, after all.

Who is your ideal 2013 NFL Fantasy first round draft pick?

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