You might have heard football rumblings over the past week, and if you haven't, pull your head out of the grass. Football is back, the lockout is over, and teams are gearing up for a full season of gridiron classics after a devastatingly long break.
With little over a month until the 2011 season begins, fans are rounding up friends and foes alike to prepare for fantasy football drafts.
If someone's asked you to join a league, it's time to buck up and jump in with both feet, slick. Fantasy football is the 'work-pool' for the new generation, and it requires a little fortitude in order to be a champion.
Lucky for you, we have a few principles that will guide you to victory.
Keep in mind, no two leagues are the same, and what works for some might not work for others. Don't expect to know the stats of every player right off the bat -- no one does. It takes scrutiny, observation, vested interest, and, most importantly, time in order to gain that kind of knowledge.
Note: there is a difference between ignorance and being a damn fool, so don't blame us if you still suck.
Tip #1: Know The Rules
Some leagues incorporate 'every man for themselves' rules, where each team's total points are tallied at the end of the season to find a victor. Most standard leagues, however, pit two drafted teams in head-to-head competition, with the weekend's highest score taking the victory.
There are also different scoring rules for every game. One league might offer four points for touchdowns scored, while another might give you six. One league might grant a point for each catch a player makes (aka: PPR leagues), while the other will only give points for the amount of yards the player progressed. Most leagues employ Defense/Special Teams rules, where each team drafts an entire team's defense, while other more advanced leagues allow people to draft individual defensive players (aka: IDP leagues).
The style of play will factor heavily into how one plays the game, especially on draft day. A player with the first pick should consider his options in leagues that punish heavily for turnovers, such has fumbles -- should they draft Adrian Peterson, knowing he drops the ball an average of five times a year, or take a safer carrier like Chris Johnson? Again, rules factor heavily into the game, so consider what you're playing.
The same cannot be said of Tight Ends. A good TE can make the difference between a win and a loss, and they aren't as easy to come by. So before you stack your roster with a team of RBs assured to break 1000 yards, understand that there is a huge drop in quality as you go down the list of Tight Ends.
Players like Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates can hardly be classified as TEs in those positions, due to their tendency to put up points usually reserved for the best wide receivers. But having a player like these two, who are essentially the go-to targets for their respective teams, can provide a huge upper hand in close games.
Sleeper Draft Picks: QB Josh Freeman, QB Matt Hasselbeck, WR Steve Breaston, WR Julio Jones, WR Mike Sims-Walker, WR Brandon Lloyd, RB Mark Ingram, RB LeGarrett Blount
Avoid Like The Plague: QB Tavaris Jackson, QB Donovon McNabb, WR Brandon Marshall, WR Terrell Owens, RB Shonn Greene, RB Marshawn Lynch, RB Reggie Bush, RB Ryan Matthews
High Risk/Reward Players: QB Michael Vick, QB Eli Manning, WR Steve Smith (CAR), WR Steve Smith (NYG), WR Larry Fitzgerald, RB Chris Johnson, RB DeAngelo Williams, RB LaDainian Tomlinson