Rejoice, football fans, for the season is coming upon us. The Hall of Fame game is in early August which can only mean one things, fantasy football is right around the corner.
Fantasy football, for those who are unaware, takes every offensive player, defenses and special teams and ranks them according to how good they were last year and projecting their stats for this upcoming season. Unless you're doing a defensive player draft then good luck with that can of worms.
Traditional fantasy football is the focus here this week. The team is usually set up having a quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, a tight end, your defense/special teams and a kicker along with a varying number of bench players.
When it comes time to join a league, if this is your first time, think about how many people are going to be in it first. If you are a first time player, stick with around an eight team league or so. There will be plenty of good players to choose from in the draft and it has more of a casual feel to it. Anything over that number can be considered more of a challenge in terms of teams.
I personally have been in a few 16 team leagues and when you get to the bottom half of the draft it gets super difficult figuring out who to choose unless you read fantasy draft publications. I find them to be a waste of time. There are plenty of internet sites that offer good fantasy advice for free. No reason to pay money for that kind of service.
So after joining the league there will be a date and time for the draft to happen. That always various from league to league. The draft order can be randomized or pre-set by the league owner. Always hope for a randomized snake draft. It's the most fair way to go about things.
When I get into a randomized snake draft I always hope for a pick in the middle. Getting the first pick is alright, but then you wait for so long to select again. Same goes with the last pick. So the middle is nearly perfect.
Who to draft is always a tough case when running backs aren't as valued in the NFL as they once were. When I began doing fantasy football very rarely did a non-running back go in the first round. Usually for someone like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. These days? The highest rated running backs are the bell-cow backs like AP, LeVeon Bell, Doug Martin, and Todd Gurley. The guys who are going to carry the ball 20 plus times a game.
After that you usually see a top rated QB like Aaron Rodgers, Brady, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, the guys who can put up the numbers every week. Even wideouts are getting into the first round with consistency. Julio Jones and Antonio Brown can be argued to be number one overall picks in a fantasy draft due to their huge numbers.
Personally I draft QBs, RBs, WRs and a TE in the first ten rounds of a draft. Stock up on skill guys that get you the most points. Then I begin to worry about a defense. At that point you'd usually find a middle of the road defense but that's fine, defense doesn't give you a whole lot of points in the first place. With the last pick get your kicker. Never waste a pick before that last one to take a kicker. Kickers are so interchangeable you could probably use a different one every week and be fine.
So now you have your roster and are ready to roll. Week one happens, and your top pick goes down with an injury. Out for the rest of the season. Despair kicks in as you scream to the fantasy football gods.
Fear not. With how the NFL operates anyone can magically step up and fill in. A sixth round rookie can fly in out of nowhere and have a fantastic season. That is why there is free agency and the wavier wire to keep an eye on through the season.
The ability to find players from literally out of nowhere is so much fun. The entire rags to riches story is one of the best in any sport. However, fantasy football can be a harsh mistress. Players you thought would pan out didn't and after 14 weeks you're out of the playoffs.
Sometimes it boils down to luck. In the past I thought I drafted a very great team only to lose game after game because someone else I was going against had a career day. That's just how fantasy football can work.
If you manage to get lucky enough to make the playoffs, again, it can be a total crapshoot on how everything turns out. I've seen a low seed go on a complete tear to steal a fantasy title away from a team who only lost a couple of times during the year.
Fantasy sports are painful. They can test your resolve, and they can be a lot of fun to do every year with a group of friends. If you haven't tried fantasy football before, go ahead and look for a league. If you're a veteran of fantasy football then I wish you luck in your endeavor to get that championship this year.