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Postby Slingblade » Wed Dec 11, 2002 10:34 pm

Another article i found

By: Rick Hawes, Fantasy Nostradamus

So you are out of the playoff race in your league. You have had a down season, your buddies are giving you a hard time, and fantasy football hasn’t turned out to be much fun. You might even be in your rookie season, and think you aren’t cut out for this. Well lets get some PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) emancipating from your gray matter, and look at some strategies which can change the outcome of your lost campaign.

There are a lot of different types of Fantasy Football owners. Some people play for the fun, not taking it too seriously. Some are in buddy leagues, and it is basically bragging rights & the chance to rib your boys, after your team destroys them. Others are trying to bring home the bacon; they play their fantasy like Al Davis says “Just Win Baby”. I am writing this column for all of you, but especially the owners who want to be successful year in and year out, and who know that Fantasy Football is a lot more fun when you are winning. I am a competitive person. I don’t like losing at tiddley winks, jacks, checkers, monopoly, horseshoes, or a team sport. To me losing is not a viable option, unless I have given 100%. I am trying to show you how to give that true 100%, in an effort to make your Sundays successful.

Become a College Football Fan -

Even if you don’t like the college game, you need to learn to like it. I am not just talking about being a Big 10 or SEC fan either. I’m talking about players. Specifically, fast players, who have heart, and a nose for the end zone. Coaches can teach a lot things, blocking techniques, trainers can make players stronger, and supplements can make them more energetic. But no one can teach speed and a nose for the end zone. Two players in recent years that come to mind. Marshall Faulk and Randy Moss. Both of these TD machines came from small colleges (San Diego State & Marshall University) respectively. That is not the only thing they had in common. Both possess speed to burn, and a nose for the end zone. Yes I know I also mentioned competitive heart, but in this case only Marshall possesses that. However 2 out of 3 isn’t bad. The thing that both did in college was score TDs in bunches. This is either something you are born with or simply do not have. The ability to get the pigskin over the imaginary plane, causing the referee to raise his hands extended from his sides over his head. I think you can see where I am coming from on this one. In case you haven’t caught on, there was a receiver about 20 seasons ago that came into the league from Mississippi Valley State. He caught TD passes in bunches there. His name was Jerry Rice. Now are you convinced to do your college football homework?

Off Season Homework -

If you are really into Fantasy Football, and have decided that winning championships, or at least getting to the playoffs is more fun than losing, then there is no substitute for off-season homework. Football is a year round sport now. As soon as the Super Bowl final gun goes off, then coaches, GMs, and other management hierarchy take a couple of weeks off and it is back to the grind. You need to approach it the same way. It sounds like a daunting time consuming task, but it really isn’t. If you read the newspaper, especially the sports section every day, then start annotating the off-season coaching, coordinator, GM, and player changes each day. It only takes a couple minutes out of your day, but can pay huge dividends once NFL training camps open. Before you can be successful you have to know that Marc Bulger, Kevin Johnson, and Ike Hilliard have become Kansas City Chiefs. Yes this is an extreme example, but it is also a scenario that could actually happen.

Subscribe to a Premium Service

Now you may think, oh man, he is already trying to part me from my hard-earned money. The truth is a premium service will probably cost you less than a dollar a day, and be worth every penny. Now before we get into this real deep, I want you to know that it is but a tool to incorporate into your overall fantasy strategy. One great thing a lot of folks do not know about the pay service is that there are different tiers, thus different depths of water you can jump into. You can get the news out of the NFL camps. This can provide some early advice on possible sleepers, or veterans being pushed for their jobs. You can get a complete draft primer, with player lists (cheat sheets), and draft orders. You can get a weekly supplement, to stay abreast of all the news fit to print. It can help you make proactive waiver wire selections and trades. In addition, these weeklies provide you data to assist in making intelligent lineup decisions. Then you can also go to the extreme of letting the experts select your lineup for you. In short there is a package available regardless of what kind of owner you are. I would at the very least select a draft primer, so you can go into your draft quietly confident. Between your new found love of the college game, annotating off-season movement, and subscribing to a service, for at least their draft special, you have put a lot of necessary steps into action in becoming successful.

The Draft -

Christmas for grown men! There is no substitute for the draft. It is simply nirvana. Butterflies abound, and the general buzz in the room (if your league is lucky enough to all get together) will be matched by nothing else except winning your leagues title. After you read this section you will be prepared to be a lot more competitive, in fact you may even walk with a little swagger. First of all have your player projections in some type of order, clean, concise and easy to access and read. Your cheat sheets should consist of input from your premium experts, your opinion, and your gut feel for how off season movement is going to affect certain teams. Notice I said the word “your”, because no expert can know it all, and you should take some responsibility for your franchise. Don’t share your information with anyone, and if you are hardcore, don’t share the source. You are trying to win, not make friends on draft day. Keep your hard-earned data to yourself, and do not succumb to even your best buddy’s puppy dog sad eyes and sadder story of how he didn’t have time to prepare. Sympathize with his lack of preparedness, and even console him with another imported German beer, but don’t help him. Tough love is in order here.

a. Now notice I said console him with an imported German beer, I didn’t have you partaking in my above-mentioned scenario. Don’t drink on draft day until the draft is over. Go ahead a nurse a beer or two, but do not, I repeat do not get anywhere near approaching drunk. Nothing is worse than waking up the next morning with a hangover & Ryan Leaf as you’re starting quarterback. Save your merriment for after you have selected a squad that is going to give you the opportunity to steam roll your league.

b. Draft class players. One of the first that comes to mind is Marvin Harrison. He is a quiet one, hardly ever see an interview with him, shies away from the media spotlight, never on the police blotter, and you always know his teammates respect him, cause he leads by example, on the football field. One other thing, even though he is far from the largest receiver in the league, he never gets hurt. Well he gets hurt, but he saddles it up every week and plays. No excuses just plays. He also gets you quiet 100 catches, 1400 yards and 14 touchdowns every season. Yes Randy Moss is more flashy, and Terrell Owens has more physical gifts, blah blah blah, Give me the quiet Marvin Harrison type guy, and you can pencil him week in and week out % week out, and know what you are getting. Other players who come to mind are Bret Favre, Cris Carter, Marshall Faulk, Priest Holmes, Peyton Manning, Donavon McNabb, etc…. These guys are warriors that put up numbers, play in pain, and don’t get in off field garbage. If you have endured off the field garbage from one of your key personnel, then you are aware of what a pain in the keester it can be.

c. Don’t draft players who are always on the injury report. Fred Taylor comes to mind. Prior to this season, it is very likely that he has cost his owners a lot of lost sleep, and possibly Fantasy titles. The problem with him, he allures you with his 1st round skills, but is rarely available to display them on Sunday. Another key is to stay away from last year’s MCL and ACL casualties. Don’t get sucked into drafting a big name player, who is coming back from a major knee surgery. It is a proposition that will blow your campaign out of the water as quick as it starts. Give them their year off “on-field rehab” then draft them the following year, when they will be a true 100% healthy.

d. Kickers are a dime a dozen, many will score 100+ points. Don’t waste valuable draft choices on a place kicker, when there are still plenty of quality running backs and wide receivers on the board. Unless you are in an extremely large league, save you kicker for the last couple of rounds. Even if you choose wrong, there is always a hot kicker that slips through cracks, which you can obtain off the waiver wire. This theory also holds true for defense/special teams. This is where the real luck of Fantasy football rears its ugly head. Year to year things change dramatically in the NFL. Last years scoring defense may not smell the end zone this season. Track defensive performances like you do players. Some teams year in and year out have solid defenses which will score you 4-7 TDs. If your league includes punt and kickoff returns, then you need to know whom the elite at the return game are. Try to match an excellent return game, with a solid defense for best results. Even then don’t spend a high draft choice on them, as you are still gambling on a far from exact science.

e. Track the draft if you have the skills to pull it off. In other words have all the teams in your league across the top of a piece of paper, and down the left side break down categories (QB, RB, WR, TE, PK, DT). As the draft proceeds pencil in the names in their appropriate slots. This is time consuming and takes an owner who is on top of his game, but it can pay worth while dividends. For example, it is round 5 and you have the 7th pick in the round, then snake back in the 6th round with the 5th pick. By tracking players you can wait on a running back you really want, by utilizing your data to show what your chance of said player making it back to you is. If the teams in between your choices are loaded at RB, then the percentages say it is likely you can hold off on the running back and take a coveted receiver.

f. If your league allows it, try to position yourself in the top 1/3 or bottom 1/3 of your draft. Try not to get stuck in the middle. The theory behind this is the ability to control the draft. If you pick number 11 in a 12 team league, and you utilize picks 11 and 14 on running backs, then other owners are going to jump on the bandwagon, due to the perception that all the backs are being scammed off the board. Next time around, you with your backs in hand you can have your choice of stud receivers. If you can get this in synch, then you can actually control a draft and stay on the leading edge of the binge, versus the trailing edge of the binge. You will also be wearing a big smile, while the other owners try to match you, without success. If you are in a very experienced league this is harder to pull off, as many owners will not fall for it, but butterflies abound, and it is human nature to not want to be left out of a trend.

g. Study between rounds and be ready to make your pick. Select 3 or 4 players you are willing to accept, and when your name is called be ready. If nothing else it will intimidate owners who are taking a lot of time with their selections, possibly making them rush a bit. Be confident, and be ready to make your selection. There will be cases when everyone on your short list gets taken out from under you, but most likely someone will always be available from your short list.

h. Don’t talk during the draft. If an unprepared owner is asking health questions about a certain player, and you know the answer….. Do not blurt it out, trying to impress everyone. Keep it to yourself, then when your turn comes, draft the player he should have taken. Hardcore fantasy football owners do not try to impress with their knowledge; they keep it to themselves and let their team do the impressing on Sundays. Actually your league should have a ban on any owner blurting out helpful information, but if they don’t, do not be the sympathizer that helps out a rival owner.

i. Do not lose focus during the draft. Even the best become flustered when a player they truly covet, gets swiped with the pick prior to theirs. It is a pain, but remain composed and take the next best option. Do not dwell on whom you didn’t get, but make sure you get the next best option available. You are going to lose some battles, but stay focused on the war. This is particularly true in what I call the championship rounds of the draft. Rounds 6-15 or so will separate the men from the boys every time. The first 5 rounds are stocked with solid players who should (with a little luck) put up decent numbers. It is rounds 6-15 where you will win your leagues Super Bowl. These are the rounds where you attack from all angles. Sleepers, second year players, players which came on towards the end of the prior seasons, veterans who may have not had a major surgery, but had nagging injuries all season, and didn’t perform up to normal expectations. Rookies, especially rookie RBs and WRs who have an excellent chance to steal a starting spot. Do not waste these rounds as write off’s, if you can find a couple of double digit touchdown producers in these rounds, then you are on your way to being successful. Euphoria is the general condition that takes place when you grab a running back or wide receiver from these rounds that end up scoring between 10-17 TDs. It is as close to utopia as one gets.

j. Don’t make the mistake of being a homer. In other words do not draft all the players on your favorite team, Especially if you root for the Cincinnati Bengals. Seriously, even if you hate a team, if there is a player on their roster that can help you, then draft him. You may learn to like the player and the team if they help you win.

These are some of my personal methods, utilized over the years to win 6 FFL titles in 13 seasons. I feel that the steps listed above will get you a decent start in turning around your fantasy football fortunes. Once you have a good handle on the above habits, then you can incorporate data such as strength of schedule, strength of division, what division in the opposite conference are players you are considering drafting competing against. Coaching changes, coordinator changes and the change in offensive philosophies that these changes bring. Other things to consider are free agents moving to another team, and how they might be projected to perform, fine tuning your drafting style to make decisions which favor you in relation to the type of scoring your league uses. The list goes on and on, and you can start incorporating tendencies, team head to head match-up analysis. The torture never stops. The thing that can really get you hot under the collar? The fact that sometimes all this data gets thrown out the window and dumb luck takes over……………

If you didn’t know that these steps are necessary to having a successful campaign then you have been behind the 8 ball all along. Competitive, combat fantasy football requires exhausting every tidbit of information you can use to give you an edge. If you can bypass Murphy’s law, and get a solid dose of plain old-fashioned luck along the way, then the sky will be the limit. Be it choosing an under achiever that suddenly “gets it”, or having a relatively injury free year, we all need some dumb luck. Just don’t rely on it exclusively
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Postby Homeless » Thu Dec 12, 2002 7:39 am

Great post Sling.

The part about not drinking is very true, friend of mine got wasted at our draft this past year and ended up making a mess of his picks. Still, he recovered well and is now top seed in the playoff :~(
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Postby kashikis » Thu Dec 12, 2002 9:56 am

Good Article Slingblade this would be very helpful to a newbie or 2nd year guy trying to figure out what he did wrong.
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Postby fntsyrookie » Thu Dec 12, 2002 10:27 am

I read something very similar to this the day before our draft. Man was I glad that I did. There would have been numerous infractions on my part if I hadn't. For instance there was plenty of alcohol involved and I didn't drink any. Also I was considering not taking Favre even though I needed a QB and he was by far the safest and best pick. I put my biases aside for one day, and I'm glad I did!! All very good and relevant to the competitor in each of us.
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