With the NFL lockout still in effect, it's unclear as to whether we will even have a football season.
This would kill any hopes of taking that sought-after fantasy championship or pay back from last year's defeat. It doesn't, however, mean that you should let your strategy fall behind.
For die-hard fantasy players, it's never too early to prepare for your season, and you can never have too many tips.
This is my list of Top 10 tips that you can start practicing now, and some strategies to keep in mind as the year progresses. I hope that this will help someone out there that is looking to take that extra step in improving their team for the 2011-2012 season. Enjoy.
1. Know your league's scoring system
This one should be pretty obvious, but too many times I've seen guys complain about the scoring system of the league.
Know your leagues system before you join, and if you're not completely happy with the scoring table, look for another league that suits your style of drafting and play.
2. Be flexible
One of the biggest tips anyone can give you is to be flexible.
In other words, if you're planning on drafting two running backs in the first two rounds but you're not completely happy with what is available come Round Two, adjust your strategy. Take one of the top quarterbacks on the list or a receiver you thought you would take in Round Three.
You can always grab your second running back in Round Three and acquire great value at wide receiver or quarterback in the second round.
Also, keep your late-round rookies in mind and how that should affect your early-round draft choices. Remember, draft value over simply drafting to fill a position. You'll be surprised at the hidden talent that can be found late.
3. Know your off-season moves
This goes without saying but is crucial in adjusting your rankings.
Before your draft starts, be sure you know where guys will be playing and if they'll still be in a starting role. Also, keep an eye out for improved offensive lines, as this will play a huge role in whether a running back or quarterback will have a good year.
4. Grab a Top Three TE
Another area that can greatly improve your team is the tight end position. It's an area that is often overlooked and can give you that extra edge over the competition.
Grabbing someone like Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, or Vernon Davis will drastically boost your team's performance.
Also keep an eye out for later-round tight ends like Mercedes Lewis or Rob Gronkowski, who are great red-zone targets and will give you a good number of touchdowns throughout the year.
5. Draft a Top Five QB
Regardless of what the majority will tell you about drafting a top-flight quarterback, I think it's crucial to have one in the Top Five.
Not only will they give you great numbers, but they're much more consistent than the ones below them and allow you to be a little weak in other areas. They can also help lift you over the top in close games.
I always try to have a Top Five quarterback before I leave Round Three of the draft.
6. Don't over-value wide receivers
Too often, I see guys rushing to draft receivers like Andre Johnson and Roddy White in the middle of the First Round.
For me, this is way too early.
If one of these guys can be had at position 12 or later then I can see the value, but never before that point. The yards and touchdowns that separate wide receivers is just too small to justify drafting them early.
For instance: Andre Johnson had just more than 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns last year while under-valued players like Marques Colston and Miles Austin can be had much later while still producing more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.
7. Draft one or two rookies in later rounds
One of my biggest and best strategies is drafting one or two rookies late in the draft.
If you're drafting guys that are second- or third-string players late in the draft you might as well take a chance on a rookie who might end up producing for your team late in the season.
Very often rookies come on late in the year and start producing big numbers that can help lift your team, especially during your playoff run.
8. Practice, practice, practice
I recommend that you practice (or do a mock draft) at least ten times before your actual draft. Every draft is different and doing at least ten mock drafts will give you a good feel for what might actually happen during your real draft.
9. Keep your eye on the waiver wire
This is a pretty well-known way of improving your team as the season goes on. Look for weak spots on your team and for replacement players on the waiver wire that can help make it better. Make an assessment of whether or not grabbing the player off waivers is worth the risk.
Will the player continue to put up good numbers, or did he just have a good week against a poor defense? Are you sure that the player you're letting go isn't going to turn things around? These are the questions you should be asking yourself.
Also, be sure you know how many waiver moves are allowed in your league, as some leagues limit the amount of moves that are allowed for each team.
10. Don't hedge your bets on one-year-wonders
Never get too excited when you see a player dominate the league in just one year.
Instead, rely on players that have proven that they can put up great fantasy points year after year.
For example: Anyone who got extremely excited after Willie Parker ran for 1,494 yards and 13 touchdowns during the 2006 season probably drafted him too high in 2007. In reward for doing so they got a 1,316 yard and two touchdown performance out of their number one running back position.
Point being, just because someone has a great year doesn't mean they'll be able to duplicate that performance year after year.
However, drafting guys like Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, or Michael Turner is never a bad idea as they consistently put up great fantasy numbers.
Guys to avoid drafting too high this year would include Arian Foster and Brandon Lloyd.
There you have it. That's my Top 10 tips that will help you own your fantasy league. Go ahead and implement these tips into your draft strategy and see how it works out. If you can put it all together then you should have no problems improving your fantasy experience.
Just remember to practice, practice, practice.
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