NFL Fantasy Football: 10 tips to dominate in the virtual grid this season
Want to know who you should be keeping an eye on this season? Here are 10 tips that can increase the chances of you winning your league in the virtual grid.
- Know your league
It is crucial to know the characteristics of the league in which you play, since many things depend on it. The vast majority play in a standard league, which assigns a point by 25 yards per pass or 10 per reception or by land, four by passing scoring and six by receptions or scoring carries, and a roster includes one QB, two RB, two WR, a FLEX, a TE, a defense and a kicker. Despite being the most popular, there are many leagues that have different formats: points for reception, only touchdowns, touchdowns bonus depending on the yardage, special team scores, individual defensive players, etc. To illustrate the importance of the scoring system. LeGarrette Blount, in the standard format, was the seventh best runner last year, with 225.9 points; Mark Ingram, on the other hand, had almost 30 points less to close the top 10. However, in leagues that give one point per reception, the low participation of Blount in the air play of the Pats played against him, since Ingram and his 46 receptions exceeded him in this type of league, 242.2 to 234.9. Conclusion: there are many variations and you have to know which players work best in each format to maximize the chances of winning.
- Be aware of the rankings of the website where you play
Any honest American Fantasy Football guide will tell you the ranking of the site where the league is created greatly affects the order of selection. When you know this, the best thing is that you can exploit it to get the players you want and not settle for what nobody else wanted. As an example, we will use Eddie Lacy, Seahawks runner. Among the uncertainty generated by their ‘timeshare’ in the backfield with Thomas Rawls and perhaps CJ Prosise, their ranking prior to the season was very variable. The official website of the league has it in position 61 (sixth round), while other popular sites for Fantasy have it in 78 (seventh) and another in 95 (ninth). If you want Lacy (or any other player), you know if you can wait a round more or if you have to get ahead of the competition a bit.
- The Fantasy is a weekly game
The rankings used prior to choosing the players use projections of points for the entire season. It is the only way to be able to compare players, but they hide a reality of Fantasy: it is a weekly game, and you have to go game by game. The objective is to win the match that week. What happened the previous week or what will happen next does not matter. You can have the second-best score in the league, but if you have to play against the best, you lose. There is no point in winning by 50 points if the next game you lose. For the standard leagues, one goal to keep in mind is 100 points per game. They will hardly ever beat you if you get to that mark. To achieve it, first of all, you have to modify the roster week by week. You have to consider injuries, weeks of rest and the opponent that each player faces. The same nine elements will not be the best each and every one of the weeks. Second – and perhaps more important – is to look for consistent players.
For example, players like Brandin Cooks that in 2016 started with 27.4 points, followed by games of 6.8 and 1.9 and 3.8, and when it seems that you cannot trust him, he exceeds 10 points in three of the next four. You regain confidence and are then repaid by him not exceeding eight points three weeks in a row. A golden rule: touchdowns are the cherry, but yards are the cake. If a runner or receiver averages about 100 yards per game, you will have 10 almost guaranteed points, reach the diagonals or not and you will be routed to the goal of 100, contrary to a player dependent on touchdowns, which can give you three points only if it arrives in the score zone. And another good rule: if you have doubt, choose the player with the best offensive team. Can you win with players from the Browns and the Jaguars? Yes, but your chances increase if you have more players from the Packers, Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and other teams that will fight for the playoffs.
There are three players who perform well above the rest: Rodgers, Brady and Brees. The next 12 or 15 quarterbacks are practically interchangeable. If you cannot choose one of the first three, it is advisable to wait, to have greater depth in receivers and runners, and to choose a type like Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, who can surpass expectations, or Matthew Stafford.
The case is similar to quarterbacks. There is a very marked first level, which is Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson. Ezekiel Elliott would also enter here, but his suspension lowers it a bit from the projections. From there, everyone has pros and cons. Never wish evil to anyone, but the reality is that every season there are incumbents who are injured, and it is easier to identify who will be the replacement than if you injure a star receiver, his receptions can be divided between several players. That is why the recommendation is to choose piece-rate runners from the middle of the draft onwards, looking for players who can take the site of a headline (for example, Jamaal Williams if Ty Montgomery falls in Green Bay) or players who will start at the beginning and maybe later they will no longer serve you, like Darren McFadden from Dallas.
Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, A.J. Green, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson make up the level of superstars, but players like Doug Baldwin, Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, Amari Cooper, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and Keenan Allen are not far away. In other words, there are more quality options than in the corridors, so choose two good receivers at the start and secure the position, since it is more difficult to find players in free agency. Of course, every year there is someone like Michael Thomas, but there are fewer such cases.
- Tight end
Of the positions, the tight end is the one that usually adds fewer points. There are two players who are above the rest, but it is almost a fact that they will not end the season healthy: Rob Gronkoswki (he has lost at least one match for the last five years) and Jordan Reed (in four years, his maximum has been 14 matches). From the rest, there is no major difference, so there is an interesting alternative: to attack the bad defenses against the tight end. An interesting game plan, if you do not choose one of the two best, would be to wait for a tight end and opt for someone with potential, like Hunter Henry and Zack Ertz or Jack Doyl. You use them the first few weeks to outline the bad defenses against the position, after which you start to rotate through free agency.
Choose the kicker last. They generate few points, so the difference is little each week and there are always options in free agency. A simple formula: team that fights playoff has a good kicker for Fantasy. The teams that are thinking about the postseason scored, on average, 52 points more than those that did not enter the playoffs. The teams that will surely be in the playoffs are the Packers, Patriots, Steelers, Cowboys, Falcons and Seahawks. Your kickers will help you.
It’s also a good idea rotating the defenses. Choose a runner or receiver who can surprise to choose a defense. To rotate defenses, a good option is to take one that plays against one of the worst teams in the league. In 2017, the Jets, Jaguars, Browns, Bears and 49ers point to be at the bottom of the standings, so their divisional rivals work to be possible good defenses. To choose in the Draft, with sights only in week 1, Jets travels to Buffalo, Cleveland plays with Pittsburgh, Atlanta with Chicago, Carolina with San Francisco and Houston with Jacksonville (depending on how the national team goes, you might think to choose Houston in round 10. It’s a good combo to have a bad division and players like Watt and Clowney). In addition, the Rams can be an option if you play Scott Tolzien and not Andrew Luck. And, remember, it’s a weekly game. Movements can be made and changed every week, attacking the most favorable duels.
- Choose players that you enjoy having on your team
The last, but perhaps the most important point. Fantasy, at the end of the day, is a game and you will enjoy it more if you have a squad with players that you like to support. This does not mean you have a roster with nine elements of your favorite team, which can work if you go to Green Bay or Pittsburgh, but complicated if you go to San Francisco. Would a Ravens fan celebrate a touchdown against Antonio Brown? Would someone from the Giants celebrate a Dak entry? I doubt it. Therefore, choose players whose performances you can enjoy in Fantasy Football.