2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Draft Day Preparation

2012-05-31 20:11:03
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

There isn't a better time of year than this - the start of fantasy football season. Fantasy drafts are fast approaching, so it is time to get ready.

When preparing for your draft, there are countless strategies to use. You can draft the best available, take running backs with your first two picks, load up on receivers early, draft a quarterback with your first pick (which isn't quite that strange these days) or use some other gimmick you came up with for the draft. Whatever you do, go with the plan and stick with it.

But there are some general rules to stick by no matter your strategy. So before you start preparing for your draft, here are some basic things you should keep in mind no matter what strategy you employ. Consider it your checklist for the big day:

Be careful with rookies and sleepers. Everyone loves to do it, but the owner that does it best usually wins the league. Your team needs a few wild cards but loading your roster with rookies and sleepers is a good way to ruin your draft. We aren't saying to stay completely away from rookies or sleepers, but be smart about it. More times than not, the owner that takes the occasional sleeper with proven players that have good track records finishes near the top of the standings.

Remember, most of the time, rookies and sleepers don't pan out. Don't get me wrong, you need to take some chances to win. There are guys like Victor Cruz out there that have a huge breakout season and lead fantasy teams to the playoffs. But for every Victor Cruz, there are five guys that end up getting released from rosters. Just be somewhat conservative when it comes to rookies and sleepers. Take a couple, but don't go overboard. It always seems the guy that fills his roster with a bunch of rookies and sleepers finishes near the bottom of the standings.

Bye weeks. Please don't ignore bye weeks. There are many owners that ignore bye weeks come draft day. This can be a costly mistake that is easily avoidable. Make sure you are tracking the bye weeks of the players you are drafting. You don't want to stack your team with receivers that all have the same bye week. This will only cause you headaches down the road. Keep track of your byes! And we aren't saying ignore players that have the same byes as others on your roster, but use some discretion in this area.

Don't be a homer. Being a homer is a good way to ruin your fantasy football team. It isn't a bad thing to take a player or two from your favorite team, but getting seven or eight Browns will lead to disaster. And when taking a player from your favorite team, make sure you aren't reaching. Print out an average draft report to see where players are falling and draft accordingly. So in closing, you can take a player or two from your favorite team, but make sure they are picked in the right spot. Don't reach!

Injury status. Keep an eye on the injured players from around the league. You see it every season. Some guy in your draft takes a player that is out for the year. That doesn't mean you have to be the one to do it. With all the fantasy information now available at your finger tips, keeping up with all the latest injuries is easier than ever. This doesn't mean you have to scour our notes every day (you really should, though - wink, wink), but check in at least once a week until the season starts to make sure you know who is hurt or coming back. It is never a good idea to waste a draft pick, especially on a player everyone else in your draft knows is hurt. Don't be "that" guy.

Know your rules. You would be surprised. A lot of owners don't have a great feel for their scoring system. Every league is setup differently, so knowing all the ins and outs of your rules is very important towards having a successful draft and season. Use our "Top Players" report to get an idea of what positions scored well in your league last season. This is a great tool to figure out what your scoring favors. The "Top Players" report is on your league home page. Again, get a feel for what scores well in your league and set your rankings accordingly. Every league is different.

Please draft a kicker late. Don't overvalue kickers. It is never a good idea to reach for a kicker too soon during your draft. Sure, guys like David Akers or Rob Bironas are nice to have. But there will always be players like Nick Novak or Mike Nugent that produce big seasons despite going undrafted in many leagues. So instead of wasting a middle-round pick on a kicker, get better depth at key positions. The top kickers and average kickers have little point deferential between them from week to week. You can always find a useful kicker at the end of the draft or even on the waiver wire.

Running backs remain a premium. Getting an elite running back remains a difference maker for fantasy teams (i.e. LeSean McCoy). There just aren't that many around these days with more and more teams going with more of a two-back rotation. If you get a choice at getting a top guy, you have to go for it. Passing on the elite running backs for a deeper position (quarterback and receiver) is a mistake for fantasy teams. More teams are pass first and many are using a two-headed approach at running back, which is cutting down the huge numbers for some backs. So keep that in mind when ranking your backs. Getting two solid backs remains a key to winning your league, but don't ignore the quarterback and receiver spots earlier in your draft like you might have a few seasons ago. Just make sure you act quickly on the top guys at running back because they won't last long. Fantasy football remains a game that can be won or lost at the running back spot.

Set your rankings. Some owners dread this and just use a ranking sheet from a magazine or website. But ranking your players for your league draft is the best way to prepare for draft day. It is a chance to put your stamp on your team. You are the GM of your team and your roster should reflect this. Even though we put a lot of time and effort into our rankings for this Draft Guide, don't use the rankings as the absolute truth. And this won't hurt my feelings. Use my rankings or any rankings you get as a guide to come up with your own rankings. Remember (as mentioned), every league has different rules so tailor your rankings to your league. The rankings you get from our site or any other publication aren't necessarily setup for your league.

Tracking your draft. This is where having a friend on hand to give a helping hand can come in handy. It can be a bit daunting, but tracking the entire draft as it goes can be a big help for fantasy teams. A lot of drafts are done online, which will track the draft for you, but if that isn't the case, making a chart of your draft as it happens is a good move. This way you have an idea of the positions taken around you. If you need a running back, but see that all the top guys are taken, you can wait to take a back a round or two later and maybe get a top-notch receiver instead. If you know what is going on around you, it can help make your next decision a little easier. Keep a close eye on everything going around you to give you a leg up on the competition.

Watch the runs. It happens every year. A run takes place at some point in your draft. Five tight ends will go in a round. But don't panic when a run on tight ends or kickers happen. Most instances, you are better off waiting and taking a player with more value rather than going with a mediocre player at a position that seems to be getting low. The tight end or kicker position is just as deep as some of the other positions. You can still get a quality tight end later in your draft even though the top five are off the board. Don't overvalue positions because of runs. Following runs can lead to poor drafts. Sometimes you just have to stick to your guns. Runs also are a good reason to tier your rankings. If your tier at a position is getting low, that might be the time to follow the run. If not, go with value at another position.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Jeff Paur at jeff@rtsports.com

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Vernon DavisOct 1 04:03p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (back) doubts he will participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1, as he continues to deal with back spasms.

Austin DavisOct 1 03:53p

St. Louis Rams QB Austin Davis has been named the team's starting quarterback moving forward.

Brandon BoykinOct 1 03:43p

Philadelphia Eagles CB Brandon Boykin (hamstring) and LB Mychal Kendricks (calf) both did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. TE Trey Burton (achilles), CB Nolan Carroll (ankle), TE [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 1 03:33p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (rest) and DT Arthur Jones (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. LB Jerrell Freeman (hamstring) was limited during practice, while OG [ More ]

Chad GreenwayOct 1 03:23p

Minnesota Vikings LB Chad Greenway (hand, rib) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1, and has been ruled out for the team's Week 5 game. FB Jerome Felton [ More ]

Teddy BridgewaterOct 1 02:43p

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater (ankle) could be a game-time decision in Week 5 against the Green Bay Packers Thursday, Oct. 2. Head coach Mike Zimmer said the team [ More ]

Jake LockerOct 1 02:43p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker (wrist) was throwing during the media-access portion of practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Steve WeatherfordOct 1 02:43p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot, toe), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) all were limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Jarrett BoykinOct 1 02:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jarrett Boykin (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1, and has been ruled out for the team's Week 5 game. LB Josh Boyd [ More ]

Luke WillsonOct 1 02:13p

Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson could have a role in the passing game against the Washington Redskins in Week 5 since he will be the starting tight end, and [ More ]

Knowshon MorenoOct 1 01:53p

Updating a previous report, Miami Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow) said he is about four weeks away from returning.

Knowshon MorenoOct 1 01:23p

Miami Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow) was not participating during the media-access portion of practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. Moreno originally told teammates he was targeting Week 6 for a [ More ]

Ben TateOct 1 01:03p

Cleveland Browns RB Ben Tate (knee) will be limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Marqise LeeOct 1 12:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring) has been ruled out for Week 5.

Desmond BishopOct 1 12:13p

The Arizona Cardinals re-signed LB Desmond Bishop Monday, Oct. 1. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Josh McCownOct 1 12:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (thumb) doesn't have surgery planned for his injured thumb. He's improving, but he's unlikely to start in Week 5 against the New Orleans Saints.

Bishop SankeyOct 1 11:53a

Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey is likely to see more work in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns than he has in his first four games, head coach Ken [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 1 10:23a

Updating an earlier report, Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) is out for Week 5, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

Jonathan StewartOct 1 10:23a

Carolina Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (knee) has a chance to play in Week 5, as head coach Ron Rivera said he's hopeful Stewart can return this week.

Ronnie BrownOct 1 09:43a

The Houston Texans signed CB Jumal Rolle off the Green Bay Packers' practice squad and released RB Ronnie Brown.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 1 09:33a

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) has his right foot and ankle in a cast Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Donald BrownOct 1 09:23a

The San Diego Chargers ran just 20 times for 42 yards in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars for a measly 2.1 yards per carry. After four games this [ More ]

Teddy BridgewaterOct 1 09:18a

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater (ankle) is feeling 'much better' Tuesday, Sept. 30, and head coach Mike Zimmer remains hopeful that Bridgewater can play in Week 5 against the [ More ]

Eric WinstonOct 1 07:13a

The Atlanta Falcons worked out free-agent FS M.D. Jennings, SS Chris D. Clemons and OL Eric Winston Tuesday, Sept. 30. ESPN analyst Ed Werder confirmed the workout of Winston, [ More ]

Brandon BrownerOct 1 06:43a

The New England Patriots reinstated CB Brandon Browner and WR Brian Tyms from the suspended list Tuesday, Sept. 30. They each have a roster exemption that expires Monday, Oct. 6.

Marqise LeeSep 30 11:13p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring) is going through the team's return-to-play protocol and could return to practice this week.

Toby GerhartSep 30 11:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Denard Robinson will continue to be involved in a rotation at running back with RB Toby Gerhart, and head coach Gus Bradley said the team strongly [ More ]

Navorro BowmanSep 30 09:13p

San Francisco 49ers LB Michael Wilhoite has started for LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) in all four games this season, and Bowman said he has been impressed by his replacement. [ More ]

Larry DonnellSep 30 09:03p

New York Giants TE Larry Donnell is on pace to finish the year with 100 catches, 944 yards and 16 touchdowns. The single-season record for touchdowns by a tight end is currently 17.

Bruce CarterSep 30 06:53p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter's (quadriceps) will reportedly need 10-14 days for his strained right quadriceps to heal, assuring he will miss Week 5 against the Houston Texans.

Brandon HepburnSep 30 06:43p

The Philadelphia Eagles released LB Brandon Hepburn and OT Tyler Hoover Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Gabe MillerSep 30 06:33p

The Washington Redskins re-signed LB Gabe Miller and DT Robert Thomas to their practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 30.

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