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

Adrian PetersonApr 23 05:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson may not be in the Dallas Cowboys' plans after all, according Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports. Robinson said the Cowboys have not spoken to the Vikings regarding Peterson.

Demaryius ThomasApr 23 03:32p

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas has decided not to participate in offseason workouts because he does not want to suffer an injury, but general manager John Elway does not [ More ]

Will HillApr 23 03:12p

Baltimore Ravens restricted free-agent FS Will Hill signed his tender offer Thursday, April 23, according to sources. Hill received a one-year deal worth $1.54 million.

Andre EllingtonApr 23 03:02p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington's (foot) injured foot is about 95 percent healed, and Ellington has not suffered any setbacks, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

M. Jones-DrewApr 23 02:22p

Free-agent RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Raiders) will sign a one-day deal to retire as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars next Tuesday, April 28. He played nine seasons and rushed [ More ]

Victor CruzApr 23 02:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) said he believes that he will be ready to play in the season opener next season and play like he did before he suffered the injury.

Justin TuckerApr 23 01:52p

Baltimore Ravens restricted free-agent PK Justin Tucker has signed his one-year tender offer. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Bear PascoeApr 23 12:52p

Free-agent TE Bear Pascoe (Falcons) signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears Thursday, April 23. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Sam BradfordApr 23 01:53a

The Philadelphia Eagles and QB Sam Bradford have yet to make significant progress on a contract extension sparking speculation the quarterback might be traded again, although head coach Chip [ More ]

Brandin CooksApr 22 11:43p

New Orleans Saints WR Brandin Cooks (knee) spent time training together with QB Drew Brees during the offseason in San Diego. 'Man, I love everything about him, his makeup, [ More ]

Greg JenningsApr 22 06:13p

Free-agent WR Greg Jennings (Vikings) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, April 22.

Philip RiversApr 22 05:33p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers may be losing faith in the organization, according to NFL Network analyst and former Chargers' RB LaDainian Tomlinson. 'The parts around him keep [ More ]

Jacques McClendonApr 22 04:13p

Free-agent OG Jacques McClendon (Jaguars) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, April 22.

Adrian PetersonApr 22 02:23p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is not expected to be traded by the Vikings unless the team is overwhelmed by an offer from another team, according to a source. [ More ]

Antonio BrownApr 22 02:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown said he is not participating in voluntary workouts because he is spending time with his newborn child. Brown said he will report to offseason [ More ]

Marvin LewisApr 22 11:33a

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis signed a one-year extension Wednesday, April 22. He's under contract through the 2016 season.

S. RichardsonApr 21 05:23p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Shaquille Richardson (undisclosed) was released Tuesday, April 21, with a failure to disclose physical condition designation.

Adrian PetersonApr 21 01:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains a candidate to be traded, and a source close to the situation believes that if he isn't traded before or during the 2015 [ More ]

Dennis PittaApr 20 06:52p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) is participating in the team's voluntary conditioning program that started Monday, April 20. Pitta's career remains in doubt after fracturing his right hip [ More ]

Prince AmukamaraApr 20 05:22p

New York Giants CB Prince Amukamara (biceps) said he's about 90% recovered from a torn biceps he suffered last season.

Adrian WilsonApr 20 05:02p

Updating a previous item, free-agent SS Adrian Wilson (Bears) signed a contract to officially retire with the Arizona Cardinals.

Tim TebowApr 20 03:52p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) officially signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Adrian PetersonApr 20 01:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is not in attendance for the start of the team's offseason workout program Monday, April 20, according to league sources. However, Peterson hasn't attended [ More ]

Antonio BrownApr 20 11:02a

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown is seeking a new contract and could hold out from minicamps and training camp, according to sources.

Adrian WilsonApr 20 07:22a

Free-agent SS Adrian Wilson (Bears) is expected to retire Monday, April 20, and join the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff. The Cardinals, the team Wilson played for from 2001-2012, have announced a press conference.

Tim TebowApr 19 07:42p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) is expected to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20.

Stefen WisniewskiApr 18 01:02p

Free-agent C Stefen Wisniewski (Raiders) signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday, April 18. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Ryan JensenApr 17 05:02p

Baltimore Ravens exclusive rights free-agent TE Phillip Supernaw, SS Brynden Trawick, CB Rashaan Melvin and OT Ryan Jensen re-signed with the team Friday, April 17. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonApr 17 12:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said earlier this week that he's not sure if he'll participate in the team's offseason program. Minnesota is set to start their offseason workouts [ More ]

Adrian PetersonApr 16 03:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson will not receive any further suspension after he is reinstated from the commissioner's exempt list, according to a source.

Adrian PetersonApr 16 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been informed that he will be reinstated from the commissioner exempt list starting Friday, April 17.

Sammy WatkinsApr 15 11:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (hip) is able to work out in some capacity during the team's offseason program, although head coach Rex Ryan indicated Wednesday, April 15, that [ More ]

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