Winning Strategies for Fantasy Football - Part 2
Our series on winning strategies for fantasy football continues with five more tools you can keep in the arsenal as you prepare for this year’s drafts. Check out Part 1 here.
Let’s get started by taking a look at a key piece of intel which gets overlooked far too often. As a result, owners who fall to keep this tip in mind find themselves awfully disappointed as the fantasy season unfolds.
Know Your Depth Charts
Depth charts for NFL teams can be quite fluid, especially during training camp and the preseason. While you can generally be certain that the top players in a given offense will be involved throughout the season, the same doesn’t necessarily hold true for backup RBs, WR2s, WR3s, and so on.
In the weeks before the regular season, stay on top of the news emanating from camp. Are any veterans being pushed by youngsters for spots on the chart? How are this year’s draftees faring in camp? Are any diamonds in the rough emerging?
Those are just a few of the scenarios to keep an eye out for. In addition, pay attention to what the coaches and team executives have to say. Sometimes, they’ll come right out and say that ‘Player X’ needs to be more involved this season, or that ‘Player Y’ needs to step it up.
Make yourself a mental note when these situations come up. As for where to find such nuggets of information, the Rotoworld news feedhas you covered. For even deeper insight, follow the team beat writers on social media. You can often find additional intel which may get lost in the national news shuffle.
Be Aware of Team Market Share
Understanding the tendencies of teams and coaches is another key part of fantasy football success. While this can be a little more difficult when teams have a revolving door at the coaching position, the franchises which have some stability on the staff tend to be creatures of habit.
For example, we can say with certainty that the Dallas Cowboys love feeding the rock to Ezekiel Elliott, that Saquon Barkley will see all the carries that he can handle for the New York Giants, and that the Pittsburgh Steelers general approach on offense won’t change all that much in the absence of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
Those are the simple examples, but this line of thinking applies to situations which may not seem as clear cut. For example, forecasting RBs for the New England Patriots can be rather maddening. However, by knowing that they like the committee approach, our research actually gets a little easier. There will be an early-down back, likely Sony Michel, while James White will get the passing down work. The confusion comes in the goal line work, but that will work itself out as the season moves along.
As for the other teams in the league, take a gander at how they have historically distributed targets and touches. Does a team have a near equal market share distributed among their WR1 and WR2? Which teams like the two-headed monster approach at RB? Understanding these nuances can help make a world of difference in your drafting.
A PSA on Schedules and Opposing Defenses
Do yourself a favor during the offseason: when the NFL schedule gets released, bookmark the site of your choice in favorites and refer back to it often. As your research progresses and you begin to zero in on specific players, take a good long look at what their team’s schedule looks like for the coming year.
For example, let’s say you have zeroed in on two running backs as potentially being your top pick. Both bring similar attributes to the table, and there’s nothing to suggest they will be anything but heavily involved in their offenses.
For a tiebreaker, examine their schedules and get a feel for how the year may play out. Do both backs have an equal amount of tough matchups? Does one of the backs seem like he’ll be facing more weaker teams than the other? How is the run defense for the teams on both backs schedule?
We can use this little tip for all of the other positions as well. Is there a QB who will be facing a number of teams with sieve-like pass defenses? Is there a defense which will be facing a number of teams which are prone to turnovers? Add this one to your research routine and you will be pleasantly pleased with the results.
Pay Attention to Teams on the Rise or Decline
Entering each season, there will be the proverbial ‘it’ teams which capture the imagination of NFL pundits and fans alike. At this early juncture, we can christen the Cleveland Browns as being that team. The team closed out last year playing really well, and they may have won the offseason with their trade for Odell Beckham Jr.
We can pencil the Browns in as a team on the rise, but who else fits into that category? Which clubs are headed in the opposite direction? Beyond relying on the pundits and group think, we can also figure this out ourselves with a little research.
For example, the New York Giants were a big disappointment in the first half of last year. The team turned it around in the second half and actually played quite well. Is that a sign that new head coach Pat Shurmur is finally getting his system installed where he wants it to be? It certainly could be.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Miami Dolphins have done all but come right out and say that they intend to tank and rebuild. As a result, we wouldn’t be knocking ourselves out to reach on Dolphins players in this year’s draft. The fortunes of NFL teams can change from one season to the next quite easily. Pay attention to the signs and you’ll have a good sense of which direction they may be heading for the coming year.
Avoid Analysis by Paralysis
For many fantasy football aficionados, the research part of the equation is a big part of the fun. Some folks do research akin to an NFL scouting department. Others prefer to keep it simple, while other lay somewhere in the middle.
As for which approach is the best, that really depends on the owner in question. Our advice is this: while research is critical to success, there is also such a thing as going overboard. In fact, it can be quite easy to overload yourself with information if you’re not careful.
For some owners, this is no issue as they prefer to operate this way. For others, it can lead to an affliction known as analysis by paralysis. Quite simply, too much analysis can lead to either poor decision making or an inability to pull the trigger due to all the tidbits of info dancing around in your head.
Know what’s important to you when it comes to drafting, and also understand the strategies which stand the test of time. For example, a great way to break down position players is to group them into tiers. For wide receivers, you could have a clear cut first tiers, second tier, third tier, and so on.
When players in that group star going off the board, you’ll know that you’re really not losing all that much as long as you snag one of them. That certainly beats being the guy who takes forever to make a decision and slows down the process for everyone else, doesn’t it?
Here’s What You Need to Remember
Know Your Depth Charts. Understanding the pecking order on NFL teams can help to avoid unwelcome surprises as the season moves along.
Be Aware of Team Market Share. Know where the targets and touches will be going in an offense.
A PSA on Schedules and Opposing Defenses. Take a look at who your targeted players will be facing this season and the caliber of defenses on the docket.
Pay Attention to Teams on the Rise or Decline. How they closed out last year, offseason moves, and the general vibe surrounding a team are great indicators.
Avoid Analysis by Paralysis. Research is critical to success, but don’t overdose on information to the point that it clouds your judgement.