Fantasy football is all about using the most boring, consistent strategy possible. No matter how smart you think you are… you probably are not smarter than basic statistics. If you win one week 120-70, then lose the next week 60-70… you are 1-1. If you put up the same 180 points as two 90 point weeks in a row – you are 2-0 and well on your way to a solid fantasy year.
It is, of course, tempting to swing for the fences on every draft pick, going for that electric rising star that is finally going to put it all together this year. Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with this plan. First, those electric, highlight real type guys are often wildly inconsistent. Deep ball threat wide receivers may only erupt in relatively few games each year, with nothing more than mediocre performances the rest of the time. Small, fast RB’s may only break off that big run a few times a season, getting pummeled in the trenches most of the time. To top that off, there is a real chance that many of those rising star picks will not pan out, leaving you with big fat zeroes on the point tally week after week.
Instead of chasing down the latest Brad Evans’ can’t miss man crush, a few far better, simpler strategies are likely to yield good results on a consistent basis.
- Spend high draft picks on consistent, healthy veterans in the prime of their careers. Quick quiz…. which player do you think is more likely to produce this year… Player A – A fourth year WR who has consistently been in the top 10-15 scorers at his position every year, with no major injuries, and consistent improvement each year… or Player B – A rookie RB with a history of attitude problems that some pencil-necked fantasy guru has tapped as the greatest thing to hit the league since Barry Sanders. In these terms, its fairly obvious that Player A is likely the safe choice. Yet, year after year I see players in my leagues getting carried away, reaching for the Player B types, when Player A is still on the board. I have even been guilty of this myself, for instance, falling for the hype surrounding Ryan Mathews as a rookie, taking him late in the first round…. completely wasting my most valuable pick in the draft (though still overcoming that blunder to win the title in that league by following the other advice on this website).
- Save your inspirations for late in the draft and the free agent pool. High draft picks are simply too valuable to take a chance. Its much more reasonable to take a few risks on lower draft picks and on free agent pickups. In most competitive leagues, a core group of solid, dependable players will keep you in the top half of the standings. Adding one or two breakout players in free agency or late in the draft will be enough to push your team to the top.
- In most years, you will land that breakout player in the most unexpected way. Back several years ago, I picked up Stephen Davis in the last rounds of the draft following an injury. He ended up temporarily regaining his starting job and giving me a handful of quality starts as one of my last picks in the draft. In 2006, Yahoo!’s erroneous classification of Marques Colston as a TE created a windfall. In 2010, Michael Vick was sitting in free agency when Kevin Kolb went down early in the season. In 2012, Cam Newton fell from the sky. A bit of patience and attentiveness can pay far bigger dividends than taking a flyer in the first round.