Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tell me what's your Fan-ta-ta-sy?!

Ugh, I hate that I picked that title - song's gonna be in my head all day...

Anyway, happy September, everyone! It feels like fall already here in Pittsburgh - the air at a crisp 42 with talks of Halloween, dem Stillers, and... Fantasy Football! I've never participated in the excitement of FF outside of a few family pick'ems (which I won in 2007, thank you kindly) but this year I'm really gonna go for it.

I've signed up for one league but I'm gonna see if I can get in on a couple more while I'm feeling HOT! First things first though - learn what the hell fantasy football is.

I hope you learn a thing or too, as well. My goal for this blog is to provide you (and me) the business savvy, football knowledge, and competitive strategy to impress even the beefiest of football meat-heads this winter. Hoo-raa!!

Ok, let's start with the basics. FF is a way of using actual team and individual performances in a virtual environment where you control the team setup and starting lines. So ideally, having all the best players starting every game would rack in some serious points. But like real life, it's not that easy - there's first a draft where you have to pick your team in rotation and allow other competitors their choices as well. Also, huge letdowns like injuries can really throw off your strategy. Ooohh, starting to get interestingggg ;-)

FUN FACT: Did you know that fantasy football was originally created by an associate of the Oakland Raiders in 1962 and it was called: GOPPPL which stands for Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Procrastinators League. Haha, I like it, I think I'll call my team that. DON'T STEAL IT!!

Let's address some drafting FAQ's shall we?

1. How do you get placed for your draft position?
Well, different strokes for different folks. Usually you'd have a "draw straws" kind of method or random order. But it can vary by professional clubs or groups of friends. Also tricky players can trade their draft positions for leverage later in the season.

2. What draft positions are the best?
You'd think that 1st pick is the holy grail of fantasy football drafts, and it basically is, but there are exceptions. For example, if you're in a group of 12 and you don't get first nab, you're better off at the end. Here's why - picks go in what I will call "slithery snake" rotation. First through 12th, then back again, so 12th gets 2 picks in a row. And in the first round, these will still be great players and basically equal is skill.

Next topic - picking your boys.

Now this is where the serious research comes in (much more serious than the biomedical research I should be doing now...), time to analyze the available resources. Now, I will say that the amount of time and energy going into these resources is beyond laughable, and there's a ridiculous number of websites dedicated to this. So here are my favorites for me, a first timer:

1. Fantasy Football Calculator - These guys are so so in love with this. They make mock drafts for every possible scenario you could find yourself in. 3rd pick in a 12 person league, 50th position in a 430 person league, etc. You can print some of these out to see what the "professionals" did in your situation.

2. Who doesn't like cheatsheets? I love em! Try this site of cheatsheets of all the players rankings and projected FF points.

3. I hate FOX, but they have a pretty sweet draft guide going on right now. Check it out.

You must keep in mind 3 things regarding the offseason when picking your team: What offseason trades have happened to benefit the team? Did your team have a good NFL draft? Who is or was injured on your fantasy football team?

See, I told you this was serious.

This all depends on the type of game you're in too. There are Salary Cap leagues where you act as an owner and can only spend an allotted amount of money on your team (or embezzle it and sell all your good players like the Pirates).

Next up - scoring and impressing your friends:
Here's a sample scoring guide I found online

Here's where the strategy comes in. Each week you pick your starting line and rack in the points throughout the week. Trades are allowed, and encouraged. Pay attention to the players and team news and if you feel like it, you can watch the actual games. I think they show them on Sundays?

Basically, there's a sick amount of information to make you a proficient "Pigskin Procrastinator", but hopefully, what I've provided here helps.

Final Tips:
1. Bring an outdated list of suggested draft picks to lend to the wandering pair of eyes sitting next to you. Haha, evil.

2. Never draft a backup QB that has the same bye week as your starter, it defeats the purpose of drafting him and pegs you as a total amateur.

3. It's much more important to get your third RB before a kicker. Draft your best picks first, not in the typical order (QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, K, D, QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, K).

4. Trade wisely, and often. Even at the draft consider trading your next 2 picks for a higher pick.

5. Use your last picks to take chances on rookies or sleepers.

You all owe me for being so informative.

I'll keep you posted throughout the season on how my team's looking.

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