August is here, and so is the return of fantasy football drafts.
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1. Pay Attention to Your League Format: This one seems simple, but every year there are people in your league who draft the complete opposite to the way the league is set up. Guys like Wes Welker and Darren Sproles are more valuable in a PPR league than a standard scoring league. Pay attention to your league's rules and don't be the guy or girl with 4 QBs on your roster.
2. Depth at Each Position: This year the QB position is at its deepest, maybe in the history of the game. 10 QBs went for at least 4,000 yds and 20 TDs last year. On the other hand, the RB position is in a state of change, with many of the best backs dealing with injury concerns or holdout issues.
3. Temptation of the Tight Ends: Last year Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham burst on the scene with record breaking seasons. I've seen mock drafts where these two have been taken as early as the 2nd round. Don't do it. If you don't get one of these top 2, there are at least 10 other TEs out there that will get you a solid amount of points throughout the season.
4. Dangerous Holdouts: Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, and Maurice Jones-Drew are all involved in contract disputes with their teams. I don't care how much they say they have been working out, if you're not practicing with your team everyday in July and August -- it's going to cost you. Remember how awful Chris Johnson was most of 2011 after his contract dispute with the Titans?
5. Sleepers Are Sleepers For a Reason: Every year in every draft there is someone in your league that reaches high for a guy who has potential but may not even play for their current squad. Get your starters and a couple key backups before you start worrying about sleepers.
6. Backup Plans: For the first 10 rounds, you need to have a backup plan for each pick. At some point, your buddy will jack a player that you really wanted, so just deal with it. Also, don't let them know that you wanted that guy, because they might try to rake you over the coals with a trade later in the season.
7. Wait on Defense: Offense wins games, defense wins championships. In fantasy football -- that couldn't be further from the truth. A strategy that I began using in some leagues a few years ago was picking defenses week to week depending on the matchup. In most leagues, there will be at least 10-12 defenses on the waiver wire you might be able to choose from, so pick the D that has the strongest matchup and go from there.
8. Practice Makes Perfect: Mock drafts are so underrated to the success of your team throughout the year. Every fantasy player is a pretend General Manger. Do you think a real GM would just show up in late April and start picking players all wily-nily without doing any research? Believe me when I say that getting in a few mock drafts before the real thing will make you much more comfortable on draft day.
9. Don't Panic Over the Preseason: Last year rookie QB Cam Newton was hideous in the preseason, completing just 40% of his passes. But in the regular season, he went on to have one of the greatest rookie quarterback seasons of all-time. Coaches tend to try a variety of things in the preseason that they would never do once the calendar hits September, so don't hit the panic button if a top 3 round guy struggles. The preseason doesn't matter for them.
10. Kickers Are Always Last: Please, for the love of all things holy, don't be the person that drafts a kicker anywhere but last. If you do, you deserve all the ridicule and mocking you'll get from your fellow players. Unless your getting an 8 FG performance a la Rob Bironas in 2007, trust me -- kickers don't matter much.
Remember, you can never win your fantasy league in August, but you sure can lose it. Don't take a whole lot of risks early and you'll be able to contend in December.