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Scott Pianowski

Tip Drill: Roto's Little Instruction Booklet

Enjoy these snippets I've collected from 15 years of playing this intoxicating game, easy and breezy tips to consider while you're waiting for the light to turn green.

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Floor early, upside late.

You want the skilled owners to respect you. You want the weak owners to like you.

Be nice to the commish, compliment his picks, buy him drinks, etc. But don't ask if he needs any help.

It's important to be price and market conscious for the first 50-65 percent of the evening, considering supply and demand, the construction of other teams, etc. But at some point in the endgame it shifts to "See a guy you want, take him."

Let them marinate for a little bit, then go for your side bets.

Everyone's cheat sheet is a graffiti bridge during the endgame. Take out a clean sheet of paper and recalibrate your targets and requirements for the final few picks.

Have a plan, but keep it flexible. This game is all about adjustments anyway, and trying to figure out the new, weird season before your rivals do. (Around October the common media will start telling you how it's the strangest season ever.)

It's nice to have a sense of where the entire room is at, position wise, but it's critical to know your neighborhood. Every early pick should be framed against their roster as well as yours.

If you're still in college, take Economics electives. That stuff is all applicable to our fantasy world, trust me.

Projections, yep. Last year's stats, nope.

Bye weeks have some value, but it's not a lot. Strength of schedule has some early merit, but otherwise it's an exercise in fortune telling. If your soothsayer is that reliable, you don't need anyone else's guidance.

The injury report means 32 different things to 32 different head coaches. Learn the translations.

Most of the time you should select a player because he helps you, not because he shafts your opponent. Hopefully you'll have some picks that accomplish both goals.

If you're one of the sharks, make the rules more dynamic. If you're one of the minnows, keep it simple. The less NFL players that apply to your game, the better it is for the chuckleheads.

Shoot for a winning NFL team with your kicker and defense (especially if returns don't count). Backs also play nicer in a winning environment. As for the passing game, there's no hard rule of thumb that I can see, though a quarterback's best friend is a terrible defense in the same locker room.

Wind is your biggest weather enemy, not snow.

Be aggressive early with your FAAB and free-agent priority. Not reckless or bat-crazy, mind you. But aggressive.

Get depth where it matters, at the money spots. In most leagues you'll do fine with one kicker and one defense.

Don't bother setting a lineup until Saturday at the earliest (and Sunday is best if you can swing it). Consider moves and plays, yes. But you need to see the full week of practice play out.

Handcuffs are nice if the No. 2 has a notable upside. If you're not clear who the backup is, or not excited by the payoff, the right play is probably somewhere else.

Give one final audit to the free-agent wire right before the windows close for the week (Sunday morning works well). Constantly be asking yourself, "what freely available player is just one injury or benching away from a major role?"

Okay, this is most important -- when it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on Side 1 of Led Zeppelin IV.

Your comments are welcome and will be waved through expediently. Operators are standing by.

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