This four-part article series is designed to help you prepare and plan for your fantasy league's draft, with winning draft-day techniques and strategies to ensure ultimate victory in your fantasy football league.
Continued from "Must-read Fantasy Football Tips Before Your Draft: Parts 1-3:
Step 10: Do not be afraid to gamble in later rounds
The later rounds often feel like a waste of time to many inexperienced fantasy football managers. But these rounds are full of players with big potential for those managers willing to do the research. There are "handcuffs" (discussed in Step 9), rookies, players with new teams, and many other upside opportunities and diamonds in the rough. Just last year, players like V. Cruz, D. Murray, D. Sproles, C. Newton, J. Nelson, J. Graham, AJ Green, J. Jones, and F. Davis (among others) performed much higher than their ADP (Average Draft Position). Some of my favorites this year (in no particular order) are: QB: J. Freeman, M. Schaub, RGIII, J. Locker, and R. Wilson. RB: R. Williams, S. Ridley, B. Green-Ellis; I. Redman, T. Richardson, CJ Spiller, R. Jennings, D. Martin, and D. Wilson. WR: T. Smith, M. Floyd, K.. Wright, T. Young, B. LaFell, D. Thomas, E. Decker, A. Brown, and L. Hankerson. TE: J. Cook, C. Fleener, and K. Rudolph. Again, these are players with much upside and are generally picked in the later rounds of your draft, or even not at all.
Step 11: Manage your teamThis should be a given for ALL fantasy football managers, but with countless teams and leagues it is not. Managers not adjusting their lineups for bye weeks and injuries might as well hand over their chance at the league championship and resign. How often do you make trade offers to teams, only to have them go unanswered? These are those teams! A good fantasy manager not only adjusts their lineups accordingly and addresses trade offers, they are working free agency and the waiver wire to continually better their teams.
Often, if a team gets off to a rough start of the season, they will just quit and not manage their teams. What they don't realize is that all they need to do is improve their team just enough to make the playoffs, and they have just as good a chance as anyone to win the league championship. I have won several championships coming out of one of the last couple playoff positions, so manage that team to the bitter end.
Step 12: Make trade offers and work free agency & waversNow that your draft is over and the season has begun, be aggressive with trade offers and watch your league's free agent and waiver wire lists. I begin my trade offers immediately after the draft. I analyze other league teams and look for their deficiencies. I then will use my depth at these positions to work up trade offers. I use this same process throughout the season as well, generally focusing on the lower ranked teams in the league. If their team's record is poor, the need to "fix" things often warms them up to your trade offers. Free agency and waivers are always a big help to improve your team and help you work through the bye weeks and player injuries.
As a final piece of advice pertaining to trades, feel free to make your trade offers as 2-for-1 and even 3-for-1 deals. A simple player for player trade offer is very easy for an opposing team to analyze, and often turn down. And the two players involved in the trade offer must be similar from a fantasy perspective before that team will even consider and potentially agree to the trade. Sideways moves can also take a long time to improve your team. Making a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 trade offer may allow you to use your depth and lower-tiered players to obtain a higher-tiered player. Again, it makes sense to target the teams at the bottom of the rankings and make sure that they can utilize all of the players you are offering. To them, it may make perfect sense to trade one starter in order to receive two or three (even though these players may have actually been on your bench).
A great example of this was my very first trade accepted of the season. I had drafted Aaron Rodgers in the 1st round and was fortunate to get M. Ryan unbelievably in the 11th round. I focused on a team that had one of the lower-ranked QBs and offered him Ryan and D. Brown (who I picked up in free agency after the draft) for Chris Johnson (who he had drafted very early in the 2nd round. So, I took an 11th round draft choice and a free agent pickup for a 2nd round player (who is going in the 1st round in most drafts). And this was done just days after the draft. It is not always this easy, but the trade opportunities are there if you focus your attention in the right direction and utilize your depth and quality late draft selections and free agent pickups. It can take some salesmanship, but this is what can guide you to your league championship.
Hopefully these steps can help you with your upcoming drafts and the early stages of the season. And as I mentioned in my introduction, these are the same actions that have enabled me to rank in the top 3 in overall fantasy points in 20 of my 21 Yahoo! competitive public leagues and win trophies in 16 of the 21. And in producing these successful results, it has enabled me to be selected for the inaugural 2011 Toyota Legends of Fantasy Football Hall of Fame. Please watch for future articles that I will be writing to guide you through the upcoming fantasy football season. And feel free to refer back to this article to revisit these steps. Good luck with your upcoming drafts and fantasy football seasons!
Brian Music is one of five inaugural inductees to the 2011 Toyota Legends of Fantasy Football Hall of Fame on Yahoo! Sports. He has participated in fantasy football for 23 seasons. He participated in his first Yahoo! fantasy football league in 2001 and has competed in 21 competitive-level public leagues since with a nearly .700 winning percentage.