Drafting a fantasy football team? Here are a few tips


Ezekiel Elliott photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys/James D. Smith

Editor’s note: Ulises Harada is an NFL junkie and fantasy football fanatic who also operates the most popular NFL web site in Mexico – Primero y Diez. (http://www.primeroydiez.com.mx/) He has played fantasy football since 2001, often with multiple teams, and modestly states his championship rate at 35 percent. He writes a Spanish column for pittsburghsteelers.com, and his favorite fantasy players over the years have been LaDainian Tomlinson, Priest Holmes, Wes Welker and Kurt Warner. He’s going to offer up his fantasy tips at the Talk of Fame Network this season. Here is his pre-draft primer.

By Ulises Harada

The NFL conducts its draft every April. But a more important draft comes in August and early September – at least for fans of the NFL. Fantasy Football fans. Everyone who’s invested in fantasy football is spending this month reviewing the statistics and rankings, looking for the sleepers and setting a date for the draft and a renewal of their leagues. This post will point out – and, hopefully, help you avoid — some classic mistakes committed during a fantasy football draft. Avoid these blunders if you hope to win your league:

Don’t be the guy who is clueless to the offseason.

Everyone HATES the guy who shows up at the draft thinking that Alshon Jeffery still plays for the Bears or that Adrian Peterson remains part of the Vikings. If you’re going to play fantasy football the least you could do is read some rankings and learn the key moves during the NFL offseason. You also need to keep tabs on the players injured in training camp and the preseason and be aware of players who have been suspended. You don’t want to be the guy the other players mock, “He has no clue.”

Don’t be the guy who chooses three or more players from the same team.

You’re a Cowboys’ fan, we get it. But having a fantasy team with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Dan Bailey isn’t going to make you a winner. There is a thin line between having a team with your favorite players and being a branch office of your favorite team. Let’s be realistic, if Dallas has a bad game, you’re doomed to fail. A smart fantasy football player picks one or two of his favorite players but puts together a balanced team that doesn’t depend on one team to win or lose. Also pay attention to the bye weeks. Make sure your two quarterbacks aren’t off the same week. That’s a classic rookie mistake.

Don’t be a panic buyer.

We’ve all been there. It starts when one player picks, say, a tight end – then three or four more tight ends go consecutively. (Example: Gronk, Travis Kelce, Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen). The problem of having a panic attack and thinking that you are not going to get a quality tight end in a later round is that you sacrificed a valuable pick to reach for that tight end. My recommendation is to have a big board with values assigned to each pick. Do what the good NFL teams do – stick to your draft board. Don’t leave a more valuable commodity at one position on the board in order to reach for another.

Be a fan but be smart.

This is a personal recommendation. If you want to enjoy your fantasy football team, it’s better to avoid players you dislike. Imagine that you are a 49ers’ fan and that you have the Seattle defense. Do you really see yourself supporting Richard Sherman or Russell Wilson to win your fantasy league? Can you find yourself rooting for Russell Wilson to have a four-touchdown game the week he faces your favorite team? You can break this rule on oaccasion, but only if you find a valuable player in those mid-rounds. But truthfully, I don’t recommend it.

Don’t live in the past.

The NFL, like all sports, gets renewed season by season. Believing that Larry Fitzgerald is still a Top-5 wide receiver or that Vernon Davis remains an elite tight end puts you at a huge disadvantage against the rest of your league. Drafting with your heart or hoping that a veteran can revive his career in his later years is more wishful thinking than a strategy.

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