We made it boys! We survived another football drought! I started playing fantasy a few years ago and never looked back. Nowadays, it’s one of the things I enjoy most about football season. It’s given me a whole other appreciation for a sport I already loved, plus made me learn about different players and their performances on the field from teams I would have previously never kept up with. Fantasy football is a great conversation piece, plus it gives you bragging rights (or money) over your friends.

If you’re interested in finally caving in and joining a fantasy football league this year, we’re here to help with a few tips to start your season off right.

fantasy football

Know Your League’s Rules

First and foremost, know what you’re scoring system is and draft according to it. There are 2 basic types of fantasy football leagues: Standard & PPR. In standard leagues, while you also get points through yardage, you get most of your points through scoring. Points vary per league but it’s usually 6 points per TD, and 1 point per every 10 yards for receivers, tight ends and running backs; QBs get a similar treatment but they might get 1 point per every 25 yards, and 4-6 points per TD. Also, some leagues may award a QB 4 points for a passing TD, while rushing TDs count as 6. Under these conditions, it makes someone like Cam Newton more of a threat and a wiser pick.

PPR stands for Points Per Reception, this system awards a point for every reception made. PPR leagues place an emphasis on volume and gives an edge to receivers that are heavily targeted, as well as reliable running backs that can catch on passing downs.

But every league is different, I’ve played in a league that awarded .1 points for every yard a QB threw for, this made almost all QBs incredibly important. So before you draft, make your that you check your settings and league rules and be smart about the players you choose.

Don’t Be Biased

It might be common sense to some, but you have no idea how many times I’ve seen people pull of dumb moves because of homerism. This happens every single year I’ve played fantasy football. Nobody cares who your favorite team is and drafting one of their rivals shouldn’t matter, especially when said player is at the top of the NFL Rankings for his position. Fantasy is about scoring points with individual players, even if you hate a player, as long as he balls out. I’ve seen people pass over Gronk because they’re hardcore Dolphins fans, that fandom won’t mean anything once Gronk is racking up points left and right. The same applies to drafting players from your team higher than you should just because you’re a fan. You happen to be a Seahawks fan and want to draft Russell Wilson? That’s great for you, but don’t draft him higher than you should or you’ll risk missing out on even bigger assets for your team.

Which brings me to my next point…

Use Your 1st Round Pick Wisely

fantasy football

There are no trades in most fantasy football leagues, so at the end of the day you only get ONE chance to draft the best player you possibly can. This is where you draft someone like Antonio Brown, who’s guaran-damn-teed to get the ball multiple times every game. Barring an injury, your first round pick will hopefully be your team’s driving force through out most of the season. This player should be elite at their position, a top 3 scorer in everyone’s list and not just your biased opinion. Also, you should always be weary of drafting rookies on the first round since it’s a hell of a gamble. I know a lot of people are already planning on drafting Christian McCaffrey early, and I can’t really blame them for falling for the hype, but we don’t really know how rookies will perform and you might want to save that 1st round pick for someone that’s a sure shot.

Don’t freak out if someone drafted the player you had your heart set on because you should…

Be Flexible With Your Draft

Never go into a draft with only a few players in mind. For the first round alone you should make a short list of elite players you’re interested in. Although some high ranking players might be one year wonders,  you can make a quick list by checking out last year’s fantasy football player rankings, This list will help you have a variety of low risk players to choose from that are almost guaranteed to light up the stat sheet. Another thing that can improve your knowledge of players and their positioning are fantasy football mock drafts. It never hurts to run a few of these just to check how other players are drafting and give you ideas on who to draft.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself into drafting a specific player, or worse of all a specific position…

Depth At The QB Position

The most important position in football is also the one with the largest depth of players in fantasy. Why spend a high draft pick on an elite QB when a good one will serve you just as well? At the beginning of the 2015 season, who would’ve thought that Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers would’ve scored a similar amount of points?  Even Andrew Luck, who was one of the most hyped fantasy QBs before last season, was completely obliterated behind a weak O-Line, which probably forced you to look for a replacement, and this season his health is completely unknown.

Looking for a back up player after an injury, or just keeping your eye out for those rising stars is the whole essence of the waiver wire.

The Waiver Wire Is Your Friend

fantasy football

Players get injured, suspended, and have bye weeks, so the team you drafted will never be the final product. Whenever you need to scoop up a replacement or a back up is where the waiver wire comes in. If you don’t know what the waiver wire is, this is where all players who did not get drafted end up, or players that others drop. Waiver wire rules vary per league, but usually the team with the worst record will get 1st claim on that week’s waivers. Depending on the size of your league, most of the players on here will never see the light of day but there are still the diamonds in the rough. One of the main reasons I won a league in 2014 was because I got lucky and scooped up Odell Beckham Jr on the waiver wire. So watch games and keep a look out for players who are on the verge of a break out so you can beat everyone else to the punch.

The waiver wire is also a great place where you can try to exploit match ups…

Keep An Eye On Individual Match Ups

During the 2016 NFL season, there were a few predictable outcomes that were consistent from week to week. Do you know who was the best fantasy QB on almost any given week? Whoever was playing against the Jets. Try your best to keep your eyes on the match ups your players will have that week. Even if you have one of the best receivers in the league, chances are they won’t get many points if they’re dealing with Seattle’s secondary. Match ups also work great when it comes to picking a D/ST (Defense & Special Teams) for that week as well. Your default defense may be playing against a high scoring offense like the Steelers, but you might get be able to pick up another D/ST who’s playing a much easier and turnover friendly opponent that particular week.