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Fantasy Football

Who To Start - Fantasy Rankings - Waiver Wire - Studs & Duds - Fantasy News

Fantasy Football Live Draft Tips

Fantasy Football - By: D. Bachman
Updated June 1st, 2007 - Page updated at 10:00am Sportsbook Review


Before you get in to deep we'd like to give you some advice on how to do a live draft online properly for your fantasy football leagues.

Construct the perfect fantasy football roster on draft day.

Fantasy Football drafts are soon to be in full swing as the calendar draws closer to NFL Opening Day. Depth charts are studied. A list of sleepers and busts is compiled. Owners spend hours absorbing every piece of knowledge possible with one goal in mind: Build the most feared roster...ever. With that in mind, we offer even more rules for constructing the most productive and well-rounded roster. If there were a foolproof method for drafting a Fantasy Team Priest Holmes would be an annual 2,000-yard back, Daunte Culpepper would never get hurt and we'd set up shop in Vegas. But there is no such thing as an infallible master plan, nor any single draft design that gives an owner his best chance to come out ahead of the game. It just doesn't work that way.

What do you expect from a game based off a league in which two teams can finish a combined 11-21 only a year after facing each other in the championship game? (Take a bow, Bucs and Raiders.) But even if there is no such thing as the perfect draft, an owner can prepare himself for much of the expected waiting around the bend by following a few guiding principles. It also helps to have an idea of how most drafts go down. Below is a primer worth checking out whether you're a fantasy newbie or you conduct mock drafts in your sleep.

Round 1: The opening stanza is an absolute free-for-all on franchise backs. And no matter what you have heard or might think, it should be. Relative value and the premium placed on rushing production by the vast majority of fantasy leagues dictates that running backs should rule the roost. Priests and LTs don't grow on trees, kids. Still, it's a perfectly reasonable strategy to select the top quarterback or receiver at the back end of the round if you can get a running back of roughly equal value on the wraparound. Always think ahead to what might be available when your next pick arrives.

Round 2: Backs continue to fly off the board, but the top tiers of quarterbacks and receivers usually get snapped up here as well. By the end of this round, the sure producers at running back are gone -- along with a few who will turn out to be not-so-sure producers. Some owners feel pressured into filling both starting running back slots in the first two rounds, but that is bad business. Consider, Tiki Barber was projected as a second-rounder last year by several fantasy information outlets. A few of the names that likely could have been had instead: Ahman Green, Jamal Lewis, Edgerrin James and Fred Taylor. All is not lost if you haven't snagged a back before Round 3.

Rounds 3 and 4: More running backs, yes. But this is where receivers and quarterbacks begin to outnumber the runners. Even the top tight ends can (and, in some cases, should) go this early. Often times, this is where leagues are won or lost. Picked Edgerrin James when you should have said Ronnie Brown? Sorry. Drafted Kelvin Winslow -- along with his knee -- when you could have had a top receiver? Tough noogies, bro. Just keep that relative-value concept in mind and don't panic if you haven't grabbed a quarterback, or even a No. 2 running back, just yet. Seems like Brett Favre falls to the sixth or seventh round every year. And last year a lot of folks picked up a great 2nd running back after the first 50 picks came and went.

Rounds 5 and 6: Receivers dominate these rounds, with running backs, quarterbacks and the occasional tight end breaking up the flow. It's a good idea to take inventory before these rounds: Determine your needs, decide what will be available and set your course from there. First priority: What does your running back situation look like? If you aren't grinning from ear to ear, you'll want to grab at least one more runner in these rounds. If you're missing a quarterback, is it safe to wait another round or two to bite? If 10 owners have filled their top spot and the four best available passers on the board have similar value, it's safe to load up on receivers and running back depth. The best tight ends will be gone after these rounds, but don't freak. The difference between the No. 6 and No. 12 tight end isn't all that great, and there always is a decent starter or three to be found on the waiver wire during the season.

Rounds 7, 8 and 9: Don't assume that you're finished if you didn't take a quarterback before now. Imagine drafting Steve McNair, Matt Leinart, Vince Young or Mark Bulger this late. You could have in many drafts last season. (This year? Look for Chad Pennington, Brady Quinn and Tony Romo.) But consider coming back with your No. 2 soon thereafter, just to cover yourself. Otherwise, you should be building your depth at running back and receiver and rounding out your starters at the skill positions. The top kickers and defense/special teams units might start to go somewhere late in this stage, but try not to get wrapped up in it. Baltimore and New England aren't too risky here, but waiting on a kicker is always prudent. Josh Brown, Adam Vinatieri and Jeff Wilkins look like world-beaters now, but most of us could have picked either of them off somewhere in the last few rounds of the draf. Someone new shines every year. Plus Jason Elam is the only kicker that is consistently putting up the same amount of points every single year.

Round 10 and on: It's all about depth now. If you don't enter this last phase with at least three running backs and two receivers, you're probably toast. But other than those guidelines, there is no single blueprint for a fantasy winner. It isn't advised, but you might even be able to wait and find a starting quarterback this late. You certainly needn't worry if you haven't added a tight end, kicker and defense before now. In fact, it isn't at all uncommon to find starter-caliber options at all three of those spots as late as the final round, or even on waivers after the draft. When rounding out your depth in these rounds, consider upside over opportunity. Most of the remaining backs and receivers are backups for their respective teams, so they probably will need to catch a break to have great value anyway. But if they do, make sure you have the right player. In other words, take a rookie #3 WR over a veteran #4 reciever every time. He can do more for you here.


Be prepared: It ain't just for Boy Scouts, Alice. You don't have to bring reams of stat projections and every season preview magazine known to man to your draft. Just make sure you show up with some sort of cheat sheet that you trust and that you're familiar with it. Check off player names as they are drafted and, ideally, keep a running log of the draft. It's the best way to maximize your time on the clock and to know what is (and likely will be) available when your picks come around.

Know Your Scoring System: Sounds obvious, but if you aren't absolutely sure how Steve McNair compares to Tom Brady, you could be sorry. Points awarded for receptions, passing TDs and rushing yards by quarterbacks (among other categories) can vary from league to league, turning Tiki Barber into a stud or setting Michael Vick's value back five rounds. Run the previous year's numbers through your scoring format and, if you can, get your hands on stat projections from a few different sources for the upcoming season.

Keep on top of the NFL News: Sure, most of us have actual lives to lead, but at least try to know which of the top players have changed teams, which are hurt and which are fighting for a job. An expert in one league made the wise decision to draft Dominic Rhodes as insurance against an Edgerrin James injury in 2002 ... except Rhodes himself was lost for the season after suffering his own knee injury only days earlier.

Horde Running Backs: Don't follow this through to the point of neglecting your other positions, but if there is one area at which no one can afford to go without depth, it is running back. At worst, if you wind up with three very good ones, the trade market for backs always favors a seller.



Blow off the Bye Weeks: It's a good way to cost yourself a win (and maybe two) before getting a chance to so much as admire your draft handiwork. Your top two running backs have a Week 5 bye? Might as well pack it in, Skippy. Even a couple of receivers with the same bye week can be devastating, so pay attention. And don't let down your guard once the season starts. Trade acquisitions and waiver-wire pickups can hurt by being unavailable one week as much as they can help by playing the others. _ Take a kicker high. It's just silly. Let that other sap take Mike Vanderjagt. If the V-man puts another 51 balls up without miss, more power to him. You can always grab Matt Stover, Jason Elam or some other steady, proven commodity near the bottom. And if you miss out, a few kickers that can be plucked from the free-agent scrap heap always surprise by turning in unexpectedly decent value (Doug Brien and Shayne Graham, to name two from '03).

Fall head over heels for rookies: Only one kind of first-year player is worth getting doe-eyed over, and those are the stud running backs. So which ones are those? Well, uh ... sometimes it's tough to know. Which is yet another reason to avoid drafting the rooks too high. This doesn't mean you should stubbornly pass on Cadillac Williams in the 5th round if you already own Larry Johnson. Just don't put too much stock in the college production of any player, especially receivers and quarterbacks.

Panic: Don't sweat it if "your guy" goes one spot ahead of your pick. And hold it together if you look up in Round 6 and you still don't have a quarterback. An owner's worst gaffes often occur while trying to make up for another. There aren't many mistakes that can't be rectified with savvy free-agent moves during the season. Enjoy the season everyone, and email me your thoughts at

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