The 10 Fantasy Football Commandments (2017)
Fantasy football has a lot in common with many religions. Sunday is by far the holiest day. We usually get together with family and friends to partake in it together. And often times, there’s a lot of praying.
And although Moses didn’t come down from Mount Sinai with maxims about waiting on quarterbacks or never auto-drafting, there’s no reason why fantasy football shouldn’t have its own set of commandments to guide us all.
To that end, here are your 10 Fantasy Football Commandments for the 2017 season.
1) Thou shalt know thy league settings and rules
This is obviously the first commandment. Is it PPR? How many running backs do we start? Do we have a super-flex? The answer to these and many other questions greatly influence your draft rankings and your strategy.
Yet every year, even in my long-term leagues where the scoring system has been the same for 15 years, at least one guy enters the draft room and asks how many receivers we start. Spoiler alert – that guy has never won the league. It’s not tough – just check the league settings page at some point prior to your draft. Man, I wish it was that easy to follow all commandments!
2) Thou shalt play out thy entire season
No matter how great you are at playing fantasy football, there are always seasons where it just isn’t working for you. Your studs have all battled injuries. Your streamers aren’t . . . streaming. Every team you play against has the high score of the week.
By Week 10, you’re out of the running for a playoff spot, and life is pretty much meaningless. But it is your responsibility – nay, your sacred duty – to continue to play out the season and make every effort to win every remaining matchup. The outcome of each week will determine who else makes the playoffs, and you owe it to the rest of your league to play it out as best you can.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should go crazy and be hounding the waiver wire or make significant trades. But make sure your lineup is active and you’re trying to win each week. The fantasy gods will thank you in the long run.
3) Thou shalt do mock drafts
Mock drafting is the best preparation you can do, without question. No matter how well you know the players, or how comfortable you feel with your rankings, the only way to be fully prepared is to practice making those split-second decisions over and over again until they are ingrained in your mind.
And look, I get it – mock drafting against a bunch of teenagers who think it’s funny to take Carson Palmer in the first round or jump out after two rounds can get annoying, and even a decent mock draft is incredibly time-consuming. That’s why I recommend using the FantasyPros Draft Wizard. You draft against artificial intelligence using the expert consensus rankings. That means you know that the other drafters know what they’re doing, you know everyone will finish the entire draft, and the entire thing takes about five minutes. You’ll also get some post-draft analysis, noting your strengths, weaknesses, etc.
Oh, and also, thanks to some fancy work by the developers, you get different results every draft, so you never have to worry that you’re going to be left with the same board every time. I have no idea how the developers did that, and when I asked, they just said it was magic. MAGIC! And, since I can’t think of a better answer, I’ve accepted that.
4) Thou shalt respond to all trade offers respectfully
This really encompasses two different things. First, never just let a trade offer sit there without taking any action. It’s ok if you need a little time to think it over. But let the other owner know that you’re considering it and that you’ll respond shortly.
Second, when you do respond, don’t be insulting or rude, regardless of how bad the offer was. As I tell my kids all the time – nothing bad ever came from being polite. You legitimately gain nothing by responding rudely to a trade offer. And we’ve all played in leagues where you need to sort through another owner’s 15 terrible trade offers when suddenly he offers something reasonable. Don’t close the lines of communication unnecessarily.
5) Thou shalt draft loads of running back and wide receiver depth
I’ve got some inside information for you – your starting lineup coming out of the draft is not going to be your starting lineup at the end of the season. Either injuries, ineffectiveness, or both are going to cause you to do some major maneuvering as the season goes on.
During my draft, I routinely select two or three backup running backs or wide receivers each before turning to my quarterback or tight end, and especially my DST. And although your team may not look the flashiest on paper coming out of the draft, you’ll know that you’ll be in great position to survive the long and grueling season.
6) Thou shalt never draft a kicker before the last round
Seems obvious, right? But think about it – have you ever had a draft where the last round was comprised of only kickers? I never have. Not once.
I once thought there should be an exception to this rule if you were actually related to a particular kicker and wanted to make sure to draft him, so you went for him a round early. But I’ve changed my mind. There are no exceptions to this rule. None. Sorry cousin Adam Vinatieri – if I can’t draft you in the last round, then I can’t draft you at all!
Every backup skill player and even a backup DST is a better pick than a kicker until the last round. That’s all there is to it.
7) Remember your waiver wire day, and keep it holy
Most waiver wires run on Tuesday or Wednesday of each week. Whether it’s based on waivers or an FAAB process, you must never take that day for granted.
Waiver wire pickups can make or break your season. Do your research leading up to that day, use your waiver position or budget effectively, and keep your team as strong as possible.
And never, ever abuse the waiver wire. Your opponent’s tight end is on a bye and you want to pick up the best one out there to block him? Totally fine. You want to pick up EVERY available tight end and then immediately drop them so that they’re all on waivers and your opponent can’t pick up anyone? I call foul, sir!
8) Thou shalt not overreact to one great early-season performance
You remember when Sammie Coates went crazy in the Steelers’ demolishing of the Jets in Week 5 last year? I had been lucky enough to be having trouble at wide receiver just prior to that game, and had picked him up and started him that week. It was glorious, despite me being a Jets fan.
Because of that one performance, I insisted on starting him each of the next four weeks. I didn’t care about the finger injury or his frequently questionable status. If he was playing, I felt I had to start him because of that one amazing game.
Sammie Coates may have an incredible career. But I should have realized a lot earlier that he was not going to have an incredible rest of his 2016 season. Don’t let one great performance color your thinking.
9) Thou shalt not get too cute in your start-sit decisions
I used to feel that starting your studs was a fantasy football commandment, but I think it needs some revision. For example, if your stud was unlikely to play, and then is miraculously active on game-day but may be limited, you shouldn’t feel compelled to start him. Similarly, if the rankings favor a decent player over a better player because of the matchup, you should probably go with that.
However, that is not the same as “I just have a feeling about J.J. Nelson this week and so I’m going to bench Mike Evans.” No. That goes beyond “starting your studs.” That’s getting way too cute. Don’t go overboard.
10) Thou shalt always remember that it’s just a game
If you’re like me, a bad fantasy football week really ruins your Sunday. You get irritable and cranky and become the worst version of yourself.
That’s really okay. Taking it seriously is what makes it great. But please don’t be that guy who tweets at your running back who had an off week and blame him for you losing your matchup. That is crazy.
At the end of last season, I saw this tweet from Michael Gehlken, a Raiders beat writer:
A thought on Christmas Eve: If player helps win your fantasy league, consider donating portion of winnings to a cause he supports. pic.twitter.com/G802IwSsrY
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) December 24, 2016
The link listed several prominent players and the respective charities they supported. If you want to take fantasy football seriously, that’s the way to do it. Beyond that, remember, it’s just a friendly game, friends.