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10 Tips to Win Your Fantasy Football League

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Jul 27, 2019

There’s a common theme in fantasy football leagues every year, and it’s that there must be some new sort of trend or strategy that’ll help you win 100 percent of the time. If you think that’s what you’re going to find here, stop looking because it doesn’t exist.

It’s like most things in life. You have to work to get better at it and things will work out more often than they won’t. My goal today is to help you accelerate that process with things I’ve learned over the years. The game has changed, but does that mean you need to change your approach? Here’s the top-10 things you absolutely need to keep in mind when drafting your fantasy team in 2019.

1. Mock, mock, mock with the Draft Simulator
There’s a common misconception among the public that thinks, “They drafted the team, of course they’re going to like it.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve done plenty of mock drafts that I’m not happy with, as certain players went before I thought they would, leaving me with a decision on players I wasn’t prepared for. The only way to be prepared for when your real draft comes around is to have actual practice. And don’t say you don’t have the time or money because you can do them absolutely free with our Mock Draft Simulator and it legitimately takes five minutes to complete each mock. You can even mock with your league’s draft settings including custom scoring, custom draft orders, keepers, and auction formats. It’s the easiest and fastest way to practice for your draft!

2. Don’t reach for a quarterback
Each year, there’s someone who’ll tell you that the top quarterback scored X amount of points more than the top running back or wide receiver, so he should be the top pick. For instance, Patrick Mahomes scored 74.5 more half-PPR points than Todd Gurley last year. If that’s their case, then why aren’t you drafting Mitch Trubisky over Michael Thomas? He scored more points. It’s because it’s all about points over replacement. Even if the 2019 season had the exact same performances, Mahomes would be the fifth-most valuable player. The No. 2 quarterback would have been Matt Ryan at No. 21 overall. Both of those players were drafted in the late rounds last year, as Matt Ryan‘s average draft position was late ninth-round, while Mahomes’ was late 10th-round. This happens every year. Some targets for 2019 in the late rounds: Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston, and Mitch Trubisky.

3. Separate real football from fantasy
Just because Tom Brady might be the best quarterback of all-time, it doesn’t mean he’s a good fantasy asset. Did you know he ranked 17th last year among quarterbacks in points per game? Don’t think that because I have Mitch Trubisky ranked above Brady that it means he’s a better quarterback; he’s not. Josh Allen may be one of the worst actual life quarterbacks, but he was the No. 2 fantasy quarterback from Week 12 through Week 16. Does anyone really think JuJu Smith-Schuster is a better receiver than Antonio Brown? No, but if you wanted to take Smith-Schuster over Brown this year due to their situations, nobody would blame you.

4. Don’t go in with a set strategy, adapt and take value as it’s presented
Forget all the zero-this and zero-that strategies you’ve heard of. Forget those who say you can’t draft Player X inside the top-10 rounds. I’ll be the first to say I’m part of those who wait at quarterback, but if I’m in a 2QB league and there’s eight quarterbacks off the board by the time it’s my second-round pick, I’m taking one. Ideally, you walk away with at least one of your top-12 running backs and one of your top-12 wide receivers, but remain fluid. What that means: If you already have a wide receiver and you feel the urge to select a running back, don’t take your No. 13 running back if your No. 3 wide receiver is still on the board.

5. Go to your Draft with the perfect cheat sheet by using the Cheat Sheet Creator
This one is pretty straightforward. If you’re going to draft well, you need to have a reliable cheat sheet that helps you value players properly. Fortunately, we’ve done the legwork for you with our custom Cheat Sheet Creator. In a nutshell, it lets you:

  • Get a Cheat Sheet of ANY combo of experts. Select the entire Expert Consensus (150+), your favorite experts or the most accurate analysts.
  • Include updated Expert Notes in your cheat sheet for advice on each player’s 2019 outlook.
  • Tag your cheat sheet with helpful labels like Sleepers, Targets and Players to Avoid.
  • Adjust the player ranks any way you’d like and incorporate tiers.
  • Either print your cheat sheet or use it online with our Draft Assistant. The Draft Assistant will sync to your live draft to automatically cross off taken players from your cheat sheet and make recommendations!

6. Study Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) vs. Average Draft Position (ADP)
This is one of the most important things you can do, as it’s what helps you find value throughout the draft. The ECR represents a consensus of the top 150+ experts in the industry, while ADP (Average Draft Position) shows where the public has been taking players. For instance, did you know experts are 79 spots higher on David Moore than the public, 50 spots higher on Anthony Miller, and 33 spots higher on Jameis Winston? You can see how the Expert Consensus compares vs. Average Draft Position at various league hosts:

ECR vs. Yahoo ADP

7. Understand your league’s settings
This is something that not enough fantasy owners account for. The difference in standard leagues and PPR leagues can turn someone who was the No. 35 running back into someone who was the No. 25 running back. It will also change what position you want in your flex spot. Fortunately, when you sign into Draft Wizard, it’ll sync your league settings so you get sound advice completely tailored to your league’s scoring system.

8. Don’t draft based on last year’s stats
Have you heard Patrick Mahomes set the record for most fantasy points by a quarterback in 2018? What you haven’t heard is that every quarterback who’s posted a touchdown rate of 8.6 percent or higher has regressed every single time by a minimum of 1.9 percent the following season. High end, that would make 2019 Mahomes equal to 2018 Matt Ryan. Not bad at all, but don’t pay for last year’s stats.

9. Understanding Modern Medicine
There are many times where I’ll walk away from a draft and have multiple players coming off injuries. That’ll lead to a lot of comments about how my team is “injury prone,” but that’s not true as long as you understand the timeline for their injuries. While ACL injuries used to be a concern, modern medicine has cured that and you can feel confident about drafting that player as long as it’s been 10-plus months since surgery. Foot injuries can be tricky, but based on the research I’ve done, you don’t want to draft players who’ve had surgery on their foot in that calendar year. Foot injuries can re-occur but players like Julio Jones and Julian Edelman have proven you can come back just as good as you were before. As for Achilles injuries, that’s a no-go. There’s been no skill position player who’s successfully come back from a torn Achilles. That’s something to be aware of if you’re considering drafting a player like Emmanuel Sanders, especially given that Sanders is 32 years old. While medicine may eventually remedy that issue, we’re not there yet.

10. Get expert advice during your draft with the Draft Wizard
Let’s say you’ve gone through each of the 9 steps and are completely prepared for your live draft to take place. It happens quite often where you’ll get to a point and question what you’re about to do. That’s where the Draft Wizard comes in, as it features 150-plus experts at your side who will give you their advice….in real time! Can’t decide between Leonard Fournette and Aaron Jones? The Draft Wizard links to your live draft and tells you exactly how many experts would take Fournette and how many would take Jones. Want to know if the player you’re considering will be available at your next pick? The Draft Wizard will tell you the % odds he’ll be there. It will even tell you if the player you’re about to select is a reach for that particular pick! Imagine having over 150 analysts behind you during your draft offering instant advice at each pick. That’s what the Draft Wizard is all about.

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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