Whether you are a beginner or a veteran, a consistent playoff maker or a notorious bottom-half finisher, fantasy football is a fun pastime for everyone. As someone who has had a good amount of success, I wanted to share some words of wisdom on the process that goes into a successful fantasy season. Hopefully you can execute some of these tips in your own leagues to have a leg up over your league mates. Here are 10 tips that will help you achieve fantasy football success:
1. Know Your League
This is first and foremost. You should already have access to this information ahead of time. Is the league 10 teams? 12 teams? Standard, Point-per-Reception (PPR), or Half-PPR scoring? When is the draft? How big are the rosters? When is the trade deadline? Which platform is the league hosted on? Etc. These things matter and can make all the difference. You should know who your league mates are and who the commissioner of the league is. If you have been with your league for multiple seasons, maybe you already know some of your league mates’ tendencies in the draft or with trades. Much of this information can be accessible months ahead, so going into the draft with this in mind is a good place to start.
2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
When it comes to fantasy football success, preparing is everything. Do not be the person that goes into the draft blind. There are many ways to prepare. First, depending on your host site, look into their rankings and player average draft positions (ADP). ADP can vary per platform, so make sure you brush up on the site you will be drafting on. Many fantasy players go into the draft with some sort of positional rankings list, whether their own or from a third-party. Mock drafts are also very valuable in preparing. It gives you a sense of how the real draft might go and where players will be taken. You can experiment with different draft positions and strategies. I do mock drafts all the time, so I highly recommend practicing often through that. Especially as football season gets closer, players may rise and fall down the board, so continuing to do mock drafts will help condition you to those adjustments.
3. Don’t be a Homer
If you are in a hometown or non super competitive league, there will be homers. There is always that one person who drafts players from their favorite team. You can draft one or two players from one team, but do not get too carried away. It used to be amusing watching someone draft Matthew Stafford much earlier than his ADP. This works both ways. Do not close yourself off from drafting top players from your favorite team’s rivals. For Detroit Lions fans, be open to drafting Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, David Montgomery, or Aaron Rodgers. I learned to overcome this mindset, so it is understandable for those who choose not to draft rivals. In terms of the Lions, there are a few players that will be fantasy-relevant this season.
4. Don’t End Runs, Start Them
When you are in the draft, you might see four or five players of the same position get drafted consecutively. This is called a run. Many people’s first instinct is to panic and select a player from that same position so you are not left out. However, when a run does occur, you will have to adjust your plan/strategy. For example, if six wide receivers get drafted in a row, instead of drafting a wide receiver, take the best available running back, quarterback, or tight end. You will not be ending the run of wide receivers, but rather starting a run at another position. It might be disappointing having a run in front of you since you may miss out on some players you liked, but it gives you the opportunity to gain value at another position. Value is everything in the draft, so be conscious of that as the rounds go on.
5. You Don’t Win Your League at the Draft
A good or bad draft can impact you in the first few weeks of the season. However, you do not win or lose your league at the draft. There is so much more that goes into a championship season. Waiver wire moves, FAAB budgeting (for leagues that use FAAB), and trades are also just as important to winning. You are allowed to feel encouraged or discouraged based on your draft, but the season is far from over. Just make sure you are being active and aware of everything so you can make moves when necessary.
6. Don’t Set It and Forget It (Pay Attention)
Bad fantasy players set their lineup at the beginning of the week and do not check back in after. Keep going into the app/website various times throughout the week to see if there are any news or injury updates to your players. You will need to know whether to bench someone if they are hurt, in addition to potentially adding a player from free agency to start. As a more general rule of thumb, pay attention to the fantasy news cycle to make sure your lineup is healthy and good to go. Also, make sure to respond to trade offers in a timely manner. Paying attention benefits you and the league as a whole.
7. Communicate with Your League Mates
This is an underrated piece of advice. Communicating with your league mates not only influences strategic moves and potential trades, but it also just makes the league more active and fun. It is not fun when everyone is quiet and boring. It is always good to make a group chat so everyone can message with each other, talk a little trash talk, make jokes, and have fun. In terms of fantasy football success, communicating in trades especially is important. If you send an offer out of the blue, it likely will not be accepted. If you reach out to a league mate to talk it out, explore trade options, and get an idea of what each person is looking for, then a trade might be easier to accomplish. You will have to communicate with your league to make the most of the experience, which can also lead to success.
8. Buy Low, Sell High
Speaking of trades, it is helpful to monitor the trade value of players around the league. The buy low, sell high strategy can be really effective at any point in the season, but you can usually get away with it early on. For example, one of your league mate’s early round running backs starts the season with two bust weeks, then he will likely get a little concerned. That is the perfect moment to swoop in and try and make a deal. Conversely, if one of your middle/late round picks explodes for monster performances early in the season, trade him for a good package. Take advantage of those good weeks and try and flip them for better value. In 2021, some notable buy low candidates were TE Darren Waller and WR Chris Godwin. Notable sell high players were RB James Conner and RB Elijah Mitchell.
9. Stream Defense and Kicker
Simply put, you should only be drafting your defense and kicker in the last two rounds of the draft. If you finish filling out your starting lineup, focus on adding depth and flexibility to your bench. There is a lot you could do in the middle and late rounds, but defense and kicker should not be a priority. One kicker is good enough, and streaming defenses is the best way to go. If you play the matchup game, your defense will hit more times than not. I usually go into each week with a different defense based on the best available to pickup. Sometimes, you may get lucky and have a defense that has easy offensive opponents for multiple weeks. Otherwise, you can just keep adding and dropping defenses all season. You can also cut your starting kicker during their bye week and pick up a replacement. Do not overthink this tactic. The added depth on your bench will pay off.
10. Have Fun
Even if you do not achieve any fantasy football success, it is still a fun experience. If you are active, engaged, and not taking it too seriously, then you will have a good time. There is the underlying expectation, however, that you will manage your team all season whether good or bad. It is not as fun when the worst team in the league is not trying anymore or just cuts all their good players. You should still try and make an effort. If you are in multiple leagues, then you have more opportunities to win and have fun. Fantasy football is nothing to get upset over. Ultimately, it is just a game.
Hopefully these strategies and tactics can help you have fantasy football success as they did for me. Best of luck this season!