The beauty of fantasy football is that it’s a game where anyone from the most casual of football fans, to the most devoted of fans, can all participate. And the great equalizer between the chasm of knowledge between these two fans is the element of unpredictability and luck. That being said, there are several key things anyone who plays fantasy football should know, when they’re about to pick their team.
Here are three of the biggest mistakes you can make when building your fantasy football team:
Picking Players On Your Favorite Team — If there’s one maxim that you need to keep repeating to yourself before, during, and after the fantasy football season, it’s this: keep your emotions out of your roster. Yes, the thrill of watching your favorite players on your favorite team score points, and then enjoying the fact that they’re also scoring points for your fantasy football team, is delightful. But you know what’s worse? Watching your favorite players perform poorly, and then knowing that they’re doing the same thing on your fantasy football team. You have to treat fantasy football as an objective game of statistics and points. If you’re a fan of the Baltimore Ravens, you can’t choose to not take someone like Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers, simply because you detest that team. If you’re a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, you can’t go into a season with Alex Smith as your quarterback, as his statistics are not going to win you very many games, on top of the fact that there are many other quarterbacks you could — or should — choose for your team instead.
Selecting a Kicker or a Defense Too Early — If selecting guys from your favorite team is mistake #1, this one has to be mistake #1A by fantasy football novices make. The maxim of “defenses win championships” and “kickers don’t win games but bad kickers lose games” don’t hold up in fantasy football. Yes, you’re very likely not going to have to worry about your defense on a week-to-week basis if you happen to take Denver, Seattle, or New England’s defense. But there’s little reason to “reach” for one of those defenses, when there are easily another eight to ten defenses that can give you very comparable value, and can be taken much later in the draft. You’d much rather spend as many picks as possible filling your team with depth at the skill positions. The same idea applies doubly to kickers. Sure, if you had someone like Justin Tucker last year, or Adam Viantieri in years past, they might be as close to “money in the bank” in kicking situations as anyone. But the statistical deviation between how a kicker performs year after year is all over the place, and preseason projections are as close to wild guesses as you’ll find. There’s simply no reason for you to try and reach for any particular kicker, no matter how good you think they are, before the second to last or last rounds of your draft.
Falling Too Deeply In Love With Your Team — Just as coaches tell their players over the course of the season, the same adage applies in fantasy football: the season is a marathon, not a spring. Too often, a fantasy football team owner is overly satisfied and reliant on the the players they selected in their pre-season draft, and shows reluctance in replacing any under-performing players on their roster. But you have to understand that a player may start off the season putting up huge numbers, and then fall into a major point-production slump later in the season (or vice-versa). As Kenny Rogers would say: you need to know when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em. Fantasy football is not a place for the risk-averse. You can’t be reluctant or stubborn with making a personnel move, just because you originally took that player with the belief that he’s going to do well. If there’s an opportunity available to make your team better, whether it’s through the waiver wire or through a trade that could be made, you have to take that chance. Fortune favors the bold. If you’re one of the teams who doesn’t win the league championship, just take a look at the team that does; more often than not, that person’s roster will look very different than what it comprised when the season started.