Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Important things I've learned about Fantasy Sports

First and foremost is that drafts are everything. If you don't have a good draft, you're not going to win. How many times have you seen a league leader at the end of the year be someone who hasn't checked on his/her team all year? It's important to make a good pickup off the waiver wires or to trade for that extra piece, but without a good draft, you're just whistling dixie.

Make sure you pay attention to how your league is scored, and don't just make trades based on the rankings provided to you by your online fantasy provider. Those rankings are based on the "normal" scoring method. If you are in a league that gives points for Stolen bases as well as taking points for being caught stealing, then you should be picking differently.

When it comes to trades, quantity does not make up for quality. Don't make a trade simply because you're going to get 3 good players for one great player. The great players put up the great numbers every week and will put you over the top. The 'good' players won't.

Good fantasy teams (especially football) rely on the top point scorers. If you're not sure what the record was in football, just look at the number of touchdowns. Jerome Bettis was a monster in fantasy leagues last year, not because he's a great back, but because he was the one carrying the rock in for the score. It was ridiculous.

Running backs rule fantasy football. They're the ones who are regularly going to get you points. Even top wide receivers are streaky. They may have a big game one week (150 yards and 3 TD's) and they will singlehandedly win that week for you, but then they suck wind for the next two weeks in a row. Quarterbacks are second when it comes to importance for the same reason. But, when it comes down to it, even bad QB's can give you good numbers. Besides which, you can usually play 2 or 3 RB's each week. That's why a good fantasy manager will draft running backs first, second and maybe the third round of the draft. They will also scour the waiver wire each week for a good injury pickup.

Here are the numbers from last year (taken from Yahoo) to back up what I'm saying:
The top 2 QB's last year scored 22.8 and 21 points per game (ppg). They had monster years, and there's a big drop off to number 3 at 16.5 ppg. But the number 12 QB had an average of 11.4 ppg. That's not so different, and since everyone can only play one QB each week, chances are good that you will have a decent starting QB playing every week who will put up numbers that are just as good as the other guy. RB's on the other hand start at 13 ppg and start dropping. By the 10th RB, you're down to 8.7, by the 15th you're only getting 7.3 and by the 20th you're only getting 6.2. And it only gets worse from here. Now each team in your league probably has two starting RB's plus a back up. If you have only teams in your league, that means 24 running backs are being used each week. Unlike with QBs, chances are not good that you can pick up a running back off of the waiver wires (although with injuries, you never know) who would be worth the spot. Note that QB's may have higher numbers individually, but you usually get to play multiple RB's. And so two or three good running backs can surpass your QB in points easily.

Speaking of football running backs, stay miles away from anyone who is involved in a running back by committee. You're guy may score well one week, but the next, they'll hand the ball to the other guy.

Another good point: anyone who drafts a TE, Kicker, or Defense before the 7th round is a fool!

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