Sunday, 5 July 2015

How to win at Fantasy Football

I am a huge NFL fan, I have watched it for over 15 years and I have been lucky enough to see my team, New England Patriots win the Super Bowl four times. Yet it was only three years ago I started playing NFL Fantasy Football along with my friends from north of the border in Dundee and Dan Ferdinand.

This has led to a better appreciation of the NFL and a better understanding of the game by paying more attention to the stats and figures of the game based on individual performances from week to week. It was this statistical analysis and love of numbers that first drew me to the game, the yards per carry, per reception, pass completion, win percentage and so on.

Personally, I have been fortuitous in my leagues, I have been to the final of one league two years running and been competitive with others regularly. So to make the game better and spread the word, I am going to give a breakdown of how to do well in leagues and how to enjoy it.

Take it seriously, but enjoy it
It is a fantasy football league, it is not real. Succeeding does not make you a potential GM of your favourite team, but it shows you are capable of understanding players strengths and teams weaknesses by selecting a certain player against this team to another. Yet enjoy it, yes cheer when your player makes a big grab but don't forget it is fun, so best to avoid leagues that involve money at first these will come along in time. Bragging rights and Twitter traffic are what you play for at first.

Play in different leagues
Try different varieties of leagues from Dynasty and keeper league, to straight draft selection to 2QB leagues. Personally I have not enjoyed 2QB leagues due to the nature of picking the bottom of the heap due to draft order or having bad luck with player injury and form, this guy picked Matt Schaub when he threw a pick six every week seemingly and I got the awful post-Super Bowl season of Joe Flacco.

You have to do your research. Read injury reports so you don't have a scratch player on your starting team. Don't pick players with the same bye weeks as this will leave you short handed against your week's opponent. Pick players who are sometimes consistent and not necessarily productive, you need a 16 game player not one who sits out, for example, the walking concussion Wes Welker is someone to avoid.

Listen to specific podcasts
The ESPN Fantasy Football podcast is my go to for chat and discussion and good tips such as handcuffing your QB and RB or WR such as Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, as is the combination of Frank Gore in Indianapolis with Andrew Luck, Gore is one of those trusted backs who plays every week and will have much success in Indy making Luck a better player if that offensive line has improved.

Watch the first two weeks
Pay attention to teams stats, do they spread the offence or is Matthew Stafford still aiming at Calvin Johnson 25 times. This is where you find your potential sleepers and pick ups like Odell Beckham Jr became last year. This goes hand in hand with your research.

Also to consider is the theory of garbage time, the fourth quarter period of any game when a team is so far behind on the scoreboard that they start throwing the ball instead of running the ball to try and score quick touchdowns against a defence playing deep safety coverage and avoiding injury on the tackling front.  Teams renowned for this in recent years are the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders; so perhaps try and see when a second or third receiver gets the majority of his yardage. Despite the deficit, a team having to throw will not go to the first choice receiver too often, meaning a Jaguar third option will pay dividends even the Raiders who although have a good back in Latavius Murray need to be ahead to get reward from him.

Trust your judgement 
If you think Andrew Luck will have a better year than Cam Newton, trust your judgement and stick with it. Only drop Luck if he is injured. Do you think Rob Gronkowski is better than Jimmy Graham, then chances are you are right. And on the subject of Graham his signing to Seattle changes the fantasy profile of two players; Russell Wilson although a great dual threat QB becomes a better option due to the space and double man coverage Graham will receive in the red zone and Marshawn Lynch will now get the ball thrown to him less due to the potency and capability Graham provides.

Enjoy your season and follow me on Twitter @JamieGarwood

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