Fantasy football on Yahoo is another game I’ve played for ever (ten years!) I’ve placed first in several leagues and usually finish in the top three or four because I’ve learned the hard way which players to draft in the auto draft, and which players to pick up during the mid-season. Some years I haven’t been so lucky because of injuries, but if you know where to look and let someone else’s losses become your gain. You can dominate the league from the start. The following will give you some of the tricks of the trade.
1. Running backs, running backs, running backs! Running backs are the most important players to draft. They should always go high. Some would say quarterbacks because they are involved with each play, but you’ll get more running backs that can catch for yards and run for yards. In the case of Ladainian Thomilson, he’ll throw for yards, too.
Running Backs were the top ten point-getters for fantasy points last year. That list even included Shaun Alexander and he didn’t even play every game due to injuries! But players like Stephen Jackson ran for 1500 yards and caught for 800 yards- that’s a double threat if I ever saw one. Get the running backs that play most downs and aren’t sharing carries among a conglomerate of backs.
2. Rookie Quarterbacks are slow to develop- avoid early! Many great quarterbacks in college didn’t start off so hot in the NFL. It took Vince Young and Matt Leinart half a season just to make it into the starting rotation and they dominated their college leagues for years. Be very wary of drafting upstart QBs. You’re safer with established pros like Manning and Carson Palmer-another great NCAA QB that came into his own three years later. Phillip Rivers sat behind Drew Brees before he exploded. Speaking of Quarterbacks…
3. The Best QBs have the best offensive lines. Even halfway decent quarterbacks can scrounge up some points if they aren’t too busy hitting the ground from getting sacked or running for their lives every play. Check out which team has a solid offensive line and that might be your better back up QB if you don’t get Manning, Brees, Palmer or Rivers. They do well because of their lines AND they have great receiver cores. Some teams don’t have excellent receiving cores but the QBs have time to think, get smarter and get the ball out. Even though McNabb was injured most of last season, he only hit the ground a little over once a game. Vince Young had one bad game where he met the dirt 5 times, but after that he put out his Rookie of the Year performance, regularly completing 60% of his passes in his last ten games. Can you even name his receivers?
4. Receivers are hit-and-miss…be careful! Most offenses have one quarterback, one running back, but two or three receivers. Receivers are out in the open and are very subject to double, triple-teaming. They can pick up a lot of yards in a hurry in one game and then manage 2 catches for 12 yards the next. Even receivers with great quarterbacks can struggle just because the ball can only get to one guy so many times. Drafting receivers near the top can be a big mistake if you don’t choose carefully.
T.O. is usually reliable even though his temperament isn’t. Other than him, the only other dominant receiver is Steve Smith out of Carolina. Even Marvin Harrison, as consistent as he is with a great QB, has to share the ball with Reggie Wayne. My worst year came when I had T.O., Randy Moss, and Harrison on the same team. The first two weren’t happy in their situations and the last guy had a so-so year because of ball distribution. I finished 10th out of 12 with the three best catchers in the game!
5. Kickers rule! I love kickers. Just like in the NFL, they’ve gotten me out of some jams when it came down to the Monday night scoring. I usually get a good kicker fairly high in the draft and it pays out every time. They don’t get injured much and if they are on teams that have offenses that just don’t quite make it to the red zone consistently, kickers can be that sleeper point-getter. Who is Neil Rackers? He was the #6 kicker in fantasy football last year because he kicked for the Cardinals, a team that was very inconsistent on third down near the red zone. Rackers hit 28 field goals last year.
Yet there was one better than him: Robbie Gould of the Bears. He was basically their offense last year with 32 field goals made for the barely-scoring Bears. The other top kickers play on offenses that score a lot of touchdowns. If you can’t get kickers from Cinci, Indy or San Diego (all will have tougher schedules this year), don’t forget Neil or Robbie!
Hopefully these hints will help in your quest to dominate the office fantasy league. Happy drafting!