Well, football season is upon us. Which means fantasy football season is upon us. Normally that's a fun time of year for me, but there has been one very frustrating aspect that I need to get off my chest. Like any other fantasy buff, I typically purchase and read/study 4-6 different fantasy guide publications per year to have as much knowledge as I can going into fantasy season. It usually pays off, as I normally have very strong fantasy drafts, which has led to a pretty strong rate of fantasy success for me recently. In the last two NFL seasons, I've played in twelve combined fantasy leagues. I've won five of those leagues, finished second in three others, and only missed the playoffs in one out of twelve leagues. As a matter of fact, last year I allowed my wife (who knew very little about fantasy football going into the season) to use a copy of my own personal player rankings for a draft for a 12-team family fantasy league and she ended up winning the league, largely on the strength of the team she drafted using my player rankings (although I used those same rankings and she beat my ass like I owed her money, so you can draw your own conclusions there). I don't say any of this to toot my own horn, because to be honest, anyone can be a fantasy football whiz. It's not rocket science, it just takes research, preparation, and a little bit of luck.
My problem this year, however, is I have noticed a significant downgrade in the quality of the fantasy football guides on the market this year. For whatever reason, this year when I went fantasy guide shopping, a lot of the guides I normally use weren't available (such as the NFL.com, Sporting News, and ESPN guides). Instead, I was left selecting between “Joe Blow's Shitty Fantasy Football Guide” and “Joe Schmoe's Shittier Fantasy Football Guide.” And let me tell you, some of those publications made my heard hurt. My personal favorite was the “Handcuff” section in the USA Today guide, which listed five “Must-Have Handcuffs.” One of the five was the currently third string running back in Tennessee (behind Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer). First of all, Chris Johnson hasn't missed a start since I don't even know, so handcuffing him is largely a waste of a roster spot. Secondly, they suggested his handcuff be a guy who isn't even the primary backup. But my favorite “Must-Have Handcuff” was Brady Quinn, who is currently Matt Cassel's backup in Kansas City. First of all, if you draft Matt Cassel as your starting quarterback, you have bigger problems than worrying about a handcuff, primarily that your fantasy team sucks because you have no idea what the hell you're doing. Secondly, even if Matt Cassel wasn't such a shitty quarterback, Brady Quinn wasn't worth a roster spot when he was a starter, let alone a backup to an equally shitty quarterback. And the best part was, the guide even acknowledged that Cassel sucks, because they had him listed as their 28th ranked quarterback.
However, I think my favorite unintentionally hilarious moment of my fantasy research so far has been one publication's entry for Michael Bush, which said that “fantasy novices” may consider Bush a sleeper, but he's really not, and then the entry listed a few reason why they think he's not going to be anything special in Chicago. The kicker was, his entry had the little “sleeper” icon next to it. So essentially, they said that only novices consider him a sleeper, then told you they considered him one, effectively telling you that you bought and are reading a guide written by novices.
So if I'm paying for fantasy football guides written by people who know less than me, what the hell, I decided to make my own. I won't be giving out my top-secret player rankings, but I will be offering drafting tips that will help you get a leg up on your league on draft day. And yes, I know this is late, but I needed to wait until I was done with my own drafting to ensure that I'm not inadvertently hurting myself by helping people who may use my own information to compete against me. So without further ado:
ACRAPPYWEBSITE.COM's OFFICIAL FANTASY FOOTBALL GUIDE 2012
1. Don't draft a kicker until the last round. In 2011, the difference between the highest-scoring kicker in the league and the twelfth-highest scoring kicker in the league was less than three points per game, and even that differential is inflated, as the highest set an NFL record for field goals in a season. The difference between the second-highest and the twelfth highest was less than two points per game. And that record-seeting kicker was David Akers, who wasn't even drafted in most leagues. Yes, some other people in your league will invariably take kickers early, so by waiting until the last round to draft your kicker, you will “miss out” on one of the “lolelite” kickers. However, while those jokers are taking a kicker in the 10th round who may not even end up with more points than your last-round kicker, you're getting a quality backup or breakout candidate who will help your team a lot more when bye weeks begin and injuries start to pile up. Roster depth is key in fantasy football, don't sacrifice it for a damn kicker. Just pad your depth and wait until the last round, then pick the kicker on the best offense available, and laugh at the guy who bragged about getting David Akers when he's starting John Kuhn at running back because one of his starters got hurt and he didn't have quality backups.
2. Don't draft a kicker until the last round. No, I didn't forget about the paragraph I just wrote, roster depth is just that damn important. Think Fight Club for fantasy football.
3. Don't draft a defense too early in standard scoring formats. This rule is more a function of defense unpredictability than anything else. While some defenses may be consistently good for a long time (Pittsburgh and Baltimore are the usual examples), many others are wildly inconsistent year to year in terms of fantasy scoring, as fantasy scoring can be greatly influenced by turnovers and touchdowns scored on defense and special teams, which vary greatly year to year. You can almost guarantee that half the teams drafted as fantasy starting units will be either benched or waived by season's end, and conversely, half the starting units by the end of the year will have either started out the year as a backup defense or on the waiver wire. Just look at last year for example. The Packers were the sexy pick for the fantasy defense to own, so many people reached to draft them early, and how'd that work out for them? Exactly. And then there was the Eagles defense that caused many a fantasy GM to pull their hair out. On the other hand, very few people drafted the 49ers, Texans, or Lions as their starting defense, but by the end of the year they were three of the top fantasy defenses across most formats.
The Lions are an especially good example of this. They were not a good defense at all last. How else do you explain how Mathew Stafford threw for 500 yards and 5 touchdowns in Week 17, and they still lost to the Packers backups led by a record-setting Matt Flynn, who wound up not even being able to beat out Russel Wilson (who?) for the Seahawks starting gig this year? And because the Lions were such a poor defense, almost nobody drafted them as a starting defense last year, yet they finished first among defenses in standard scoring formats, because they forced a lot of turnovers, got a decent sack total, and scored the most defensive touchdowns in the league, a feat they are not likely to replicate this year, which means this year they'll likely be overdrafted.
4. Don't draft any Cleveland Browns. Sorry, I feel for Cleveland fans, as they are the one fan base in the league who has suffered more than Lions fans, but I just can't advocate drafting any Browns in the position they're likely to be drafted. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as the team has had a historically bad offense of late, but some people just can't see the forest for the trees. The defense and kicker are both jokes. The tight ends and receivers are a who's who of “Who the hell is that?” Unless you can get Greg Little or Mohammed Massaquoi late (I got Little as my #5 WR in the 15th round of a 12-team draft), don't draft them expecting starter production.
I have serious doubts that Chris Weinke, I mean Brandon Weedon, will be any sort of upgrade over Colt McCoy (at least this year), and as much as people want to anoint Trent Richardson the next fantasy star, he certainly won't be one this year. While his recent surgery is cooling expectations a bit, I've seen plenty of people describe Richardson as a first round fantasy pick, and even saw one “expert” rank him the third best running fantasy running back this year. Which brings me to…
5. Do not draft a rookie early expecting him to be a fantasy stud in his rookie season just because he was a stud in college. While there are occasionally rookies who do have significant fantasy seasons as rookies, they are the expection, not the rule. Take the top running back drafted in the last five NFL drafts, for example, because that is the position most highly regarded as able to make an immediate impact as a pro. Adrian Peterson took the league and fantasy world by storm in his rookie season five years ago, but since then, no top-drafted running back has panned out (from a fantasy perspective) their rookie year. In 2008, Darren McFadden came into the league, and really wasn't fantasy-relevant until the last two years (when he can stay on the field). In 2009, Knowshon Moreno came in with high expectations that he didn't live up to (and he now finds himself the third RB on his own team). In 2010, C.J. Spiller was considered a can't-miss prospect worthy of a top pick in fantasy, yet he's still the #2 back on his own team three seasons into his career. And in 2011, Mark Ingram was compared to Emmit Smith and “experts” couldn't stop gushing about him and how you couldn't possibly draft him too high in fantasy leagues, and then he ended up as the third most productive back on his own team. That means if you took the top running back taken in the last five NFL drafts in their rookie season, you had a 20% chance of them being worth their draft spot. Now, I'll never be mistaken for a riverboat gambler, but I just don't like those odds in any fantasy draft pick other than backups and sleepers.
And that doesn't only apply to the top running back taken in the NFL drafts either. In fact, there were 11 running backs taken in the first round from 2008 through 2011, and Chris Johnson was the only one whose rookie season fantasy production was even close to being worthy of an RB1 draft position. By my count, five of the eleven backs drafted in the first round since 2008 were AT BEST fantasy RB2's, but more realistically RB3's in their rookie seasons, with the remaining six probably not even worth a roster spot except in deeper leagues. In fact, since 2009, only one rookie running back has run for 1000 yards, (Legarrette Blount) and he wasn't drafted, and was even cut by the first team to offer him a free agent contract, so literally nobody saw that one coming. Yet despite the fact that these first round backs are overdrafted EVERY YEAR, and they disappoint fantasy owners with unrealistic expectations EVERY YEAR, those same owners will run out and draft another heavy hype/light production rookie the next year. It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so pardon me if I'm not drinking the Trent Richardson Kool-Aid just yet.
Well, what about other positions you ask. And yes, before you say it, Cam Newton had a phenomenal rookie year that took everyone by surprise. But the fact that he was available on the waiver wire in so many leagues as a #1 overall pick should tell you something. Rookie quarterbacks on the whole are not good fantasy investments as anything other than backups or matchup-based spot starters. Yes, some good rookie quarterbacks will give you a solid stat line here and there, such as Andy Dalton last year, Sam Bradford the year before, and Matthew Stafford's ridiculous record-breaking 400 yard, 5 touchdown game against the Browns his rookie year. But for the most part, rookie quarterbacks not named Cam Newton are not good options for week-in, week-out fantasy starters.
What about wide receivers? Last year, A.J. Green and Julio Jones had good fantasy years, you might say. And Green did, but I'll debate you on Jones, because I maintain that his total production did not justify his draft selection spot in most fantasy drafts. He had a decent touchdown total, but due to missing a few games, he failed to reach 1000 yards, and wasn't top 20 among receivers in most scoring formats. So while he was no slouch, and I'd be excited as hell about him if I was a Falcons fan, the fact is, if you drafted him in the top 20 receivers last year, you overpaid. But even giving him the nod and calling that one a win, look at what other first-round rookie receivers have done in recent years. 2007 featured the less-than impressive debuts of Ted Ginn Jr, Dwayne Bowe, Robert Meachem, Anthony Gonzalez, and Buster Davis. Even Calvin Johnson's rookie year wasn't anything to necessarily write home about (756 yards, 5 TDs) and he had the most production of any rookie receiver that year. 2008 didn't see any receivers selected in the first round, so at least you can't say there were any first-round busts that year. 2009 was a better year for future fantasy receivers and featured several guys that would break out in subsequent years (Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Jeremy Maclin, and Percy Harvin), but none of them had an especially productive rookie campaign, and the top two receivers taken that year we're still waiting on to break out (Darrius Heyward-Bey and Michael Crabtree). And no, Oakland fans, I don't call almost getting 1000 yards as a former Top-10 overall pick breaking out. 2010 saw two rookie receivers taken in the first round in Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant. Thomas might finally get a chance to do something now that Denver has an actual quarterback, and the pieces are all there for Bryant if he could just pull his head out of his ass, but again, neither made a big splash as a rookie. And last year's draft, in addition to the aforementioned Green and Jones, also included first round pick Jonathan Baldwin, who didn't do nearly as much. So there you go, 17 receivers taken in the first round of the last five years' worth of NFL drafts, and only two of them you can even make the argument were worthy of a starting fantasy slot in their rookie seasons.
And as for tight ends, if after all this you want to take a rookie tight end as your fantasy starter, you knock yourself right out. But, every draft there's someone who just has to reach for Coby Fleener since he's familiar with Andrew Luck. I suspect those are the same people that reached for Earl Bennet when Jay Cutler went to Chicago since they were teammates at Vanderbilt, and look how that worked out for them. But if you still insist on taking a rookie tight end just because he's familiar with his rookie quarterback, go ahead. I'll take the WR2 you leave on the board who will net me 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns, while Fleener gets half that, and I'll get a tight end who will match Fleener's production five rounds later while you're trying to decide between Donald Driver and Jason Avant as your WR2.
6. Ignore a player's contract status at your own risk. Players entering a contract year are FAR more motivated than players who just got paid. Don't believe me? Fine, I've got two words for you:
Okay, that's an extreme example, but there are other more practical examples in fantasy football land that illustrate my point. Take Chris Johnson for example. Two years in a row, he wanted to get paid, and he was a top-3 fantasy back. Then last year, he got paid, and was a huge disappointment. You can make the argument that his holdout hurt more than getting paid (which may be true), but I can list other examples where guys "just happen" to have career years when they're looking for that next big contract, then fall off a cliff (Sidney Rice anyone?). Last year, for example, Ray Rice, Marshawn Lynch, and Matt Forte were all fantasy monsters, and they all just happened to be in a contract year. Now, not all players in contract years are created equal, and not all are as risky the year after they get paid, but there are some good indicators to watch for. If a player's jump in production can also be attributed to a change in offensive philosophy (such as Ray Rice getting more goal-line carries), then he's not as risky the following year. But if a player is particularly vocal about getting paid (Matt Forte) or their production seems to be an anomally compared to their recent body of work with no other obvious contributing factors (Marshawn Lynch), then you have yourself a ready-made bust candidate. It's been said that you should never pay for a career year when drafting a fantasy team. Well, I say you should never pay for a contract year either, because you might be very disappointed with the results. However, if a player is close to that next level, and they just happen to be in the last year of their current contract, that might be just the motivation they need to be a draft-day bargain.
7. Ignore a player's injury history at your own peril. This year seems to have a huge crop of running backs that come with major injury concerns. It seems like 20 of the top 25 running backs all have at least one big question mark heading into this year, so you could treat that one of two ways. You could say 'Well, they're all injury concerns, so fuck it, I'll just take whoever I want, red flags be damned." Or, you could take a safer option with a top shelf quarterback or receiver, and get your second and third running backs a couple rounds later when all the riverboat gamblers have had their fun. I always say, fantasy championships are not won in the first four rounds, but they can certainly be lost there. With your high round picks, you need to be as close to certain as you can be that your picks do not end up wasted, or you can find yourself in a huge hole once bye weeks and injuries start setting in. And no, nothing in fantasy football is certain, but you can certainly minimize your risk, and taking, say 3 or more running backs coming off major injuries is more like maximizing your risk.
The funny thing with this rule is, even if some people remember that a player is an injury concern when thinking about drafting that player, they forget that fact when drafting said player's teammates who could be affected by that injury. Take Peyton Manning, for example. Not many people are taking Peyton Manning as a starting quarterback, because they expect he won't be the same player as he was when he was putting up those Madden-like numbers in Indy. However, they seem to forget that when they pick Eric Decker or Demaryius Thomas as their WR1 or WR2, or Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen as their top tight end, because they assume he'll do for those guys what he did for the likes of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, etc. in Indy. Makes no sense that people know that Manning's numbers won't be the same as they used to be, but somehow they think his receivers' numbers will be.
With injuries, even if players return and play a full season after a major injury (such as a torn ACL), they're rarely the same player in that first year back. Take Ryan Grant for example. In 2009, Grant was a top-5 fantasy back who was good for 1500+ yards from scrimmage and double-digit touchdowns annually, with a bright future ahead of him. In Week 1 of 2010, he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season. In 2011, he came back and wasn't anywhere near the player he was in 2009. He was unable to regain his starting spot from James Starks, who was so underwhelming that the Packers signed Cedric Benson, who was so underwhelming that the Bengals declined to bring him back. After a dismal 2011, Grant was cut loose by the Packers, and still hasn't signed with a team. Even the Lions, whose running back stable scares the hell out of me, as they can't seem to stay out of the training room and/or the courtroom, haven't been interested enough to call him for a look-see. From 1500 yards to watching from his couch, all due to an ACL. And even players who have successfully come back from ACL tears haven't been able to do much the year after the injury. No matter how hard someone rehabs, the body just can't get back to its' former physical condition that quickly after a major injury. So if you draft Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, or Rashard Mendenhall expecting their production levels from a couple years back, you're probably going to be disappointed. Which brings us to my first of three handcuff-related tips...
8. Handcuff your top players only if their backup is worth that roster spot. Adrian Peterson owners would be wise to handcuff him with Toby Gerhart, as Gerhart was decently productive when AP went down. Likewise, Fred Jackson owners would be wise to grab C.J. Spiller and Jamaal Charles owners Peyton Hillis. But it's not so simple for Darren McFadden owners. For starters, you don't really know who his backup is. Is it Mike Goodson (who's on a new team)? Is it Taiwan Jones (who's coming back from an injury of his own)? A good rule of thumb is, if the player isn't worth a fantasy spot in his own right, he's not worth a spot as a handcuff. You're far better off grabbing another option from another team than having to plug in a sub-par player who won't be worth starting if your top guy goes down.
9. If you want a handcuff to one of your top players, be prepared to reach for him. People will not just let a good player pass them by on draft day just because he could be someone else's handcuff. For example, Ben Tate was a damn good fantasy back in his own right last year and was more productive than many starting running backs on other teams, even occasionally passing 100 yards when Arian Foster was in the lineup. Another team drafting their third or fourth running back may have him next on their ranking list and they're not going to pass on him just because you want to handcuff him to Arian Foster. If you want to guarantee your handcuffs, you'd better jump on them a round or two before you expect other owners to get down to them in their rankings. Otherwise, they might not be there and you'll be left with an injury-prone player without a backup plan.
10. Don't handcuff shitty players, or players who are low on your roster anyway. If you draft Donald Brown as your RB3, you don't need Delone Carter just because Brown has had a couple injuries. You're just as well off taking a better player on another team. Who knows, you might even luck into getting an improvement over that scrubby-ass Donald Brown anyway.
11. Don't draft any Redskins running backs. In the last two years Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Tim Hightower, Roy Helu, and Evan Royster have all had good games for Mike Shanahan. The problem is, most of those good games were not in consecutive weeks by the same player. In fact, word is Alfred Morris (who?) is currently Shanahan's back of choice. Picking which back Shanahan is going to ride in any given week is like playing darts blindfolded. Pass on the 'Skins running backs and leave the Shanahanigans to another owner.
12. Don't buy into the hype for a player who had a couple good games in limited playing time. Every year's free agency brings a Scott Mitchell who frustrates the team who gave him a big signing bonus and the fantasy owners who wasted an early pick on him. Last year, Kevin Kolb got his starting gig in Arizona, and I cautioned that he wouldn't be as good as his few games he started in Philly, and I was right. One year later, the team threw their hat into the Peyton Manning sweepstakes and just recently named John Skelton their Week 1 starter. In Week 17 of last year, Matt Flynn threw for almost 500 yards and 6 scores against a terrible Detroit secondary, and turned that performance into a fat contract and a starting job with the Seahawks. I immediately christened him this year's Kevin Kolb. I was wrong, because at least Kolb managed to hold onto his job for a year before losing it to some scrub most people haven't heard of.
13. Don't buy into the hype for a lesser player replacing a fantasy stud due to a trade, free agency, or retirement. Remember Anthony Gonzalez? He was that guy who replaced Marvin Harrison a few years ago in the Colts' starting lineup after they decided Harrison was just too old. He was billed as the next great receiver and all the experts gushed about him. I mean how could he disappoint? He was a great slot receiver, and as we all know, when great slot receivers get thrust into starting jobs, they turn out just as good, if not better, right? Right? Well, except for the fact that he got hurt in his first game as a starter, and once he got healthy he couldn't get back on the field, because while he was hurt, Peyton Manning made Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie into stars.
Or, if you can't find Anthony Gonzalez (because he's not in Indy anymore, last I heard he was trying to make New England's roster), you can ask Steve Breaston. He was a great slot receiver in Arizona when Lary Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were hogging all the defensive attention. So great, in fact, that the Cardinals let Boldin go to Baltimore. Turns out Steve Breaston wasn't nearly as good as Boldin was. And then the same thing happened when they felt comfortable enough with Early Doucet to let Breaston go to Kansas City, where he's struggling to stay in the starting lineup. So just a few years removed from the Cardinals having arguably the best receiver trio in football, Larry Fitzgerald is publicly politicing for them to go out and get another good receiver because he went from having Anquan Boldin opposite him to Early Doucet, and the results have not been pretty. All because they assumed a backup would step in and do as well as the departing star. Don't you make the same mistake when you're looking at drafting Malcolm Floyd because you have visions of Vincent Jackson's production dancing in your head.
14. Don't buy into the hype for that player whose bandwagon for whatever reason, the fantasy "experts" are all inexplicably jumping on at the same time. A couple years back, it was Devin Aromoshodou in Chicago. He'd never been more than a backup, but he had one or two decent games at the end of the year, and then Mike Martz came in to run the offense, and all the experts saw him as a top-20 fantasy receiver because he was tall and seemed like the kind of guy Martz would make into a star. Except that in reality, he stayed in the exact same spot on the depth chart and the stat sheet as he'd been the previous year, and then the next year, he was gone. This year's "What the hell are you thinking?" expert sleeper seems to be Devery Henderson. Apparently, since Robert Meachem left town, Henderson's going to have a monster year. That's a great theory, and I realize that Drew Brees will probably flirt with 5000 yards again, but there's a small problem. Even with Meachem gone, Henderson is still no better than the 5th receiving option in New Orleans. Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles, and Lance Moore will all have better receiving numbers, and I wouldn't bet against another running back possibly even catching more passes than him as well.
Another name I inexplicably hear the word "sleeper" associated with is Josh Freeman. This time last year, everyone was debating which guy would be the top quarterback from the 2009 class, Freeman or Mark Sanchez. I kept quietly raising my hand and saying "Um....Matthew Stafford?" Turns out I was right. Stafford threw for 5000 yards and 40 TDs (yet still managed to not make it to the Pro Bowl amazingly), Freeman fell flat on his face, and Sanchez was so terrible that the Jets brought in Tim "lower completion percentage than Jamarcus Russel" Tebow. My little "I told you so" aside, I don't understand why in the blue hell everyone thinks Josh Freeman is going to be a star all of a sudden just because they brought in Vincent Jackson. Jerry Rice himself couldn't make Josh Freeman into a good quarterback. He was only drafted in the first round in 2009 because shitty quarterbacks always get overdrafted. He sucked in 2009, he sucked in 2010, he sucked in 2011, and he's going to suck until they draft another quarterback to replace him with. If a guy hasn't "gotten it" in his first three years, he's not going to magically flip a switch just because you get him a new receiver. Trust me, this time next year, the debate will be how many games Josh Freeman starts before they sub in Matt Barkley. And yes, I do think Tampa Bay has a shot to be the worst team in the league this year and be in the position to draft Matt Barkley.
15. Don't draft Ben Roethlisberger unless your league awards points for rape and/or making sure everybody knows how hurt you are every time you stub your toe or your shoelaces come untied. Here's what's going to happen with Rapistberger, because it's the same thing that happens every year. He's going to have low end QB1 or high end QB2 numbers. He's going to wear more pink than any other player in the league for Breast Cancer Awareness Month so people knows how much he totally respects women since he's totally not a rapist. He's going to have at least one instance where he uses some mysterious injury nobody else was aware of to show how tough he is and/or to explain a bad game he had, causing Mike Tomlin to have to answer a bunch of questions about his "injury" in press conferences with responses ranging from "Ben will be fine and he'll be ready to play on Sunday" to "I'm just glad he hasn't been accused of raping someone for over a year now." He will also be criticized by at least one teammate for being a prima donna. If being the guy who drafted all that is really worth having a below average fantasy quarterback, then by all means, take him. But for me, I prefer a rapist-free team. Although I do have Mikel Leshoure as a backup on one team this year, so I can't claim to have all stoner-free teams.
16. Stop waiting for perennial disappointments to finally live up to their hype. Eventually, teams get over wasted high draft picks and inflated free agent signing bonuses. You should too. The fact that the 49ers signed Mario Manningham, drafted A.J. Jenkins, and wheeled Randy Moss out of the retirement home should tell you they've given up on Michael Crabtree, so you probably should, too.
17. Don't draft a team full of guys who used to be awesome assuming they still are. There was a time that Peyton Manning,Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Reggie Wayne, Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss, and Antonio Gates would've been a super-awesome team that could go undefeated all year and win you the championship without breaking a sweat. That time, was 2007. In 2012, you'll be lucky if half those guys don't end up on IR and are still starting for their teams at season's end.
18. Don't reach for players from your favorite team. I just did a draft against an obvious 49ers fan in a keeper league who set the 49ers defense as his lone keeper, and then he drafted six more 49ers throughout the draft. We've all pretty much already put a "W" next to that game on our schedules. Don't be that guy.
I'm a Detroit Lions fan, and this one is a little harder for me this year, as they actually have a few players worth owning in fantasy, but I still haven't reached for any. I don't have Calvin Johnson in any leagues, I have Matthew Stafford in two (but never took him before the 5th quarterback taken), don't have Brandon Pettigrew except as a backup in one league, and as much as I love Kevin Smith (I have more Kevin Smith football cards than any other player except Barry Sanders), there's no way I'm drafting him in the spots I've seen him drafted in. He's just not worth a starting fantasy spot, because he won't be their starter for long, unless Jahvid Best doesn't play at all this year and Mikel Leshoure gets arrested again. And even if he he does hold onto the starting spot, that's only until he gets hurt, which happens all too much with him.
However, I must admit, I do have Jason Hanson as my kicker in five different leagues since, as already explained, kickers just don't fucking matter anyway, so I might as well get one I can really root for instead of taking Sebastian Janikowski and hoping his fat ass doesn't slip on a banana peel as he lines up for a field goal. Which brings me to my next rule...
19. Don't draft a kicker until the last round. Seriously, it's more important than the first rule of Fight Club.
20. Try to have fun. I say try because this one is for me, too, because I'm very competitive about everything. If my wife starts to orgasm before me, I pull out and start jerking off to catch up. That's how competitive I am. My goal for this year is to not break any household items as a result of fantasy football. I'll let you know how it works.
21. Take all fantasy advice with a grain of salt, especially mine. Remember, it's your team, and if you want to take every last player on your favorite team so you can cheer them all on every week and that's more fun for you, by all means, go ahead. And if you have a differing opinion than me on certain players and you think Trent Richardson and Josh Freeman are going to tear it up this year, then draft them. You're the one who has to be happy with your team, and you're the one who has to live with the draft picks you made as the season wears on, so go with what your gut tells you.
Besides, I don't want me email blowing up in Week 1 because you wanted to draft somebody, but I said not to so you didn't, and then they had a huge week.
P.S. Besides the rule about the kicker, that one you should take as gospel.
people are STILL going to draft a kicker before the last round