Fantasy Football Draft Tips for Beginners

Football season is starting again soon, and with it, the start of another fantasy football season as well. Already a national pastime; it’s ok if this is your first fantasy season. Set your lineup, make sure players are healthy, and mainly just participate to any degree that looks like trying, and you’ll be ok in most leagues.

NBC’s Matthew Berry, who may be the biggest name in fantasy football content, calls it the great equalizer — because everybody has a chance, and all kinds of people play. However, if you’re playing to win your fantasy league, here are a few drafting tips to show everyone in your league that the newbie shouldn’t be underestimated.

5 Tips to Building a Winning Fantasy Team

As a fantasy manager, draft day is one of the most important days of the season. It could determine whether you just get to set your lineup and forget it for the most part, or if you’ll be on the waiver wire every week looking for breakout players and splitting hairs on who to play at multiple positions. If you’d rather have the first of those options, these tips will help you get there.

1. Check What Scoring Format You’re Playing First

The scoring format for your league obviously matters a lot, although most leagues will just be standard PPR leagues. PPR stands for points-per-reception, so any player that makes a catch will get a point for that catch plus points for any yards or touchdowns that follow. The reason there’s a distinction here is because the old “standard” for scoring only gave points to offensive players for yards and touchdowns. Some people still play this way.

The main difference here is that it takes power away from traditional running-backs and shifts it more towards pass-catchers (at any eligible position). Other scoring variations include .5 PPR leagues, superflex leagues where you have flex spots open to any position, and two QB leagues. It’s really league-dependent, but most go with standard PPR scoring formats.

2. Draft a Running Back or Wide Receiver in the First Round

When drafting, there are two main schools of thought. The first is always primarily concerned with drafting a running back in the first and probably in the second round as well. This fantasy draft strategy held especially true before PPR became the norm. Running backs, especially good ones, have far and away the most reliability for touches outside of the quarterback. The second strategy is more of a best-player-available scenario. You try to build your team by basically getting high-end, but maybe not the best players at every position. 

However, wide receivers and running backs are almost always the right choice in the first round, so with those two positions in mind, take whichever player sounds most reliable to you when your turn comes around. Keep in mind, QBs are not first round picks. Even though they get more touches and lead the team, the way the game is scored and less variance in QB scoring lead to them being less valuable as a high draft pick.

3. Get a Running QB

Having a running quarterback is getting more and more crucial. Ideally, you get one of the top QBs, and 4 of the top 5 by average draft position (ADP) are quarterbacks who are running threats. You could argue two or three more in the top ten are as well. Having a top week as a quarterback alone with just passing requires a massive week. Although there are guys, like Justin Herbert and Tom Brady, who provide high-scoring floors on passing alone.

If you can’t get one of the top-end running QBs, then drafting a young QB with running potential to sit on your bench is a good idea. They could become a high-end starter at some point in the season. Just to give you a better idea of where a QB should be drafted, Josh Allen is currently going first of them by a wide margin, and he’s being drafted at the end of the second or the early third round.

4. Invest in a Good Offense

Drafting based on your own fandom isn’t a great call if you want to win fantasy games, however, if you find a team you like who has a highly-rated offense, then it can be a good strategy to draft multiple players from the same offense. That way, if you have the team’s quarterback, you’ll get credit for both players when they score. The right combination of draft picks could make it so you score with basically any production from that team’s offense. 

However, you should only rely on two of them in most cases to be every-week starters on your fantasy team. Other weeks might warrant you playing a third or fourth guy on that team, but it’s unlikely that a team has a top-10 WR, RB, and QB, and those are the players you can typically start every week.

5. Take a Defense Early or Fill In With Multiple

Defense is an afterthought in fantasy football, and you shouldn’t stress about it, but a good one can be a big boost. Your best bet to secure a reliable every-week-starting defense is to either draft one of those projected to be the best before anyone else does, between the ninth and tenth round, or to take a team that projects reasonably well as well as one or two that you’re betting on to be better than projected. However, defense is very unpredictable year to year, so there’s probably around a 50-50 chance you’ll be alternating defenses most games of the season.

Now Go Win Your Fantasy Draft

One of the most important things to remember with fantasy football is to have fun with it. Just taking a few of the basic tips to heart, setting your lineup, and not worrying about it after that is one of the best ways to do that while having a decent chance to win as well.

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