This fantasy football guide will include both general draft strategy, as well as, some observations that are specific to the 2011 season. Meaning analysis on who you should draft, or the different positions in general.
For this section I am going to start off with a list of things that every fantasy player should know, if your a veteran fantasy player and you just want to find information for this year then scroll down past this list.
- Never skip your draft.
- Always research current player information.
- Don't draft players because you like them.
- Don't be afraid to stray from the default rankings where you play fantasy football
- Have a plan ahead of time including a list of sleepers, busts, projections, and player rankings.
- When it is your turn to draft look ahead to judge what your oppenents will take. For example, I have my eye on a running back and a wide receiver and I like both but I notice all the guys that pick in between me and my next pick are in need of running backs.I then take my running back first and watch them all take running backs then I get my receiver in the next round.
- Try to predict who your opponents will draft.
- Know your league rules. It matters a lot if you are in a 2 QB league, or PPR, or 6 points per passing TD league. These things and many more should influence your draft so know them well.
- Don't buy into the hype for every player. When it comes down to it your the one making the decisions, not every sleeper is going to break out this year.
- Do mock drafts at multiple draft positions preferably using the same settings as your league. For more information on mock drafts check out my article Draft Tip:The Importance of Mock Drafts
- Make your own cheat sheet, A good site to make your own for free is Cheat Sheet War Room
This year the quarterback position has a lot of depth if you are in a single quarterback fantasy football league. My advice this season is to not jump the guns on an early quarterback. Some people say, "but quarterbacks score the most points." Yes this is true, but the difference from the top quarterback to the tenth quarterback is a lot less then the difference between the first and tenth running backs (which you need multiple of as well). This year I would be happy with any of the quarterbacks ranked in the top 12. I plan on waiting until about the 6th round at which point I hope to take Josh Freeman. If you want a top 5 elite quarterback then go ahead but I have found in my many mocks this year that the early quarterback strategy will leave you with at least 1 weak running back or wide receiver on your starting squad. If you are looking for more in depth fantasy football quarterback information then check out my 2011 Quarterback Rankings.
If you find yourself in the top six slots of the draft this year then I think you HAVE to take a running back unless you have extreme faith in another player. At the seventh pick receivers usually start to get drafted but still majority of players will be picking running backs. I suggest picking up a running back in the first round no matter what this year because the field is so thin. The running backs start to have some questions outside of the top 10. A lot of them will still end up as solid picks but you want to have at least one stud running back on your team. In the later rounds you might as well gamble on high upside players, or sleepers. You can check out my Fantasy Football Sleepers 2011. For more fantasy football rankings, projections, and analysis check out my 2011 Running back Rankings.
Personally I think that the wide receiver class this year has a lot of solid players about 30 deep. I believe that teams should have no problem filling their rosters with three starting receivers if that is what you want to do. Finding three quality running backs would probably be much more difficult to nearly impossible this year. My usual strategy in mock drafts this year is to start three wide receivers. When I try to draft three running backs like I usually have done in previous years I almost always have a hard time finding my third running back and at the end I am usually not that happy with my team. If three running backs is your style then that's fine but at least give 3 wide receivers a try in some mocks this year, you might like your results. Another nice thing about receivers is there are always a few deep sleepers. The downside is they are known to be less consistent in fantasy, providing big weeks sometimes and 0 points other weeks, but with this deep WR class and the NFL's increase in passing in recent years you should be fine drafting several receivers. For more in-depth player specific fantasy football receiver projections check out my 2011 Wide Receiver Rankings.
The tight end position can be very valuable in fantasy because there are so few good tight ends. Half of the teams in every fantasy league have tight ends that don't produce very well on a weekly basis. You want to be one of the teams with an elite tight end. My suggestion is that once you see a tight end go off the board that you get yours that same round. You want to have a top 5 tight end this year. Any lower than that and they all get fairly equal. Throughout my ten or so years of fantasy football when I don't have a stud tight end I find it is impossible to trade someone for theirs. No one wants to give up a good tight end, which is why you shouldn't be afraid to get one of the elite tight ends before a flex simply due to how shallow the pool of tight ends is this year for fantasy football purposes. If you are looking for more specific tight end information check out my 2011 Tight End Rankings.
Defense and Special Teams
The defensive position usually doesn't effect your fantasy match too often but occasionally your defense will put up a random 20 points or the occasional -5 if your unlucky. Make sure you know your settings for the defensive position because it is one of the positions that tends to change a lot based on your commissioners settings. One thing you can also consider is to stream your defense, which is basically dropping and picking up a new defense every week based on their match-up. For more information on streaming defenses check out my 2011 Defense and Special Teams Rankings, this page also explains how to stream defenses. For your draft you can pick the team you choose to stream week one or you can just wait until free agency opens after the draft and sometimes leagues will let you pick up one more player than you can draft. If you are not going to stream your defense then I suggest you pick a team that not only has a solid defense but preferably one that has an elite punt and kick returner. That way you can get a lot of special teams points with the touchdowns. If you want more defense specific fantasy football information then check out the 2011 Defense and Special Teams Rankings.
The kicker position is usually overlooked by most fantasy owners but just like the defense always make sure to check your league settings as they can fluctuate a lot. Sometimes they provide a lot of points for long field goals, or negative points for missed field goals so make sure you know. Regardless of the settings I suggest you just make sure you pick up an accurate kicker that is on an OKAY offense but not a spectacular one. The reason why is because if the offense is spectacular then you will probably find your kicker scoring a lot more extra points then field goals. What you want is a team that can drive down but tends to stall out once they get close. A kicker like Mason Crosby with a big leg can sometimes score a lot of points with long field goals.
For player specific analysis and fantasy football projections please check out one of the links below. All of these links contain up-to-date fantasy football articles provided by AnalyzeFantasyFootball.com. Or try using the draft analyzer.