Right about now every NFL team is completing their third preseason game. Some have even played their fourth. This is great news in that it means the NFL regular season is right around the corner. But for many around the country now, the larger reason they are excited is that this is the most common time to draft the most popular of all fantasy sports. I love fantasy football as much as anyone else, however this article is intended to debunk some of the common misconceptions of this still growing hobby.
The first hard truth for most to admit is that the best team actually usually does not win the league title many years. Almost every league has a head to head single elimination end of the season playoff. With so much luck being tied into a single weeks’ game, a team with a much worse regular season record or season point total can get lucky with a hot week. You can suffer a tough injury, or, of course, you can ride guys all year long that played for successful teams and thus have been rested during your fantasy playoffs. There are so many examples every year of the worst team to qualify for the playoffs wining and getting crowned the champion even though they were clearly not the best team.
The next myth is that draft night is where leagues are won. There is so much that happens between draft night and the playoffs that, many times, your playoff team looks nothing like the one you drafted. An active and smart owner will play the hot hand, whether it be a kicker, defense, tight end, or quarterback (if you really like to take chances). With the waiver wire, trades, and injuries, you will at some point be forced to change your line up if you want to experience the sweet taste of victory.
The most recent myth that fantasy players are finally realizing is not 100% true is the “running back is king” myth. The truth is, each and every week in your league you win if you have more points than your opponent–not if you have the best running backs. Running backs are loved because of their consistency; however, it is recently being realized that other positions provide higher potential for greater point totals. Most weeks, the highest scoring individuals will be quarterbacks, followed by a defense or 2 that had great weeks, then the running backs–or, just as frequently as running backs, wide receivers. Top running backs are still important because, as the NFL has moved to so many committees or job sharing situations, the top 5 or 8 (depending on what you consider the elite) become even more valuable. After that you might want to start looking for those other positions, as they should reward you each week with more points and come back to get your running backs later.
One final word before I leave a few suggestions of guys I like significantly more or less than others do. With so much luck and other variables that come into play each week, have fun with your team and try not to take it too seriously. If you are a fan of a particular team or player, feel free to make sure you get them by drafting them a few rounds earlier than most would advise. If you are a Raiders or Broncos fan and can not stand the thought of having to cheer for LaDanian Tomilison against your team twice a year, feel free to take someone else with the #1 pick even though it goes against the normal advice you would hear (and I would actually advise working out a trade ahead of time with someone else drafting later in the first round).
Alright, here are some predictions sure to be wrong:
If you are not willing to spend a first or second round pick for one of the top 4 quarterbacks this year, take McNabb in round 6 or so. He is due to stay healthy for a change and determined to prove his critics wrong by putting up big numbers.
My second favorite under-respected QB is Aaron Rodgers. The Packers would not have driven off an all-time great if he had not shown them something, would they?
Finally, I will be taking a flyer on Matt Schaub, as I believe he has the talent and will be in a position to throw a lot for the Texans.
The quarterback I am avoiding is Carson Palmer. He lost troubled but talented Chris Henry and has two elite but disgruntled wide receivers and a very difficult schedule, all of which spells trouble in my opinion.
The Running Backs I like more than most are DeAngelo Williams (who will get more carries and do more than teammate Jonathon Stewart who is getting drafted higher), Edgerrin James (at least one final bounceback year left), and Steve Slaton, who will become the #1 Texan Running back by the end of the year. None of these guys should be your lead running back, but all could help as your #2 or #3. The only top back I do not like as much as most experts is Frank Gore–just because I do not think the 49ers will be able to stick with the run much this year.
The pass catchers I like more than most are Bryant Johnson (49ers will have to throw a lot and he is their best option) and Roddy White (for much of the same reasons).
Finally, I think Jeremy Shockey will be great in New Orleans with Drew Brees.
The only receivers I am down on more than most are the Patriots main guys (Randy Moss and Wes Welker), as I think they will run more and that Moss and Brady can not match their record setting paces from last year. I also am avoiding Greg Jennings as so much of his value last year was from touchdowns which may or may not continue without Brett Favre this year.
You are on your own for kickers and defenses as they are too fickle for me to take chances in writing on. All I will say is look at the schedules and avoid defenses that you will not feel confident starting for too many weeks because they will be facing too many top offenses. These are two positions that lend themselves greatly to playing the best matchup available on the waiver wire each week.
Ben Loux is father of two and husband of one (it works well that way). He makes his home in the Rochester, NY, area.