Top 10 tips for a successful fantasy football season

By William Cochrane
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 04: Quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 04: Quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

As the NFL season kicks off, so does another fantasy football season. Here are 10 solid fantasy football tips that will help you have a successful season.

All in all, this will be my 28th year playing fantasy football. The game coupled with the strategic concept each and every year never fails to get old for me. Without a doubt it, in my opinion, it’s one of the greatest games ever invented.

Placing yourself as the general manager and head coach of your very own NFL football team is an extremely euphoric challenge. The correlation between watching real football and playing fantasy football is a truly intense feeling. Whether you are simply playing for fun or playing for money and prizes, in either case, you will quickly find yourself falling in love with the game.

As a result, you will be focusing a bit more time and energy into the game. Correspondingly, over time you will learn something new each and every week that will eventually help yourself become a more competitive player. Just as the brilliant former head coach and now ESPN analyst Herm Edwards said: “You play to win the game.” Consequently, this is why millions of fans have found themselves so addicted to the game of fantasy football. On the contrary, we don’t just play to win, we also play for the enjoyment of the game.

With the season starting on Thursday night, I know many owners are looking for any type of edge that may help them this fantasy football season. Complementary to this I have come up with 10 tips you can use this season as well as in the future. Hopefully, a few of these tips that I pass on to you here or at least one will help you find some better success this upcoming season.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 09: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants carries the ball as Damarious Randall #23 of the Cleveland Browns defends in the first quarter during their preseason game on August 9,2018 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 09: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants carries the ball as Damarious Randall #23 of the Cleveland Browns defends in the first quarter during their preseason game on August 9,2018 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

10. Prepare for your draft

The first few rounds of your fantasy football draft must be players who are going to rack up the most points for your team on a weekly basis. Accordingly, running backs are going to be the players that are going to score you the most points throughout the season.

The second position would be the wide receiver. Consequently, you definitely want to stockpile the best of the best from these two positions within your first four rounds. Search websites and look for the top player ADP (average draft position), these are where players are being drafted at in all fantasy leagues.

Print them out and have them handy during your draft. Highlight players you want and feel can be sleepers in later rounds. Do your research early on and always go with your gut feeling with who will earn you the most consistent points on a weekly basis.

Next: 9. Quarterbacks

FOXBOROUGH, MA – AUGUST 16: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles during the preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 16, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA – AUGUST 16: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles during the preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 16, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

9. Quarterbacks

There is no huge need to draft a well-known quarterback early in your draft. The reason being is because there is no significant scoring difference between top quarterbacks and lower tiered quarterbacks.

For instance, Tom Brady finished 5th with 22.5 points a game while Josh McCown finished 14th just 2 points per game lower. So accordingly draft your first quarterback towards the mid rounds of 5-8.

Ideally, don’t be “that guy” that wants to draft Aaron Rodgers in Round 1 just because you want the best of the best. Some of the top fantasy owners who consistently win leagues year in, year out, work the waiver wire weekly for the best quarterbacks entering favorable matchups. Quarterbacks are important but remember, it’s always about the matchup, not so much their last name.

Next: 8. Kickers and Defenses

TAMPA, FL – DECEMBER 10: Matt Prater #5 of the Detroit Lions kicks the game-winning 46-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. The Lions won 24-21. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – DECEMBER 10: Matt Prater #5 of the Detroit Lions kicks the game-winning 46-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. The Lions won 24-21. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

8. Kickers and Defenses

Now myself, I totally avoid drafting a kicker or a defense during the draft. I prefer to use those two positions ordinarily on a sleeper pick I like in the event that no one has drafted the specific player I had as a sleeper.

That way, after my league and team are drafted, I look over my team and other teams in the league to see if I can possibly make a trade. In contrast, some fantasy players like to draft two defenses, but this is an absolute waste.

Additionally, during the season, I correspondingly drop and pick up kickers and defenses almost weekly. Usually, you will find defenses and kickers on the free agent list that are set to score a lot of points in that certain week. Conversely, you will find a defense that is going up against a very weak offense as well as a team that turns the football over a lot. You will also find a free agent kicker that is going up against a team who gives up a lot of points to the kicking position.

Next: 7. Players that are not producing

7. Players that are not producing

Okay, so you drafted your team, used a high or mid-round pick on a player who is usually a consistent player. When they don’t produce, this is what will virtually kill a fantasy team.

Do you keep starting him, do you bench him, or is it time to release this player? You have to investigate why this player is not helping your team win games. Maybe he has an injury or he’s playing with that which could last the entire season.

NFL teams are very quiet about players’ injuries and will not make it public. If you investigate and somehow find it known this player is dealing with an injury, you may want to stash him on your bench until he shows some production. If you have done so and he is still not producing, try and trade him and see if there is someone in your league that will take him off your hands. If not, then do not be afraid to let him go, release this player and go pick yourself up a free agent who is actually producing.

Next: 6. Stay alert on players in free agency

FOXBORO, MA – AUGUST 11: Bill Bellichick of the New England Patriots watches drills before a preseason game with New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA – AUGUST 11: Bill Bellichick of the New England Patriots watches drills before a preseason game with New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

6. Stay alert on players in free agency

Besides just looking at your own team and adjusting your roster weekly, make sure to see how current free agents are doing in your league. While they may be having a big season and another team will pick them up before you do, stay on top of this.

Check out how they played the last three games. Maybe they were a lower tiered player before the season started, whereas, just like NFL coaches do, teams bench players who are underperforming and replace them with a backup player.

The player who was waiting for his shot then performs well and takes over the number one running back or receiver position on that specific team could be a keeper for many weeks ahead. Many times you will find a player who is going to win you a lot more games than a player you currently have. Pick these players up and drop one of your own players, providing that a player you have is not performing the way he was projected to.

Next: 5. Setting your weekly lineup

GLENDALE, AZ – AUGUST 11: Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of the preseason NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ – AUGUST 11: Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of the preseason NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

5. Setting your weekly lineup

Look to exploit favorable matchups. Let’s say you have a running back on your bench who is going against a team that is giving up a lot of fantasy points against the running back position, make sure to start him above anyone else.

Maybe they are giving up a lot of yards to backs or even better, touchdowns. A player at any position you have that is going up against an abysmal defense that is giving up yards and the all mighty touchdown is the one you want to certainly have in your starting lineup.

Same goes against one of your players who will be going up against a stingy defense. Sit that player for the week in favor for the most favorable matchup. Note that this may be very hard to do if you have a player who is just crushing it no matter what defense he winds up facing. Those types of players you should not bench, never sit a hot player while he is racking up mega points for you until he comes back down to earth.

Next: 4. Stay up to date on the latest football news

4. Stay up to date on the latest football news

Depending on if you are new to fantasy football or even have a couple of years under your belt, you must stay on top of the latest NFL news. Not only with your favorite NFL team you root for but as well as the entire league.

There are plenty of fantasy twitter experts you can follow who will keep you up to date on injuries, suspensions, trades, etc. As well as free apps you can find that will keep you updated just about fantasy football news.

Google them and download the app to your phone, keep the notifications on as right before game time begins a player on your fantasy team may miss that game on late notice due to injury or some coaches’ suspension. The last thing you want is to find out the player you put in your starting lineup the night before, wound up not scoring you a single point.

Next: 3. Don’t be a homer

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 30: Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets talks to Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles after the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 30, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Jets 10-9. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 30: Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets talks to Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles after the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 30, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Jets 10-9. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

3. Don’t be a homer

You may think that drafting players on the team you root for will make your team’s games more interesting to watch but don’t be a homer. It surely will not help your fantasy team unless they are fantasy studs.

If you’re a New York Jets fan, avoid drafting players just because they are on your favorite team. They may be the team you root for on the field, however, you will suddenly acquire a bit of bad taste for that player whenever he does not help your fantasy team win games.

It’s all about picking players that will win you fantasy games on a consistent basis, regardless if they’re on a division rival or a team you’ve never seen play before. Always go with players that can do well regardless of the uniform they wear.

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Next: 2. Bye weeks

NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 24: Running Back Todd Gurley II #30 of the Los Angeles Rams carries the ball against the Tennessee Titians at Nissan Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 24: Running Back Todd Gurley II #30 of the Los Angeles Rams carries the ball against the Tennessee Titians at Nissan Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

2. Bye weeks

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During the draft try and avoid drafting anymore than two players from one particular team, as this may screw up the bye week in your league. I would consider printing out a sheet that has all the teams’ bye weeks and keeping it handy during the season.

Just in case you do happen to see you are drafting a substantial amount of players who happen to have the same bye weeks. This issue will force you to sit or even be forced to release one of your drafted players in that ensuing week’s fantasy matchup.

Roster management is extremely important and bye weeks are part of the challenge to field the best team possible for earning a lot of points. Don’t freak out if a star player is on a bye, use it as an opportunity to work the waiver wire efficiently and acquire a player who could deliver when you need it most.

Next: 1. Don’t ever panic

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 01: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans celebrates after a first down reception in the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 01: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans celebrates after a first down reception in the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

1. Don’t ever panic

Okay, the season has started and you intend to show everyone in your league that you are going to dominate them. Unfortunately, you lost the first two or maybe even three games. However, don’t panic as this happens occasionally even if you may have the best roster in the entire league.

Maybe your players just had a bad week. It’s very possible that your running back went up against a tough run defense or, for instance, your wide receiver went up against one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Every team is ordinarily going to incur a tough week or two.

Just stay calm and relaxed, don’t entertain the thought of dumping a star player and make it worse. They are eventually going to snap out of it. Unless, of course, they are playing with a severe injury.

Top 25 funny fantasy football team names to use in 2018. Hot

Nevertheless, star players like Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, Antonio Brown, David Johnson, and DeAndre Hopkins are going to substantially produce just as they do every year. Accordingly, keep them in your lineup every week. Good luck and I hope some of these tips have helped you as they have helped me throughout my years of play. Enjoy the 2018 fantasy football season, everyone.

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