Fantasy football

Anthony Hyatt selects a quarterback during a fantasy football draft Sept. 2, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Fantasy drafts can be online, but a group of Incirlik Airmen, spouses and contractors decided to participate in a live draft. This type offers participants an opportunity to socialize and build camaraderie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael B. Keller/Released)

Like most people, if you’re playing fantasy football for fun (rather than a hardcore player), you probably have a strategy for the draft, but not a particularly robust one. To up your game, we’ve compiled some tips you need to make this year’s draft a success.


Carefully consider player values


It pays to take time to line up all the players so you can see where they stand. This is especially true for players in positions that go early in the draft, like running backs and quarterbacks.


A lot of fantasy football players grab as many running backs as they can in the first few rounds. The thing is, lots of times a running back without slightly lower stats — one who isn’t the obvious choice — will still be available a few rounds down.


If you know how all the players stand, you can grab a running back straight out and then spend a round on another key player, knowing you have more running back choices coming up. Make sure you rank out the players’ peer values as you make your decisions.


Understanding peer value


Peer value is not how much a player scores, but how much he outscores other players. There could be an enormous gap between two tight ends, or there could be a cluster of tight ends with only small gaps between them.


These gaps in peer value show you where you need to jump and where you can hold off in making player choices. If you’ve got a cluster of tight ends with similar peer values but huge gaps between quarterbacks, then you know what you need to do.


In that situation, you should grab a quarterback early on. Because if you miss a good one, the next one’s peer value makes them a loss. Wait on the tight ends because even after a few rounds, you’ll still have some good choices.


How to get the info you need


Obviously, it’s going to take some effort to get the information to make sensible player rankings. There are a couple ways of going about this, but once you have the information, you can see how many points separate different players within your league’s system.


If you have a player with just 10-20 points separating him from the rest of the pack in that position, he isn’t worth sacrificing a spot to get. If you see a 75 point difference, though, then you want to make a play for that one. Here are some ways to get the info you need:


Get a draft kit: A draft kit gives you up-to-date stats, projected rankings, historical comparisons, and expert advice. You get the list of top rankings, player video profiles, and an analysis of which players are likely to have a breakout year. You’ll also get insights to help you predict how rookies will perform.


Do it all yourself: At the other end of the spectrum, this is the hardest road. But in some ways, it’s the most rewarding. You need to get all the stats for every player that you think is worth tracking and plug these in to the specific scoring system that your league is using.


It takes some math to figure the stats for how each player ranks, but if you enjoy that sort of thing, this can give you a real hands-on sense of ownership.


Use a cheat sheet: Somewhere in the middle is the cheat sheet. These are basic rankings of the best players in every position. You can get cheat sheets from all kinds of major internet sources, but be aware that they are basic and don’t go into the same depth as a draft kit.


A great draft is key to a great season. This season, get ahead of the game by getting ahead of the draft.


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