I know it’s somewhat early to start thinking fantasy football draft, but then again, that’s just a matter of opinion. In my opinion, it’s never too early to start talking fantasy football, but it can be too late.

Mastering Your Fantasy Draft:

Have you ever had a time in your life when you went to bed after a big loss in any sport or competition and rested easily? Or how about at the office, after you lost out on a promotion to a guy who puts in half the effort that you do throughout the week? Sleep well then? Probably not. To me, every loss is a big loss because I always feel like I could have done something to prevent the horrible feeling of defeat. “If I would have done this, or if I would have done that.” These are the types of thoughts that consistently come to mind whenever I give away a game during a week in one of my fantasy leagues. If you are any type of competitor, fantasy football is no different, unless you’re playing the game just to pass time and/or have fun… and who would do that?!? This is why you need to do your homework in the preseason and put yourself in the best position possible come fantasy draft day. If you’re a true NFL and fantasy football fan, constant research should never cease. Along with this research, there are other factors that play a huge role in establishing yourself as a dominant fantasy force right from the start – on draft day.

Never Draft on Emotion I do realize that it is much easier and enjoyable to watch a game or cheer for your favorite player, especially if he is on your fantasy roster. However, one of the worst mistakes that most fantasy owners of lesser skill grow accustomed to making is drafting a player based on their personal liking. For example, if your favorite player has been RB Shaun Alexander ever since he’s entered the league, and you have the first overall selection, it would be senseless to draft on your personal liking this year, even though you know he won’t be there for your next selection. Therefore, it’s time to move on and draft the better player with a bigger upside. That is an easy example, but especially in the mid- to late-rounds, you want to remain as consistent as possible, while never drafting on emotion.

Another prime example may be the fact that you absolutely despise WR Terrell Owens. Owens remains in the Top 3 WR’s in the NFL, and passing on him for a player of lesser talent because of a personal disliking could mean total disaster and proof of amateur play. Get over it and grow to like him! You won’t be doing too much complaining once he catches 12+ TD’s on 80+ receptions, and goes off for 1,100+ yards. As a matter of fact, you may also find enjoyment by being hated by other owners when you’re dominating your league. Do you realize how many millions of dollars are lost in sports betting because people wager based on an emotional feeling they have for their team or favorite NFL franchise? If you’re all about winning, which I’m sure most who read this are, you have to simply disregard your personal feelings and draft the next best player on the board. However, you have to first know that next best player and you have to decide whom to select with your gut and not with your heart. If you don’t abide by this rule, you could find yourself miserable and struggling to win games for most of the season.

Know Your Players and Do Your Research Remember, ESPN and the Monday morning stat sheets can be extremely misleading when you wake up the next day. This is where actually watching the games, as many games as possible, will prepare you for now and the future. If you know the game in a way in which your opponents don’t, you can see things developing years before they actually happen. Perfect example - I was in a 10-team keeper league and each team could protect a total of three players. This league went on for 10 years starting in ‘92. It was never out of character for me to draft a rookie in the first round of any draft when most people didn’t really know who these rookies were. To make a long story short, in the first round with the 7th overall selection RB LaDainian Tomlinson remained on the board in his rookie season. Needless to say, I drafted him and went on to win the championship that year. How did I know about LT? First off, I know the game like I know the back of my hand, and I draft potential and talent the minute I get the opportunity.

I could also give you an entire chapter on how my wife and I set up a 52” and two 27” televisions in our basement in the mid-90’s. I know that was a little extreme, but it ended up saving us money anyway because we went to a local sports restaurant every Sunday, where we spent at least $50 per week. My point is this, do whatever it takes to get an edge on your opponents. Watch college games on Saturday, read quality material (about 5% of the material out there), make your own judgments, become a visionary (FanProphet), and always look for the up and coming player. If you want that edge, become a guru of the game – get your hands on as much information and material as possible, sort through it all, and use it to your advantage.

Talk Players Down Talking players down is a fine art that takes plenty of patience, trust, and respect from your fellow peers. If they don’t respect your opinion or your genius, this will never work. Either you have these qualities, or you better get them because to me, it’s the fun in fantasy football and the element that will help you win titles year in and year out.

Here’s how it goes… You’re in a league with a group of friends, so you consistently begin talking fantasy football sometime around mid-June. You have no clue which selection you will draw in August, but you assume the worst and therefore, you begin talking players down. You’re nothing more than a salesperson selling the idea of why (example) you believe LT will not have a good season. You build a case, you begin mentioning names like Willis McGahee, Laurence Maroney, etc., and why you believe they are the up and comings and why LT is on his way out. For example, Tomlinson is on a franchise that just recently changed coaches, he’s on a team that‘s never consistently won, QB Phillip Rivers is only in his third year as a starter, why teams will play eight in the box, San Diego has no WR’s, Tomlinson is o the downside of his career…and to top it all off, you also make a case as to why Marty Schottenheimer was a great coach and it’s the only reason why Tomlinson had previous success. This may be a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. You will ultimately force your opponents to second guess themselves while consistently making mistakes.

Sell the idea. Consistent audio advertising is the most influential thing known to man. If you hear it enough, you’re going to buy it. You may not use the case of Tomlinson, but even great players are subject to down seasons and if every writer (salesperson) in the NFL wrote about LT having a bad season, it’s guaranteed that people would listen. If you decide to utilize this idea, you have to refer to multiple players. You just can’t pinpoint a single player because people are not that stupid - be creative. Close the deal!

Each one of these ideas should be utilized in your draft, as well as free agent and trade strategies, and once you begin to take this intelligent approach, you will realize how easy it is to dominate your league. Never become emotionally attached to players, do your homework by reading quality material, watch games and not the stat sheets, and consistently look for angles and reasons to “talk players down”.

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