Player Transactions: It’s a Pleasure Doing Business

Buyer’s remorse is just the worst. I once spent $40 on beads at Michael’s thinking I was going to make a jeweled headband a la “The Great Gatsby.”

This project was never going to happen.

Of course the minute I got to my car, I got that sick feeling in my stomach when you realize you just dropped $40 on beads. BEADS! There was a Lakers playoff game on that night so I had to wait a day to return them. It was an unsettling day for sure. Buyer’s remorse has a way of hanging over you like a cloud until you manage to undo your mistake.

There really isn’t a return policy after the draft. But if you have players that get injured or under perform, you have the option to switch things up. These are called player transactions. And they can be kind of fun. So if you were hungover and had to autodraft, and maybe you have second thoughts about some of your players, here’s how you fix it.

Trades

Trades are the easiest transaction to explain and the hardest to accomplish, only because people get very attached to their players. Essentially you can trade up to three players each between you and another member of the league during any one transaction. To see which players are owned by each team, log in to your ESPN Fantasy Football account, click on the “League” tab and then click “Rosters.”

Once you design a suitable trade, you need only click on the “Propose Trade” link under the selected team’s roster. Select the players and the number of days you would like to keep the trade open (in other words, how long you would like to give this person to respond). If the person does not respond while the trade is open, the trade is automatically cancelled. You can also write a comment to beg or explain your reasoning for the trade.

I’m not actually going to propose this because there is no way he’d go for it.

If the other team accepts the trade, it goes under review for three days. Everyone in the league will receive an email with the details of the trade. This is to prevent collusion (a mortal sin of Fantasy Football wherein two players pool resources to win) or fleecing (taking advantage of a team who simply doesn’t know any better). If the trade looks unfair, anyone in the league has the ability to veto the trade. After the three days, the trade automatically processes.

A few additional notes on trades:

  • When you propose a trade, the selected league member gets an email notification from ESPN. However, after a day or so, you may want to send them an email/text/Facebook message in case they didn’t see ESPN’s email.
  • If you need a trade processed faster than three days (for example, if the point of the trade is to save you from an empty spot during a bye week that Sunday), just let me know and I will accept the trade immediately before the game.
  • You can trade with items that are not Fantasy Football related! For example, I could try to trade the Patriots D/ST to Jayson for the Bears D/ST and sweeten the pot by buying him a new video game. If you make such a trade, just let me know so I don’t look at it and assume it’s an unbalanced trade.

Add/Drop

The are plenty of players who are yet unclaimed. They are called free agents. Are they as good as the players who are already owned? Not likely. They definitely won’t be as good as your studs. But you might need someone to fill in during a bye week or replace someone with an injury. And astute fantasy team owners might even pick up a sleeper or two.

To drop your players for a free agent, start from the “Players” tab. This brings up a list of all free agents with the same stats you would see on your team’s player overview. Again, because the season hasn’t started, the 2012 season stats are up. These will change after the 2013 season begins. Also, you can sort stats in whichever way best helps you make your decision. Just click on the column header you would like to sort. You can filter by position and availability by clicking the links at the top and even search by a player’s name.

If you are deciding between just a few players, you can use the “Compare Players” tool. Simply find the name of the player you want to compare and click the icon that looks like a Pokemon ball underneath the “Action” column. The Pokemon ball should turn black on one side. When you are ready to compare the players, you can either click the “Compare Players” link that comes up when you click the Pokemon ball or use the link at the top right of the page.

This shortens the list to just the players you are considering. You can add or remove players from this list as you decide. You can compare up to eight players at once.

When you decide who you want, click on the green plus sign under the “Action” column. This will pull up your current roster so you can decide who to drop in exchange.

Important: Free agents are automatically added to your bench. If you dropped a starter for a free agent, you must still go to your roster and move the free agent from the bench to the starting line.

The Waiver Wire

The waiver wire is a system of adding and dropping players in a fair way. It removes any favor to people who have more or better internet access, and also allows teams who are behind to get first crack at the better free agents.

Okay, let me explain.

Let us say that Jesus decides that it is time for Tim Tebow to arise in glory. Tom Brady’s formerly injured knee gets hit, so he is out. And Brady’s backup, Ryan Mallett, gets a concussion. With the wings of angels beneath him, Tebow throws a 400 yard game and the media is going crazy.

“Tebow, my son. The time has come for you to be a conduit of my might and glory. I hope you studied your playbook.”

Now let’s say that everyone in the league is watching all of this unfold except for Mike. Mike is working this weekend and has neither television nor Fantasy Football access. Isn’t it a little bit unfair that just because Mike doesn’t have access to these things, he wouldn’t even have a chance to pick up Tebow?

The waiver wire prevents the best pickups from going to the person with the most free time and fastest internet access. When a free agent is locked at the beginning of his game, he is no longer available to be added or dropped. He is then put on waivers and will be designated on the list of free agents as “WA” instead of “FA.” Also their plus sign will change from green to yellow. They will become free agents again sometime around 3 a.m. the following Wednesday. Until then, everyone in the league is welcome to put in a waiver claim. Players who are dropped from a team roster at any time during the week are automatically on waiver for 48 hours to give everyone in the league a chance to put in his/her claim.

You can put in as many waiver claims as you want each week. ESPN will ask you to place them in order of importance. For each claim, you need to list who you on your roster you would be willing to drop. You can select the same player to drop for multiple waiver claims. For example, I want either Jermaine Gresham or Jacoby Jones in exchange for Sidney Rice. I’d prefer Jacoby. This is what my waiver request would look like.

As you can see waiver claims are listed under “Pending Moves” on your team page. Trades will be here, too.

The priority of waiver claims is in reverse order to the current league’s standings and resets every week. Your current will be listed next to your icon on you team page. This ensures that struggling teams get the help they need. If your first waiver claim is no longer available, ESPN will process your next available waiver claim. Once you successfully process a waiver claim, you move to the back of the line until next week.

Is this you right now? That’s okay. I’m about to fix that.

The Waiver Wire – IN ACTION!

Let’s pretend that this is the current list of waivers.

I am first in line, so I get my first priority waiver. I drop Sidney Rice and pick up Jacoby Jones. Sidney Rice goes on waiver and I go to the end of the waiver line.

My claim to Mike Williams is actually not valid because I no longer have Sidney Rice, but I am too lazy to re-screencap. Pretend it’s not there.

Next up is Lauren. She drops Anquan Boldin to get Mike Williams, which cancels out Ashish’s waiver claim to Mike Williams. Lauren moves to the end of the waiver order.

Since Ashish can’t get Mike Williams, it moves to his next priority waiver claim. He drops Randy Bullock and picks up Shayne Graham. This cancels my claim to Shayne Graham. Ashish then moves to the end of the waiver order. However, now that Anquan Boldin is available, both Maria and I decide we want to put out a waiver claim for him.

However, I already made a waiver claim earlier, which put me near the end of the order. So Maria drops Torrey Smith, get Anquan Boldin, cancels out my waiver claim and moves to the end.

Now this makes sense, right?

If it doesn’t, just holler. It’s something easily picked up in practice.

Anyway, the first game of the season is the Thursday after Labor Day. The reigning Superbowl champs, the Baltimore Ravens, will take on the Denver Broncos. Don’t forget to set your line ups and make your player transactions before your players’ games begin. Good luck to all of you.

How to Set Your Lineup

Draft Day has come and gone. And now here you are with a team of 14 players of your choosing, waiting to carry you the playoffs.

However, your ability to win relies heavily upon your strong decision-making skills. You’ve got to set your lineup, and it’s got to be a higher-scoring lineup than your opponent. Thankfully, ESPN gives you almost everything you need to help you with these decisions.

I’m warning you now that this is going to be one of my drier LM Notes because it’s a lot to get through. To keep this entertaining, I am granting Mike and Jayson’s request and interspersing these instructions with images of NFL Cheerleaders. This is actually happening.

How does she not have rolls whilst sitting down? Ridic.

The Player Overview

Log in to your ESPN Fantasy Football account, access your team, and make sure you are on the “My Team” page. Then click on the “Overview” tab. This will show you a chart of all of your players with various stats. There is also a “Move Player” button next to each player. This is where you will set your lineup. By the time this season is over, you will have spent hours agonizing over this page. Trust me.

You’ll notice that your team is broken up into Starters and Bench. Please don’t forget that Bench points count for nothing. And the higher your bench scores, the higher your shame.

Next to each player’s name is a little notepad. Click on it for important news alerts, including injuries and suspensions that may affect your player’s ability to perform. There may also be red letter designations of any issues: P (Probable), Q (Questionable), O (Out), IR (Injury Reserve, which is a long term injury that might be solved by the end of the season, but no promises and you should check the news for more details), and SSPD (suspended).

The first subset of columns is the schedule for the week. All times are in ET. Every player locks into position, whether it is on your bench or starting line, as soon as his game begins. Plan accordingly. The” @” denotes that it’s an away game (which might factor into your decision).

The second subset are the fantasy stats for each player’s most recent season. Because the 2013 season hasn’t started yet, the stats are currently showing for 2012. They will change to the current season in the coming weeks and update accordingly. The seasonal stats are as follows:

  • PRK (Position Rank) – This is the player’s ranking among all other players with the same position.
  • PTS (Points) – Total Fantasy points for the season.
  • AVG (Average) – The average points per game.
  • LAST – Fantasy points scored last week.

The final column is sort of a “projection” column. The stats are as follows:

  • PROJ (Projection) – ESPN’s projection of points a player will score that week
  • OPRK (Opponent Rank) – The opponent rank is how well that player’s opponent ranks against defending against that player’s position. For example, Tom Brady is going against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. Brady’s OPRK is 22nd. That means that out of 32 teams, the Bills are 22nd defending against QBs. These stats are color coded. If the ranking is green, that means that chances are high that your player will score at his projection or higher. If the OPRK is red, the opponent is good at defending against that position, and there is a chance your player will score lower than the projection.
  • %ST (Percentage Starting) – This is the percentage of all ESPN Fantasy Football players who own that specific player and are starting him. If you like to think like the majority, this is a good stat to check.
  • %OWN (Percentage Owned) – This is percentage of ESPN Fantasy Football leagues wherein this player is on someone’s team.
  • +/- (Change in Percentage Owned)- This is how the Percentage Owned shifted since last week.

Usually the player overview is enough data to help you choose. But in case you need more, there’s always…

The Player Card

I know this isn’t what the guys are looking at, but I’d kill for her arms.

Staying on the Player Overview tab, you’ll notice that each player’s name is a link. Clicking on this link brings up the Player Card. This pulls up the stats most relevant to each position:

  • QB – YDS (Passing Yds), I/F (Interceptions/Fumbles), PTS (Fantasy Points)
  • RB – ATT (Rushing Attempts), YDS (Rushing Yards), TD (Touchdowns), PTS (Fantasy Points)
  • WR/TE – REC (Receptions), YDS (Receiving Yards), TD (Touchdowns), PTS (Fantasy Points)
  • D/ST – PA (Points Allowed), I/FR (Interceptions/Fumble Recoveries), TD (Touchdowns), PTS (Fantasy Points)
  • K – FGM (Field Goals Made), FGA (Field Goals Attempted), XPM (Extra Points Made), PTS (Fantasy Points)

In addition to the stats, the player card will give you the player’s weekly fantasy projection, an explanation of the projection and a photo of the player so you can judge how hot he is.

Stats/News/Schedule/Ranks

There isn’t a single natural boob in this entire shot.

The other tabs are somewhat secondary to the player card and the player overview. The Stats tab lists the most relevant information for each player. You can find out what all the abbreviations mean from the Drafting 101 post. The News tab is important because it will alert you of any injuries or suspensions, though it is the same news you can get from the Player Overview. The schedule gives you a long term calendar of your whole team so you can look ahead to any bye week lineup issues. Finally, the rankings tab will give you the weekly rankings of your players from each ESPN analyst.

Work that rain, girl.

Outside Sources

I found this gem from Arizona Family. They’re clothed and flat so it’s PG-13.

ESPN is not the be-all, end-all of fantasy football news. There are a number of external sources that can give you a competitive edge this season.

  • Analyst rankings – I listed a few other websites in a previews post that offers their own opinion on weekly rankings and analyses. A second opinion won’t kill you.
  • Football news – Watch NFL Network, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, ESPN, whatever you have to do. Your Fantasy page will only give you news on your own players. But knowing who might be out, which backups are now playing, what personnel changes might affect your team will definitely make you a better Fantasy player.
  • Your League Managers – That’s right. Jayson and I are here for you. If you have any questions or want advice, just ask.

I don’t know why, but this is such a cute picture.

In the next few days, I will post more info about how to go about changing your players in case you are getting drafter’s remorse. I know I promised that it would be the next note, but I thought it might help for everyone to properly take stock of their players before deciding to make any changes. I’ll be sure to have that posted before the weekend.

Weird bunny tail ruffle notwithstanding, every single one of these girls still has a better ass than Miley “I want to twerk but I am so bad at it” Cyrus.

Now I leave you with this fun fact. Did you know that Phyllis Smith, who plays demure Phyllis on The Office, was once an NFL Cheerleader? She cheered for the St. Louis Cardinals before they became the Arizona Cardinals. She also used to be a burlesque dancer. What a saucy minx!

Oooooh!

2.5 More Days! Who’s Ready?

League of Ruinations Fantasy Football Draft

Saturday, August 24

2:00 p.m. CT/12:00 p.m. PT

Seriously, guys. Don’t forget to draft. Autodraft waits for no man, so you need to make sure you are logged in and ready to go before the draft starts.

Don’t be late. Run if you have to.

You can access the draft site by logging in to your team page and then clicking “Draft Now.” The button isn’t there right now – it’s just a countdown. But it will be there on draft day.

If you don’t know if you can make the draft or you just want to insure yourself against a laptop meltdown, alien takeover, zombie apocalypse, etc. you can set a draft order or strategy.

F*ck. Good thing they all set their pre-draft rankings.

If you log in to your team page (make sure the “My Team” tab is highlighted), you should see two links by your team icon.

One will allow you to “Edit Pre-Draft Player Rankings.” With this method you can simply drag and drop players from ESPN’s draft ranking into your own. Make sure to save the rankings when you have finished. You don’t have to adhere to these rankings during the live draft. However, if you are unable to participate in the live draft or if you take too long to select a player, ESPN will Autopick from the highest available player on your rankings.

For the record, this is a work in progress. I can’t give all my secrets away, you know.

The other option is to “Edit Autopick Strategy.” Rather than selecting individual players, you can tell ESPN what position you would like to pick in each round. If you don’t have a preference of position that round, you can also go with “Best Available,” which will Autopick the highest ranked player available. You can do this until one hour before the draft begins.

This is just an example. It’s not my strategy. Just saying.

Dues

The buy in for this league is $5. Ideally, the due date would be by the first or second week of the season. This ensures that nobody flakes on dues because he or she is already ineligible for playoffs. There are three ways we can do this.

  1. PayPal – each of you can send your $5 to mary.dacuma@gmail.com, trust that I won’t spend it all on hookers and blow, and then I pay out the winners at the end of the season.
  2. Bank of America Transfer – if we all have Bank of America, you can direct transfer into my account and trust me to pay out the winners at the end of the season.
  3. There is a secure, online service called LeagueSafe wherein you can pay the $5 via online banking transfer for free, the money is held by LeagueSafe for the duration of the season and paid out as I direct it. The advantage is that you can see where the money is all season long. The disadvantage is that it’s one other money service that requires you to set up an account

I don’t have a preference for any of these options. I can promise that I won’t spend our league money, but I understand if you would prefer your funds to be in a neutral zone. Either way, let me know your opinion by answering our season’s first poll!

Around the NFL

The last few weeks have been tough on the New England Patriots. Rob Gronkowski’s injuries ran into complications. Their other good TE, Aaron Hernandez, was arrested for murder, and God struck down Tom Brady in an effort to move Tim Tebow to the starting QB position (just kidding on that last part…or maybe not). Now their WR1, Danny Amendola, has been listed as Day-to-Day with an unspecified injury. Some of you may remember that Danny Amendola was brought to the Patriots over the summer after the Patriots were unable to meet Wes Welker’s contract demands. Amendola had a stellar performance last year as a wideout (wide receiver who catches the longer passes) on the St. Louis Rams – when he managed to stay healthy. Analysts (and I) have voiced concerns over Amendola’s ability to stay in the game on the Patriots. Only time will tell whether or not Amendola can live up to Welker’s standards. But one thing is for sure: somewhere on a Denver Broncos practice field, Wes Welker is ugly cackling right now.

Wes Welker’s face right now

To the surprise of nobody who was even bothering to pay attention, Michael Vick was officially named the starting QB for the Philadelphia Eagles. The announcement follows what the media tried to play up as a heated competition between Vick and Nick Foles, who started for the Eagles last season after Vick’s season-ending concussion. However, the appointment confirms what every football analyst (and every avid football fan) could have predicted. Congratulations, Michael Vick!

Winner, winner…

Arian Foster practiced today! He was removed from the PUP (physically unable to perform) list after being sidelined with calf and back issues. While Foster has yet to play during preseason, he claims that he should be ready for his Week 1 game against the Chargers. I wouldn’t doubt it. He is Arian Foster, and it’s the Chargers.

Yeah, he’ll be fine.

I am scared excited to hear that so many of you have been looking through the rankings, reading football news and even doing mock drafts! And bonus points to Mike for enthusiastically initiating the smack talk. I think this is going to be a fun inauguratory season and I can’t wait to get it started.

I’ll be posting instructions about setting your line up and making transactions (trades and add/drops) once the draft is over. Best of luck to everyone on Draft Day!

Drafting 102: How to Avoid a Rough Draft

Sometimes when I’ve been working on a document too long and it’s just not getting anywhere, I finish it as quickly as I can and send it to the next person in the chain of command with an email that goes something like this:

Hi there,

Attached is my rough draft of the talking points. Please let me know if you have any edits or suggestions.

Mary

What I’m actually saying is this:

Hey,

I can’t with these talking points. You and I both know this attachment is a piece of crap. But I called it a “rough draft,” so this failed effort doesn’t even count against me. And now it’s your problem. Enjoy!

Mary

Unfortunately, Fantasy Football doesn’t quite work that way. Your efforts count. There aren’t any do-overs. And while the team you draft isn’t permanent, it sets a foundation for your entire season.

Anything can happen in Fantasy Football and there isn’t any one determining factor that will decide your fate this season. But if there was one thing you want to make sure you don’t screw up, it’s the draft. So here are 15 things you should know to avoid having a rough one.

1) Look at the rankings – All of the rankings, not just ESPN’s (which, again, will be displayed in a filterable fashion as you draft). Just double check your choices as you draft. Have them printed or bookmarked or whatever. It never hurts to get a second (or third or fourth) opinion. Some places you can check:

Fantasy Pros – This is my favorite as it “crowdsources” several Fantasy Football sites and takes an average.

Yahoo! – I’ve been told that Yahoo! is more accurate at ranking than ESPN, but I’ve never been motivated enough to check. I’m also terrible at calculating such tedious things. But mostly the laziness.

NFL – Easily the most visually stunning option.

CBS Sports – Breaks it down for you nicely by analyst so you can superficially judge who looks the most trustworthy. I like the one without the beard.

Just be careful checking Fantasy sites at work

Rankings are adjusted weekly, so feel free to look back during the season. Just make sure you look up the stats for PPR league whenever possible as the 1 point per reception makes a big difference.

2) Understand each position’s value – A superstar will yield a lot of points regardless of his position. But in general, first string RBs and QBs are the most consistent sources of double digit points, with first string WRs following very closely thereafter. Second string RBs and WRs are usually good for low double-digit points. TEs are unreliable sources of high points unless you can manage to draft maybe the top 3-4. Ks tend to be the least valuable and most replaceable position on the roster.

3) Know the resources – There are fewer RBs in the NFL than wide receivers. While you shouldn’t pass up a star QB, WR or even TE for a less valuable RB, you may want to ensure that you lock in enough RBs before all the good ones are gone. This year, good QBs are plentiful. You may be able to postpone a good QB until the later rounds. I would also hold off on drafting a defense until the last 4-5 rounds, even longer if you don’t manage to draft the Bears, Seahawks, 49ers or Texans (maybe even the Bengals, too. I think ESPN is really undervaluing them.) There are about 25 decent kickers in the NFL – draft a kicker in the last round and only keep one on your roster.

All you need is a kicker who doesn’t do that.

4) Keep a close eye on your inventory – As tempting as it is to just grab the highest available player, make sure you build a well rounded team with enough players for a legal lineup plus ample backups for your more valuable positions.

5) Keep an eye on everyone else’s inventory too – Only so that you know if someone has already drafted a player you want. It’s awful when your two minutes start, you suddenly realize the player you wanted isn’t available, and now you have about 1:50 to come up with a contingency plan.

Some people find it helpful to put players the Player Queue, located at the right side of the draft screen. Simply drag and drop players from the ranking to your queue. When players are drafted, they are automatically removed from the queue, so you have an updated list of the people you were targeting. Be careful though – if you still take too long to decide, ESPN will autodraft the first player listed in your Player Queue.

6) Don’t draft too many players with the same bye week – To review, each team gets one week off per season. If a giant chunk of your roster is out at the same time, you have one of two options. You can drop one of your players on bye in exchange for an active player that week, but you risk that player getting snatched by another team. If you don’t want to take that chance, you can start your player on bye and earn zero points. Neither are ideal, so try to avoid the situation altogether.

7) Don’t draft too many players from the same team – For one, they are guaranteed to have the same bye week. And secondly, if that team has a bad day, you’ll have a bad day. It’s like stocks. Diversify. I wouldn’t start more than three players max from a single team, and that would only be if they were very good and I was double-dipping. That brings me to my next point…

8) Double-dipping isn’t just something rude people do at parties – In Fantasy Football, Double Dipping is the strategy of drafting a QB-WR or QB-TE from the same team. When the QB throws a TD pass, you get both the QB points and the WR/TE points. This works best among QBs who throw long and often to the same reliable people. Double dipping with a crappy QB (like Christian Ponder) is useless. It’s also less effective with QBs who tend to run the ball themselves (Kaepernick, RG3, Russell Wilson) or spread it around their entire receiving corps (Drew Brees tends to do this with this WRs). Likely pairings this year include:

  • Peyton Manning and either Wes Welker or Eric Decker
  • Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham
  • Andy Dalton and AJ Green
  • Eli Manning and either Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks
  • Tom Brady and either Danny Amendola or Rob Gronkowski (if any of these three can manage to stay healthy)
  • Matt Ryan and Roddy White (Julio Jones, too, kind of)

Double dipping has its drawbacks. You have two players from the same team with the same bye week. And I would not recommend passing up a significantly better draft pick for a lesser QB/WR/TE just for the sake of double-dipping. But speaking from experience, the Tom Brady/Rob Gronkowski combo worked really well for me two years in a row. So if a good opportunity to double dip naturally presents itself during the draft, I would take it.

Did…did you just double dip that chip?

9) And Handcuffing isn’t just something some people do in bed – I would say that RBs have the most physically demanding job out of the entire offensive line. They are basically tasked to run into a crowd of giants, hold on to a ball and not die. As you can imagine, they are prone to injury. Some more than others. Handcuffing is the act of drafting an injury prone RBs backup for your bench in case your RB gets injured. Like Double Dipping, this is neither compulsory nor even “highly recommended.” But it is something to consider if you end up with Ryan Mathews, Trent Richardson, Arian Foster, Matt Forte or Jamaal Charles.

How do you go about finding someone’s backup?

10) Check the depth chart – You probably won’t use the depth chart so much during the draft because the rankings already give you an idea of who is more valuable than whom. But like I said, they list the backups. Also, you may want to browse them sometime before the draft to familiarize yourself with some of the personnel changes over the summer. For example, did you know that since the Baltimore Ravens traded away Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones (my favorite endzone dancer) is now their WR2?

So sassy!

Side note – depth charts are updated regularly throughout the season. This will come in handy when people start getting injured. Check the depth chart, pick up the backup, ride your stealth and depth of football knowledge towards that league championship.

11) Careful of the injuries – ESPN will mark when a player is probable (P), questionable (Q), out (O), suspended (SSPD) or on injury reserve (IR). Players that are P or Q are fine to draft. Players who are O and SSPD are fine to draft, but know that they are unusuable for a while.  IR players are technically allowed to come back later in the season, but be careful. Their injuries are long term and there is no telling if they will actually come back or if they will be in top shape even if they do.

Patriot TE Rob Gronkowski (ranked #2 among TEs) is still out because, as you can see, he is rehabilitating his arm. At nightclubs.

12) Ask “What Would Matthew Berry Do?” (WWMBD) – Outside of the rankings, Fantasy Football analysts can provide some great insight on sleepers, who is overrated, who comes with baggage, that sort of thing. Matthew Berry is one of the more famous experts, but Fantasy Football has grown to a point that all major sports broadcasters have Fantasy Football segments now. Watch the analysis shows. Download the podcasts. Hell, call in to the podcasts! And then tell me about it, so I can download it and be jealous.

Matthew Berry is like the God of Fantasy Football.

13) Don’t be a rankings slave – If you’ve been analyzing multiple rankings and reading the expert opinions, you might have your own opinion of what the rankings should be. If this is the case, follow your gut. You don’t need to follow the rankings in order if you don’t think it’s right.

14) But when in doubt, play the favorites – If you really can’t decide between two players and your gut isn’t telling you anything, go with the higher ranked one. Experts are experts for a reason.

15) Just have fun with it – When it comes down to it, Fantasy Football is all about enhancing your football season experience. And let’s be real, your last 5 rounds are based on guesswork anyway. So pick people you like. Get the kicker from your favorite team! Skip out on Aaron Rodgers because you are a die-hard Bears fan and could never. (Bummer, too, because he is SUPER good.) Pick up that one QB you think is hot, Sue.

Fun fact: Colin has a pet turtle! And sick abs.

And don’t forget to open up a nice cold beer and use the chat feature to engage in some good old fashioned trash talking 🙂

Of course, if any of you have any questions between now and even all through the draft, just ask me. I’ll have one last pre-draft post next week with NFL news that might be helpful as you look over the rankings.

Like did you know that Wednesday was Tim Tebow’s birthday? God’s favorite QB is currently playing 3rd string on the NE Patriots. And as a subtle-but-not-really birthday present, God smote 1st string Patriots QB Tom Brady in the knee, bumping Tebow up to 2nd string!

Brady’s MRI was clear, so Tebow might have to wait til Christmas. However, he is wearing a knee brace and stupidly plans on playing the pre-season game against the Bucs. I’ll keep you all posted on his development. If Brady is injured and not playing his best, that affects the numbers for his WRs, including Danny Amendola. But it might increase numbers for his RBs, who will have to bear the offensive load. See how this works? Fun, right? This is how you get obsessed.

Anyway, start looking at those rankings!

Drafting 101: The Basics

I have officially returned from Aruba! And now that I have successfully bronzed myself to the rich, golden hue of a Werther’s Original, I am ready to talk drafts.

For your reference

The Format – Our league will use a “snake draft,” aptly named so for the way the drafting order snakes back and forth each round. In other words, once everyone has picked in order during the first round, the player who had 8th pick gets to go 9th, 7th pick goes 10th, etc. And then for the third round, the player who had the 1st and 16th pick gets the 17th pick, so on and so forth.

The Order – ESPN can randomize your order for you 1 hour before the draft. However, I am a fan of knowing your draft order way in advance to celebrate/come to terms with your fate and ultimately strategize how you will draft. After all, if you have the last pick in the draft, you will probably not get Adrian Peterson and you should plan accordingly.

The #1 consensus draft pick with his son at training camp. EEEE I can’t.

I put our names through a randomizer and screencapped it so you guys knew it was legit.

And just before I clicked “Go,” I thought to myself, “Gosh, I hope I don’t get first pick and make everyone think I rigged it.” Then this happened.

I will probably not get Adrian Peterson and I should plan accordingly.

The Process – I recommend logging in to our ESPN team page a few minutes before the draft to mentally prep yourself for the madness waiting to ensue. Pull up any ranking bookmarks from other sites into new tabs. Lay down all your printouts. Then click “Draft Now” and try not to let the anxiety get to you. It’s the calm before the storm.

You’ll want your laptop plugged in for this, too. Drafts can go anywhere from 1.5-2.5 hours. In 2011, a good friend of mine actually had his laptop battery die just as he was about to make a selection. By the time he plugged in and restarted, the draft had moved on. Then again, he ended up autodrafting some new TE he didn’t even know named Jimmy Graham.

Admittedly, Jimmy Graham was a beast that year and will probably go down as one of the best TEs of all time, so it kind of worked out. But still.

Each person will have two minutes to make a selection. If a selection is made before the two minutes are up, it automatically goes to the next person, so don’t assume you have a whole 16 minutes after you’ve made your pick to make yourself a sandwich. If you don’t make a selection in two minutes, ESPN will “autodraft” the highest ranked player available. You could end up with a position you don’t need, or someone from a team you’ve already drafted from too many times. Either way, autodrafting is rarely ideal so try not to miss your turn. If anything, turn your speakers up. There’s an alert sound that plays every time it’s your turn to pick, and there is a countdown beep for the last 10 seconds of your turn.

The draft platform will have ESPN’s rankings and stats available for you to sort and filter as you need. It will also show you who each team picked and during which rounds. It also has a chat room type feature so we can trash talk or ask for advice and such. All in all, drafts are fun.

And if you want to learn more about the draft platform, you can take a deeper dive at ESPN.

I know this is a screencap from 2009, but the draft platform hasn’t changed. At all.

The Preparation – As unpredictable as a draft may be, there is a lot you can do to prepare for it.

Start by reading the rankings. Don’t bother memorizing them. Just familiarize yourself with the statistics so you understand the best way to sort and filter. All stats are based on the prior season except for the Bye Week.

  • BYE – Each NFL team gets one week per season to rest their weary bones. This is called a Bye Week. You want to be careful not to have too many people on your team out on the same week. You can file that piece of advice under “Things Mary learned the hard way.”
  • PTS – This is the number of fantasy points a player scored.
  • There are 5 stats specific to QBs. COM (Completions) is the number of passes a QB threw last season that were actually caught. ATT (Attempts) outlines the number of passes the QB attempted in total. PATD (Passing Touchdowns) are the number of touchdown passes thrown. PAYD is the total passing yardage. INT are interceptions, when a QB attempts a pass that is caught by the opponent and costs you points.
  • There are 5 stats applicable to RBs, WRs and TEs. These are RUSH (rushing attempts, or number of times a player tried to run the ball), RUTD (rushing touchdowns), RUYD (rushing yards), RE (receptions, or successful catches), REYD (receiving yards), and RETD (receiving touchdowns).

You can also practice by doing “mock drafts” at the ESPN Mock Draft Lobby. These drafts go much faster than the real thing because you only get 45 seconds to pick. Also, since it’s not a real draft, people aren’t as indecisive. But it helps you get a feel for how a draft goes and how well you would do. I just did one now and was stunned that I could still pick up Tom Brady in the 5th round. Now I know I probably won’t have to try to draft him in the first like I did last year.

Feel free to look at rankings and news from other Fantasy Football sites and on TV. Sometimes it helps to get a second opinion. And if anything, maybe you’ll remember some names come draft time. Like, “RG3? Wasn’t he on that Subway commercial? He must be good. I’ll draft him.”

I’m uncomfortable.

And I would be a terrible league manager if I didn’t provide you newbies with a manual of pro-tips for a successful draft. I’ll post that for you next week.

In the meantime, good luck to Team Kumar and the Hamilton Hammers as they relocate across the country. Los Angeles will miss the both of you.

And congratulations to each and every one of you for not getting last pick in the draft! This bodes well for you 🙂