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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!