I'm not here to give you. My record as a fantasy football GM is squared at best. In a league, I co-manage a team with my brother and we finish each year on or near the standings. (Our lone title came back when Marshall Faulk was still playing, we like to remember his 1000-yard chase and his 1,000-yard season in the last century.) In my other league I have enjoyed recent successes, but only because I had an excessive amount of luck in the playoffs – and my little brother did not pull me down.
There is nothing I can tell you except that I believe it is wise to wait to design a QB. And it's better to have a wide receiver in a bad team than to drive back in a bad team because bad teams often have to lag behind and throw the ball to catch up. Finally, avoid wide receptors with persistent hamstring problems.
Instead, I'd like to draw your attention to a handful of free online tools that help you prepare for your design and manage your team throughout the season.
Prepare Draft: Player Rankings, Views and Ranks
9659005] I refuse to pay for fantasy football information. There is no shortage of pay sites that offer tailored forecasts and cheatsheets and rankings and what not. However, with the following five free sites, you have more than enough information to design wisely.
ESPN's Hidden Prospects
ESPN's Hidden Prospects
ESPN's Draft Kit offers a lot of stuff. Some articles require an insider subscription, but most are free, including the helpful Sleepers and Busts and Injury Outlook articles. But what I like most is the pithy player prospects it hides in its projections. When you first arrive at ESPN's player projections for the season, you'll get a sortable list. Click on the link Show full projections above, and its prospects – brief hints as to what to expect from each player this season – are revealed. I think it's the fastest way to get up to date for the upcoming season. You can filter by location and search for players to get player views on demand.
CBS Sports Ranking and Auction Values
In addition to its predictions and player prospects, ESPN also has player rankings of five of its fantasy football authors. I scan these and then the player rankings of three authors from CBS Sports. With each one you can filter by position and see rankings for PPR or non-PPR leagues, but if your league uses an auction style draft, then CBS Sports rankings will be more useful because they contain an auction value for each player of each three writers. (For the record, CNET is a division of CBS.)
Leaderboards are good, but tiers are better. I love a well ranked ranking that shows where the drop-off lies between, say, the elite group of recipients and the next group of very good recipients. It can help you manage your design round by round if you know that the third stage of the running backs has almost disappeared, while the third stage of the wide receivers has barely been touched. In that case, it might be a good idea to run a running back with the next pick and then wait until the next pick to get a receiver. The best free site I found with graduated rankings is FantasyPros.
Stay up to date with player news
It's important to keep up with the action during the training camp and preseason to identify the players who are prepared for a big year those who have lost a step. And because the NFL season is long and full of injuries, it's also good to know who has recovered from last season's injury and who has not.
The best source for current player news is Rotoworld. Before I design a player, I quickly check Rotoworld to make sure he is a) still alive and b) healthy. It's as if a real football GM calls a true football player during the real NFL drill before selecting him to confirm that the player is still running among the living. I also read Rotoworld's player news every morning with my coffee a week or two before my two drafts, so I know who's injured, who has a good training camp, who has a starting job, and who has lost his place.
Bleacher Report's Fantasy Football Big Board
I also love the enormous Fantasy Football Big Board article about Bleacher Report. It's packed with player news and rankings and great reading for your design.
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