By Brian Kalchik @RantsportsBrian on June 24, 2014
Fantasy football season is just beginning, but it's never too early to start looking ahead and planning for your draft. It's all about the preparation, which can enable you to find the best values at each round in the draft. Every pick is valuable, and making the most out of each pick is necessary for a good start in any of your leagues. Take these 10 tips as you wish and you will be well on your way to a great 2014 fantasy season.
To keep this short and simple, if you draft a kicker at any time before the final round of your draft, you might as well just give up even before you started. No kicker is worth anything more than your final pick.
The only tight end that you should even consider between Rounds 1-3 is New Orleans' Jimmy Graham. If Graham is off your board, begin finding depth at both running and wide receiver, and wait until the mid-to-late rounds for your tight end.
A lot of people are wary of drafting rookies, and for good reason as they have the biggest adjustment to make going from college to the pros. But because of that, some very talented players end up falling toward the end of the draft, and that's where smart fantasy owners find the best value. You can't rely on these first-year players to carry your team, but as fill-in RBs or WRs and flex players, these youngsters can save your season.
As much as the experts can help you with player rankings and preseason speculation, it is you who will be making the picks come draft day. Whether its following up on training camp rumors, position battles or early preseason performances, you will have to make tough decisions like deciding on injury-prone players or watching how well the chemistry between a receiver and a quarterback is in preseason. Knowledge is power.
Instead of worrying about players who had big seasons the year before, be aware of players who just received big-time contracts in the offseason. This year, players like Eric Decker, James Jones and Maurice Jones-Drew all changed teams. While each were productive in their previous destinations, it doesn't mean that their play will translate to their new team. Instead, some players could play less hard since they got their big pay day.
Not only do players change addresses in the offseason, but some coaches do the same. With new coordinators like Hue Jackson in Cincinnati, Gary Kubiak in Baltimore and Joe Lombardi in Detroit, you need to factor how they ran their offenses in previous vacancies and adjust accordingly.
This is one of my personal tips, but don't let the bye weeks determine or deter your draft strategy. If you determine that a player is worth selecting in a particular round, you take him regardless of bye weeks. With most players having bye weeks during the middle of the season, enough time will have lapsed for you to determine whether a free agent will be worth picking up, or decide to cut bait on one of your original players.
Coming off a great season last year, Denver's Peyton Manning will be overdrafted this year, as well as Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Don't worry about grabbing a passer higher in the draft unless the RB and WR positions get completely decimated. Players like Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler are available in the later rounds and have proven to post 4,000-yard seasons.
Making your own rankings may sound tedious and might be more work than you want to do, but it will be worth it in the end. While the rankings provided by the experts are good, you are the one who is drafting, and your draft should be dictated by what you think will happen. Also, if you suffer a computer glitch or another type of emergency during your draft, you will be in position to get the players you want to have if it goes into auto-draft.
Don't try to reinvent the wheel with your first pick. If you overthink it and attempt to "outsmart" everyone, you run the risk of over-analysis. Believe it or not, in one of my previous leagues, some GM actually took former Chicago Bears WR Johnny Knox with a late first-round pick.
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