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The world of fantasy football can be daunting for first-time players. Given the sheer complexity of the game, it’s very easy to make catastrophic mistakes that can doom your entire season out of sheer ignorance.
After quite a few seasons, I’ve seen new players make the same mistakes year after year. They’re many of the same mistakes I myself made in the early days, and this guide is my attempt to help you avoid them in your early seasons.
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Fantasy Fooball Tips: Don't Draft Players Just Because You Like Them
It never fails, in every draft you’ll have that one guy who seems to only draft players from a single team. We’ve all thought about it, and when the chance to draft a guy you personally enjoy watching play comes up, it seems like a no-brainer for most people.
The problem is, just because a guy is on your favorite team doesn’t exactly guarantee he’ll be a huge fantasy performer. Drafting a player like Jason Campbell simply because you’re a Raiders fan is a huge mistake, especially when there are probably much better players still up for grabs.
If you want to win, you have to draft the best players available. I’m no Patriots fan, for example, but when the opportunity to take Tom Brady came up in my latest draft, I jumped at it. This is a guy I’ll be rooting against for most of the season, but he’s the kind of fantasy performer that can make your season.
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Fantasy Football Tips: Watch Those Bye Weeks
Another reason to ensure you’re not drafting a bunch of players from a single team is the dreaded bye week. Every team has one, and you aren’t going to get many points from players who are taking the week off.
After week 4, it’s important to at least hop on and make sure you’ve put in backups for those guys who are off each week. It’s easy to lose a game if you’re not paying attention and leave an inactive player on your active roster. You need to adjust your team every single week.
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Fantasy Football Tips: Keep Up With Injuries
Another weekly task: hop on and make sure nobody on your roster is injured. Injured players don’t make many points, either.
You don’t have to scour ESPN’s website on a daily basis, just log into your fantasy league on Friday or Saturday and check out the status of your players. Most fantasy sites add an indicator like IR for injured reserve or D for doubtful, and you should make substitutions accordingly.
When a guy goes on IR, you need to drop him immediately and pick up the best available player you can, or his backup if he's available.
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Fantasy Football Tips: Don't Pull Your Starters After a Bad Week
It’s an easy trap to fall into: your number one quarterback has a crap-tastic week while your number two tears it up with three touchdown passes. The immediate reaction is to swap one for the other, assuming that one week’s performance somehow predicts the remainder of the season.
Think about it for a second, though. Your number one guy is probably number one for a reason, and just because a great player like Peyton Manning has a bad week doesn’t mean he’s not going to turn it around the following Sunday.
Benching an elite player for an average one rarely makes sense, no matter how bad a week he’s had. There’s just too much potential upside to leave him on the bench.
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Fantasy Football Tips: Don't Tweak Too Much
This one kind of ties into number four, but you can’t spend your whole season picking up and dropping players on a weekly basis. Chances are the guys you got in the draft are going to consistently outperform whoever’s left over, so unless you have a major injury or a chance to pick up a guy who seems primed to become a superstar, don’t spend all your time making roster adjustments.
Inevitably, the players you drafted will be picked up by another manager, and you’ll have the pleasure of losing to them for the rest of the season. Always try and start the best players you can, but don’t be so schizophrenic about it you have a different team every week.