Football Diehards Fantasy Football AdviceThe knowledge you need to bring home a championship
By Emil Kadlec
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The meteoric rise in popularity of Fantasy Football over the last two decades has created an insatiable thirst for the best recommendations and advice available to assist managers. Serious players looking to succeed must comb through player guides for research during draft preparation, while using top-tier analysis and roster-specific tools to craft a winning roster in-season. Fortunately for our readers, Football Diehards boasts a seasoned top-notch staff of award-winning writers who have created custom advice and tools to secure a title.
Our website offers a wide-array of advice that aids managers of all skill levels and league types. No matter the format (keeper/dynasty leagues, auction/snake drafts, individual defensive player (IDP) leagues or otherwise) we have you covered. Our elite content not only covers season-long formats in depth, we take care of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) coverage as well. Consider this your one-stop shop to all things Fantasy Football.
Our advice is broken into three main categories1. Draft Guide Preparation
2. In-season Management
3. Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)
Draft Guide Preparation
The NFL has done a wonderful job of keeping itself relevant for the entire calendar year, with very little down time from the final snap of the Super Bowl through Week 1 of the following season. Here at Football Diehards, we keep track of all the latest breaking news, player movement, trades and otherwise to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information as you enter the Fantasy draft season.
Preparation for your draft is critical, plain and simple. Constructing a balanced roster capable of weathering the storm of inevitable injuries and bye weeks is a crucial first-step to claiming a championship. While in-season management certainly plays a major role, starting the year with the best squad possible is crucial.
So what do you need to do to prepare for the draft, and how can you come away with the best team possible?
- 1. Know your league's rule settings and exploit them - This seems like a relatively simple point, but understanding the intricacies of your league is crucial for roster construction. Fantasy Football has several different settings that commissioners can tinker with, most notably with points scoring systems. Make a note of which league-type you participate in: standard (also called non-PPR or non point-per-reception), a half-PPR (rewarding a half point per reception) or full-PPR (rewarding a whole point per reception). Standard league settings will favor players such as A.J. Dillon of the Green Bay Packers, a smashmouth running back who relies upon a high volume of carries to wear down defenses, but is not generally utilized as a receiving threat. Full-PPR settings would favor someone like D'Andre Swift of the Detroit Lions, who will not have as many carries as Dillon, but will be relied upon as a passing option out of the backfield.
Leagues can also vary widely on how managers acquire free agents off of the waiver wire (more on that below), the number of players allowed at a particular position, how trades work between managers, starting individual defensive players (IDP) instead of team defenses, and the number of players started per week. Understanding what sort of league you are participating in is critical, and thankfully, we have you covered, no matter the format.
- 1. Cheat Sheets - Any draft guide that you find will have cheat sheets breaking down positional rankings per format. Here at Football Diehards, we pride ourselves on having multiple sheets that cover all formats and scoring types. We constantly update our rankings with the most recent information and news available since a change at one position affects many. Our magazines on the newsstands will provide readers with a basis to work with, but we always make sure to reference the website for the latest changes. In addition to our major rankings (standard, half and full-point PPR), we also offer a configurable cheat sheet creator, which allows managers to enter their league's starting lineup specifications and scoring rules. Our tool calculates and adjusts the rankings based upon these inputs, providing customers with the perfect sheet to draft from, every time. Our experienced staff is known for our accuracy, and the cheat sheet creator is a major advantage over your league mates!
- 2. Strategy Advice - Cheat sheets are a wonderful starting point but be sure to read through our strategy section as well! Which positions are considered "deep" heading into draft season that you could perhaps wait on? Will tight end continue to be thin and should you address it within the first few rounds of your draft? How important is it to prioritize youth when playing in a dynasty league? Will breakout players from prior seasons such as Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills continue to reign supreme, or can value be found in later rounds instead? What percentage should I allocate to running back in an auction format?
These questions (along with countless others) are addressed on the site. With so many different angles, strategies and tactics to work through, we've created the Football Diehards University, a collection of videos that cover this content in detail. The University also has live classes with question-and-answer portions to give all Fantasy managers of different levels the advice they need to help prepare them for drafts. We've been providing recommendations and analysis for over three decades. Let our experience work for you!
- 1. Players to Target - Balanced roster construction is a key to success. No manager can have the "best" player at every position, so creating a team with as few potential holes as possible is critical. Saving a position such as quarterback until the later rounds is sometimes a good idea, given the depth of the player pool. Sure, it is nice to have Patrick Mahomes on your roster, but if it comes at the expense of a top-tier running back, it might not be the best decision. Our team of experts excels at picking out sleeper players (those who have a strong chance of outperforming their draft position), along with those who are undervalued or long shorts. Generating value from the later stages of a draft is a hallmark of a smart manager. It is fun to pick all the best players from our hometown teams, but that could lead to a disaster down the road. At Football Diehards, we not only provide a list of players that we stand behind and endorse during draft season, but we also provide our analysis as to why. It is easy to recommend players like Ja'Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals because of his talent - but who will the next Ja'Marr Chase be? Are there any rookies from the upcoming class that might rise to that level? Take our advice into account with who to select and who to fade.
- 2. Question and Answer Advice Sessions - Our experts are incredibly approachable and helpful - they want you to succeed! We take the time to ensure their availability during draft season, both on our website, YouTube account and through various forms of social media. Have a player that you'd like some further insight on? Ask them. Want to know why our Hall of Famer Bob Harris thinks that Mark Andrews is a good player to reach for in a draft? Have a question about a bold prediction or player profile that we wrote up? Just let us know! It is important when asking a question to not only be provided with the answer, but the explanation behind the rationale. This allows you to become a better decision-maker moving forward!
- 3. Don't draft too many sleepers, long shots and bold predictions. It can be risky to draft too many of these types. You need a balance of solid players who have proven themselves over the years and then draft a smaller percentage of sleepers and bold prediction type players. "Last player taken" is another category where you are targeting "deep sleepers" that you can take in the last round or not far from it. Also, most managers are drafting their kicker and defense in the last two rounds. Then they use the streamers method to which kickers and defenses each week of the NFL season. Most leagues allow you to pick up free agent players each week, and you can switch kickers and defenses many weeks when bye weeks are an issue or matchups cause you concerns.
- 4. When drafting stars, you need to be thinking about drafting handcuff players to cover a few of your stars. These typically are the second skill players on the team's depth charts. Most of the time, the backup player can be drafted deep into the draft because they have a low average draft positions (ADP).
- 5. Mock Draft Tools - The old adage "practice makes perfect" rings true! Before your draft day, take a moment to try out our mock draft simulator! This valuable asset is invaluable towards practicing your particular draft strategy. In addition to seeing where players are currently being selected, this allows managers to determine which positions they can wait on (or reach for). Have a particular player that you want to get before anyone else does? Think that you have identified the next big star? See what happens when you select them and how the remainder of your roster shakes out.
- 1. Waiver Wire/Free Agency - Throughout the season, players will emerge that were not drafted and are not on a current roster that should be added. The free agents that exist on the waiver wire can be picked up in different fashions, depending on how your league is structured.
- 1. Starting Lineup Advice - Once you have assembled the best squad possible, it is time to figure out which players are going to crack the starting lineup each week. Also known as Start / Sit decisions. For many of the top-tier selections it is easy to figure out, but choosing FLEX spots can be difficult. Luckily for our readers, Football Diehards does a tremendous job of updating our website with the latest information in our player profiles, right off the front page. Staying up-to-date will help make those tough decisions easier, rather than throwing a dart at a board filled with team names and logos.
- 1. "Streaming" Positions - Another important factor for in-season management is deciding if you wish to "stream" particular positions each week, or have one choice be your "set it and forget it" option instead. It is easy to leave a top-tier player in your starting lineup regardless of the opposition, based upon cost investment and expected return. However, when it comes to defenses and kickers, the decision is not always so straight-forward.
- 1. Injury Issues and how to navigate them - Football is a rough sport, and players will deal with their fair share of bumps and bruises during a 17-game season. As injuries happen to your team (and they will), it is important to stay ahead of the curve. How long will a player be out for? Is there any risk that the injury will aggravate and get worse? Which teams have medical staffs that are more aggressive or conservative with their players? Keeping track of these things can be a daunting proposition, but luckily the "My Fantasy GM" tool will proactively send e-mails regarding any major changes to the health status of players on your roster, so you aren't entering the week with any surprises.
Another valuable asset prior to participating in your actual draft is to try out a mock draft with real people for a small amount of money. "Best ball leagues" have been the rage over the last few years, as they allow managers to get valuable experience drafting against other in a league that plays out with no management or free agency required. These can be used as practice for your actual draft and allow you to set up a team for minimal cost without any in-season time spent.
With the hype of draft day now behind us, it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Choosing which players to start, selecting free agents to add and navigating through injuries and bye weeks is the most challenging (and rewarding) portion of season-long leagues. It is not necessarily about the team that you start the season with, but the team that you finish the season with. They tend to look dramatically different!
The traditional "waiver wire" system is a ranking of in which their requests are processed. For managers that participate in snake/traditional drafts, whoever selected last typically is granted the first waiver wire claim and vice versa. Once a player has placed a claim through waivers, it is weighed against other requests, with the winner then going to the bottom order.
Another option is "free agent acquisition bidding" (FAAB), which is an imaginary pool of funds (separate from anything related to the draft). Managers submit a blind bid against the remainder of the league on a particular day (normally Tuesdays), with the designated player going to the team who bid the most. FAAB pools of money last all season until exhausted.
Regardless of your league's structure, we would highly encourage our readers to take advantage of our "My Fantasy GM" tool, that provides advice for each of your leagues by keeping track of your roster along with the remainder of your league. Managers that participate in multiple leagues will find this invaluable, as it will greatly save them time. Not only does the My Fantasy GM tool assist you with roster construction, but it also provides you with free agents to target, and advice on how to navigate through the waiver wire.
Managers looking for additional advice regarding the Waiver Wire should also pay keen attention to the "Waiver Wizard" article that Evan Tarracciano writes each week. This award-winning column provides hints on which players to target for the upcoming week at each position and format.
Our excellent staff creates weekly rankings for our readers to utilize and work from. These provide a good understanding of which players we are highest on each particular week. Various factors from opposing defenses, cornerbacks who shadow cover, weather conditions and much more are considered when these are published.
Additionally, the "My Fantasy GM" tool also has the Lineup Optimizer, an interactive aid that allows managers to select their starters while giving recommendations on which players could breakout that week. Think of it as having another coach in your corner. As the week progresses and factors like injuries or trades occur, feel free to head back to our suite of tools and review its advice on your starting lineup.
A popular way to provide the best return at these two positions is streaming, or constantly churning through the waiver wire to scoop up options with the best matchup that week, rather than focusing on the entire season. Feel free to "pick on" a specific opposing offense that is downright terrible by grabbing the defense that they play each week and starting that option. Find a quarterback that is particularly prone to throwing interceptions and take advantage! Is a team without several of its star players due to injuries? Adjust accordingly! Target kickers, who do not have to face poor weather conditions, and play in stadiums with domes so the wind will not have any influence on their kicks. Make pickups without the long-term view in mind.
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) Advice
Coinciding with the rise in popularity of Fantasy Football has been DFS, which allows managers to create a one-week lineup, rather than being forced to play an entire season. DFS allows managers to not feel defeated when their star player suffers an injury, or is faced with an overwhelming number of players on bye during a particular week. Participants pit their lineup against each other (or sometimes a lineup created by the website that they play on), either in a tournament setting or "50/50", where lineups that break a certain point threshold win. The weekly "slate" will change, based upon the players who are available any given week. Advice for DFS differs greatly than season-long content due to the microcosm of each week, but fear not - we still have you covered. Football Diehards has "DFS Lineup Optimizer" which is an excellent tool that provides advice and recommendations on different options to use for your rosters on the various platforms and sites available including draftkings and fanduel. This is a supplementary tool for players to take advantage of, along with our award-winning suite of articles and advice catered to DFS players.
The biggest boom over the last seven years has been Daily Fantasy Sports. Over 25% of fantasy managers play DFS according to FSGA.org. DFS is played each week and you can have completely different rosters from the previous week. You can also play multiple games with unique rosters each week. Therefore, fantasy advice is very detailed each week for DFS because you're essentially drafting multiple new teams every week. We at Football Diehards have a DFS Lineup Optimizer that is an excellent tool that gives you advice on different options on your DFS rosters (lineups) on top of our weekly collection of articles and advice.
Best Fantasy Football Advice Frequently Asked Questions
How do I determine what the best fantasy football advice is?
You should look for advice that's broken down into specific aspects of the game.
What are the categories that provide the essentials that would be considered the best fantasy football advice?
Here at FootballDiehards.com, we believe the advice can be broken down into three main categories: 1. Draft Guide Preparation; 2. In-season Management; and 3. Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).
Why is Draft Preparation the first leg of the three categories of the best fantasy football advice?
Getting off to a strong start seems obvious, but it must not be overlooked. At FootballDiehards.com, we offer a range of strategic draft advice that includes players to target and when to target them based on expert rankings provided by our fantasy football professionals, a variety of cheat sheets including interactive, configurable rankings you can adjust to meet your specific needs, mock drafting tools that can be set up to meet a variety of league formats and draft/team review tools.
Why is In-Season Management a major category included in the best fantasy football advice?
In-season management is every bit as important as draft preparation. Perhaps even more important. Here at FootballDiehards.com, we provide a robust array of in-season management strategies and tools. From waiver-wire and starting lineup advice to ongoing roster and bye-week assessment, our My Fantasy GM tool will give you direct information and advice on all your teams. Our emphasis on injury situations has been a strength of our service since its inception with our team of fantasy football professionals having ongoing experience in this arena since 1993.
What makes up the best fantasy football advice for Daily Fantasy Sports players?
Over 25 percent of all fantasy managers play DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) according to FSGA.org. The best fantasy football advice is different in the DFS arena because of the varying types of contest and the week-to-week nature of play. FootballDiehards.com provides a robust set of tools, including lineup optimizers and the advice of some of the top players in the arena (including million-dollar winners) via articles and live video shows.
How do I know which Fantasy Football league is right for me?
Managers who are new to Fantasy Football should not necessarily dive into the "deep end" with leagues that are larger than 12 players or have custom rule settings. Generally speaking, snake/standard drafts are easier to participate in, since there is no competition for managers who are currently on the clock. Leagues that run free agency with traditional waiver wire bids (rather than FAAB) are more welcoming to beginners. Once a manager has their "feet wet" with some experience, we would highly encourage them to test their skill by playing in leagues that use settings like IDP, or happen to host an auction draft. Don't be afraid to try new things! This is supposed to be fun!
How do I determine which is the best Fantasy Football advice to follow?
Make sure when you are performing research for any of the three phases mentioned above (Draft Preparation, In-Season Management or DFS) that you attempt to make it as specific to your league format as possible. Use the correct spreadsheets for your format, and when possible, try to whittle things further with tools like our Football Diehards University or Cheat Sheet creators. Different scoring formats will play major roles in how to draft, or when to target specific positions.
Fantasy Football tips for beginners
Players with games on Thursday Night Football should be placed into your "WR/RB/TE" slots, rather than "FLEX" as it affords the ability to adapt to changes later in the week.
Try to have several players who are backups to studs on a "watch list" - better to be ahead of your competition!
Before completing a trade with a friend, have one of our staff review it to ensure that you are not getting fleeced.
We endorse the idea of "handcuffing" top running backs by having their immediate backup on your bench. This allows you to not have to over-spend FAAB or burn a high waiver-wire priority in the event of an injury.
Rookie players are always the new and exciting thing to have in drafts, but don't discount what veterans bring to the table, especially in non-dynasty or keeper formats. It takes time to learn a new system and blocking schemes (for tight ends). Certain coaching staffs are more open to getting rookie players on the field, while others are notorious for making their players "redshirt" for a year, holding a clipboard on the sidelines (Kansas City and New England, for example).
Keep bye weeks into account when drafting. Having a handful of players on the same bye week is not a major hurdle to overcome, but too many off will sink a matchup.
Unless your league commissioner has changed the scoring dramatically, defenses and kickers should be selected with the last two picks in your draft. Draft for depth at running back and wide receiver first.
This is meant for fun! Do not make playing in leagues your second job.
Waiver wire additions made earlier in the season are more valuable than those made later, so do not be afraid to be aggressive with spending FAAB. It can't be held over or retained, so use it wisely!
Fantasy Football trade tips
Even though we live in the age of electronics, keep in mind the human element of making a deal. It is much easier to formulate a trade face to face or over a Zoom call than through texts or e-mails.
Trades cannot be forced with a particular team, and we cannot emphasize this enough. It takes two to tango! If Player A needs a wide receiver and can offer depth at running back, he should look for Player B with the opposite. Find the correct trade partner, and do not pigeon-hole yourself into dealing with a specific person.
When offering a deal, point out the positives of the player you are willing to part with.
Do not offer grossly unbalanced deals. This seems obvious, but insulting the intelligence of another player through offering pennies on the dollar is a sure-fire way to get rejected.
Offering 5 low-end players for one elite player do not necessarily balance out a trade. Especially in shallower leagues, managers should focus on elite talent, rather than a bunch of FLEX options.
Certain providers offer "trade value charts" that can be referenced. Keep in mind that this is the opinion of one writer, and not necessarily the final word. They are a good reference point to work with for newer players who have not formulated many deals in the past.
Play to the emotions of the person that you are trading with. If you happen to know their favorite team, they might be willing to over-value particular players.
Fantasy Football Draft tips
Drafts are meant to be social and fun, but do not let too many adult beverages spoil all your hard work and preparation!
Pull cheat sheets from multiple websites and sources, or better yet, create your own to work from.
If drafting online, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get set up and ready.
Do not be afraid to "reach" on a player that you want! Even though the Average Draft Position (ADP) of a particular player might be Round 7, it is okay to take them in Round 6 if you feel that they will outperform their projections. Do not be a slave to ADP!
Each website provider will have a different ADP or Auction Value recommendation for the player pool. Keep in mind that this can be exploited, since players may become buried within rankings. Search through them ahead of time.
In an auction format, try to leave a few dollars for the final few rounds to control the board. Being able to "box out" or "snipe" talent that has lasted too long is a great way to shore up your bench.
Try not to wait until the final player of a particular "tier" is left to address a position. If you happen to have four quarterbacks ranked similarly, others surely do as well. The final player in a tier is normally overspent upon.
As we mentioned earlier, perform as many mock drafts as possible prior to your actual draft. Have a general idea of where players fall.
Even more so than other Fantasy sports, Football scores tend to be influenced by top-tier talent. Positions that are top-heavy (such as tight end) are key to address early in drafts.
Running back tends to be the most injury-prone position due to the physical toll it takes. Cover yourself by making sure that you have depth.