Top 11 tips for winning your Fantasy Football league

Do you ever find yourself yelling at the television as your favorite National Football League team makes a mistake on Sunday?

Do you ever say, “Wow, if I was coaching, I could have made a better decision than that on the field?”

Do you ever watch football, and say, “Why did they draft this certain player or why didn’t they draft this player?”

If any of the above describes your behavior during a given week, fantasy football has the cure. You can play, and be the draft expert, the coach, the general manager and the owner (commissioner). You can start your own league or join another league.

According to an article from US News on its Money website, over 27 million adults participate in fantasy sports. Eighty-five percent of those that do play take part in fantasy football. It is 16 or sometimes 17 not-so grueling weeks of trying to garner points and outplay your friends, family or co-workers.

The vast majority of players are men between the ages 18-50, but that in no way excludes women and even senior adults from getting involved. Many of the NFL players are in leagues, and often times commissioners.

Since there are 11 players on one team in football, here are 11 helpful hints to winning your league:

1. It’s just a game – You honestly can’t take things too seriously. I know those may crush your hopes and dreams, but it is just a game. However, if given the opportunity to make a deadline blockbuster trade that would send Ray Rice and Wes Welker to your team for a lesser known player, go for it! Have fun and make your draft special. Many places hold draft parties, and you can even go in full NFL apparel.

2. Key nicknames – Your team holds your name all season long, so pick good team nicknames for your teams. You can represent your favorite team, come up with something completely outlandish or just be yourself. A few funny nicknames could be: Mutant Hobbits, Splendid Constellations, and Watery Hurricanes, according to Fantasy Football Toolbox.com. It could just be the Tigers or the Panthers, or it could represent who you are such as Code Blue, TD Club or Mean Machine.

3. Competition, competition, competition – Not only can you be the commissioner of your league, and get different types of scoring settings, but you can take on your best friends, others from work, or even challenge your wife. The one on one competition is the best, and you can even smack talk with others in your league. Sometimes the games come down to just a few points or it could be total domination if you pick the right players. Who is going to score touchdowns?

4. Quarterbacks are the key – Just as with any good team in the NFL, every fantasy owner must have a great quarterback. Make sure that you pick up Tom Brady and not Greg Brady in your draft. If you want to take Peyton Manning, make sure you don’t just say Manning because it may be Eli (even though that would also be a good choice). Look at how many touchdowns they have the potential to get through the season. Take a serious look at what receivers they have to throw to on the team. ESPN has the QBs ranked in this order: Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Stafford, Newton, E. Manning, Vick, Romo, P. Manning, Rivers, Ryan and Roethlisberger.  Don’t forget about your underrated QBs. What about Flacco or Cutler or Palmer, Luck or RG3? You are going to need a backup just in case.

5. Running backs make their case – Who are you going to take first for your backfield running game? In the last few years, there have been a lot of injuries and a lot of disappointment. On the other side, there are plenty of backs that can “carry” your team. These names are important to remember: Rice, Foster, MJD (if he is back), McFadden, Forte, McKoy, Johnson, Matthews, Jackson, Peterson (if he is healthy), McGahee, Brown, Reggie; just to name a few. Of course, don’t forget about Williams, Stewart and Tolbert who share time in Carolina.

6. Six words – Megatron – Julio – Steve – Larry – Jennings – Johnson: Most of the time, these wide receivers make all the catches. Sometimes they break your heart when they make the catches in the clutch against your team. Some of the few wide receivers to take include: Welker, Nicks, Green, Cruz, White, Nelson, Colston, Bowe, Marshall. P. Manning will likely find a couple of new targets with Decker and Thomas, and Flacco has Boldin and Smith to throw to in 2012.

7. As in the number of top tight ends in the NFL to go to for the season. Gronk is first on most lists. He is followed by Graham, Finley, Hernandez, Vernon Davis, Witten and Fred Davis. Some sneaky good picks could be Tamme from Denver; Cook from Tennessee; Daniels from Houston; or our hometown Greg Olsen from the Panthers.

8. Defense wins championships; on and off the field – You are going to have to play a little bit of defense to win the title, so you are better know the score. The 49ers and the Ravens are hot picks. The Packers and the Texans are solid throughout on defense. The Keystone state produces two good choices with Philly and Pittsburgh. The G-Men from New York are going to make some noise, along with the defense from the Motor City. These are good picks for your team.

9. In the movie, ‘Ferris Buehler’s Day Off,” the principal tells Ferris’s mom he has missed school “nine times.” It is important to look out for who is not playing or on the injured list. This could make or break your team.

10. Look for the 10 different experts or fantasy gurus for advice. These include Matthew Berry, Eric Karabell, Stephania Bell, Christopher Harris and Mel Kiper, Jr. from ESPN. Andy Behrens and Brad Evans are experts from yahoo. Michael Fabiano comes from NFL.com. Cheat sheets in magazines and online are good for assistance, plus the message boards can help.

11. Last, but not least is the playoffs and the cool online trophies. I have been fortunate to play and finish in the top three 11 different times. The key is to keep your team in the race for a playoff spot, and find the right matchups to get to a championship. “May the touchdowns be with you.”

Photo by Joel Beachum

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