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12-Plus Tips For Fantasy Football Drafting Success In 2020

Scott Engel returns to help fans prepare for this year's fantasy football season, including tips for dealing with the unique circumstances brought on by COVID-19.

2020-08-03_FantasyInsider

Scott Engel returns for his ninth season of Fantasy Football coverage on Seahawks.com. Scott is a 20-plus year veteran of the Fantasy industry and an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. You can find more of his Fantasy analysis at RotoBaller.com and SportsLine.com. You can listen to Scott on weekend mornings and on demand on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Scott has also won his highly competitive Fantasy Football league with other experts and top players in each of the past three years.

It is August, and that means we are back at Fantasy Football Draft Month and closer to the upcoming season. In these unusual times and circumstances, Fantasy Football has returned to provide a much-needed outlet for virtual fun and camaraderie. As the Seahawks ready for another season, it is also time for you to start getting prepared for the schedule ahead. Every year, we provide 12 essential Tips for Fantasy Football Success, with the "12" items being a nod to the Seahawks fans who enjoy playing Fantasy Football. In this edition, we have added some bonus recommendations to deal with some of the unique challenges we may face during the upcoming campaign.

  1. Know the Score: The most important first item is to know your scoring system and to get familiar with it. Don't be that person who enters the league chat room and asks "this is PPR, right?" You should be prepared ahead of time to draft accordingly based on your scoring system. If you are returning to the same league, and obviously comfortable with the setup, you should still get in practice reps. You can participate in mock drafts online to see how competitors are valuing players in your type of format.
  2. Mock and Roll: Mock Drafting, which you can participate in any time on NFL.com, helps you ready for your real draft. It's a logical step in your preparation. Yet there is an emerging trend in Fantasy Football that can make your pre-draft prep even more exciting and fun. Try joining a Best Ball draft. Best Ball Leagues are ones in which you draft your team and make no in-season moves. Your highest scoring players at every position get the credit for weekly scoring. The team with the most points at the end of the season wins the league. In this format, you are practicing for your own seasonal draft and it really counts, as you can actually win the league.  With no roster moves needed, you can join as many Best Ball leagues as you want without feeling overloaded while warming up for your main seasonal league draft. It's a terrific "practice" option with real results and no in-season responsibilities.
  3. Go With the Flow: Too many Fantasy players try to guess how they are going to build their teams ahead of time. If you have the eighth pick overall, don't waste too much time trying to guess what will happen before your pick comes up. Just have your top targets queued up and take the best available player when it's your turn. Also, do not try to plan your draft strategy ahead of time too rigidly. Let the draft come to you. Every draft is different. You never know who may fall to your spot in any round. You can loosely plan on starting RB/RB/WR, but the unique flow of the draft can cause you to shift your approach at any time. Always be ready to adjust on the fly.
  4. Be Ready for the RB Race: You will likely have to get in on an early RB run in most drafts this season. NFL.com ADPs indicate that 10 of the first 18 selections are running backs, and in many drafts, you could see more than a dozen taken in the first two rounds of a 12-team league. You may be forced to take two RBs in the first three rounds, and can afford to do so because WR is a much deeper position and you will wait on a QB in most cases.  Again, you cannot tightly cling to a pre-planned approach, but be prepared to join in the strong early push for RBs.
  5. Don't Bleed Blue and Green: Don't get your allegiance for the Seahawks confused with how you should execute your Fantasy Football draft. If you are in the fourth round and Tyler Lockett is available when your pick comes up, but you need a RB more than a WR, you must go with the choice that fills your need best. Never draft with your heart. Don't avoid players from teams you root against, either. Take the best player available when it makes the most sense. Being a fan is separate from being a good Fantasy GM/coach.
  6. Do Drink Strawberry Milk on Draft Day: While being a fan should not heavily influence your draft decisions, you should be thrilled to land DK Metcalf if you can. He is a deservedly generating a lot of Fantasy buzz heading into his second pro season. Metcalf is a unique size/speed WR playmaker working with a QB who ideally takes advantage of his skills. He had a true breakthrough performance in the NFC Wild Card Game last season. Metcalf's NFL.com ADP of 53 is quite fair, as he has tremendous upside heading into the 2020 season and could leap to the Fantasy WR2 level.
  7. Wait on QBs: Except for One: Quarterback is an annually deep position in Fantasy Football, as there are usually a dozen or so players that will start at the position in an entire league. There are 32 starting QBs in the NFL. So you can draft Russell Wilson in the sixth or seventh round in many leagues. The one QB who should not wait on is Lamar Jackson. No other player at the position has his high rushing floor. You will get RB type production at quarterback while he still delivers pretty good passing numbers. I have taken him in the second round of many drafts. No player in the history of Fantasy Football has ever been capable of combining outstanding rushing totals with quality passing numbers like Jackson can. In cases other than where you can draft Jackson, fill out your RB and WR starting slots before considering QBs.
  8. Don't Sweat the Schedule: When you are drafting, don't look ahead to Weeks 14 to 16 for perceived playoff matchup advantages, because so much will change between now and then in Fantasy Football and the NFL. Your roster will be reworked frequently throughout the season, and many player outlooks will be significantly altered. Also, do not overemphasize bye weeks, because you will always be tweaking your roster throughout the season. Additionally, remember that much of schedule analysis to determine who has better matchups is often heavily based on last year.
  9. Be Bold: If you are really high on a certain player and want to assure yourself of getting him, it's fine to pick him earlier than expected or what ADPs may indicate. I will gladly take Lamar Jackson in the second round when most others will not, and DK Metcalf at the end of the fourth. Being aggressive to get upside performers can help you win a league.
  10. Don't Get "Sniped": Just about every Fantasy player seems to get frustrated when a player they really want gets picked right ahead of them. Don't let that rankle you. You cannot get everyone you want in most drafts, and have groups of players queued up rather than just focusing on one or two players that could have fell to you. Always be ready with the next potential selection, just keep it moving.
  11. Address Your Needs Before Your Wants: You should always fill out your starting lineup of skill position players first and foremost. Along the way, always consider primary needs as you build out the squad. If you are in the third round and a WR you really like is available, but you don't have a second RB and the position is drying up more quickly, take the RB over the WR. In most cases, you should address your necessities before adding luxuries.
  12. Draft Day is Just the Beginning: Do not get too high or too low on how the roster looks after you are done drafting. As we have already indicated, your team is going to change a lot throughout the season. Applications that grade your draft are amusing, but should not be taken too seriously. There's waivers, trades, injuries, some unpredictable performances and trends ahead. There is so much work to be done. You have only started out on a long road when a draft is completed.

Addressing COVID-19 Fantasy Football Concerns

Because of continual uncertainty, both league managers/commissioners and league participants will have to be prepared for adjustments at any time. Those who play in leagues must communicate with their league managers/commissioners to ensure rules alterations that address COVID-19 concerns are considered and implemented.

Changes to be voted on by league members should include:

  • Expanded benches/reserve spots
  • Injured reserve spots
  • Practice squads
  • Team Quarterback and Kicker Roster Spots. If you draft a starting QB you get automatic rights to his NFL backup. Then if the starter misses any time, the Fantasy Coach/GM can choose between using an existing Fantasy reserve QB on their roster or the NFL backup of the player lost.
  • Schedule the Draft closest to the start of the regular season as possible so participants can have the most up-to-date player information possible on Draft Day.

Fantasy players should keep these key pointers in mind:

  • Stay on top of the latest player news and be ready to make a roster move at any time.
  • There should now be a higher emphasis on drafting the top NFL backups to your starters, especially at RB.

The league should also consider scheduling an accompanying video conference during the draft. This will effectively replicate an in-person experience as best as possible. It can also be a new and enjoyable element for online leaguers that have not utilized such technology before.

For more analysis and updated player rankings from Scott Engel, plus comprehensive Fantasy Football coverage and tools, get the RotoBaller Season Pass. Enter promo code "Seahawks" at checkout for an additional discount.

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