Training camps have opened around the league, and that means it's time to start your own training camp as a Fantasy Football player. As ball clubs like the Seahawks fine tune themselves in anticipation of the upcoming campaign, you must do the same as a Fantasy owner. While Russell Wilson is working with the likes of Tyler Lockett as the pair look to become more prolific as a connection this year, you have lots of your own work to do.
As I open Fantasy coverage for my fifth season on Seahawks.com, I'll start giving you the drills and tips that are required to start you on the winning path this season. We begin this year's summer Fantasy series with your tips for success for the impending campaign. Of course, the number was chosen to represent the 12s. But we won't limit our Fantasy vantage points to the Pacific Northwest. A winning Fantasy player keeps his views trained on the entire league. We'll be keeping a wide focus on the league from Fantasy perspectives in our coverage this year, while also maintaining a sharp focus on your Seahawks.
At its core, Fantasy Football is intended to replicate a hybrid experience of being an NFL owner, general manager and head coach in one fun package. You get to be Paul Allen, John Schneider and Pete Carroll all in one. During the Fantasy Football regular season, you may run excitedly back and forth in front of your TV set as Carroll does on the sidelines. If you want to keep making deep postseason runs like the Seattle brain-trust has led the way for in recent seasons, then it all begins here and now.
1. Know your scoring system
This is the first and most important rule if you are going to succeed in Fantasy Football. Don't go into your draft blindly, be aware of the parameters as far in advance as possible. There is a big difference in quarterback scoring when your league awards six points for a touchdown pass instead of two. Quarterbacks will move up the draft board into earlier spots. Is there special scoring for tight ends? How many points for a reception and is there any points awarded for them at all? PPR formats are quickly on the rise. Once you have read through the format, engage in some online mock drafts to feel more comfortable with who you will take.
2. Don't be a homer
Yes, it's fun to root for your favorite Seahawks and have them on your Fantasy team at the same time. But don't go into a draft with the main intention to get them. You should always pick the best available player to suit your needs, don't take Tyler Lockett when you are at a point when you may need a running back instead. Don't be determined to draft Russell Wilson too early when the QB position is deep. Your Fantasy strategies should have nothing to do with your allegiances. And you should never pass on a player because he is on a rival team. Rooting against Larry Fitzgerald doesn't hold down his production, and he can still help your Fantasy team in a loss to the Seahawks.
3. Don't assume that this is fully the year of the WR
Fantasy trends have shifted in recent seasons, and now many owners load up on wide receivers early. The Top Three picks in many leagues will be Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. But there are a handful of running backs that certainly deserve to be picked early, too. Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson and Adrian Peterson should all be taken in the first round, and Lamar Miller should be considered at the end of the round. The first four are in a clear tier of their own as potential superstar RBs that can get a lot of touches. Gurley has already displayed tremendous potential, and Elliott is a special talent in a great situation. Johnson is versatile and explosive and is very attractive in PPR formats, and Peterson is a proven standout who is not quite close to being done.
4. Don't overthink the early part of your draft
Too many Fantasy owners obsess over the first few picks and the first few rounds of their drafts. You cannot waste time trying to predict what may happen in the first round ahead of you, especially if you are in a spot beyond the fourth pick. You have to be ready for anything, just be well prepared and take the top player on your board when it's your turn. And don't plan to stick to a certain formula in the first few rounds. There is no one strict set way to approach the draft by position, in a certain order. Every draft is different, and you simply have to be ready to adjust on the run. Have a group of players queued up before every turn.
5. Don't sweat the schedule
You may start looking at a player's upcoming schedule and believe if it's tough, you should downgrade him. Or, if the schedule looks easy, you may upgrade him on your cheat sheets. But Fantasy schedule analysis is nearly a wasted exercise. Much of it is based on last season, and with many players changing teams and new coaches also in place, many new trends will emerge this year that are not apparent yet. Don't look at matchups through last year's lens, 2016 is a new season. Fantasy forecasting is also about looking forward, not just back to last season.
6. Be informed on injuries
It is so important to stay abreast of the latest news and information, but it's essential to be aware of the severity of the issue on any given player on draft day. Many owners will pass on a player with a minor injury if he is out at the time of their draft. That could turn out to be a mistake if the player gets past it quickly and is ready for the season. You also simply cannot be that person who takes a player and then is unaware he suffered a recent injury. You'll be embarrassed, you will deserve it, and you will hurt your Fantasy team in the process.
7. The preseason is not useless
It's an error to overlook or dismiss preseason performances. Seahawks fan certainly know this well, as Russell Wilson started to flash his enormous promise during exhibition play in his rookie campaign. Victor Cruz is another preseason star who carried his momentum into the regular season and broke out in a big way. Not every August star will become a true standout, but you can certainly take a later shot on a player who is showing a lot of summer promise and may win a position battle or take advantage of an opportunity.
8. Remember the proven performers
Fantasy players love upside, but as you move past the early stages of your draft, proven veterans will serve you quite well. Guys like Matt Forte and Larry Fitzgerald can serve you well in PPR formats. Greg Olsen is rock solid at TE and Jeremy Maclin is a quality second wideout. Philip Rivers is underrated as a Fantasy QB. Sometimes, established should win out over sexiness.
9. Be ready to draft from any spot
Some owners fret about what position they will draft from. But there are advantages and disadvantages to working from any draft slot. If you pick last, you obviously see some desired players get taken ahead of you early, but you are the first to get back-to-back selections and can build a very strong core right away. I prefer to be in the middle, such as sixth pick in a 12-team league, as you don't have to wait much longer than others in any round. But a prepared owner can effectively draft from any slot.
10. Quarterbacks are not the crux of a Fantasy team
Many NFL teams build around a QB, but you don't have to exhibit the same approach in Fantasy Football, especially if your league awards only four points for a TD pass. You only have to start one QB in most leagues, and the position is deep. You don't have to grab an Aaron Rogers or Andrew Luck earlier when you can grab a Carson Palmer or Rivers later on. Pick off those premier RBs and WRs first. As long as you have a steady QB starter, you will be OK.
11. Fill out your starting skill position lineup first
Don't go for value at just any time during the draft. Taking a fourth WR before you need a second running back is not a good idea if that WR will not start for you. You must think of need as well as upside and value. You should make sure you have all your starting slots filled at RB, WR, QB and TE before you start picking off value plays and sleepers. The middle to later rounds should be the time when you have fun targeting the breakouts and sleepers, make sure you pay most attention to your core lineup first and foremost.
12. Be confident
If you do your homework and are well prepared on draft day, there will be no reason to panic. After the draft, retain that confidence and be assured that you executed a solid plan. Don't second-guess yourself too much. There are many outcomes in Fantasy Football that we cannot control, the best you can do is execute an optimum draft and then be ready to be nimble during the regular season. Once your draft is over, sit back and admire your work, and then get ready to move forward with the same positive, alert approach that you originally built your team with.
Scott Engel is a 20-year veteran of the Fantasy Sports industry and an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. For more in-depth advice and a full suite of Fantasy draft prep information from Scott and the team at RotoExperts.com, register for the Xclusive Edge Fantasy Football package right here. Seahawks.com readers get a special discount by entering promocode "seahawks" at checkout.
Take a player-by-player look at the Seahawks' 2016 Training Camp Roster.