Scott Engel has been providing winning Fantasy Football advice on seahawks.com since 2012. His arrival coincided with Russell Wilson's and the rise of the Seattle offense into a consistently productive Fantasy resource. Scott is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writer's Association and he has over 20 years of experience and success in Fantasy Football. He won a prominent high stakes/experts league last season in New York and has an undefeated season to his credit, one of the rarest accomplishments in Fantasy Football. He begins this season of coverage with the most important points to remember as you head into your drafts this season, with naturally the number of pointers being 12 for Seahawks fans who are Fantasy Football enthusiasts.
1. Don't Go Blindly Into Your Draft
The first and most important rule of Fantasy Sports is to know your rules and scoring system. Not all player rankings are created equal when you review the scoring system. If quarterbacks receive four points for a TD rather than six, the position is devalued a bit more. If it's a points per reception league, pass-catching running backs get bumped up the board. Even kicker distance scoring can make a potential difference between a win and a loss. If your league settings call for three starting wide receivers and a flex, you may want to wait until the middle rounds for a quarterback, especially with a four-point passing TD designation. Do your homework, stay updated on preseason injuries and depth chart battles. Knowledge is Fantasy power. Walking into the draft room with a magazine and last-minute questions makes you a mark for deserved draft day barbs and a potentially shaky draft itself.
2. Don't Be A Homer
Some Fantasy players maintain it's more fun to root for a player in real life and have him on your Fantasy team, too. Well, rooting interest does not affect real life or Fantasy results. Drafting with your emotions can prevent you from constructing the ideal roster. If you build a team heavily comprised of Seahawks and they engage in a defensive battle in any given week, your Fantasy output will naturally suffer. If Russell Wilson is still on the board in the third round, and you need a running back or wide receiver more, and no QBs have been drafted yet, make the smart selection and get a key player at a position that is thinning out faster and requires more starters. You only have to start one QB and the position is very deep. (More on that soon). Also, don't avoid players you root against. When a rival player faces the Seahawks rooting against him won't shut him down. You play your best players regardless of allegiance and when the other team scores in real life, you get the Fantasy points and hope the Seahawks still win the game. Separate Fantasy and reality when making your decisions.
3. Don't Play The Guessing Game
Everyone wants to speculate about who will be available when their first round pick is up, especially with a later selection. They will try to guess who is going to be selected ahead of their slot. It's often a wasted exercise. You never know for sure what will happen ahead of you. Don't ask other players who they are going to take ahead of you, they will not be fully honest or could change their minds in an instant on draft day itself. Speculation can lead to frustration. If you have the eighth pick, simply have your Top 8 players listed and simply pick the best one available when it's your turn.
4. Don't Try To Rigidly Plan Ahead
It's great to be prepared, but every draft is different and you have to adjust to the flow on the go. You cannot prepare to target specific players in specific rounds. You may want to get Rashaad Penny in the fourth round, but if someone takes him a few spots ahead of you, then you must be prepared with alternatives. Focus on specific groupings of players. Penny's current NFL.com Draft Position is 39.68. Other RBs in that range are Kenyan Drake, Joe Mixon and Alex Collins. Be ready to take any one of them if available if you need a RB in the fourth round. Also, there is no set sequence for drafting players. Don't get locked into taking two RBs first, or two WRs first. If you start two RBs and three WRs, get those five slots filled in the first five rounds in no particular order. You never know who is going to drop to you or who you may miss out on at any point during the draft.
5. Wait On A QB
The quarterback may be the most important player in the NFL to many, but he certainly is not when you only have to start one in the majority of Fantasy leagues. The position is very deep. Aaron Rodgers has an ADP of 32.29, but when solid starters such as Matthew Stafford is going in the eighth round on NFL.com, and Philip Rivers as late as the 13th (earlier on other sites, but still in double figure rounds) I will gladly not consider the QB until I have all my WR and RB starting positions filled. Stafford and Rivers were the seventh and eighth highest scoring QBs on NFL.com last year, and you can definitely contend with those guys at QB.
6. Don't Sweat Bye Weeks And Schedules
Too many Fantasy players get caught up in drafting based on bye weeks and schedules. Don't worry about having too many players with the same bye weeks, because your team changes often throughout the season, and when the byes actually arrive, your roster may look much different than it does in August. Lots of schedule analysis is based on last season, and you cannot accurately look ahead to Fantasy playoff schedules when so much will change in the NFL from year to year. Also, the best players can stand out no matter who is on their schedule. Defenses don't win all the matchups by default.
7. Be Bold On Injured Players When It Matters
Many Fantasy owners will steer clear of a player if he is injured on draft day. But if you're smart and know if the injury is not a long-term one, you can nab a value. For example, the Seahawks are monitoring Doug Baldwin's knee injury right now, and if he is not participating in preseason action by your draft date, he could slide beyond the third round. That's when you pounce on him as a value WR2 and reap the benefits when he is back in action. Many summer injuries are only temporary.
8. Don't Ignore The Preseason
Many NFL fans dismiss preseason results, but savvy Fantasy players never do. Any Seahawk fan knows that Russell Wilson made his initial splash in the 2012 preseason. This could be the preseason when Jaron Brown seizes an opportunity to be a notable playmaker in the Seahawks passing game. You also want to watch situations in Chicago, where there is a much better group of playmakers around Mitch Trubisky, and RB battles in Cleveland and Denver, as examples. Many players have to earn their playing time in the preseason.
9. Revel In A Prime RB Opportunity
There is the "Big Four" at RB in Fantasy Football this year, and then, save for one potential rookie superstar, there is the rest. If you are in the Top 4 slots in your draft, you cannot pass on a chance to get one of Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, David Johnson or Ezekiel Elliott. Those are four superstar RBs who soar above everyone else in terms of potential overall production. It may be hard to pass on WR Antonio Brown, but I'd rather get my WR1 with the second pick than miss out on RBs in rarefied Fantasy air. Giants rookie Saquon Barkley has the promise and abilities to join the group immediately, so he's a viable pick at the fifth spot. Personally, I put Bell first of the group because of his long track record at a high level, Gurley second in what is arguably the NFC's best offense, and Johnson third because I prefer the overall offenses of Pittsburgh and Los Angeles as a tiebreaker.
10. Don't Grab A Defense Too Early
The Jaguars and Rams defenses are being drafted in the seventh round on average on NFL.com. Don't be that guy/gal to jump too early on defenses when turnovers and defensive TDs can be very unpredictable year to year. You should not take a defense when prime skill position players are still on the board. New standout defenses emerge all the time annually, and you can stream defenses against weak offenses. The Jaguars and Rams were Top 3 Fantasy units last year, but neither was Top 15 the year before. The best defense of 2016, Kansas City, dropped to 12th last season. There is too much defensive variance from season to season. Avoid the defenses alone until at least your third to last pick.
11. Don't Draft To Trade
You should fill out your needs in the first one-third of your draft. You should not stack up at a position to make trades later on. When you do that, you are passing on areas of immediate need when you have the best opportunity to fill those needs. The type of player you may try to trade for later should be taken when readily available. And when other owners know you are in a position to desire a trade more than the average owner, you may never get the proper return you seek. You'll possibly weaken your draft day starting lineup by picking a player that you may not start early in the season. You can't start both Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
12. Don't Second Guess Yourself Too Much
Once your draft is finished, be happy with your roster and don't stress too much before the season begins. There is a temptation to keep tinkering with your roster or make trades because you are itching for some sort of action after draft day and before the season begins. If you have prepared well for the draft, be confident in the team you have put together and don't aggressively seek out changes. If you need something to fill the idle Fantasy time, do a Best Ball draft, where you draft a team once and never make trades or set lineups. Your results are based on cumulative totals with no transactions.
For more in-depth Fantasy Football draft advice from Scott Engel and his team, register for the Xclusive Edge Fantasy Football Package on RotoExperts.com. Use promocode "seahawks" at checkout for a special discount.