Fantasy football tips covering a wide range of topics including league, rules, scoring, draft, auction, and lineup. Have the best possible fantasy football league and team that you can.
Choose owners who have enough sense to change their lineups every week
I like to win. Who doesn’t?
But I want to win because my team is better than my opponent’s, not because my opponent played without two players on a bye week and two more who were inactive because of injuries. It’s not fun to win by default.
Even worse is when it’s completely out of your control but directly affects you. For instance, let’s say you’re in the middle of a playoff chase and you need another rival team to lose. Unfortunately, that team’s opponent that week forgot to change his lineup, giving your rival a likely win, which prevents you from making the playoffs.
Make sure you have responsible owners in your league who will change their lineup every week, even when they are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Clear your entire schedule on the day of the draft
Nobody likes to be rushed on draft day.
I’m sure if you’re reading this tip and you’ve played in a fantasy football league before, you’ve experienced the pressure of being on the clock, flipping frantically through your reference material and scanning your cheat sheet, feeling angst about which player to select.
Meanwhile, in the background, you have an owner or two chiding you: “C’mon! We don’t have all day.”
What kind of fun is that pressure?
There has to be a limit, of course. This isn’t the NFL draft. You don’t need 10 minutes per pick. But you also shouldn’t have fellow owners breathing down your neck, harassing you because they have a 1:00 tee time.
Make sure all the owners in your league clear their entire calendar on the day of your draft. Nobody should have anywhere else they need to be, thus, shouldn’t be in any hurry to leave. There shouldn’t be any golf outings scheduled. Nobody should have a hot date they have to prepare for. Nobody should have their child’s birthday party with Spanky the Clown later in the afternoon.
One event. However long it takes. Only loosely regulated on time per pick. Don’t rush the best day of the fantasy football calendar year.
Collect all entry fees before letting anyone draft
This is a tip specifically for you fantasy football commissioners out there. I’m sure every one of you have a story or two — or ten — about how you had to chase down owners for their entry fees because they didn’t pay you at the beginning of the season.
I’m sure some of you have even been stiffed before by an owner who just never paid and then faded away into obscurity.
You shouldn’t have to run your league like that. Why do you want the hassle of badgering owners every other day? You’re not a collections company.
Set a rule in stone in the weeks before your league’s draft day and make sure all the owners understand it: Thou shalt not be entitled to draft until thou’s money has been paid.
If an owner shows up to the draft without his money, send him right back out the door to the ATM. If the owner claims he just doesn’t have the money right now and will have to pay you back, that owner probably shouldn’t even be playing fantasy football.
Alternatively, you can also set a rule — with the owners’ approval — that you automatically get a loss every week that you haven’t paid your entry fee.
Don’t ever play fantasy football with children
God created men and children differently. Their brains and intellect are vastly different. Their maturity levels are different.
They should play in different fantasy leagues.
I understand one’s desire to participate in activities with their children. I’m a father, I know I want to share things with my son. Bonding with your children is more important than a game.
But in regards to running a successful fantasy football league, intermixing children with adults just doesn’t run well. Do they have enough money for the entry fee? Do they understand the intricacies of the rulebook? Do they have attention spans long enough not to get bored during the draft and want to run outside and play in the yard before the draft is half-over? Do they understand the complexities of a trade to avoid getting ripped off by adult owners? And worst of all: can other owners trust that the father of those children playing isn’t actually doing all the legwork for his son(s)?
There are just too many red flags and question marks.
Don’t hold your league’s draft until at least after the third preseason game
Is there anything more devastating to your fantasy football hopes and dreams than to watch one of your top draft picks suffer an injury early in the regular season?
Well, yes, actually. It’s to watch one of your star players get hurt in a preseason game, before the real action even begins.
This is why you should hold your league’s draft as close to the regular season as possible. At the very least, it should be after the third preseason game.
The third NFL preseason game is referred to as a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season because it’s the only preseason game where the starters play into the third quarter. The other three games on the schedule are used by coaches to analyze their reserve players in order to fill out the bottom of the roster.
Most NFL starters won’t even suit up in the final preseason game, which means it’s pretty safe to draft before that one.
Don’t run a keeper league with flaky dimwits
Keeper and dynasty leagues add an extra dimension to testing your owner and general manager chops. Can you build a dynasty by acquiring the right players and piecing together a champion over multiple years?
One of the downfalls to having this type of league is that it takes away from some of the excitement of the best day of the fantasy football calendar year — draft day. And by extension, it doesn’t give teams with bad rosters much chance to make immediate improvements.
The other major problem with keeper and dynasty leagues is that if you have flaky owners who can’t commit to anything long term, if they quit your league after a bad season, good luck to you finding an owner who wants to pick up the scraps of that team.
Don’t share cheat sheets or draft guides among owners
I’m not against the idea of sportsmanship and caring at your fantasy football draft. Sharing is caring, after all — if you pardon the Hallmark moment there.
What I’m against is the effect that sharing cheat sheets and draft guides has on the length of time the draft takes. Every owner should have his own material so that he can study in between his draft picks.
When you share cheat sheets and draft guides, this is how it usually goes:
Owner A is on the clock and is using the material to figure out whom he wants to pick. Owner B is on the clock four slots later, but instead of studying and figuring out which player he wants, he’s making fart jokes and checking out memes on his Facebook timeline.
When Owner B finally gets the materials in his hand, he’s unprepared for his pick, has no idea which players were just drafted, and is completely discombobulated.
If you have owners who can’t dish out $5 for a draft guide — or can’t take the time to print out a cheat sheet from the internet before the draft — they probably shouldn’t be playing fantasy football.
Ensure that all owners know the league rules and scoring before you get started
It never ceases to amaze me how many owners approach me at some point during the middle of the football season and complain about a rule that they didn’t know existed.
And all I can do is scratch my head, point them to the online rulebook, and tell them there’s nothing I can do at this point in the season.
Changing rules in the middle of the season — moving the goal posts, as they call it — is not acceptable. And every owner plays by the same set of rules. It’s the responsibility of each and every owner to know the league’s rules before you get started. And if anybody has a problem with the rules, they need to propose a change and get the owners to vote on it.
It would save you many headaches if you get a verbal or written approval of the rulebook by every owner in your league prior to the draft or auction.
Have a league honor system — or mercy system — at the draft for unknown injured players
Forgive me for not empathizing with you if you’re an owner with a cutthroat personality who wants to win at all cost. I like to win, but I’m not going to be prickly in doing so.
If a fellow owner tries to draft somebody who recently suffered a major injury or has been suspended for a length of time for one reason or another, I’m going to advise them that said player is probably a bad idea and give them a mulligan on their pick.
In fact, in one of our leagues in the past, we set up a “do not draft” board next to our actual draft board and we listed players that were unlikely to play for one reason or another. Ultimately, it was up to the discretion of that owner if he wanted to still take a chance on one of those players, but it at least gave forewarning about the pitfalls.
Having a live, offline draft beats an online draft every time
Fantasy football draft day is the single biggest day of your league’s calendar year. It is absolutely the most fun you’ll have all season — short of winning $1 million for winning your league’s Super Bowl.
Why would you deny yourself the pleasure of the live draft experience? You’d rather sit in front of a computer, lining up players in your draft queue, and spitting out picks every 90 seconds? How impersonal is that?
I understand that people are busy. I get it. Our time is our most valuable asset. I also understand that some owners don’t want to spend six hours in a cramped, smelly room with guys who have had too much beer and chicken wings.
But if you’re too busy to spend a few hours hanging out, having a good time and drafting a championship football team … then what are you playing for, anyway?
Get everybody together one day a year, announce your picks to the room and enjoy the reactions and live drama that accompany the experience.
Keep fantasy football drafts to 16 rounds or less
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
You have just completed your draft and your team — on paper — looks so much better than most other teams in your league. You’re locked, loaded, and ready to fire.
Week 1 comes rolling around and one of your star players, whom you drafted in the first three rounds, goes down with a season-ending ACL.
That’s unfortunate, but it’ll be okay. You’ll just hit the waiver wire and get a suitable replacement and continue to chug along, right?
Joe Blow Commissioner decided to have a 20-round draft, thus removing any acceptable replacements from the market. The player you might have picked up is now sitting buried on some other team’s abnormally deep bench. All you have left to decide between is third- and fourth-string players from a good team or anybody from the Cleveland Browns.
I’m a huge advocate of limiting roster size so that there is enough available talent on the waiver wire for teams in a pinch.
But I also am in favor of limiting roster size because it keeps the time your draft takes to a respectable amount. Nobody wants to be at a 20-round, 8-hour draft.
If you absolutely must have more than 16 players on your roster, try drafting only 16 rounds and then allowing owners to make waiver claims to fill their roster up to 18 or 20.
Make sure every owner pays attention during the draft to limit frustration
One of the most frustrating situations at a fantasy football draft is when an owner tries to draft a player who has already been taken.
There is only one reason for why this happens: said owner failed to cross that player’s name off the list because he wasn’t paying attention and was distracted by something else.
Or he was in the crapper.
This situation can be eliminated — and the draft can actually be sped up — by removing distractions from your war room.
We had an owner who went on a smoke break after nearly every one of his picks, forcing us to halt the draft when he returned so he could catch up on the players that had been drafted in his absence.
Another owner was too busy watching a baseball game on TV to pay attention to which players were being selected.
We even had one owner — let’s call him John — who got bored halfway through the draft and went to play ping pong in the far corner of the room. When it came time to make his pick, he shouted out a player’s name.
“He’s taken, John.”
So, he shouted out another name.
“We’re in Round 9, John. That player was taken six rounds ago.”
How about so-and-so, John asked, not breaking concentration on the ping pong game.
“He’s already on your team, John. You drafted him three rounds ago.”
I kid you not. This charade went on for a while until we stole his paddle and ball.
Any owner who complains about a draft taking too long and yet is distracted by other things and tries to pick somebody who was already selected … he needs to be slapped upside the head.
Play in a league with colleagues and acquaintances before friends and family
There’s a certain allure to participating in a league with your friends and family. It’s likely a lot more fun hanging out with them at your league’s draft or auction, swapping stories and jokes and having a good time. And when you see them at parties and holiday gatherings, you have something to talk about together.
But then there is the flip side of that equation. The negatives. The arguing and division that might arise from disagreements about your league. Or you might put so much effort and attention into your fantasy football league that you forget there’s more to life.
Fantasy football is a game, but it also requires a businesslike approach in a number of ways. From an operational and competitive standpoint, when you include feelings into how you conduct business, your allegiance is likely to affect your decisions.
On the other hand, if you are competing in a league against colleagues and causal acquaintances, you’re less likely to let your heart make the decisions for you. If you want to make a trade to better your team, you’re not going to worry about trying to rip off that owner. Your sense of morality and conscience doesn’t kick in — as much.
Play with owners who are easily accessible
Imagine that you have some injuries on your roster and the waiver wire is running dry. Your next logical option is to check other owners’ rosters to see if you can swing a deal with them. You happen to find a team that has a couple players you think would fit perfectly onto your roster and the trade would make good sense for both teams.
Perfect. All you need to do is get ahold of that owner and send him your proposal.
Oops. You either can’t find his contact info, don’t have a good rapport with him, or you send him an email that sits in his inbox until February because he doesn’t check his email or even remember his password.
I’ve played in fantasy leagues — as recently as 2015 — where I’ve tried to find ways to improve my roster but have been limited to about four or five potential trading partners. I was limited not because I couldn’t find any players I wanted on other rosters, but because I couldn’t get ahold of those owners.
This is the digital age. Every owner should have an email address and should check his inbox daily just as he would his snail mail box.
Don’t let owners play in your league if they can’t promise to make that simple gesture happen.
Relish the opportunity to play fantasy football against homers
Nearly every league has one of those guys. Maybe it’s you?
You know, the fantasy football owner who is a huge fan of a particular NFL team and winds up overvaluing that team’s players.
If you play in a league with one or more of these types of owners, use that information to your advantage. Let that owner reach for his favorite players. That just leaves you a better player when your pick comes around.
On the flip side, if you are that homer, you might want to consider ranking every player on your favorite NFL team a few spots lower because you might have some unrecognized bias that might skew your better judgement.
Allow trades to be vetoed by a simple majority of league owners
I hate playing in fantasy football leagues with naive owners. All it takes is one good salesman to sweet talk that owner into giving up a Pro Bowler for a fringe starter.
And what happens when one owner screws another in a trade is that it upsets the competitive balance of the league and puts everybody else at a disadvantage.
The way a trade works is that both teams give up something and get something different in return, but both teams arguably come out better than before.
If this formula is not met, and if one owner clearly is getting the shaft, there has to be a way to stop those kinds of shenanigans.
This is why I propose that your league allows trades to be vetoed by a simple majority. If more than half the league feels a trade sucks … it sucks.
Always play in head-to-head leagues, not rotisserie (or total points) leagues
The vast majority of fantasy football leagues out there use head-to-head matchups between teams, but there are still those that like to operate rotisserie leagues.
I understand where the rotisserie advocates come from. I’ve finished leagues in the Top 3-4 in total points but finished somewhere in the middle of the pack in total wins.
How is that possible? Luck, of course. Fantasy football is all about matchups in head-to-head leagues, and if you just so happen to have a good week but play against the one team that has an even better week than you, you still suffer a loss.
Still, even though such a situation is disheartening, head-to-head leagues are so much better because a team that gets off to a slow start can still catch up by the end of the season if they make a few transactions and start getting on a roll.
Don’t allow free-for-all free agency pickups until waivers take place
Every league inevitably has some owners who lead busier lives than others. This is no reason to leave them out in the cold when it comes to acquiring free agent players.
After your league’s draft is over, you should not allow free agent pickups until all owners have logged into your online commissioner software and all have submitted waiver claims on undrafted players.
Likewise, during the regular season, there should be a one- or two-day waiver wire claim period so all owners, regardless how busy they are, can try to add players to their teams. Once the waiver wire period is over, then you can go to a free-for-all free agency signing period leading up to that week’s games.
Don’t get cute with odd starting lineup configurations
I played in a league one year that required two starting quarterbacks because the commissioner wanted to see higher scores and more action.
No offense to any of you if you participate in a league like that, but that’s just stupid. One quarterback takes the snap in an NFL game; the same should be true for your fantasy football team.
Your basic starting lineup should consist of one quarterback, two running backs, two/three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker, and one defense. Additionally, you can add one or two flex positions that only allow running backs, wide receivers, or tight ends.
Don’t lockout owners from changing their lineups after the first game of the week
Do you know those pesky Thursday night football games? They’re the first games of the week and they have a habit of sneaking up on you.
If you forget to set your lineup for that game, you shouldn’t be punished for Sunday’s games, too.
But alas, some leagues lock out owners from making lineup changes after the first game of the week starts.
Instead, you should only be locked out of changing players whose games are currently in progress.
Don’t play in a league without an equitable waiver wire system
If your league doesn’t have a waiver wire system in place, either get them to change it or find a different league.
If your league does has a waiver wire system in place but it constantly rewards the worst teams in the league, likewise change it or get out.
Every league needs a waiver wire system in order to allow owners to improve their rosters as the season goes on and to replace injured players if necessary. The waiver wire system needs to be a fair, level playing field for all. Rather than always giving the worst team the first right to claim a player, it should be running on a continuous rolling list.
In other words, if Owner A has the top priority and he picks up a player, Owner A should then move to the bottom of the priority list while every other owner moves up.
Your league’s waiver wire system could make or break your experience, so make sure it’s a good one.
Don’t set roster limits on positional players
I believe in having a maximum number of roster spots, but I don’t believe that any league should tell its owners how many players at each position they need.
If an owner wants to stack their team with six wide receivers, so be it. If they want to be running back heavy and load up with five running backs, that’s their choice.
If you choose to load up at one position, you’ll inevitably sacrifice at another, thus balancing out the strength of your team. I think that’s a fair compromise and shouldn’t be tinkered with.
In keeper and dynasty leagues, always determine draft order by reverse standings from previous season
If you’re in a redraft league — meaning your league starts from scratch every year with completely empty rosters — the best way to operate the draft is to throw everyone’s name in a hat and pick the order.
It only makes sense. If everybody is starting from ground zero with nobody on their roster, you might as well leave the draft order to pure chance.
However, if you’re in a keeper or dynasty league where owners are allowed to protect certain players on their roster, the best way to promote competition and balance is to slot the draft order according to the previous year’s results, from worst team to first team.
Keep roster and bench sizes limited to a modest amount
Is there anything more frustrating than losing one or two of your players to injury, checking the waiver wire for a replacement and not finding any serviceable backups?
Do you know where those players are? Stashed away on some other owner’s bench.
It’s a good idea for your league to limit the depth of your teams’ rosters so that owners can’t stash away talent from the rest of the league. The league should be fun and there’s nothing fun about NFL injuries. But you can get over most of those injuries if you are able to sign a replacement player. That can’t happen if all the decent players are already on somebody’s team.
Only play in individual defensive player leagues with owners who know something about them
Make no mistake about it: playing in a league with individual defensive players (IDP) is tough.
These players are just as important to the defense as offensive players are to the other side of the ball. But defensive players rarely score, thus don’t receive as much acclaim as their offensive counterparts.
Additionally, selecting IDP adds an extra dimension of complexity to your draft strategy, because you’re not just drafting six positions.
If you are interested in playing in an IDP league, make sure you select owners who have some kind of knowledge of defensive players. If you don’t have owners who know what they’re doing, they’re going to get trounced by a smart owner who knows when and where to draft defensive players.
Maybe that’s your goal all along, but what fun is it to run through a league of dummies?
Set league trade deadline by 10th week in the season
Most fantasy football regular season schedules are about 13 weeks long — give or take a week based on number of playoff teams.
As a guide, I always say that by the ninth week in the season, you should have a good idea if you’re headed for the playoffs or not. This is not always the case — I participated in a league in 2015 where eight out of the ten teams in the league were .500 after 10 weeks.
But as a general rule, you should know if you are able to make a playoff push or not with four games to go.
At this point in the season, you need to cut off trades so that you don’t have owners who are tanking the rest of the season give up talent to a playoff team for nothing. You want to maintain the integrity of the league from start to finish and cutting off trades helps ensure that owners are not padding other teams’ rosters.
Use at least one FLEX position … if not two
The supply and demand at the running back position changes from year to year and makes it difficult for owners to get their hands on two good ones.
As a compromise, those owners who are unable to get good running backs can stock up on good receivers and still be competitive.
By using the flex position, you allow teams with different positional strengths to be competitive from Day 1.
What happens after that is up to those owners.
Utilize a rolling waiver wire priority list rather than the reverse order of standings
Waiver wire systems are a great way to keep teams competitive throughout the season and ensure that owners maintain interest in playing even if they struggle early in the season.
But your league should not set the priority list order according to record. You should use a rolling waiver wire priority list.
What a rolling list looks like is that when a team successfully claims a player from the waiver wire, they are placed at the end of the list and become the last priority while every other team moves up the list one spot. This continues every time another team successfully makes a claim.
Allow six points for passing touchdowns
We award running backs six points for a rushing touchdown. Likewise, receivers and tight ends get six points for a receiving touchdown. Heck, even quarterbacks who run the ball into the end zone are given six points for their effort.
So, it only makes sense to give quarterbacks only four points for passing touchdowns.
Um, … what?
A touchdown is six points any way you slice it. Don’t rob quarterbacks out of their extra two points.
Always play in PPR leagues versus standard scoring ones
Twenty-four years ago when I played in my first fantasy football league, our scoring rules were so basic. Yards didn’t count. Interceptions and fumbles didn’t matter. Receptions were nonsense.
To put it simply: only when your players actually scored points for their NFL teams did they score points for your fantasy team. Touchdowns and field goals. And the occasional safety.
That was so … boring, I don’t know how we managed to make it through the season.
These days, I feel much the same way about standard scoring leagues as I did back in the day about basic scoring: if you’re not awarding wide receivers for their efforts in catching the ball and moving the chains, what’s the point?
You absolutely should participate only in PPR leagues where receivers become more valuable and certain running backs add an extra dimension to your team.
Award bonus points for yardage milestones
When a quarterback has a 400-yard game, shouldn’t he be rewarded for that? How about when a running back hits 150 yards rushing? Or a receiver racks up 150 receiving yards?
Bonus points are just a fun way to give your team a boost due to an outstanding performance by one or more of your players.
Award points for return yards
Remember when the great Devin Hester was tearing up the NFL with return yards and touchdowns last decade?
Sure, those were some nice bonus points for the Bears’ special teams/defense, but Hester was virtually a non-factor as a fantasy football player in leagues that didn’t award points for return yards.
My question to that is: why? If Hester had that much an impact on an NFL game, the ability to dramatically change his team’s fortunes, why shouldn’t he have that kind of impact on a fantasy team?
Not only should return touchdowns count but return yards should help make more players valuable.
Consider assigning 0.1 points per yard on field goals
Most fantasy football leagues award 3 points for field goals 0-39 yards, 4 points for field goals 40-49 yards, and 5 points for field goals 50-plus yards.
Why should a chip-shot field goal of about 20 yards be worth the same as a 39-yarder? Likewise, why should a 50-yard field goal be worth the same as one of those rare 60-plus-yarders?
Giving 0.1 points for every yard in a field goal made will balance the scoring a little bit better.
Consider awarding points per completion and rushing attempt
I’ve chewed on this idea for quite some time and have had a hard time etching it in stone.
Part of me dislikes the idea of awarding points per completion because quarterback statistics would be so much higher.
But another part of me wonders why it’s a bad thing to have high quarterback statistics? And why, if a reception is worth a point, a completion or rushing attempt can’t be worth that as well?
It’s definitely something worth trying because it gives you something else to watch and root for.
Deduct points for bad, game-changing plays
Some leagues don’t like to take points away from their players for mistakes like interceptions and fumbles. I think it’s a necessary evil.
If your quarterback records two touchdown passes but also tosses four interceptions, why is that a good day?
Turnovers kill teams in the NFL, and logically the same should be true for fantasy teams.
Subtract points for interceptions, fumbles lost, and I’d even argue taking away a point for a missed extra point.
Deduct points only for fumbles lost, not total fumbles
If a football player puts the ball on the ground, but he — or a teammate — recovers the fumble, there’s no harm, no foul there.
On the other hand, if a ball carrier loses possession of the football and the defense recovers, that’s a game-changing play that should be penalized.
Don’t let your league penalize players for fumbling the ball; only if it’s a “lost fumble” should he be deducted points.
Give defenses a big bonus for recording shutouts
When fantasy football was first invented, low scoring games were a common occurrence. It made no sense to give fantasy defenses a lot of points for low-scoring games.
However, NFL scoring has never been higher and if your fantasy defense manages to shut out its opponent in today’s era of football, you should be awarded mega points.
A good rule of thumb is to start at 12 points — two touchdowns — for a shutout and adjust the point total from there based on tiered scoring.
Give defenses more value by increasing scoring opportunities
I participated in a league once where team defenses were only awarded points when they scored a touchdown, recorded a safety, or picked off a pass.
No yardage bonuses, no total points allowed, no sacks, no fumbles.
The average point total for our defenses that year was like 4. … What’s the point?
Make defenses relevant in your league. Give them points for sacks, interceptions, fumbles, points allowed, yards allowed, touchdowns and safeties.
Use fractional points instead of round numbers
I was a former kicker for seven years. And even though a 39-yard field goal was worth the same three points as a 20-yard chip shot was, the 39-yarder was considerably tougher.
Standard fantasy football leagues award 3 points for field goals 39 yards and shorter. They give 4 points for 40-49-yard field goals and 5 points for 50-plus-yarders.
Shouldn’t a 39-yard field goal be worth more fantasy points than a 20-yarder? Shouldn’t a 49-yard field goal be worth more than a 40-yarder? That nine yards is a significant difference.
Likewise, why does a receiver who catches a 10-yard pass get the same one point as the receiver who catches a 19-yard pass? And for that matter, why does that 19-yard pass get a full point less than the receiver who catches one for 20 yards?
The simple solution to this is to award fractional points for yards. Instead of requiring a full 10 yards per point, just award 0.1 points per yard. That way, those players whose yardage total ends with a ‘9’ aren’t screwed out of the points they deserve.
Always go after workhorse running backs who touch the ball frequently
You can’t score if you don’t have the ball. It’s the cardinal rule of all sports, thus, it’s a cardinal rule of fantasy football.
Make sure you target players — specifically running backs — who touch the ball frequently because they’re more likely to rack up points for your team.
The caveat to this strategy is that workhorses are also more apt to get injured, thus you should think about handcuffing them with their backups late in the draft.
Avoid drafting good players on bad teams
As tempting as it might be to select a talented player from a team like the Cleveland Browns or Jacksonville Jaguars, don’t even think about going down that rabbit hole.
The problem with selecting good players on bad teams is that they’re being held back by their teammates. That limits the player’s ceiling and confines them to a small cardboard box.
You have to use some discretion because a bad team’s No. 1 receiver will outperform an average team’s No. 3 receiver, but if all things are equal, go after players on good teams.
Avoid falling in love with your coveted players; keep it to business
Fantasy football is a game, sure. But you have to have a business approach to it. You cannot afford to fall in love with certain players, because there are many problems that come from that kind of devotion.
First, if you personally covet a player, you are more likely to overdraft or “reach” on selecting him. That’s just bad for the overall value of your team.
Second, falling in love with certain players might cause you to fail to have a contingency plan in place. You might assume that you’re going “all in” on that player and not bother to fill up you queue with backup options.
Third, when a player that you feel like you “just gotta have” is snatched right before your pick, it throws you off your game. Suddenly you feel more panicked and the extra pressure could lead to your reaching for a bad player.
Finally, to fall in love with a player at a particular position might mean it alters your strategy at another position. If you assume your running back is going to be set with that selection in the fourth round, you might have wasted the opportunity to select a better running back in the first three rounds while loading up on receivers instead.
Always stay flexible and businesslike in your approach.
Avoid the runs: Don’t draft an inferior player because a string of players at his position were drafted before him
They call it a case of the runs … and no, that doesn’t mean sprinting for the bathroom after consuming too much bean dip and buffalo wings at the draft.
A run, in fantasy football parlance, is when several players from one position are taken in rapid succession. This usually happens when owners increasingly panic because too many players from one position are being taken and they want to select one before too many good ones are gone.
The problem with runs is that they cause owners to reach on certain players out of some crazed desire to fill a position of need.
If you find yourself on the clock and you feel like you need to draft a quarterback because four of the last six picks were all quarterbacks, stop yourself. For starters, if you did draft a quarterback at that point, he’d likely be worse than the previous four quarterbacks, so what does that accomplish? Instead, go after another position that has better strength and value and you can hold an advantage over those teams that selected a quarterback.
Don’t reach for an inferior player out of a desire to fill a need. Always look for best value.
Don’t draft a kicker until the last round … if at all
Avoid kickers like the plague.
If you must draft a kicker, wait until the very last round to take one.
However, if your league doesn’t have a minimum position requirement, don’t draft a kicker at all. Pick up a free agent instead before the first game starts.
Kickers score a lot of points, but the problem is that they’re all about the same. There is very little difference in value from the best kicker to the twelfth-best one (or however many teams are in your fantasy league). There’s no statistical advantage in trying to draft the best one and passing up on a better quarterback, running back, wide receiver, or tight end.
Don’t ever pass up a better player because of his bye week
The biggest myth in fantasy football is to draft a backup player who has a different bye week than your starter.
Point in fact: passing up on a great backup because he has the same bye week as your starter is foolish.
Always draft the best available player no matter what. After the draft, if you notice that both your quarterbacks have the same bye week, you can do one of two things: 1) make a trade that retains your team’s overall value, or 2) wait until that bye week is actually upon you and then use the waiver wire for a one-week fill-in.
Don’t get lazy or fatigued as the draft wears on; drafting sleepers can win titles
Most fantasy football veterans will tell you that attention spans tend to wane as the draft proceeds.
You show up at your league’s draft with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. You’re full of energy, ready to pound the beers and draft yourself a championship team. The first few rounds are all abuzz as some of the best players in the league are taken, perhaps leaving some owners with broken hearts and others downright angry.
Then something happens. Minutes turn to hours, the chicken wings and pizza have all but disappeared, and the beer is starting to give everybody a buzz. Some owners are getting cranky because others are taking far too long to make their picks.
This is the danger zone where your seemingly good draft class can go in one of two directions. If you submit to the fatigue of a long draft, you could find yourself making poor draft selections and watch your team’s depth fall apart. But if you concentrate and ignore the distractions going on around you, you have the opportunity to find some real sleepers and steals that will propel your team to a championship.
Don’t select a defense until every other starting position (besides kicker) is filled
A top fantasy football defense in a league that awards good points to that position can give your team a big boost each week.
But the value between the best defenses and the middle-of-the-pack ones still isn’t strong enough to warrant a high pick on one.
When you’re sitting on the clock and it appears that the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end depth has been depleted, it looks awfully tempting to snag the best defense on the board. But you have to resist that temptation.
Bury your head in your paperwork and find a skill position player that could have upside. It’s better to take a swing and miss on a player with a high ceiling than to play it safe and draft a great defense with a low one.
Make sure you have filled out your starting lineup — with the exception of the kicker — before you draft a defense.
Don’t show up to a draft without knowing all 32 NFL depth charts
I’ve been there before. I’m sure you’ve been there before as well.
You need an extra player at a position of need so you draft an NFL team’s backup, thinking you got a decent late-round pick. But as the season draws closer, you suddenly realize that the player you drafted is actually buried third on the team’s depth chart.
Oops. Well, that guy is destined for the waiver wire.
Do yourself a favor and either open up a webpage on your laptop that lists all the team’s updated depth charts at the time of your league’s draft, or print them out and bring them with you on draft day. You must know what the depth charts look like, not only to avoid taking a guy buried on a roster, but it also could lead you to a sleeper.
If you’re in a PPR league, target running backs who factor into the passing game
Some of the most successful fantasy football teams are those who find players in the middle rounds who fill a certain niche.
If you’re in a PPR league, a great strategy to have is to accumulate as many receivers as possible and fill your running back depth chart with players who catch the ball a lot.
Reggie Bush is the epitome of this strategy.
Throughout his career, Bush was never a great ball carrier. Sure, when he broke into the open field he was difficult to stop. But Bush’s value came in the passing game, where he typically was one of the leading receivers among running backs year in and year out.
Because he was not a great running back, you could typically steal him in the middle rounds after loading up on receivers early in the draft. That gave you a lot of pass catchers on your team, which is a huge value in a PPR league.
If your league allows it, trade down to collect more mid-round picks
The best fantasy football drafts are the ones that allow you to trade picks. If you are not currently in a league that allows this, I highly recommend you suggest it to your fellow owners or join a league that does allow it.
The ability to trade picks gives you the opportunity to move out of a slot if you don’t like what you see on the board at the moment. And trading down out of a slot to get more mid-round picks gives you a better opportunity to load up on a depth and take chances on sleepers.
Know your league rules and draft accordingly
There’s nothing more frustrating to an owner than to leave a draft with a team you think is pretty good, only to realize that the league rules negate your players’ strengths.
Why draft a pass-catching running back if you’re not in a PPR league? What good is it to draft a receiver who perenially leads the league in receptions but never gets into the end zone if you’re not in a PPR league? Why draft a defense before the final few rounds if they only score a few points per week in your league? What good is a receiver who doubles as a kick returner if your league doesn’t score points for return yards?
Study your league rules before the draft and make sure you know what to expect in terms of positional scoring.
Maintain flexibility to alter draft strategy on the fly
I once played in a fantasy football league with a pretty intense dude. He reached into the baseball cap we were passing around the draft room and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper with the number 11 on it, before letting fly a string of expletives. As the first round of our draft unfolded, at least three times he slammed his fist on the table and cursed as another player he coveted was drafted before his pick. By the time it got to his turn, he crumpled up a sheet of paper and threw it demonstratively on the floor. “Well, so much for that plan!” he exclaimed before taking about 15 minutes to make his first pick.
Sound familiar? It might, if you play in a league with owners who are ill-prepared to adjust their draft strategies on the fly.
Show me a fantasy football owner whose draft strategy fell perfectly in place and I’ll show you a liar.
Things happen during a draft that no owner fully expects.
For starters, these are novice football minds. These are not NFL general managers that you are drafting against. A fellow owner — or two, three, four — will make a stupid pick that turns some heads in your draft room and shakes up everyone’s draft boards.
Or, conversely, perhaps an owner winds up stealing a player you had your heart set on. How do you respond?
You should always enter a draft with a strategy in place, but you must have flexibility to adjust on the fly so your entire team doesn’t go into the tank if the draft doesn’t go your way.
No matter your needs, always draft the best available player
There is no greater flaw in fantasy football draft strategy than passing up on a better player for one who fills a need.
There are some leagues that have roster requirements that must be met. I get that. But save those requirements for your last few rounds of the draft.
Don’t draft a kicker in Round 9 because you’re trying to fill out your starting lineup. Don’t pass up on a third strong running back because you only have one wide receiver on your roster. Don’t reach for a weak tight end because more than half the owners already have selected one.
The goal of your fantasy football draft is to acquire as many assets as possible, and you can sort them out later through trades if necessary.
Practice mock drafts leading up to the real thing
I put a spin on the old adage: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” with this:
“A mock a day keeps the mocking away.”
There are plenty of mock draft simulators online where you can participate in live mock drafts. I highly recommend you partake in them — and do so on a regular basis — so you can prepare yourself for what your real draft might look like.
If you come to the draft unprepared and wind up taking certain players way too early, you will certainly be mocked by your fellow owners.
Track every pick so you know which positions your fellow owners will need
If you want to stay one step ahead of your fellow owners, do yourself a favor and keep track of every draft pick that is made, so you can see how each owner’s roster is shaping up.
It requires extra effort, sure, but since when does anything of value come easy?
If you’re keeping track of each team’s positional breakdown, you can avoid drafting a player too early.
For example, let’s say that you hold the third-to-last pick in a given round. That means there are two teams who pick after you for that round. Additionally, those same two teams will pick before you in the following round of a snake draft. Meaning: there are four picks that you have to sit and wait through.
Are you with me so far?
Let’s say that you are looking at drafting both a quarterback and a receiver in your next two picks, and that you decide to take the quarterback first. However, sometime in the next four picks, that receiver you had your eye on was taken before your next selection.
Heartbreak city, right? Could it have been avoided? You bet!
What if you looked at the rosters of those two teams who picked after you and realized that both of them already had their quarterback in place? There would be no need for you to draft that quarterback when you did because you would be in no danger — or very little danger — of those two teams taking that quarterback. Instead, you could have taken the receiver you wanted first, waited for those two teams to take four non-quarterbacks, and then get that quarterback you wanted four picks later.
It pays dividends to keep tabs on the other teams in your draft!
Unless you can get an elite quarterback, wait until the middle rounds to draft your starter
Back in the day when a lot of NFL offenses were geared around the running game, finding a stud fantasy football quarterback gave your team a huge advantage every week.
These days, the NFL has become a passing game and more offenses are putting up increasingly significant passing statistics.
There are still a few quarterbacks who are head and shoulders above the rest of their peers, but they are few and far between. If you can nab one of them early, do it. You’ll be one of the maybe three teams with a statistical advantage every week.
But if you don’t get one of the elites, you might as well wait until the late middle rounds to draft your starter because there is little difference between quarterbacks four and twelve. It would give you more advantage to attack the other positions that come with greater value between the top and middle of the crop.
Be conservative early in auction and let other owners price themselves out of great value later
Every owner seemingly gets a case of the wide eyes when one of the league’s top players is nominated for bidding. This causes an immediate bidding war and often ruins an owner’s entire budget for the remainder of the auction.
Don’t get caught up in the hype of the back-and-forth excitement. It’s okay to exceed your budget by a few dollars on a premium player, but if you blow all your money early — even on a Top 5 player — you are setting yourself up for trouble for the rest of the auction.
Divide money evenly, but allocate more money to starters than reserves
When I participated in my first fantasy football auction many years ago, I took a simplistic approach to budgeting my money.
I used a simple formula to calculate how much money I could spend on each player on average. We started with a $200 budget and had 18 roster spots to fill, which meant I could spend about $11 per player. Makes sense, right?
Wrong. While having good depth is an important quality in a fantasy football roster, it doesn’t do your team any good to have all average players without any kind of star power.
Instead, allocate more money to your starters and less to your bench. Let’s use a 60%-40% breakdown of starters-to-reserves, but you can get more or less aggressive with that formula based on your risk tolerance.
So, using the previous budget and roster limit, I could spend $15 per starter (if starting eight players) and $8 per reserve.
The caveat to that formula is that nobody is going to spend $15 on a kicker or defense, so you’ll be able to allocate even more money to your other starters.
It’s all about playing with the numbers until you find a good balance that allows you to spend more aggressively on your starting quarterback, running backs, wide receivers, and tight end, while maintaining a decent budget for your reserves.
Finding team defenses for good value should be a priority, but don’t overspend
Depending on your league’s scoring rules, a good defense could really give your team a boost. (If your league doesn’t award a lot of points for team defenses, then you can skip this tip)
When at your league’s auction, always nominate defenses for $1 — or whatever the minimum bid happens to be. If you see an opportunity in the middle of the auction to swoop up a good defense at a significant price reduction, go after that defense with aggression, but never overspend.
A great defense will give you an advantage over your opponent every week.
But again, measure this tip against your league’s scoring rules.
Great starting quarterback value available later in auction
Funny thing about fantasy football quarterbacks in the modern NFL era: there’s an abundance of wealth at the position.
Unless you get one of the few elite quarterbacks, don’t waste your money on going after them early in the auction.
If you are patient, you can find a quality starting quarterback later in the auction and you could get him at an extreme discount. And the best part is that there is little difference between the fourth-best quarterback and the twelfth-best one. You’d be wise to spend your money at the other positions where you can get a player of greater value compared to his peers.
Know your league’s scoring rules and bid accordingly
It seems simple enough, but know your league’s scoring rules before the auction begins.
If you’re not in a PPR league, don’t throw money at that little scat back who only steps on the field in third-down passing situations.
If your league only awards minimal points for team defenses, don’t spend more than a dollar on one.
If your league rewards players for yardage milestones, do up the ante on players in high-octane offenses that rack up a lot of yards.
Maintain composure and don’t make a panic bid as more players come off the board
If you’re taking a cautious, conservative approach to the early bidding process, you could find yourself in a unique position.
As many as 20-30 players could be off the board and you might be sitting quietly with an empty roster and a full budget.
That’s okay. Don’t panic at this point and feel you absolutely must sign somebody! Panic will cause you to be overaggressive, which could force you to overspend on a few players.
Stay the course and you will find great value later as other owners run into budgeting issues.
Patience yields great steals late in the auction when other owners’ money supplies dwindle
Every fantasy football owner who is a veteran of auctions has a story or two — or twelve — about players that somehow went under the radar for the entire auction and later was swooped up at a steal of a price.
This happens in almost every auction imaginable. Sometimes it is strategy on the part of owners who want to wait and see if they can get him at a deal later. Other times, due to the nature of random nominations, the player just slips by the wayside.
Either way, you will absolutely find value in players later in the auction if you are patient early and do not overspend. This is because by the end of the auction, most careless owners have blown their budget and are scraping the bargain bin for $1 values. Meanwhile, you — the smart owner — should have plenty of cash in reserve to pull off the steals.
Set ideal and maximum auction values and stick to them
I cannot stress enough the importance of preparation prior to your league’s auction.
Sure, there’s an off chance you might be a special owner who can walk into the auction and steal the show. More power to you. But the majority of fantasy football owners who do not study and prepare before the auction will spend poorly and get stuck with players they don’t really want.
The most important thing you can do prior to your auction is to create a spreadsheet that ranks all the players and also has two fields next to them: the amount of money you feel that player is worth, and the maximum amount of money you’d go over budget in order to sign him.
Then when auction day comes, stick to that spreadsheet and don’t deviate.
Spend the absolute minimum on your starting kicker
The difference between the top fantasy football kicker and the twelfth-best one (or however many teams are in your league) is so small compared to other positions that it makes absolutely no sense to reach for one early.
When you combine that statistical fact plus the idea that no sane fantasy football owner will carry two kickers on his roster, you can wait until the very end of the auction to spend $1 on the best available kicker at that point.
Let some other sucker spend extra dollars on trying to get “the best kicker” in the league. Those few extra dollars could mean the difference in whether you win the bidding on a surprise player that everybody seemed to forget about as the auction wore on.
Track not only your money; but what every owner is spending
It really helps in today’s digital era to come to your league’s auction equipped with a laptop. Tablets and smartphones are accepatable, too, but it’s much easier to type on a keyboard.
Not only do you want to track how much money you have spent so that you don’t go over your salary cap and so you can see how much money is budgeted for the remaining players, but you also want to keep track of how other owners are spending their money.
Try to stay ahead of the game with more cash on hand than every other owner in the league. This gives you a leg up in all the bidding and gives you the opportunity to scoop up players at great deals.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to see where other owners stand in terms of positional breakdown, which can give you an idea how aggressively you need to bid on certain positions at random points in the auction.
When in a bidding war, use a poker face and send false body signals to throw off your competitors
I was in a league once where I saw a fellow owner sit quietly in the corner as he watched a stream of players get auctioned away. He took a conservative approach and did not want to overspend early.
That was a good strategy on his part.
He was so quiet, I wasn’t sure he was even participating in the league. I don’t think he even threw out any bids on players.
That was a bad strategy on his part.
Because when a player he finally had interest in was up for bidding, he straightened up in his chair, spoke his bids with authority, didn’t waste any time in raising the bid and even increased his bid several dollars at a time.
It was obvious to every owner in the league who this guy really wanted. And needless to say, he didn’t get great bang for his buck because other owners intentionally prolonged the bidding process for him.
Body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice are so important in the bidding process. You don’t want owners to know which players you truly are interested in and which ones you’re just trying to get at good value.
I suggest you always look like you’re interested in every player nominated, and offer a bid on most players, even if you don’t think that bid is high enough to win the player.
Also, let’s say you’ve allocated $20 to a certain player and the bidding is currently at $10. Don’t raise it by $5. Use $1-increments. And don’t raise the bid immediately, either. Let the auctioneer say: “Going once, going twice…” and then raise the bid at the last second.
And finally, practice the art of looking riddled with anxiety about how high the bidding is on a player that you want. Using the aforementioned example, you’ve told yourself that you’re willing to go as high as $20 on Player X, but it’s your job to make other owners think you’re having a really difficult time raising the bid from $10 to $11.
Sigh heavily, scratch your head, flip through your papers. It’s all an art form, and don’t let your body language betray you.
Beware the Thursday night offensive duds
Thursday Night Football, while great for fans who can’t get enough of their favorite sport, is awful for fantasy football owners.
Players who play on Thursday night have less time to practice and heal up their injuries from Sunday’s slate of games. This is traditionally why Thursday night games are lower scoring and more defensive battles.
Check the weather reports for potential sloppy games
There’s nothing like checking your quarterback’s stat line on Sunday and wondering why his numbers are so low, only to watch highlights of the game and see that it’s raining cats and dogs and the field is covered in mud.
On Sunday morning — or whichever day of the week the game is being played — make sure you check the weather report for where the game is being played to see if the weather might affect your players’ numbers.
Bear in mind, several home teams play in domes, thus making the weather a moot point.
Climb atop the waiver wire priority list by holding off on claims, and wait for the bigger prize
A waiver wire system is a wonderful way to improve your fantasy football roster, but you shouldn’t use it just for the sake of doing something.
If you are in a continuous rolling waiver wire priority list — meaning every time a team picks up a player on the waiver wire, they’re moved to the end of the list and every other team moves up — it would behoove you to hold off on making petty claims and work your way to the top of the list.
The strategy behind this is simple: every year, something happens that shakes up the fantasy football landscape.
Sometimes it’s a breakout player who comes from nowhere. Other times it’s an injury to a key player that opens the door for his backup. Whatever the case may be, the owner who has first priority at that player will reap the benefits.
Why not let that owner be you? Only hit the waiver wire if you see a chance to make significant improvements. A bigger fish may be circling the waters just below the surface.
Don’t blow up your roster after a few bad weeks
What’s this obsession American sports fans have with blowing things up?
I listen to a lot of sports talk radio — admittedly too much — and after a team has a lousy season, what’s the first thing that angry callers propose?
“Duh, I think we need to blow ‘dis thing up and start from scratch.”
What good does that do you? You’re going to get rid of all assets you have so that you can have more work cut out for you to get back to where you already are? And then have to do the extra work to get better?
You don’t get from Point B to Point C by first going back to Point A. I don’t believe in this idea of taking one step backward in order to take two steps forward. The act of “taking a step backward”, in reality, is taking a step forward. You’re always moving forward.
Whoa. That’s some deep philosophical discussion for a fantasy football article, I know.
If you come out of the starting gates of your fantasy football season like a tortoise instead of a hare, don’t panic and make irrational decisions. Systematically find players on the waiver wire to pick up. Do your best salesman approach with other owners in finding a way to make a smart, strategic trade rather than a desperate unloading of your first-round pick.
Don’t drop a valuable contributor in favor of a one-week fill-in
There will come a time when you need to hit the waiver wire to pick up a replacement for your starter who is on his bye week.
When this moment comes, the worst thing you can do is drop a dependable player who either has contributed to your team’s success that season, or is a valuable asset that you can trade for more pieces.
Either drop a player with little to no value or just play that week without a starter at that given position. It’s not worth sacrificing long-term success for a one-week fill-in.
Don’t overthink starting lineup based on matchups
I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve read or phone calls I’ve heard on the radio, where a fantasy football owner is trying to decide between starting a stud quarterback against a really good defense, or an average quarterback against an easy opponent.
Thus, the matchup dilemma.
While it’s generally a good idea to look at each of your player’s upcoming opponents to see what that opponent’s defense does well, it’s far more important that you play your most talented players rather than worrying about matchups.
In no circumstance would I ever advise an owner to bench his star players because of an impending difficult matchup.
Dance with the girl you brought to the party.
Matchups are a better tool to use for evenly comparable players.
Keep tabs on the injury reports and gameday inactives
NFL teams are required to report which of their players practiced each day and what their status is for that week’s game. It would behoove you to read through those each day for updates on your players’ health status.
On gameday, teams list their inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff. Log into Twitter or check NFL news sites for updates on whether any of your fantasy football players are inactive for the game.
The most frustrating aspect of setting your lineup is not knowing whether your injured player is going to play or not. By staying vigilant, you’ll have a 90-minute buffer window to make changes.
Know your players inside and out by tracking them in the news
If you want to have fantasy football success, you need to keep track of your players.
And an even smarter fantasy football owner will keep track of every player in the league.
Find some time each week — every day, if you can — to read news from around the NFL that gives insight and analysis about the status of your players.
Maybe you’ll find a quote from one of your player’s head coaches that lets you know where he stands on the team. Maybe you’ll learn of an injury that will tip you off on who to go claim on the waiver wire. Maybe you’ll read about one player who figures to get more touches in the coming weeks and thus will become more valuable.
Knowledge is power and you can never get enough information.
Learn the art of the deal: buying players low and selling them high
In fantasy football, as in the stock market, it’s important to buy low and sell high. Likewise in the stock market, your assets have the tendency to fluctuate up and down.
Throughout your fantasy season, it’s important that you evaluate your assets — your players — and see where they’ve been, where they’re going, and where their value is at that moment in time.
If one of your players has a huge week that likely won’t be duplicated, that is probably the best time to trade him because his value couldn’t be any higher.
On the flipside, if one of your players seems to be in a slump, he’s not going to have much value on the trade market so you need to ride out the storm.
The best way to gain extra value to your team is to seek out players on other owners’ teams who might be going through a slump but might have easy schedules the rest of the way. That player’s owner might be willing to part his asset out of a sense of desperation. You can get him at low cost and reap the benefits later.
Let other owners go hog wild over a flash-in-the-pan performance
Every year there undoubtedly is a player who has a breakout performance and who receives a lot of attention on the waiver wire.
Then he falls back into obscurity and the owner who claimed him on the waiver wire just lost a roster spot.
One of the most difficult things to do is gauge whether a strong performance from a player is indicative of his future success, or if he just had an anomaly. There’s no special formula for figuring this out, other than to pay attention to the week in which it happened.
I have a general rule that if someone looks too good to be true in the first month of the season, he probably is, and I stay away from him. Sometimes that theory is wrong and the player will have a full season of success. But most of the time, that player comes back down to earth.
Pay attention to defensive strengths of upcoming opponents
While you’re always advised to start your star players no matter how tough a defense they will be facing, doing quick research on upcoming matchups for some of your evenly-matched players is always a good idea.
Does your No. 2 running back face a Top 5 NFL run defense this week? Maybe you should consider starting that third running back instead.
Is your flex wide receiver about to go up against one of the top cornerbacks in the league? You might want to go with a different player or position this week.
Give NFL.com’s statistics page a look each week and make sure you know your players’ opponents.
Send out weekly feelers to gauge potential trade interest
A smart fantasy football owner does his due diligence on a weekly — if not daily — basis. You need to treat your roster — your assets — as if your players were stocks in your portfolio. You should always gauge the value of your players every week.
What’s the best way to learn their value? Well, you could look up online how your players project over the remaining games of the season. While this is a good idea, it doesn’t give you the true value of your players in relation to your league.
An asset is only as valuable as the market dictates.
If every owner in your league thinks Tom Brady sucks, then Tom Brady sucks, and his value on your team is like dog crap on the bottom of a sneaker.
So, instead of just looking up projections online, you should reach out to your fellow owners and ask them how they feel about particular players. Ask them if they’re looking to unload any of their players. Ask them if there are players on other teams in the league that they would be interested in acquiring.
You don’t have to actually propose a trade or make a trade every week. But you should keep the lines of communication open and gather as much information as possible.