Fantasy Football: Drafting Ground Rules for Idiots


DISCLAIMER: I am aware that writing about fantasy football is folly; the websites of even the most successful fantasy commentators such as Matthew Berry are filled with vitriolic outpourings of rage from disappointed fans who live a strange juxtaposition of knowing-it-all while still managing to lose every week. But stupid is as stupid does, so come at me.

So you’re trying fantasy football for the first time. Maybe you want to feel part of the group, maybe you’re being pressured into it, or maybe you’re just reading this post so you can leave a comment at the bottom telling me I know nothing about it (don’t take the bait, team).

Now I can’t guarantee you success, especially since fantasy football is to a great extent a game of luck (and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise), but I can give you a few pointers so you can at least feel that you gave it a proper go.

1. Forget the Cincinnati Bengals

But why Mrs. Catherton? Was it something I said? Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Stripe Hype is a Cincinnati Bengals fan site, so this is me cunningly working that into my post. But whatever NFL team you support, you have to put them to one side when it comes to fantasy football and the draft.

Example: Mrs. Wanda Catherton is just like you, trying out fantasy football for the first time. And boy! She sure is a massive Bengals fan, so when it comes to the fifth round and everyone is picking a quarterback, she naturally picks Andy Dalton, a picture of whom she keeps on her dressing table next to her perfume and her boiled sweets. The problem? Aaron Rodgers still hasn’t been drafted, and he is a far better quarterback who will earn far more fantasy points.

Because of her love for the Bengals, Mrs. Catherton has a crappy fantasy football team, and “Sly” Bill McGumption absolutely destroys her in their Week One matchup when he fields Rodgers himself. DON’T be a Mrs. Catherton.

2. Draft a Running Back in the First Round

This is a fantasy football truism. Write it on your arm so you don’t forget it, say it to yourself before you fall asleep, shave it into your cat, whatever. As running back by committee becomes increasingly commonplace, the number of quality running backs with enough carries to attain a reasonable number of fantasy points decreases.

You MUST grab one of them for your team ASAP, there is absolutely no time for fannying around in the first round getting smart with wide receivers or other such nonsense. Last year, there was a lot of trying to mix things up with wide receiver Calvin Johnson, tight end Jimmy Graham, and, heavens to Betsy, quarterback Peyton Manning, being picked in the first round of many fantasy drafts.

“There is absolutely no time for fannying around in the first round.”

All three players did not live up to expectations, leaving anyone who thought they were being clever by picking them (myself included) feeling like a right ninny.

Fortunately for her, dear old Mrs. Catherton has opted to draft a running back in the first round: the Bengals’ own Jeremy Hill. She should keep in mind though, that a lot of his yardage last year came as a result of Giovani Bernard’s injury. There’s a lesson in that for us all.

3. Don’t Get Carried Away

It is all too easy for the occasion of the draft to overwhelm your newfound fantasy football prowess. We’ve all been there: the beer is going down a little too well, the pizza has arrived, Adam Lambert’s newest album is on full volume. You wake up the next morning and realize you haven’t drafted a tight end.

In standard leagues, you want as many wide receivers and running backs as possible to give you options, and so however counterintuitive it may seem, it is best to pick a middle of the road player at either of those positions than it is to pick an exceptional kicker. Sure, Stephen Gostkowski will probably bring you a nice number of points every week, but it’s all for nothing if you are fielding a wide receiver or running back who earns you nothing.

Drafting smart doesn’t necessarily mean picking the big names at every position, so remember that, and for crying out loud don’t be a Mrs. Catherton.

Next: Can Onterio McCalebb Finally Find His Place?