Fantasy Football: 3 mistakes to avoid

·4 min read

Fantasy Football season is rapidly approaching, and draft boards are coming together across the country. It’s the most exciting time of the year as a football fan, as hope and optimism reign supreme with a championship up for grabs.

Some fallible fantasy general managers, however, could wind up putting their seasons in jeopardy, even before the year kicks off, with some obvious and avoidable mistakes every fantasy GM is vulnerable to. Here are the three biggest errors you could fall victim to, and how to best avoid them when you’re on the clock.

Some fantasy football GMs like to take big swings with their high picks, banking on a breakout year from a young star like Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. (Reuters)
Some fantasy football GMs like to take big swings with their high picks, banking on a breakout year from a young star like Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. (Reuters)

Keep it tight with ADP

Everybody’s got their guy they’re higher on than most, and it’s understandable why. There aren't many better feelings in the world of fantasy sports than nabbing a guy off the board early, then having them stomp the competition throughout the season. Sometimes, however, that big-time swing can come at a cost. As such, don’t be overconfident and stray too far from ADP.

It’s great to be bullish on a sophomore primed for a breakout, or make a big bet on a sleeper lurking in the shadows, but historically, ADP has been a pretty solid indicator for where a guy should go.

Take last season for example. Of Yahoo’s top-12 ranked running backs by Half PPR last season, eight of them finished within that top-12 ranking, with three of four that finished outside missing more than three games (McCaffrey, Henry, Cook).

Overall, the fantasy football community generally has a pretty strong grasp of who’s got it and who doesn’t. While it may be tempting to nab a guy before the consensus and look smart, it’s a much more sound strategy to let the draft come to you rather than chasing your guy a couple of rounds early.

Bye Week, Schmye Week

Plain and simple, don’t waste your time zoning in too hard on a player's bye week. Your team is going to look dramatically different by the time Halloween rolls around, and probably a lot earlier than that.

Hundreds of players are added, dropped, or traded every season. Bumps and bruises and underperformances are a forgone conclusion, and just about everything gets thrown out the window if a top QB or RB hits the injured reserve.

It’s much more important to grab players that ultimately serve your team best, then reevaluate and readjust from there. Fantasy football is the home of chaos, and it’s best to embrace it rather than set unnecessary restrictions on yourself because your starting running back already has a Week 6 bye.

Diversify Your Portfolio

This one is an extra layer deep but is arguably the most important lesson to take away with draft season rapidly approaching. Just like when you’re investing in the stock market, you must diversify the ways that your players, particularly receivers, pick up points.

For example, during some of his best years in Philadelphia, DeSean Jackson was a notorious boom or bust player due to his tendency to make huge plays on deep passes from his quarterbacks. Jackson ranked amongst the league’s leaders in yards per reception on multiple occasions before 2018, and upon the introduction of the average depth of target (aDOT) that year, he further proved to be a consistent deep ball threat by ranking amongst the league leaders in that category as well.

The only problem with that is the high variance in week-to-week fantasy scoring that can often result in. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who finished second last year in aDOT to Jackson, is another example of the highly volatile results that players with that usage profile tend to produce.

In 11 games last year, Valdes-Scantling had three games with 11 or more fantasy points, but also four games with two fantasy points or less.

To ensure that your team isn’t at the mercy of wideouts needing to produce monster outings, be sure to pick up a mix of players that produce in different ways. High reception, low short area slot receivers like Hunter Renfrow and Keenan Allen are examples of options with higher floors that make sense to match with big play receivers.

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