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I know I keep saying "it's not football season yet" -- and it's not -- but it is fantasy football draft season, so I have no problems talking about that.
My private league (14 teams, because real men don't play sissy, 10-team, "everyone's roster has at least 12 pro bowlers," fantasy football) had its draft last night, and as always it was an educational experience. So with the knowledge I've gained from the draft, I have decided to come here and shake my head, dusting my loyal readers with the dandruff of wisdom.
No, these aren't those kinds of tips (the one's you want). Not at all. These tips don't involve a running back's potential success in Herm Edwards' offense or how Minnesota's poorly ranked defense could get you mucho points from turnovers despite giving up 30 points a game. This is about how to get the most out of your fantasy football experience.
So here are some failproof guidelines for you to use as you draft your favorite players above obvious choices and take a kicker in the third round:
1. Don't waste your time doing copious amounts of research. Everyone's first round picks are based on the league rankings, and after that any "off the board" pick you think you're going to make will be taken two picks before you. If you think you can get Derrick Mason in the sixth round as your "diamond in the rough," hoping his reuniting with Steve McNair will do wonders for his fantasy value, think again. Everyone else realizes this also.
2. Backup quarterbacks are entirely unnecessary if your starting QB doesn't have his bye week in the first four weeks of the season. There's a good chance that anyone you'd be able to get by the time you're thinking about backup quarterbacks will, themselves, be a backup quarterback by the week that you need them. And if there are still certain starters available, you're wasting too high a pick on your backup quarterback.
3. Don't complain about no-shows. Granted, it is annoying when people miss the draft because you have to sit and watch the stupid clock for the full minute and a half and then it makes their pick for them, but you need those people. Sure, after four rounds you'll be wondering how the computer is auto-picking them an all-star team (here's a hint: it's picking better than you because it goes straight off Yahoo! rankings and doesn't know how to overrate "that wide out from my alma mater that I bumped into at the dining hall once"), but eventually the computer starts giving them highly-ranked injured players and disgruntled stars that have fallen to 12th on their team's depth chart. And with someone being given those players, you don't have to worry about taking them in a panic when your clock is down to seven because you've been "scouting tight ends" on the Internet.
4. Don't let trash talkers get to you. The person who talks the big game in the chat window the entire draft and calls you a moron because you didn't realize so-and-so had fallen out of favor with the quarterback and what's-his-face lost his best blocker will eventually end up picking Greg Jones and trumping everyone for "worst pick of the draft." If you're really lucky, he'll follow the pick by explaining how it's such a great steal because Fred Taylor is so injury prone and "mark my words, Jones will be getting all the carries by week four."
5. If it's not too late, choose your league participants carefully. The more shameless homers, the better. If you can get in a league with someone who's debating over who deserves the number one pick between Steve McNair, Todd Heap and Matt Stover, or if you can find a buddy who's convinced their first-round/second-round back-to-back picks are best used on Chris Cooley and the Redskins defense because they'll surely be gone before the draft comes all the way back around to them, you're probably going to do OK in that league.
6. If you have either Carson Palmer or Chad Johnson, it is your duty to the league not to trade whichever one you have to the team that has the other (unless you're getting the other in return). The same goes for Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. Sure, Reggie Wayne and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (I would intentionally misspell that or make fun of his name for cheap laughs, but I'm above that) are good receivers, but they aren't the primary options or anywhere close. Giving Johnson to a team with Palmer or Palmer to a team with Johnson would be like Indiana Jones giving the bronze headpiece from Dr. Ravenwood's staff to the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark. You wouldn't give the Nazis the only thing separating them from the treasure, would you?
7. If you're the commissioner of a betting league, get the money before the draft. Nothing dissuades people from sending their $20 more than picking third to last or, worse yet, missing the draft entirely and finding out that half their auto-drafted team is out until November.
8. You are no longer allowed to respond to a player's great performance by telling a buddy, "he's on my fantasy team." The one exception is if the buddy you're speaking to is in your league and you're rubbing it in his face. "He's on my fantasy team" is obsolete and I'm tired of it. In today's football-crazed America where calling someone a "fantasy nerd" no longer means they read Piers Anthony books, any idiot who cares enough to mention their fantasy team while watching real players play probably has upwards of 45 fantasy teams between multiple filled accounts on Yahoo! and ESPN.com. Damn near everyone is on one of your fantasy teams, dumbass.