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Scott Engel Managing Director July 31, 2013 3:22PM EDT
Here they are once again. It’s a tradition renewed annually here at RotoExperts.com since our inception – my list of Tips for Fantasy Football Success for the upcoming season. I always set the amount based on the uniform number of a top player who is destined for a great Fantasy campaign. While the emphasis is on running backs in the first round, this year I chose to honor Calvin Johnson by listing 81 Tips for Fantasy Football Success. He’s in a Fantasy class by himself at his position. He is also a very safe selection to base the amount on.
This season's tips are dedicated to No. 81 of Detroit. Photo Credit: BigMeech30

This season's tips are dedicated to No. 81 of Detroit. Photo Credit: BigMeech30

  1. Know your league’s scoring system and settings. It is the first rule of any Fantasy Sport.
  2. Let the draft flow to you. Don’t try too hard to guess what will happen in the picks before your turn. Just be ready and prepared when it’s your turn to pick. Have your top guys queued up, and simply grab the No. 1 name on the list when you are up.
  3. Don’t fret about what draft slot you may land in. A confident and prepared Fantasy owner drafts effectively from any position in the order.
  4. Don’t expect Jamaal Charles to turn into LeSean McCoy as a runner. Charles is not a true goal-line guy. Expect a slight boost over last year’s numbers as his maximum based on more receptions. That should be more than good enough to take him in the middle of the first round.
  5. Don’t rigidly draft based on bye weeks and Fantasy playoff schedules. Much will change between now and down the road in the regular season. There will be lots of new trends, and your roster could certainly change significantly between draft day and say, Week 8 or 12.
  6. Draft Vick Ballard when everyone else lets him slip to the seventh or eighth round. Ahmad Bradshaw just will not stay healthy.
  7. Don’t miss out on Randall Cobb if you can. As Aaron Rodgers’ new No. 1 target, he will flourish with a major breakthrough Fantasy season. He is simply electric after the catch and will be a big-play standout.
  8. Don’t put too much stock in schedule analysis. Lots of it is based on last season, especially from the defensive perspectives. Too much changes in the NFL from year to year, especially on 11-man units.
  9. Don’t overrate the impact of Bernard Pierce. Ray Rice is still a huge part of the Ravens offense, and Pierce may prove to be more of a change of pace guy who has the occasional flex-worthy performance. Pierce does not pass block well and is not much of a receiver, and his presence should only ensure Rice continues to be durable and does not get heavily overworked.
  10. I try not to draft too many players from the same team. If say, the Giants score 13 points in a game, that output seriously damages my Fantasy outlook for the week.
  11. I am not buying into the Jared Cook hype. The Rams offense will take time to develop, and Cook has never been able to parlay his enormous potential into anything more than an occasional tease. I believe he will continue to frequently look lost with a new team.
  12. Here is another Colts name to remember:  Darrius-Heyward Bey. He gives Andrew Luck a big, fluid target and DHB could become a good Fantasy WR3 now that he is out of Oakland.
  13. Carson Palmer found Brandon Myers last year when he needed a safety valve. This year, Palmer will also boost the appeal of Robert Housler.
  14. Don’t try to have a rigid, pre-planned draft plan. There is no set structure of RB, RB, WR, WR, QB, for instance, in the early rounds. Every draft is different and you must be prepared for anything happening on the fly.
  15. Don’t waste time asking other owners what they are going to do or who they are going to take ahead of you. Many times, they may not be telling the truth at all, and even if they are, they could suddenly change their minds about their approach once the draft actually starts.
  16. Don’t ask me where I am going to draft Darren McFadden. He is not going to be on any of my teams this year.
  17. Just because you or others talk a guy up, that does not mean you will convince anyone he will reach the expectations you desire. A lot of Fantasy owners want Giovani Bernard to take over as the clear No. 1 RB in Cincinnati, especially if they draft him as a RB3. But BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a 1,000-yard runner last year and he is not going away, so Bernard is set for more of a complementary role in his rookie year.
  18. You can learn a lot from reading and watching non-Fantasy coverage. TV shows like Playbook on the NFL Network, or anything Ron Jaworski says can yield golden nuggets. Read and listen to analysts like Peter King and Gil Brandt, and you will become a smarter Fantasy owner.
  19. Do not draft to trade in the earlier rounds. If a player who fills a need is available, especially in your starting skill position lineup, make him the priority. He may likely be the type of player you deal for anyway, so why not take him now and ensure you have what you really need?
  20. When making keeper decisions, take necessity over luxury. You really should not keep that RB3 over a WR1, when the WR1 is more important.
  21. If you do not get the Seahawks or Texans defense, be very happy with the Bengals. They have a terrific defensive line that anchors a somewhat underrated Fantasy unit.
  22. Dez Bryant is going to have a marvelous year. But I would still not draft him over A.J. Green, who is the best WR in Fantasy outside of Calvin Johnson, or Brandon Marshall, who actually averaged more points per game than Megatron in PPR leagues in 2012.
  23. If your league awards six points for a TD pass, you still should not take a QB in the first round or the first half of the second round for sure. QB is a rather deep position this year in any scoring system as long as you only start one.
  24. Don’t draft Chris Johnson unless you desperately need a RB2 and the tiers are dropping to the point where you may get stuck with Rashard Mendenhall. Johnson is too “boom-or-bust” and will drive you crazy as you try to keep your team above .500 and in the playoff hunt.
  25. No one seems to truly want Lance Moore. Yet, when other WRs disappoint you, he certainly will not hurt you, and he will occasionally serve you very well as a WR3. I will gladly draft him every year for PPR league depth. Sean Payton is returning, and can boost the entire Saints offense, which means another pretty good year for Moore.
  26. Do not underrate Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams. He has scored a total of 20 TDs in two of his three NFL seasons (11 in 2010 and 9 in 2012) and the Buccaneers just rewarded him with a new deal.
  27. Keenan Allen is a rookie that no one seems to mention, but I will. He was considered a first-round talent by some entering the NFL draft. He is a deep sleeper and a great dynasty league pickup.
  28. Be wary of players being talked up in the media during the summer. Reporters have to fill their notebooks at camp, and beat reports are often filled with puff and hype.
  29. You are not a geek if you play Fantasy Football. You are if you do not play. People like Maurice Jones-Drew and Jonathan Papelbon are certainly not geeky. Don’t let anyone make fun of you for playing anymore, make fun of them if they do not.
  30. Hold your draft as close to the beginning of the regular season as possible. You want to have the most up to date information on injuries, depth chart battles, etc.
  31. Don’t share information during the draft. If someone else is unprepared, that is their problem. You play to win, especially in money leagues. Friendship is not a factor once the draft starts.
  32. Don’t tell me you will not draft Adrian Peterson first overall because he “can’t do what he did last year.” Even if he does not quite come near last year’s monster totals, there is no better combination of excellent yardage and TD production on an annual basis in Fantasy Football. He catches passes, too. He’s not going to turn into Chris Johnson after his 2,000 yard season, and he’ll likely be elite again and among the Top 3 at RB overall if he does not get hurt.
  33. Cheat sheets are a guideline for drafting, not a rigid list you have to stick to. The unique flow of every draft will sometimes make you veer from what is strictly put down on paper.
  34. Mock drafting is fun, but you cannot stick hard and fast to what you see in the mock draft rooms, either. One guy taking Jimmy Graham in the Top 5 can throw off the expected flow of either a mock or your real draft. Expect the unexpected in any draft, real or mock.
  35. If you are going to mock, it does not get much more fun than doing it in about 15 minutes on the new Draft Simulator, powered by Fantasy Pros. Seriously, I am addicted.
  36. Not every expert is always right, not even Adam Ronis. If you feel strongly about a certain player, make your own decision on your own team. We’re your advisors, and we are honored by the privilege, but we are not the bosses of your team, you are.
  37. I do have a bit of skepticism regarding Colin Kaepernick. He has to prove to us that he can move the offense consistently without Michael Crabtree. I’m not saying he can’t, but he has yet to show us he can, so there is a risk factor involved there.
  38. I am also a bit skeptical about C.J. Spiller. He has to prove he has the frame to withstand an increased workload, especially as he faces extra defensive attention. Opponents will be aware he is the crux of the Buffalo game plan, and the QB situation could force him to be spied or keyed on frequently. He’s not quite a Top 5 Fantasy RB to me just yet.
  39. Try to draft in person whenever you can. It’s a lot more fun if you can get everyone together for face to face interaction and trash talking.
  40. Play in an auction league. It’s a lot of fun and very challenging, and the best part is, you can aggressively go after many players you really want, but may not have a chance to obtain in your customary snake draft.
  41. Play in an individual defender league (IDP). You’ll gain more knowledge of defenses and players, and an appreciation for more than just offensive players.
  42. You will be very happy to have Steven Jackson this year. He is going to be a great finisher for a very good offense, and will register double figures in TD runs. He is past his prime, but Jackson is still a very strong and determined runner.
  43. It’s never really too early to draft Calvin Johnson because the guy is in a tier all by himself at WR. Still, I would not pass on an opportunity to get one of the very best Top 10 RBs this year.
  44. Do not underrate running backs that catch less passes, but score TDs often, in PPR formats. Marshawn Lynch finished fifth in PPR scoring at RB last year, and Alfred Morris finished eighth.
  45. Don’t believe Tony Gonzalez will decline until you actually see it. You may not see it happen this year, either.
  46. Do not underestimate Tony Romo this season. He has a lot to prove, including whether he will be well worth a big contract.
  47. I am not expecting the Miami offense to play at an optimum level right away. They have rebuilt with a lot of promise, but the new pieces will take time to mesh with each other. Do not be surprised if Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller and Mike Wallace start slowly, and then come on stronger later in the year. Inconsistency could be a real issue early on, but better Fantasy results may come later.
  48. Jimmy Graham should definitely go off the board at the end of the first round to a smart Fantasy owner. You win one position nearly every week because Graham is set to outclass and outperform just about every other player at the weakest position in Fantasy Football.
  49. The RB handcuff you draft today may not be the backup NFL running back you roster tomorrow. You will see depth chart changes behind No. 1 RBs on occasion throughout the regular season, and sometimes the backup situation may not always be clear.
  50. Chris Ivory could be in for an uphill battle as a starter with the Jets. There is no explosive passing game to open up running lanes for him with his new team, and he may also face some stacked defensive fronts as opponents realize he will be a primary player in the Jets offense.
  51. Just a reminder to never draft with your heart. You should not pick or pass on a player because you love him or hate him. That is simply a losing approach to Fantasy Football.
  52. I do not pay attention to what other teams do or what their patterns are on draft day. I don’t want to waste my time with guesswork, as long as I am prepared and have enough guys queued up, I will always be ready for the next pick. I focus on my own team, which is all I care about.
  53. After each selection of yours, start queuing up or writing down the next batch of guys you want to target. After each of your picks, it’s time to start planning ahead for the next one.
  54. Just because Trent Richardson is healthy to start the season does not mean he is not an injury risk. He has a very hard and violent running style that could lead to more physical damage. Still, Richardson can perform like an all-around elite RB when healthy, so I would take him in the Top 10, just not Top 5.
  55. With Mike Wallace gone to Miami, someone has to step up in Pittsburgh as a downfield playmaker. I would not be surprised to see Emmanuel Sanders emerge as a new and significant consistent threat to defenses.
  56. You tell me you see a decline in Arian Foster’s production, and he always gets banged up. I say he is still a TD machine who has played 16 games in two of the past three years, will be 27 years old when the season starts, and has a terrific offensive line and a great new blocking fullback in Greg Jones. Plus, Ben Tate is back to prevent him from getting overworked. I would still take him No. 2 overall.
  57. Do not doubt Maurice Jones-Drew if he plays well in the preseason. He’ll be ready to prove he is worthy of being Comeback Player of the Year if he has no setbacks. He’s a fine RB2 selection if all looks good in exhibition play.
  58. I am not a fan of sharing teams. I like making my own decisions. Live or die, you can only take full credit for a championship or full blame for a lost season if you do it yourself.
  59. Don’t be too quick to deal after you draft. Be confident in the team you assembled, and only make trades when you can fill a glaring need. Retooling a team that has not even played a game yet is a classic case of too much Fantasy management. Of course, you should always look to improve your team, but don’t tear it down before Week 1.
  60. It’s now or never for Kenny Britt. He is in a contract year and could be done in Tennessee if he does not perform well. Take the shot on him as a reserve if you can, he could be extra motivated to play well this year. He could also become a go-to guy for Ryan Fitzpatrick if Jake Locker struggles.
  61. Marc Trestman isn’t going to turn Matt Forte into Charlie Garner. Forte is darn good already; he is worth an early second-rounder in PPR leagues. Garner was a slasher who overachieved under Trestman. Forte is much better and will still play really well when healthy. Trestman needs to improve the rest of the offense aside from Forte and Brandon Marshall. Keep Alshon Jeffery in mind.
  62. Reggie Bush is underrated as a goal-line runner. He may get some chances to score from short range, further boosting his appeal as a RB2.
  63. I am not spending a draft choice on Greg Jennings. No more Aaron Rodgers, no more solid complements, and his best days are behind him.
  64. Do not waste draft choices on backup tight ends, defenses and kickers unless your draft goes past 16 rounds. You can always work the waiver wire at those three positions during the season to get bye week replacements or even nifty starting lineup replacements if you are savvy.
  65. Don’t forget about DeAngelo Williams. Jonathan Stewart is a question mark, and the threats of Cam Newton and Steve Smith can open up some running lanes. Do not pass on Williams when he is still on the board in Round 8 or 9.
  66. I would not waste my time with Mark Ingram or Pierre Thomas. One guy does not get enough carries to develop a rhythm; the other is simply mediocre for Fantasy purposes.
  67. Not all preseason football is a waste of time. You want to see who is winning position battles, and how some players are performing in new situations or on their road to injury recovery.
  68. Brandon Myers will continue to play well with his new team. The Giants value the TE as an important cog in their offense, and Myers is a sound pick in the 9th or 10th round if you miss out on one of the very best TEs.
  69. Alfred Morris is set for another impressive season. Mike Shanahan rarely commits to one RB fir any extended period, but now that he has found his man, he will ride him to another big year.
  70. Michael Floyd has all the natural skills and ability to succeed. But after talking to a prominent source in Arizona, there may be some skepticism about whether he can take a real step forward in 2013.
  71. Frank Gore is not a sexy pick, and he does not have much upside. But he is still a darn good RB2, and I will take him in the fourth round if you are going to pass.
  72. After you fill out your skill position starters, load up on reserve RBs and WRs as much as you can. Leave one spot for a backup QB and leave defenses and kickers until the final two picks. In a 16-rounder, I will start going for RB and WR depth as soon as Round 8. You can never have enough depth at those positions.
  73. Always be ready for trash-talking. The most witty and biting remarks usually come off the cuff. You have to be prepared for anything, just like the draft itself.
  74. Study player movement and depth charts. You do not want to draft Michael Turner when he has not even signed, and Danny Woodhead may actually gain a bit of appeal in San Diego.
  75. Don’t bring just a magazine to the draft. If you do, you may end up drafting Jeremy Maclin or Dennis Pitta.
  76. Pre-rank your players if you can in the online draft room. You do not want to be at the mercy of the site ranks, especially when your deeper sleepers may not be listed where you want them. Work off a comfortable list, not one you have to adjust to.
  77. Get some good rest the day of, or the night before, your draft. Take the day off work if you have to, just don’t tell ‘em you read it here. You want to have your mind clear and sharp. Avoid sex, too, because it may drain you. As Mickey told Rocky, “Women weaken legs.” Well, men do too if you are a Fantasy-playing lady.  Your significant other, whether you are a guy or a gal, can only sap your energy and resources.
  78. If you are drafting in person and won the league last year, bring the trophy and set it down in front of you where you will be sitting. Any time someone says something derogatory about you or your draft, just hold it up or point to it.
  79. If you are drafting online and won the league last year, make your team logo either a photo of the league trophy or the Lombardi Trophy. Refer to your team logo any time someone types something derogatory about you or your draft in the league chat room.
  80. Remember that nothing in Fantasy Football is absolute, and no rule is carved in granite. There are many ways to execute a solid draft and win a championship. Luck will have to be on your side, too.
  81. Remember to have fun, and treat your league mates with respect whenever possible. Don’t let it get personal off the Fantasy field, and remember why we all started doing this in the first place.


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