Time to plan FF strategy

by Dan M | Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
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Training camp is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking about how you want to put together your fantasy football team. No matter what style of league you’re playing in (keeper leagues, salary cap leagues, etc.), you already know who the top players are. The first round of fantasy drafts generally offers little suspense as the top players are easy, no-brainer picks even for the fantasy novice. But just like in the real NFL draft, the later rounds will ultimately determine your team’s fate.

Rookies to Watch

The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft was dominated by offensive linemen and defensive players, so the hype around rookie players for fantasy football should be lessened. But several running backs, quarterbacks and receivers that will see time on the field this season were selected in the second round. Several of them have the potential to carry your team at certain points this season.
  • Le’Veon Bell (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers): The workhorse RB was the lone bright spot on Michigan State’s offense last season. He doesn’t have great speed, but he’s big and strong and can catch out of the backfield. He could be the next great power back in Pittsburgh. His current ADP (average draft position) is right around number 85.
  • Tavon Austin (WR, St. Louis Rams): One of the few first-round offensive players, Austin is only 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds. But he’s wicked fast and should see all those short passes Danny Amendola did in the slot in 2012. Current ADP: 75
  • Geno Smith (QB, NY Jets): There are numerous questions about his maturity and how well he’ll adapt to the NFL game, but there’s no questions about his play-making ability, by air or foot. And with Mark Sanchez on the hot seat, Smith will be given every opportunity to start and can be had at a bargain. Current ADP: 185

Sleepers

  • Robert Griffin III (QB, Washington Redskins): An odd pick for a sleeper, considering he’s one of the hottest young QB stars in the league, but he’s coming off an ACL injury and likely won’t be ready to start the 2013 season. Snag him in a later round and plug him in upon return.
  • Carson Palmer (QB, Arizona Cardinals): The Cardinals brought in a new coach (Bruce Arians), a new running back (Rashard Mendenhall) and of course Palmer, who instantly becomes the best quarterback on their roster and an excellent late-round fantasy pick with QB1 upside. Current ADP: 187
  • Jordan Cameron (TE, Cleveland Browns): He’s big, athletic and playing for a new Browns’ coach that loves involving his TE’s in the offensive scheme. The QB situation in Cleveland is the only thing holding him back right now.
  • Mark Ingram (RB, New Orleans Saints): Despite an early-season knee injury, Ingram emerged as the Saints’ most reliable back in 2012. Running backs play second fiddle in the Saints high-octane offense, and Ingram shares the backfield with Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas. But the Alabama grad could have a breakout year if he gets the touches.

Other Draft Tips

  • Running backs are currently 11 of the first 20 picks in mock drafts, according to Fantasy Football Toolbox. It behooves the smart fantasy GM to get one or two of these guys early, if possible.
  • Select kickers on high-scoring teams. Kickers get you points based on extra points and field goals, so the more their team scores, the merrier it is for you. Still, don’t draft a kicker before the last three rounds.
  • Pay attention during preseason games. As rough as it is to watch some of the slap-happy pattycake, it can be useful, too.
  • You can learn more about getting the NFL Network’s fantasy programming and NFL Sunday ticket at Direct2TV.com. The fantasy feature on Sunday ticket will allow you to track 15 players while watching your favorite game.
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