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Fantasy Football 2006: The Basics

Welcome to the first of many to come previews to get you ready for your fantasy football league in 2006.  Fantasy football has become very popular over the last few years, as have many other fantasy sports.  You can have a fantasy league about anything now-a-days.  From TV shows to the PGA Golf Tour, both can have fantasy leagues.  Out of all the sports, I find fantasy football to be the most fun.  I just started playing last year, but have become addicted to it.

Not all fans are familiar with fantasy football, and many probably aren't even sure of exactly what it is.  Basically, you're the GM of a team where you draft, sign, sit, and bench players.  You make all of the decisions.  Leagues can be started with your friends or colleagues, or you can just join a public league with people from all over the country.  Once the league is setup, you have a draft.  During the draft, you pick the best players from the NFL at each of the positions and fill up your roster.  After your team is set, and the draft is completed, the next step is signing any free agents that went undrafted.  That is where you can find overlooked players that could turn into stars.

When the actual NFL season starts, your league will start as well.  Each week you will be matched-up with another player in your league and try to score more points then them.  The way you receive points is by your players achieving different things; such as, scoring touchdowns, gaining yardage, or throwing for a certain amount of yards.  But, be careful, you have to look over your roster and decide to start and sit players by each position.

Now that you have the basic concept out of the way, it's time to look at some things to think about when playing fantasy football.  

1. Be Smart When drafting players you should think about past seasons.  You don't have to look at every single statistic out there, but don't go out and draft a player that isn't known to put up great stats in an early round.  If there's a player you want, then don't take him right off the bat if he's not highly ranked, wait a few rounds and pickup some higher-caliber players first.

2. Favorites Being a homer (favoring your own team too much) isn't just annoying to people around you, but it also can be a team killer.  Everybody loves the team they cheer for, but that's no reason to go out and draft a large amount of players from that team.  It's okay to have a few on your fantasy team, especially if they're going to help you out point-wise, but don't take it to far.  I'd say that a max of three or four players from your favorite team should be the limit.  Really, that should be the limit from any one team, because if you catch them on a bye week, your entire roster could be shredded.

3. Building Your Roster During the draft, you always have to think about which positions are the most important.  The depth at each in the league is a big factor.  For example, there's no reason to draft a wide receiver or kicker with your first pick because there's so many in the league and their point totals aren't as much in most cases.  A quarterback would be a much better pick because only thirty-two are starters; the pool to choose from isn't as large.  Also, when picking a quarterback, make sure you take a player that is surrounded by other good players.  Just because you have a QB that has a great arm doesn't mean that he will put up a lot of points if there's not a surrounding cast.

4. Sleepers The biggest way you can win a fantasy football league is by finding the unknowns.  Just because you don't have the best players doesn't mean your team is done.  After the draft, look through the free agent market and sign any players that you think could come up big sometime in the year.  

5. Overmanaging One of the worst feelings is benching a player that puts up the most amount of points.  I've done it many times, and will change some of my ways because of it.  It is important to look for different matchups when setting your roster each week, but never to drastically change who starts.  Overmanaging can cost you if you do it too much.  Just put in whoever is playing well, even if he is facing the best defense in the league.  It's something to think about, but never bench a star player because of it.

6. Trades Trading is a good way to shake things up if you haven't been too successful.  Never give away more than you should.  If you can get a player that has been putting up good numbers consistently, then I would make the trade if you don't have to give up a lot yourself.  Let's say player A puts up big numbers twice in the season, and you have player B, who puts up less points, but has a good amount each and every week.  Unless you get another player in the deal, then you shouldn't make the trade.  I would take a consistent player over a sporadic any day.

7. Injuries The worst thing that can happen to a player in real life is an injury.  The worst thing that can happen to your fantasy football roster is an injury.  Your biggest points-scorer can be down for a few weeks and just completely ruin your season.  Last year, twice I was hit hard by an injury.  Daunte Culpepper went down and left me having to trade for a solid QB.  Well, turns out he wasn't so solid.  Donovan McNabb ended up having a sports hernia, and even though he was still playing with the injury for a while, it was obvious that the numbers weren't as good.  

What I'm getting at is to always have a backup plan.  This is where signing free agents earlier in the year is important, along with not being too aggressive when trading.  You could have two great quarterbacks that both could be the starter on your team.  A trade offer comes along involving the lesser of the two and you jump on it because you get some great players in return.  It may help you soon after, but in the long run an injury could leave you regretting that trade.

8. On The Rise A great thing about fantasy football is picking up players during the season to help out your roster.  Usually there is a section after each week where the hot players are listed; meaning the one's putting up good numbers.  Sometimes you'll see a player that is unsigned, and you can kill two birds with one stone here.  Signing this player will add a good reserve if you need it, and also can prevent a team in need from signing him.

9. Cold Streaks It becomes very frustrating when you have a starter that is in a cold streak.  Sometimes it'll last one week, others it could last for a few.  Don't give up on someone if they're not putting up the points.  If he's really in a slump then benching him would be fine, but never release or trade the player.  It'll only be a matter of time before he snaps out of the drought and gets back to normal.  

10. Have Fun The biggest part of fantasy football is to not take it too seriously.  It's all just fun and games, and I'm sure most of you know that.  Never get aggravated over a rough season, there's always next year.  And if your fantasy football team isn't going so good, then just think of this: you're not a Lions fan.  There's always worse things out there.

After reading through those ten things, go find yourself a fantasy league if you haven't already.  It's a lot of fun.  My favorite part about it is that more interest is added in each and every game.  Before I didn't pay attention and watch every game closely because it didn't affect me that much.  Now, I'm checking stats and scores during every commercial to see how my players are doing.  

Coming up next will be the preview of quarterbacks.  I'll rank the pool of potential quarterbacks for your team, and also look at some of the different sleepers that you can come away with.

Thanks for reading Pride Of Detroit, and Go Lions!

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Jeremy Reisman will drop into your inbox twice a week to provide exclusive, in-depth reporting and insights from Ford Field. Subscribe to go deeper into Lions fandom, and join us on our path to win the Super Bowl.