Five tips to top your fantasy league in 2013

Justin Harned Assistant Sports Editor

Ladies and gentlemen, NFL football starts this Thursday. 

If you love football as much as I do, you will be acting like a 15-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert come kickoff this Sunday. I am no expert, just a fan of the game and fantasy sports. I play all kinds of fantasy sports, but of course, my love deepened for football when I learned fantasy football was not in fact a fantasy, it was as real as controlling Adrian Peterson in Madden and don’t even get me started on EA Sports Madden 25. I never thought fantasy football would be so much fun, it’s great with family and friends. Let’s face it, sports are awesome and if we can’t play professional sports or own a professional team, why not pretend? 

For those of you who are still reading this column and didn’t bail after seeing “Justin Bieber” in the sports section, I will now reward you with some valuable information on whom you should or shouldn’t have drafted this year in your league and how you might want to draft your team. There are rules to winning a championship and I have learned the hard way what not to do. I have been in multiple championship games in fantasy football over the years and I have yet to win my league because I failed to choose the best player available.

Rule #1: Draft the best player available and draft running backs with your first two picks.

It is vital to draft the most reliable players at a position that is believed to be thin. I suppose everyone has a different opinion on what that could be, but numbers don’t lie. This year the deepest position in the draft would easily be wide receiver, quarterback, tight end and running back in that order. After your first two picks, quarterback or wide receiver would probably be the next best pick unless you feel you want an elite tight end option in Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. Kickers and defense should be your last two picks. It is hard to rank defenses and draft them too high. It’s like walking on a tight rope. Depending on how good I feel about my team, I may draft myself a defense before my last two picks.

Rule #2: Draft the overall best talent.

I am a die-hard New England Patriots fan. Fun fact, for those of you who didn’t know, former SDSU alum Adam Vinatieri kicked for the Patriots and helped Tom Brady and company win three Super Bowls. He now kicks for the Indianapolis Colts. Crazy huh? Vinatieri isn’t quite a great fantasy option either. Anyways, don’t draft players just because they play for your favorite team and pass up someone like Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans for Darren McFadden. McFadden hasn’t played a full 16-game season since he entered the league in 2008 as the fourth overall pick. Is McFadden the kind of player you want leading your fantasy team into the black hole to no championship? No you don’t. Someone like Johnson has more upside based on his ability to stay healthy and his explosiveness.

Rule #3: Don’t draft a kicker until your last pick.

I don’t believe in drafting kickers early at all. The value of a handcuff running back such as Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown or New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen could be the difference between first and second place. Kickers can help you win matches against your opponent but it shouldn’t come at the expense of losing out on a possible hidden gem. For example, Arian Foster in 2010 after Ben Tate got hurt. Drafting guys who are second on the depth chart can save your season. Try taking fliers in your late round picks, instead of drafting Lawrence Tynes who is now battling MRSA and will not be kicking anytime soon. 

Rule #4: Last but certainly not least, work the waiver wire as often as possible.

Every single year there are players who emerge into elite fantasy players. These are the players that got passed on because of one reason or another, to keep an eye on the waiver wire every week. This is the second most important step to drafting a winning team other than draft day. There are several factors that key into why a player should be drafted, but at the end of the day you are gambling on whomever you take even if it is Adrian Peterson because you are one injury away from devastation. Depth is key. Not picking a kicker or defense five rounds too early.

Rule #5: Just have fun with it.

At the end of the day it’s just a silly game that fans such as my self, pour hours into just to lose by one point in the championship game.  It’s more about the journey to the end of week 16 or 17 than winning a championship because only one person will win out of 10, 12, 14  or 16 guys/girls. Good luck this season and enjoy football this week, because it’s finally back.