1. Prepare for the draft.

Take the time to research and compare players, especially the players beyond the top 20. Be familiar with teams that are pass happy and teams that implore a running back by committee system – and make sure you have a copy of each team’s depth chart. Then, before the draft, make sure you do several mock drafts. Try drafting for every pick range from 1 to 10.  Read as many different articles as you can to become familiar with the players and the current landscape. Information is great, but knowledge is power.

2. Stock pile running backs.

If you’ve ever been in a league with me you, know my strategy for the draft has and always will be to get as many solid running backs as possible. Why? As the NFL season goes on, injuries will happen at the running back position. When that happens, other teams will be calling you to help you unload some of that talent. The running back position this season is particularly thin, so the value couldn’t be higher. When the time is right, you’ll be in position to turn two CJ Spillers into one Adrian Peterson. While most fantasy football owners like to fill their starters out first, I value additional running backs for the long-term gain.

3. Matthew Berry knows more than you.

Pick a fantasy football expert that has a strategy or player rankings that you most closely agree with. Now, do exactly as they say. Period. For me, that person is Matthew Berry. Look, I do my own research and “analysis” during my free time, but this guy does this stuff for a LIVING. It’s his job and just like the common man, he wants to do a good job or else he’ll get kicked to the curb. The experts won’t lead you astray. Whatever thought or idea you may have, an expert of your choosing probably has that same idea, only he can back it up with research and not just a hunch. For years I’ve used the Matthew Berry approach to fantasy football: What’s Most Likely To Happen?

4. Value-based drafting (VBD).

Last season, the Seattle Seahawks defense outscored the consensus number one pick in ESPN standard leagues – some dude named Adrian Peterson. Which one is more valuable? The answer: Adrian Peterson. A quarterback named Brees or Manning or Rogers will likely score the most points this season; the next eight or so quarterbacks will score more than the top running back this season. In most leagues, you have to play at least two running backs and one quarterback. The top four running backs in this year’s draft are considered “studs” and after that there are a ton of questionable, average running backs. The quarterback position is particularly deep this year and the top 12 or so have considerable upside and potential to land in the top five.  If I don’t get a top three QB in the first three rounds, I’m likely waiting until as late as the 12th round and I’ll still be able to get my hands on the Matt Ryans and Tony Romos of the world.  This theory is all based on the value-based drafting system. More information on the system here: http://es.pn/Ow6MbH.  I’ll provide my own rankings based on the VBD system in the coming days.

5. Use tiers.

Once you have created your own ranking system (or have settled on a rankings list by your very own selected “fantasy football expert”), it’s time to separate each position into tiers. By now, you’ve probably done a mock draft and realized that while you’re on the clock, trying to make a decision, panic can easily start to set in. When your real draft comes along, you’ll need to be able to stay cool and assess the landscape of a particular position on the fly. For example, at the running back position there are four players in the top four, any of which I would be happy to have on my team. That’s tier one. But, what if I waited for one more round to get a running back, who would I be comfortable getting as my number one back? Well, after the top four, there’s a significant drop off in talent where I would consider the fifth rated running back, Eddie Lacy to be in the same class or “tier” as Lynch, Ball, Bernard, etc. This group, the second tier of running backs, contains about seven players, all of which I consider to be at the same talent level and expectation for the 2014 season. Therefore, if I grab a top four running back in the first round, then grab a top wideout in the second round, it’s pretty likely there will be one of those seven, tier two running backs available for me to grab in the third round. This is a helpful tool to have in your hands during draft time to ensure you know what could be available in a particular position if you pass on a player.

6. Trade

After the first few weeks of the season go by, you’ll start to get a clearer sense of which players will be this year’s studs. Then, injuries and bye weeks will start to come into play and if you have stockpiled at running back (and wide receiver) as I’ve outlined earlier, you’ll be prepared to offer players from your bench to other team in order to upgrade your starters. When negotiating a trade, be sure that your first offer isn’t you best. Remember, it’s a negotiation back and forth, so you want to try your best to win the trade. However, don’t over negotiate as this could really piss some people off. Use the first couple of offers to get a feel for what might help the other team and what they may be willing to give up. Also, include a message when you send a trade that explains your reasoning for your trade offer and how it may help the team you are proposing the trade to.

7. Take your defense and kicker in the two last rounds, period.

 The scoring for each of these two positions is unpredictable. You’ll find options late in the season on the waiver wire or have room to trade for one that has shown some positive trends early in the season, if you have stockpiled at the flex positions.

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