Fantasy

Annual Football Draft Do's and Dont's
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With NFL training camp underway, it's time to think about this fall's NFL Fantasy Leagues and how you will approach your draft. Here are some recommended do's and don'ts.

Do have fun. Draft Day is the best day of the year, except for the day you clinch the title. It's even more fun if you and your fellow owners can make a day of it. In one of my leagues we have a golf outing before we sit down to draft and the golf (and beer) bring out the trash talk early and often.

Do gather as much information as you need, whether it is through the Internet or magazines, pay or free.

Don't bring too much information to the draft. It's ok to read as much as you can, but make it simple on Draft Day. Have a list of all eligible players and put your notes there. This shouldn't be more than a couple of pages at most. Too much info and you spend more time trying to find a name than paying attention to the flow of the draft.

Don't pay too much attention to preseason. Except for injuries, there is nothing you will learn when a starting quarterback plays against a guy who will end up on the practice squad or cut.

Do get involved in a mock draft prior to your most important draft. It helps you get a grasp of what other owners are thinking.

Do try an auction draft. There are many advantages, particularly if you have a favorite player. He might already be drafted ahead of your pick in a "snake" draft, but in an auction draft he can be yours with just a little patience and financial planning.

Don't be afraid to trade a draft choice. Now is not the time to sit back when you see an opening. If an owner has made a tactical mistake, don't let the "other" guy profit.

Do take a chance at least once in the draft, either by picking a relative unknown or drafting a player you really believe will blossom, a round too early. Nothing is worse than knowing a player will have a breakout year and you waiting too long to pull the trigger then watching someone else enjoy the rewards.

On the other hand, don't overestimate rookies. Randy Moss (1998 - 69 receptions - 1,313 yards - 17 TD) and Eric Dickerson (1983 - 390 rushes, 1,808 yards - 18 TD) are the exception, not the rule. Most times a rookie will be slowly worked into the lineup as the head coach gains confidence in the first-year player's abilities. In keeper leagues, ignore this advice.

Do make sure your league commissioner is strong and fair. Nothing can destroy a league faster than a "questionable" trade being allowed or an owner bypassing a gray area in the rules. On the other hand, if lineups are do at 12 p.m. and a lineup arrives by e-mail at 12:03 with no advantage being gained in the delay, sometimes the intent is more important than ruling with an "iron fist." We're all here to have fun.

Don't get drunk. Yes, we're here to have fun, but being the blubbering idiot who tries to draft Peyton Manning in the 18th round is annoying to the other fantasy owners.

Set your lineup every week, even if your team has suffered massive injuries and isn't particularly competitive anymore. It's tough, but your other owners will appreciate your dedication and some day down the road the good karma created here may help you win a title when an "out-of-contention" team knocks off your rival in the "Upset of the Century."

If you don't get the player you wanted in the first round, don't panic. First-round picks aren't guaranteed to have a big year. Evaluating last year's top-10 selections would find they included Michael Turner, Matt Forte, LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Fitzgerald none of whom were top-10 value at season's end. That's a 40% failure rate. A draft is rarely won in the first few rounds.

Don't forget to get your up-to-date information and game-day stats from The Sports Network (shameless plug).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.