BY MAT BATTS
Fantasy football is serious stuff, right? Well semi-serious, at least.
And the best way to enjoy an entire season with your fantasy team is to make sure your match-ups matter in December. That requires a small bit of effort, and that effort begins well before the kids are back in school.
The best way to be prepared for a fantasy draft is to know what changed between February’s Super Bowl celebration and the beginning of preseason camp.
Admittedly, football for me takes a back seat during the summer months. I’m a casual football fan at best, and the onset of baseball pushes the sport further from my mind.
But I do like to keep an eye on what’s going on. It saves you from a lot of scrambling during your draft when you look to bolster your running back corps with veteran Arian Foster, only to realize he’s now with the Miami Dolphins and will likely lack any serious production in 2016.
Consider yourself warned when it comes to the (lighthearted) mocking that will rain down on the owner who drafts Tom Brady as their primary quarterback, not knowing he won’t be around until week five.
Ten years ago, the beginning of fantasy preparation meant picking up a season preview magazine. Today, the information is much more readily available.
Even spending five minutes a week scrolling your favorite sports website can make a big difference in feeling comfortable with your chances come draft day. But once that day comes, your decisions become even more important.
Having a plan for your team is important. Do you want one of the top five quarterbacks in the league to carry you each week? Only a handful of teams in your league will enjoy that fortune.
How much does your league value running backs versus wide receivers? If the 2016 season plays out anything like 2015, value for wide receivers will continue to grow, as fewer teams rely on one running back to handle a bulk of the carries.
Often, the teams that try to stay balanced with solid players across the board wind up with a roster full of marginal players and no one to depend on. Your team will need a strength or two. Go all out to make sure those strengths are better than any other teams in your league.
And don’t forget about bye weeks! The minute you’ve got your entire plan mapped out, you realize half your team is taking week seven off, and you don’t have a single quarterback playing during week 9.
Your draft will be an experiment in plugging and chugging. Your team is one big puzzle. But luckily, you are prepared.
It may sound silly to “prepare” for a make-believe game that makes you no more or less a fan than any fantasy guru out there. But being prepared will help you win. And winning is fun.
I have struggled through many a fantasy season where I don’t bother to update my lineup during the season’s final weeks, and my team served as a punching bag for the league’s playoff contenders.
NFL.com’s Marcas Grant states the obvious in his June draft preview when he notes, “There’s no scientific method that will lead you to a fantasy football championship.”
And that’s why it remains fun, year in and year out.