We're less than two weeks from the start of the NFL season, and for millions of Americans that means sleepless nights preparing for fantasy football drafts.
I have received a few questions this week about fantasy football, and I will have a slew of answers in my Friday online column "The 5-at-10" at www.timesfreepress.com. But there are a few things you need to remember that are not related to depth charts or which quarterback has the best matchup in week one.
Here are a few fundamental draft policies you need to know:
1) Know your league's rules. This seems obvious, but it's often overlooked. How many points is a touchdown pass worth? Is it 3? Is it 6? That can be the difference between taking a QB in round one or in round 7. How many points is a reception worth? What are the defensive stats? You win fantasy football leagues by scoring points, and if you don't know how your league counts points, you will not win your league.
2) Know the injury report. Repeat: KNOW the injury report as well as who is signed and unsigned for that matter. Don't be that guy who takes Maurice Jones Drew with the seventh overall pick and thinks it's a steal (MJD is currently not in camp, but taking him in the third round would be a steal, for what that's worth). Don't be the guy who takes Jason Witten and his ruptured spleen in round five. You've been warned, because this happens every year at every draft. And if you can't remember who that guy was at your draft, it was likely you -- and tough break on having Mike Wallace as your No. 1 receiver.
3) Even if the ghost of Mark Moseley is on the board, never, Never, NEVER take a kicker until the final round. And if there's someone left on the board you really like, draft him instead and pick up a kicker on the waiver wire before week one.
4) Be ahead of the curve. If you get to round four or round five and the run on tight ends has not started yet, start the run. Take Graham or Gronk and watch as everyone else snaps up a tight end in order, and then when your next pick comes up, you're back where you started.
5) If the curve has started, stay away from the curve. If the run on tight ends or defenses starts and you are a pick or two away and can still get value, jump on. But if you're five picks away, don't take Tony Gonzalez or Jermichael Finley in round five when you could easily get comparable value five rounds later.
6) Handcuff running backs in later rounds. If you have Atlanta Falcons featured back Michael Turner, look to add his backup Jacquizz Rodgers. If you take Arian Foster high, look to add Ben Tate later on. This protects you from injuries that could otherwise derail your chances in early October.
7) Know the bye week schedule. The last thing you want is to have five players have the same week off -- especially multiple guys at one position.
8) Have fun. That's the most important rule of them all.