5 Questions That Will Determine Who Wins Your Fantasy Football League

  • Drew Brees
    5. Drafting An “Elite” Quarterback?

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have Peyton Manning or Drew Brees leading your fantasy team? Of course. But is it necessary? Absolutely not. Each of the last five seasons, the league has set new highs for total passing yards. In four out of the last five seasons, the NFL has set new highs in total touchdowns. The league continues to implement rules to help protect quarterbacks, allowing it to become more of a pass-friendly game than ever before.

    As JJ Zachariason, author of “The Late Round Quarterback” points out, the quarterback should be the least of your worries (via profootballfocus.com):

    “The quarterback position has a predictability aspect each week that a lot of people don’t realize, making waiver wire players and adds more reliable than any other position.”

    So, what should you do about other positions, such as running backs and wide receivers? Well, I’m glad you asked:

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  • LeSean McCoy
    4. Drafting Running Backs and Wide Receivers Early?

    The ultimate goal in Fantasy Football is to win. It is nice to have your favorite players on the roster, the most exciting athletes in your lineup, and the loudest talkers to give your team some swag, but that does not mean much in the wild world of fantasy.

    Your job is to assemble the best team possible to receive the most points week-by-week to climb the standings before taking home the trophy come winter time. To do that, not only is it important to hold off on a quarterback, but also be aggressive when picking running backs and wide receivers.

    Out of the leading 50 fantasy players last season, 22 of them were quarterbacks — 44 percent. Fifteen were running backs, 12 were wide receivers and one was a tight end. Of the 22 quarterbacks, 16 of them appeared in the top 20, while three halfbacks showed up and no wideouts did.

    Thus, it is certainly tempting to go after the quarterback. He is usually the most well known player on the team — receiving much of the attention and most of the credit. Yet while this position will be one of your team’s main contributions, it is less common to find the same production at one of the other offensive positions.

    The problem is not what you will be acquiring by selecting a quarterback early, but what you will be missing out by waiting to draft your running backs and wide receivers.

    As Zachariason wrote on the topic of the significance on these positions over the QB, “In essence, if I pick the wrong guy in Round 10 of my draft, who cares? I’ll find a guy off the wire to fill the void, all while having the best depth at wide receiver and running back — the scarce positions in fantasy football — in the league.”

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  • Nick Foles
    3. How Important is the Waiver Wire?

    The draft is an important first step in creating a successful team, but that is just the start. Once a team is in place, it is important to constantly check the free agent pool and stay up-to-date on matchups just to gain an advantage over your opponent for that particular week. An essential part of fantasy football are the unexpected sleepers that emerge each season.

    Nick Foles, for example, began last season as the backup for Mike Vick in Philadelphia and ended the season as my most important pickup, taking the starting job from both Vick on the Eagles and Colin Kaepernick on the fantasy team of yours truly.

    Not only did Foles surpass expectations last season, but transpired as one of the best options at the quarterback position. According to CBS New York, the former third-round pick had the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history (13.5) with 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

    This is just one of many examples of how the waiver wire can positively impact your team and help you get to the postseason, as it did for me. Not to mention — it was the quarterback position. Surprise, surprise.

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  • Jamaal Charles
    2. Jamaal Charles Versus LeSean McCoy?

    As in years past when it was LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander battling for the top spot, Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy are the clear-cut best players who can lead your team to the Promised Land.

    Last season, McCoy led the league with 1,607 rushing yards, 314 carries, and 366 touches. He was a workhorse in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense while scoring 11 total touchdowns, which paid dividends for fantasy owners.

    On the other side of the NFL, however, Jamaal Charles led the NFL in total touchdowns with 19, despite having just 259 carries and 329 touches. Current Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid was at the helm in Philadelphia when McCoy scored his career-high 20 touchdowns in 2011, which may bode well for Charles.

    The Chiefs do not have the weapons the Eagles do. Despite the loss of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin will be returning after tearing his ACL and Riley Cooper can also provide offense. Soon-to-be 30-year-old Kansas City wide receiver Dwayne Bowe will be unable to get the job done, and when Alex Smith isn’t passing the ball, the large majority of the offense will be going to Charles, who has proven he can flourish like that.

    While both are fantastic options and can help you take home the virtual fantasy trophy at the end of the season, Jamaal Charles almost guarantees it for you.

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  • Demaryius Thomas
    1. Who Will Make a Deal?

    Making any sort of trade can be stressful. The players received in return may not pan out, while the ones given away may instantly begin hot streaks of their own. It is risky, no doubt about it, but it can also prove to be the difference maker between the haves and the have nots.

    Dealing from a position of depth is one way to tremendously improve your team. Let’s say, for example, you are stacked at the wide receiver position with Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, and Demaryius Thomas but lack production at the running back position. Trading one of the aforementioned wideouts to receive a top halfback improves the balance of your team, which is imperative to fantasy football success.

    Another strategy to add to your repertoire is the 2-for-1 deal. In another hypothetical situation, you have already drafted well and won the waiver wire but still struggle to receive quality numbers from the quarterback position. In this case, it would be wise to offer an opponent players such as Reggie Bush and Roddy White in exchange for a stud like Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers.

    Striking smart deals will not only turn out to be beneficial, but it also gives you the opportunity to act as an NFL General Manager — a position that millions of fans around the country can only dream of holding.

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  • Drew Brees
  • LeSean McCoy
  • Nick Foles
  • Jamaal Charles
  • Demaryius Thomas

Remember December 12, 2013? Philip Rivers threw for more than 160 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Chargers past the Broncos and sending Peyton Manning and Co. to just their third loss of the season.

More significantly, however, it was the last Thursday Night Football we watched.

Until this week, that is. Yes, I know it may be hard to believe but the NFL is finally back, kicking off with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks tomorrow night.

Although for us — avid watchers of the most popular sport in the United States of America — it is a time to renew rivalries, get revenge from last season, and finally take bragging rights.

It is time for Fantasy Football.

Here are the five keys to help you strike gold and win your fantasy league.

Follow Matthew on Twitter at @MatthewHochberg