First off, let me say I absolutely miss writing for FakeTeams. If someone said the road in my journalism career let to Matthew Berry sans about 30 pounds, I'd still sign up. Hope everyone's doing well. You know what's not going well? Preparing for my draft.
Honestly, there's no way to prepare for a draft without tossing a few dollars around. After doing fantasy football for what seems to be about 10 years now, I'm not sure there's any perfect way to go about it. Seriously, try doing a mock draft, or even a real draft on one of the major fantasy sites. First I thought I was placed in that crappy Hot Tub Time Machine movie when Tomlinson was selected 12th overall. Then, I was wondering if Rex Ryan was drunkenly throwing down donuts and drafting the Jets D, in the SECOND ROUND. Come on, seriously.
The best advice I can give is to purchase a great magazine (I personally chose to splurge for the first time and get an online draft guide), attempt to form some semblance of opinions from mock drafts/meaningless drafts, and read up on news, including here. I can tell you though, after doing some of this meaningless meandering into the world of the mindless, I've come up with some observations and opinions for this year's fantasy season.
1) Five are nice, seven will suffice - The number studies have proven that having the No. 1 overall pick, or even the top No. 2 or 3 pick yields better results. The players are bound to be more stable and proven, even if you do pull a Jersey Shore and fall on a grenade on occasion. But let's face it, the top five backs this year are more or less studs. MJD's line should be improved slightly bump up that YPC stat, and even despite injuries Gore is such a productive back. The next two each have their drawbacks, but injury specialists have affirmed Jackson teams to be recovered and healthy, and Turner should see a healthy dose of carries and be in line for a bounce-back season. Anytime you consider taking another position after the first group, that's where you draw the line. Unless I was just blown away with my top three picks, I want one of these guys.
2) Careful with the QB Waiting Game - I'm always weary of taking a QB in one of the first few rounds. Face it: There's sacrifice going on somewhere else in your starting lineup when you do it. According to ADP, Aaron Rodgers is going EIGHTH on average. Honestly, I can't find a reason not to draft him first among QBs unless it's Drew Brees, but I still think he doesn't belong in the 1st Round. I'd only first start considering one of the top guys at No. 12 overall.
You want to wait past the Sweet Six (Rivers not included)? One of my favorite strategies has been to pair two high-upside QBs, usually between Rounds 6 and 9 give or take, and try to shoot the moon. At the worst, you've got two guys who should perform like No. 1 guys. At best, you get a guy nearly as good as one of the Six, and you've got an elite RB/WR that they're lacking. My only complaint? If you've got a shallow bench, a lot of those candidates have the same bye week this year. Kevin Kolb, Joe Flacco and Jay Cutler, three of my favorite candidates for this year, take Week 8 off, and that's not including Matt Ryan and Eli Manning who also have a Week 8 bye. Honestly, Ben Roethlisberger looks like one of the best guys to pair (Week 5 bye) if you're going with this strategy. Otherwise, you've got a guy with risk and possibly a Matt Stafford backup situation.
3) Waiting on RBs is kind of hard, but can pay off this year - I'll be honest, I'm a traditionalist - I'd love to have two No. 1-type RBs as my first two overall picks - but times have changed. I've seemed to go RB/QB/WR the last few years with success when picking early the last few years, and maybe it's a good strategy again (Ken Daube, who I've enjoyed trading e-mails with and picking his brain, has great research on this), but there's never been so many hidden gems after the early rounds. But it can be damn hard waiting and getting the best value.
For example, I like Jahvid Best a lot this year as a low-end RB2 if you're strong elsewhere. His ADP is currently at 41 right now, which if you were to take him there, would be R4, P5 (No. 8 overall). I'd much rather have Steve Smith (the Carolina kind) or Anquan Boldin as a low WR1/high WR2 in Round 3 than LeSean McCoy and slot in Best. And speaking of that..
4) The WR pool is finite - I know, I know - There always seems to be a few breakout receivers every year. I was part of the Mike Sims-Walker lovetrain last year, and keep in mind he missed two games and still finished as a borderline No. 2/No. 3. Miles Austin and Sidney Rice were on nobody's radar before the season, so these guys are going to pop up. But that doesn't keep me from wanting two secure receivers in my lineup, and the low-end No. 2 WRs this year seem to bare a lot of risk. I like Mike Wallace, Johnny Knox, and Wes Welker among the guys who can produce like No. 2 WRs if you're going to wait past the fifth round. Otherwise, grabbing two receivers in the first few rounds isn't terrible.
5) For the love of God, don't pick a kicker or defense until it's time - Assuming Darelle Revis doesn't hold out for a 10-year, billion-dollar deal, the Jets defense is going to be ridiculous. They love to blitz, they'll pick off passes, they stagnate offenses yardage-wise. But they don't need to be going in the 8th Round (currently somewhere around 90 in ADP). I have some leagues that weigh defense heavier, so they get hoarded and it makes sense to reach earlier, but you can still wait around. Again, like QB, I like pairing two higher-ranked defenses and playing match-ups or nailing the breakout (I had the Jets and the Niners last year, and even the Jets were early at 85th and the ninth defense selected in a heavy-D league). If I can get the Eagles this year, who I like a lot as potentially the top D and have patched some holes, they're going about 40 picks later.
As for kicker? Nothing but the last round. Come on now.