Time for a little fantasy football talk

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s talk about Fantasy…..Let’s Talk about You and Me

Greetings! This is my first article for Music City Miracles and I am super excited to be part of the Titans community and contributing to the site. Much love to Jimmy and Dan for bringing me on board.

Just briefly about me, I live in the Nashville area and I am a lifelong football fan. Growing up in Texas my family loved the Dallas Cowboys, but I have been following the Titans since they first came to town in 1997 as the Tennessee Oilers. I moved to Nashville that same year and it seemed only right to follow the local team. My fandom was sealed on January 8, 2000 with the play this site is coined after when down before a capacity crowd in what was then Adelphia Stadium. You can find that full story over at my website at Sports By Sharona. You can also follow me on twitter at @SportsBySharona.

I will be providing fantasy related content so as an introduction I thought we would talk about the 2 main types of fantasy leagues and my own personal philosophy as to each one. Many of you probably play some form of fantasy but there may be some who are just getting started or who want to branch out and play other types of leagues. If so, I hope you find this helpful.

My own personal philosophy toward fantasy football, regardless of the league, can be summed up in 4 key mottos:

1. Play your marquee players unless they lose a leg or a lung;

2. Fortune favors the bold;

3. Factor in matchups when in doubt about 1 and 2; and

4. Be aware of trends and keep an eye on undrafted players and the waiver wire.

Obviously there are other important factors to consider like bye weeks, etc but if you screw the pooch on a bye week perhaps fantasy football is not your game. Having said that, it is important that you consider bye weeks when you are drafting your team(s) particularly in a keeper league or you will be reduced to leftovers and waiver wire options. Any fantasy league I have ever played comes equipped with trash talk and that's a good way to become the object of fantasy football hazing.

One note regarding trading and that is I am not a big participant in trades (unless we are talking keeper leagues). Of course there is always a time and place when they are great options for both sides but generally speaking unless you are in a keeper league it doesn't make a ton of sense. I have just generally found one side usually isn't reasonable or doesn't understand the respective value when a trade is proposed. I have seen some truly lopsided trades go down in some leagues as one side takes advantage of another.

If a trade is ever proposed and you have questions, the fantasy community is always willing to answer those questions and to assist in deciding how to approach trade proposals. As football season grows near, I will be posting a list of people I believe to be helpful and good sources when it comes to fantasy football. Seeking advice is good but a good rule of thumb is to always trust your gut when it comes to fantasy football. There is nothing worse than to have a gut feeling about something but to take someone's advice and lose a game. It's your team and one of the beautiful things about fantasy football is that you are in charge and get to choose your roster on any given game. The ability to appreciate that will go a long way in enhancing your fantasy football experience.

Now let's talk about the different types of fantasy leagues available. This is a general discussion so I won't break down in any great detail the different types of subcategories available in the 2 main categories I am discussing. At the risk of drawing a big "duh," I would suggest you consult the rules and learn all you can about the league you are joining so you won't be at a disadvantage.

Also beyond the scope of this discussion is the various forms of monetary compensation available and its application to your fantasy strategy. Unless you are an experienced fantasy player (or have money to burn) I would seriously recommend against joining a league with high stakes. Onward.

DYNASTY/KEEPER LEAGUES

A dynasty or keeper league is a league where you have the option to keep all or some of your players from year to year. It is completely different from your typical fantasy football league and thus requires a completely different mindset and is popular amongst the diehard fantasy freaks and geeks. If you have never played in a dynasty or keeper league and you play fantasy football you are really missing out. For purposes of this discussion, I will refer to them simply as keeper leagues but just remember they do vary.

These leagues allow a set number of players to be carried over from year to year. Roster numbers, salary caps, etc. can vary but one thing determines how well a keeper league performs and that is commitment from the participants. Roster turnover is slow and only through careful drafting and solid trade strategies can you recover from a badly built team and even then it can take a few seasons. As with all leagues, understanding the rules and the scoring system will be crucial in determining how well you perform.

If you are joining a dynasty league that has been in existence for a while all I can say is good luck. Typically you are taking over an existing team (likely one that has struggled) and it can be difficult to rebuild your team unless you play with a bunch of idiots. In that case, kudos to you for hitting that jackpot and you should hope there is good money involved! Getting involved in a startup league is by far the preferable way to introduce yourself to a keeper league.

Any discussion of keeper leagues carries a necessity to talk about player valuation and what positions are more important than others. If you already play fantasy football you know running back has generally been viewed as a premium position. If this is a startup league you want to focus on good young running backs early on. I will generally take 2 or 3 pretty early on while always keeping an eye out for that quarterback you simply cannot pass up, or that true #1 wide receiver everyone will soon covet. I tend to go running back heavy anyway and on a keeper roster it's not unusual for me to have at least 5 or 6 at any given time.

Franchise quarterbacks are a premium of course but unless this is a startup league they could all be taken and you better hope you have a good quarterback on your roster. It goes without saying that every year you should be on the lookout for a young quarterback coming into the league who will ultimately be a starter. You won't always get an option to draft your guy (more on that later) but unlike running back, age isn't as crucial at quarterback due to a longer shelf life. I try to keep at least 2 good QBs on my keeper roster at all times, and 3 if I have an opportunity to stash a good prospect I believe is on the verge of being "the guy."

Finally, the top of the list includes a wide receiver that is a true #1, or at the very least the receiver the team considers its first option. Believe me, there is a difference. The extent to which the player is a true #1 versus a team driver #1 will largely determine how high you are willing to draft that player. I always look at who is drafting after me, the construction of their team, and what players are still available when deciding whether I might be reaching at any given point in time. Your roster depends on roster size, but there should be room for at least 5 solid wide receivers on your team. If your team uses place kickers and tight ends, at least 2 with different bye weeks should be drafted. It goes without saying you should look for receiving tight ends and should be aware of the difference.

Regarding defense, some leagues choose the simpler method of drafting team defenses while others allow for drafting individual team players (IDP). Your draft philosophy will depend greatly on which league you choose. A lot depends on scoring methods, number of players and whatnot but I would equate IDP in some respects to a true #1 wide receiver or a premium running back. Guys like JJ Watt come few and far between but some leagues score on tackles. Again, look to your league's scoring system in determining what value to place on defense or IDP players, and how many you want to draft.

When drafting for a keeper league it is crucial to remember you are building. Everyone wants to win of course but in some respects a draft for a keeper league is like bizarro world if you have always played a standard draft league. You have to place a premium on younger players because options are going to be limited going forward and you won't have a big pool of new players to choose from year to year. Most leagues have provisions for PUP and injured reserve plus you do generally have limited options to waive a player or two without consequence, and of course trades. A keeper league is by far the best league suited to fantasy trades and that's a good way to shore up a position that has gone south for you. Just remember that each draft year will leave you faced with waivers, trades and players who are entering the league. Choose wisely.

One final note about drafting in a keeper league and this is where my philosophy on fortune favoring the bold really comes into play. There is nothing worse than watching someone snatch a young incoming player a pick or 6 in front of you after you have passed them by thinking you can snag them later. That strategy will find you crying in the car post draft. Again, the beauty of fantasy is you get to build your roster the way you choose so don't be afraid other coaches will flame you for picking someone too high. More likely they are going to be congratulating you later on jumping on a guy who turns out to be a superstar and if not who cares. You built your team the way you wanted and that my friend is what fantasy football is all about.

STANDARD DRAFT LEAGUES

By far the most prevalent and popular of the leagues, at least amongst casual fans, your standard draft leagues are yearly draft leagues entirely dependent on points produced. Most popular are head to head where rosters are set weekly and points are derived by yardage and touchdowns. These leagues tally wins and losses and are separated into divisions with the goal of the winners meeting in the playoffs and finally a championship game.

Some leagues keep tally by total points and these leagues do not track wins and losses. Everything is based on total points with the same goal of entering the playoffs and making your way through to the championship game. Again, it goes without saying that understanding the rules and scoring method will determine how well your team performs.

When drafting in a standard draft league, immediate gain is the business and therefore player age is far less important. Your goal is to get the most production and points you can in a season without regard to future years. I find trades are generally useless in standard draft leagues as they just usually aren't that attractive. The waiver wire can often be useful and you should always keep an eye out for up and coming players to snatch while the snatching is hot. The waiver wire is far more important in standard draft leagues than keeper leagues due to more liberal rules and you should take advantage of that benefit.

My player numbers tend to remain the same between keeper and standard draft leagues with the exception that I often will only carry 1 place kicker and/or 1 defense in lieu of going heavy at other skill positions. I have just found that the waiver wire is a perfectly fine place to pick up a second option when a bye week rolls around. Let's face it, if you are relying on your kicker to win you fantasy games your team pretty much just sucks and perhaps you should take your ball and go home. It's not a stretch to say this applies in real football too.

There are also some more specialized leagues that I won't discuss here like survivor leagues, IDP leagues, and auction leagues. If you are interested drop me a line. If there is enough interest in other types of fantasy leagues I would be glad to discuss them in detail.

The next couple of segments I am going to take an early look at the Titans and discuss some fantasy football options to consider at various positions on the team. I hope you will stay tuned and find it useful as you start to look at drafting for your fantasy leagues.

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