Only two days remain until the NFL returns. If you’re still planning to have your fantasy football draft then, uh, hurry up.
Most of us already have our full roster in place by now and are sitting tight or tinkering with the lineup ahead of Week 1.
Because it’s likely too late to provide helpful draft advice any longer, what follows are some tips that can help you through the first month of the season.
Watch the waiver wire
Even before Thursday night’s first game between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, other owners in your league may be adding and dropping players. Be vigilant of trends, such as the surge of people who are picking up Terrance West (RB, Ravens) and cutting loose Sammie Coates (WR, Steelers) right now.
Occasionally, someone in your league may drop a valuable asset for unknown reasons. If it seems odd, do a search on the player to make sure nothing is wrong. If it checks out, you might be able to score a nice little pickup others may not have noticed.
Once the season begins, the first few weeks often are biggest risk-reward period to grab unknown talent. Roles are still being shaped, so there’s no way to know if the Week 1 stud on the waiver wire was a one-game wonder or a diamond in the rough.
If you’re a gambler, roll the dice. If not, you may prefer to wait and see how the players you drafted work out.
Be patient and careful
One or more of your top players is going to be a dud in Week 1. Do not panic. Even the best players get shut down a few games per season, so perhaps the opener was just one of the inevitable bad weeks in a good season.
Once one of your top three picks runs cold for two or three weeks in a row, however, it’s time to worry. C.J. Anderson (RB, Broncos) was a high pick a year ago and failed to net at least seven standard points before Denver’s Week 7 bye. He had a few big games thereafter, but not many.
If you’re worried about a player’s role with the team, be sure to snag his backup. If you think the problem is something bigger, such as a porous offensive line or week-to-week game plans that sometimes minimize a position’s role, it may be wise to invest in a player from a different team.
Wade into trades
If you don’t make trades, you’re missing out on some of the midseason fun of fantasy football. This is all about pretending to run your own team, after all.
Just don’t go crazy — consider that some hypocritical advice from a serial trader.
September is a dangerous time to make deals. Echoing the idea behind the previous tip, a player with early struggles still has a ton of time to get his act together.
But the inverse also is true. A player off to an unexpectedly hot start is perfect trade bait. Maybe Julius Thomas (TE, Jaguars) gets off to an amazing start this season, as he did with the Broncos in 2014. But as a mid- to low-round pick, don’t hand over a top-40 talent such as Latavius Murray (RB, Raiders) to get him if it feels like the incoming player’s peak performance is behind him.
Once October and November roll around, then you can explore deals that bolster roster holes without depleting a position of strength.