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Fantasy football: Basic tips for draft preparation

Julian Edelman will miss the first four games of the season due to suspension. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann

There’s no better time to draft a fantasy football league than after the third week of preseason games.

The timing is perfect. By this point, the risk of a pivotal player suffering an unfortunate injury before the season starts is minimal. By and large, the final leg of exhibition action is for NFL teams to determine their final roster decisions and allow starters to rest.

For those who agree, your draft probably is scheduled to take place any day now. If that’s the case, here are some basic tips to best set up a fantasy team for success.

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Be prepared

Not everyone has the time or inclination to craft their own custom rankings or read up on every player, and that’s fine. But be sure to know who’s nursing an injury that could force missed regular-season time — such as Eagles QB Carson Wentz — or which players are suspended to start the year — Patriots WR Julian Edelman comes to mind. There’s nothing worse in a draft than taking someone like that too high.

No rankings slaves

While the difference between the No. 1 rated player and the No. 11 is pretty sizable at this stage, No. 21 and No. 31 on a rankings chart probably are more similar than the numbers would suggest. In other words: Don’t be afraid to select a player you like who isn’t the top available.

I’m a huge proponent of tiered rankings — both in fantasy football and basically anything that people like to rank. My advice is to seek out a set of tiered fantasy rankings you agree with, and use those as a guide instead of a more simplified 1-300 list. Feel free to stray from those, too, if there’s a player you are convinced is underrated.

Have a plan

Most of your picks are going to be either RBs or WRs. In a standard roster setup, I typically only draft one each at QB, TE, defense and kicker. And, in leagues that don’t require all spots to be drafted, there’s nothing wrong with skipping the last two and just pick up one of each right before the season starts.

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It’s good to have a rough idea of when to snag my passer and tight end. Generally, I recommend waiting until the middle of the draft or later to address those positions. But there are exceptions. If Aaron Rodgers (QB, Packers) is sitting there in Round 4, that’s a great value for the consensus top quarterback. Same goes for Rob Gronkowski (TE, Patriots) in Round 3 or so.

Otherwise, it’s better to take as many high-rated running backs and wideouts as possible, then take a roughly average player at QB or TE. Most of them are pretty similar from a season-long production standpoint, anyway.