News & Analysis

Season preview time is the best time of the year

(Editor’s note: Every Sunday, we’ll wrap up the week on PFF Fantasy with some topic one of our writers has been thinking about of late, and recap the features, columns, and podcasts you could find on the site that week.)

For me, it started with a tree.

I read my dad’s Baseball Weekly and Baseball Digest magazines growing up, but for years I thought that was the extent of the publication possibilities. I just didn’t realize there were giant season preview magazines every year, and I definitely didn’t know there were giant season preview fantasy magazines.

As the youngest child, I wasn’t allowed to stay home alone back in the day. Usually, that meant tagging along with my dad to his veterinary calls. Occasionally, though, my sister felt giving, and helped my parents out by taking me with her for the day. Sometimes that was just to friends’ houses or to go shopping (which was such fun for a little boy, lemme tell ya), but as she was in college, a time or two she brought me to school with her.

One day, knowing I’d be bored, mom gave her a few bucks to take me to the grocery store and get a puzzle book — one of those variety puzzle magazines where you could do word searches and number puzzles and spot-the-differences. Instead, I found the sports magazine aisle, and saw fantasy baseball preview magazines. This was new! This wasn’t a thing I knew about! I coerced my sister into getting me one of those instead of the puzzle book. Then, when we got to school, I told her that I’d wait outside her class building and read my magazine. There was a nearby willow tree that hung low, so I crawled under there for the full 90 minutes of her class time and read the magazine. It was there, in the shade of a tree on the University of Kentucky campus, that I realized the world of fantasy season previews.

(How is letting a child hang out unsupervised under a tree in the middle of a college campus better than letting him stay home alone, you ask? No idea. I’m fine, though so no harm no foul, I suppose.)

Anyway, I was hooked. Every spring, I begged my parents to buy me every fantasy baseball magazine, and every fall, it was the same for football. I filled out sample rosters for every last salary cap game that advertised in the magazines, even if I literally never entered a single one. I read them cover-to-cover.

Today, I can stay home alone whenever I want. The tree on the UK campus is gone. And my sister and I don’t hang out nearly as much. But I still love season-preview time.

And that’s where we are. This week, our Fantasy Playbook, the PFF Fantasy season preview draft guide, dropped into the toolbag of PFF subscribers. I don’t have the tree anymore, but I’ve spent hours playing with this thing nonetheless.

My favorite parts of the guide include the tiered positional rankings, fantasy-points-per-route-run data, and (this is a sneaky one) schedule breakdowns of the non-obvious DST units to identify their best weeks as streamers. Get to the last few pages and you’ll find a full draft board breakdown, 2017 shadow coverage data, and more fancy stuff than I even realized existed back when I was a kid hanging out under a willow tree.

If you’re a subscriber, you already have access to the Playbook. If you aren’t … well, be one. This is the best preview I’ve seen. Take your phone, crawl under the nearest willow tree, and read until you are ready for the whole fantasy season.

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