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The best fantasy advice that you have to give yourself

Dec 17, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) scores a touchdown as Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry (24) and free safety Kurt Coleman (20) and cornerback Kevon Seymour (27) defend in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

(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.)

Know your league.

In the general sense, it’s perhaps the best single piece of fantasy advice you can be given, but in the specific sense, it’s the one single piece of fantasy advice those of us on this side of the paywall cannot really offer.

Rankings are great. Tiers are great. Values, projections, and analytics are great. But when it comes down to it, it’s knowledge of your opponent that will get you where you need to go as often as anything else. Like a boxer knowing his opponent favors his right but has a weak left cross and struggles to block down low, exploiting your opponents’ weaknesses is the way to win.

Example (not from football, but whatever): The year was 2006, and Bobby Abreu was hitting .277 with 8 home runs and 20 steals for the Phillies. He was on Sean’s roster, and Sean, while a good fantasy player, had two never-never rules: Never own a St. Louis Cardinal, and never own a New York Yankee. July 30 of that year, right before the MLB trade deadline, Abreu got dealt … to the Yankees. Sean had no problem with Abreu, the Phillie, but he became instantly disenfranchised with Abreu, the Yankee.

The truth was, any quasi-competitive offer likely would have netted Abreu, to any other team. Sean just didn’t have it in him to root for the Yankees. But I was the one who knew this about him, so I pounced, offered him well below market value (I don’t even remember the offer now), and came away with Abreu.

One of my primary football leagues for years now has been based out of Richmond, Ky., with a bunch of good ol’ boys — the types who get together to draft at Hooters, and say they’re not going to drink much for the draft because they’re busy later, so they have “only” three beers and three bourbons during the draft. Being in central Kentucky, many of these guys love them some Kentucky players and some Bengals. As such, I’ve literally never owned Randall Cobb in that league, and I crossed Joe Mixon all the way off my draft board before even entering the draft last year. He was going to go too high, and I knew it, so might as well just not devote the brainpower to him.

Knowing your league can also help you in ways outside of fantasy. Two years ago, we got together at my friend Nate’s house for the first year of a new keeper league. This league had 12 people in it, but the two you need to know about are Nate and Jenn. Jenn is Nate’s wife. And Jenn loves two football players more than anyone else: Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb.

Now, if I, or Brandon, or Heath had drafted Rodgers early in the second round, Jenn would have been disappointed, but them’s the breaks. But when Nate took Rodgers in the second (literally one pick before Jenn), it just about cratered his marriage. Jenn took her computer into the bedroom and we didn’t see her again the rest of the draft. I’m reasonably sure Nate didn’t see her the rest of the night, and had a couch/guest bed evening. And two days later, he traded Rodgers to his wife, for pennies on the dollar.

Those are mostly silly examples, from small-money leagues with few repercussions. But knowing your league is important even as the leagues grow in size and importance. We advocate for waiting on quarterbacks. But if your league has a tendency to take signal-callers earlier than most, well, waiting on quarterback can cost you. Do your leaguemates tend to handcuff running backs or not? How many tight ends do they end up with? The smallest tendencies can give you a big advantage.

Pay attention. Use the knowledge. And for heaven’s sake, don’t draft your wife’s favorite player one pick before she has a chance to go.


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