Fantasy Football Strategies for 2017

Fantasy football has been around for decades and instead of slowing down the whole industry is only heating up. You can turn on your satellite radio, television, or computer and instantly be greeted by fantasy football news and advice. With the 2017 fantasy football season around the corner we are going to be joining the noise in order to bring you some of the best advice you could hope to get. The 2017 fantasy football season is about to begin, drafts are coming, and leagues are ready to be won. Are you ready to hoist the trophy? Listed below you’ll find our tried and trued advice to enjoying a successful 2017 fantasy season.

Diversify Your Leagues
Before you go to the draft you need to take a moment to look at HOW you are drafting. The most common form of fantasy football over the past decade has been the season long format that platforms like ESPN and the NFL have made so popular. In these formats you pick a team and ride with them for a full 14 weeks, or 16 if your league goes the whole year. These leagues are a ton of fun because you get to grow with your team and develop them over the course of the whole year. However, daily fantasy sports are also giving players a unique opportunity. DRAFT is an extremely popular daily fantasy site that gives gamers the chance to use the fantasy draft format in order to play in weekly leagues against players around the world with huge monetary prizes in the middle. Try each league and see which one treats you well!

Research, Research, Research
We don’t expect you to turn into Adam Schefter overnight but if you are going to succeed in fantasy football this season, particularly during the draft, you are going to have to do some major research. Fortunately for us the internet exists and the fantasy football industry is booming. You can find custom tailored Twitter feeds of the latest breaking news related to the NFL. Use this to your advantage. Don’t be the guy selecting Cameron Meredith in the 5th round because you didn’t see him tear his ACL five minutes ago during meaningless pre-season action. Along with social media news you can also find mock drafting rooms, drafting cheat sheets, and average draft position information.

Evaluate Your League
If you are playing fantasy football for the first time then you likely don’t know all of the little twists involved in a fantasy football league’s scoring system. Each system is going to be a little bit different and those differences can add up. If you are in a fantasy league that offers 6 points for passing touchdowns then suddenly quarterbacks are a whole lot more valuable. If you are in a fantasy league that offers PPR settings, which means points per reception, then slot receivers are worth a whole lot more. Analyze your league’s scoring system and then tailor your draft to those rules. You’ll be shocked by the kind of value you can get from your draft by approaching it this way.

Understand Key Positions
Travis Kelce is an elite tight end. He is probably the #2 tight end off the board. Still, don’t pick him until super late in the draft. The top tight end in fantasy football will fail to outscore the #10 wide receiver. The #10 wide receiver will struggle to outscore the #15 running back. Do you see where we are going with this? Focus on elite positions first.

Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas: The biggest trade of the past decade

Deals like this are not supposed to happen. A superstar player who has been to three straight titles, hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history, and helped a city win a title for the first time in 40 years is not supposed to request a trade. Similarly, a star player who was top three in the league in scoring, led a team to the best record in their division, and revived the hopes of one of the league’s hallmark franchises is not supposed to be seen as expendable. Lastly, teams that competed in the conference finals and were prohibitive favorites to meet once again are not supposed to trade pieces let alone superstars, especially at the same position. However, last night one of the biggest trades in NBA history occurred as the Cleveland Cavaliers sent Kyrie Irving to Beantown in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 Nets first round pick. Speculation about Kyrie being traded after his trade demand has swirled over the past month as multiple teams such as the Suns, Knicks, Timberwolves, and Spurs were seen as the most likely candidates to acquire the young point guard. At the end of the day, this was the best deal that the Cavaliers could have received as it keeps the team as the conference favorites while protecting their future in case LeBron James decides to leave after the season.

The Cavaliers were in a peculiar position because they are a win-now team and anything besides a title appearance would be seen as a disappointed, but they are also looking toward the future in case of the departure of LeBron. The Cavaliers were able to satisfy both these needs through this trade, which makes this deal a win for the organization. Last season, Thomas was one of the best players in basketball due to his crafty ball-handling and clutch ability to lead the Celtics down the stretch of games. Thomas should be able to easily step in for Irving as his game closely mimics the former Duke guard. Thomas should be more willing to accept a second role behind James as he was never supposed to be a star in the league. Thomas was the last pick in the 2011 NBA draft, started his career as a backup, and has already played for four different teams. Along with Thomas, the Cavs acquired small forward Jae Crowder. Crowder will become a valuable piece for Ty Lue because of his ability to defend multiple different positions and stretch a defense. If the Cavs make the finals and undoubtedly play the Warriors for the fourth straight year, Crowder will be an important cog asked to guard either Thompson, Iguodala, Durant, or Green. In addition, Crowder brings a tough demeanor to the squad as they will look to play a more physical brand of basketball against the more talented Warriors. While these two pieces will help bring Cleveland to their fourth straight Eastern Conference title, the acquisition of the Nets 2018 first round pick should keep them in contention for years to come. Although the Nets have improved their roster with the acquisitions of DeMarre Carroll, DeAngelo Russell, and Timofey Mozgov, they are still one of the worst teams in the league and the Cavs could land the first overall pick.

While the deal does have considerable upside for the Cavs, there are many potential downsides. The biggest risk in the deal is IT’s hip, which required surgery this offseason. Thomas is a skilled player, but without his shiftiness and lateral quickness he is not nearly as valuable a player. If he is unable to perform at a high level offensively, he is a negative on the court as he ranks as one of the worst defensive play makers in the league. In addition, even though Kyrie had his faults, he was undoubtedly one of the best offensive weapons in the league that could score on any team and any player in the league. Over the past two Finals appearances, Kyrie showed an ability to take over a game, which only a handful of players can do in the league. Due to Thomas’s diminutive size, he simply cannot control a game like Irving against the best competition. This fact became evident when the Celtics played the Cavs and were actually a better team without Thomas on the floor. Similarly, how Thomas was unable to defend Irving, he will have no chance at containing Curry. Although Cleveland improved their depth in this deal, they needed more top shelf talent if they want to continue their arms race with one of the greatest teams in NBA history.

Even though NBA rivals across the league are arguing that the Cavs easily won the trade, I do not agree with that sentiment and believe that the Celtics did incredibly in this deal. In today’s NBA landscape, it is imperative to acquire top shelf that has the ability to create baskets for themselves and their teammates. The Celtics acquired a controllable 25-year-old All Star/NBA Champion point guard for the 5’9” player who was going to command a $30 million per year deal next season, a role player, a 20-year-old center who is a project, and a first round pick. Anyone who does not see this as a big plus for the Celtics does not know basketball. Unless Kyrie leaves in two years’ time, the Celtics will be able to establish a big three of Irving, Horford, and Hayward that should be able to compete for the Eastern Conference title for the next 5-10 years. Along with the trio, the team has budding stars such as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Even if the team falls short of beating the Cavs this season, they will undoubtedly become the prohibitive favorites to win the conference if/when LeBron jumps ship and exits The Land. In addition, under the tutelage of Brad Stevens, Kyrie should be able to elevate his game to an even higher level as he tries to bring himself from superstar to best player on a championship team. Even though it is likely that he will never reach the level of James, Durant, Westbrook, and Curry, if Danny Ainge continues to find the right group of players, this team could win a title in a few years.

While the Celtics and Cavaliers were both seen as winners in the deal, the ultimate winner was the Golden State Warriors. This trade guarantees the Warriors their second straight title and third title in four years. Cleveland showed that the only way to beat the Warriors is if you have at least two players that are literally unstoppable and able to take over and win a Finals game. Currently the NBA has about 5-7 of these players in the league and the Cavs just lost one of these players. Even though IT is great, the Warriors will be able to devise a plan to defend him due to his small size. In addition, Crowder is not a big enough upgrade over Iman Shumpert or JR Smith to make difference against the likes of Durant or Thompson or Green. Obviously injuries could keep the Warriors from fulfilling their destiny, but that is the only thing now standing in between them and history.

2017-2018 AFC Division Preview

AFC East:

Winner: New England Patriots

The AFC East is the easiest of the divisions to predict as the Patriots will win their 9th straight AFC East Division Title. The Patriots are the best team on paper, especially after winning the Super Bowl last season. A team led by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will always be competitive, but this Patriots team has the chance to be special. The team has weapons on both offense and defense such as Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman. On defense, Patriots have a solid mixture of both experience and youth like Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, David Harris, Donta Hightower, and Malcolm Brown, In addition to the Patriots dominance, the rest of the division is incredibly weak. The Jets may have the least amount of talent in the NFL, the Bills just traded their best wide receiver, and the Dolphins lost their starting quarterback and are relying on the mercurial Jay Cutler.

AFC North

Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are looking to be the first consecutive division winner since 2011-2012 when the Baltimore Ravens were able to claim the division title two years in a row. The Steelers are one of the most explosive teams in the entire NFL. On offense, the team is led by their killer B’s, Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Martavious Bryant. Le’Veon Bell is the most electric running back in the NFL because of his ability to run effective, but also catch the ball out of the backfield. Antonio Brown is the most consistent receiver in the NFL as he has a knack for finding an opening in the defense, runs incredible routes and possesses great hands. The offensive success of the team will rely on the trios ability to remain healthy and out of legal issues. On defense, the team is slowly improving as they continue to add talent through the draft, especially with their early selections. The Steelers should possess a solid pass rush with James Harrison, TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, and Ryan Shazier. However, the defense cannot succeed without improvement in the secondary. If the secondary can improve, this team should dominate the division and potentially rival the Patriots in the Conference. Outside of the Steelers, the Ravens and Bengals should be able to compete with the Steelers, but they will need to have big years from Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton, respectively.

AFC South

Winner: Tennessee Titans

Although the Titans have been mired in mediocrity for years, there are a group of people that believe they can win the division and return to the playoffs. The combination of a rising young quarterback and a weak division gives the Titans a chance to win the AFC South Division Title. Tennessee reminds me of Oakland last season as they have a number of weapons and a quarterback that is ready to become a star. The Titans’ quarterback, Marcus Mariota, has the stars around him, DeMarco Murray, Rishad Matthews, Delanie Walker, and rookie wide receiver Corey Davis. Mariota should be able to succeed because of the explosive talent from the skilled position and the skill on the offensive line. On defense, the Titans are hoping to take a step forward with young talent. Outside of the Titans, the AFC South of solid teams, but no great team. The Colts have Andrew Luck, but the rest of the team is terrible and Luck is already injured. The Texans have across the board, but the quarterback position is a serious question mark, which keeps them from being more than a 10 win team every year. The Jags are destined to stay in the cellar for another year. The race should be a three horse race, but fans should be exciting in November and December.

AFC West

Winner: Oakland Raiders

The Raiders were one of the hottest teams in the NFL until starting quarterback Derek Carr became injured and the team needed to rely on backup Connor Cook. Last season, Derek Carr took a major step forward and became one of the elite throwers in the league. Along with Carr, the Oakland offense is incredibly successful because of their array of weapons, whether it be Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Marshawn Lynch. The offense will be happily assisted by their defense, which has stars at every level. The defense is led by star defensive end Khalil Mack, who has become one of the best defensive stars in the league. Besides Mack the team has impactful veterans such as David Amerson, Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph, Sean Smith, and Bruce Irvin. The biggest rival to the Raiders is the defending AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are a deep, talented, and well-coached team that will win at least 11 games. Even though they do not have the dynamic ability like the Raiders, they are a solid football team led by Alex Smith and a great defense.