Fantasy football happens in real time. Values are changing right now. And now. And now. Herein lies the obvious problem with fantasy magazines. Sure, they have their place. They can be fine as a refresher on last season's stats and offseason roster moves. However, it's imperative you understand that your shiny new magazine will be outdated by the time you swipe the Visa. In fact, it was outdated on the shelf long before you even smudged it up. My buddies have chided me for years about my Brad Childress-esque color coded cheat sheet that I bring to my drafts. It's a custom report tacked to an old-school clipboard; the summation of months of researching my most trusted sources, participating in countless mock drafts, and weighing my own gut instincts. What it lacks in gloss, it makes up for in year-end payouts. Nothing on my final draft day printout comes from a magazine. My best advice to you: Don't let a magazine sabotage your draft and turn you into your league's favorite punch line. Fantasy football has evolved, and you need to keep pace.
If you're not tweeting, you're not trying. Say what you will about Twitter, but it's quickly become the premier source for up-to-the-second fantasy football information. It's here that you gain access to the "experts," and more importantly, the nerds. It's a place for informed debates and priceless links. Furthermore, it's by far your best bet for pre-game updates during the season. In my favorite Twitter moment of last season, I shamelessly asked Kurt Warner about his availability for the Week 13 Sunday night showdown with the Vikings, as he was listed as a "Game Time Decision" due to a concussion. To my surprise, he replied that he was playing, so I left him in my lineup (I'd added Leinart as an emergency play, of course). He proceeded to carve up the Purple for 285 and 3 TD's, and I was rewarded with a slim, playoff-clinching victory. Admittedly, Kurt Warner might have been the only honest, god-fearing man in the NFL. So get started with these guys, and cash in on more dependable information: http://tweepml.
Listen up. Podcasts are free and versatile. Listen at work. Listen in the yard. Listen in the car. There is no excuse not to get plugged in. There are two podcasts that are staples in my fantasy diet. I listen daily to ESPN's Fantasy Focus Football, where Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz regularly fight like a married couple. Highlights of the show include the "Name Game" player vs. player debate, and Stephania Bell's top notch injury analysis. They're getting it warmed up already with a weekly show: http://tinyurl.com/
6ehkh7. We're also very fortunate, in the MPLS/St. Paul area, to have the industry's best fantasy show in our own back yard. KFAN 1130's Fantasy Football Weekly airs Saturday mornings starting in late July, and is hosted by nationally regarded industry gurus Paul Charchian, John Tuvey, and Bo Mitchell. The show includes fantastic segments of caller questions and matchup breakdowns, as well as "Five Tough Questions," "Take a Chance on Me," "Lightning Round," and the "Todd Heap Memorial Injury Report." Nobody works harder to provide fact-based analysis and speculation than these guys. It's free money: http://tinyurl.com/ yeby2qr.
Fake it 'til you make it. Mock drafts give you the insight into how the fantasy community is valuing players. They also prepare you for those unpredictable, sink-or-swim moments of your draft. With mocking, you'll become familiar with ADP's (Average Draft Positions). This could be the single most important piece of ammo for traditional drafts. It's the difference between reaching and value. If you haven't done a handful of mocks before your draft, you deserve the inevitable embarrassment that will ensue. ESPN's Mock Draft Lobby is great: http://tinyurl.com/
d2jo7a. I also mix in mocks at www.mockdraftcentral.com and www.fantasyfootballcalculator. com.
Do the legwork. Get out and socialize with other members of the fantasy community. Don't be too proud to tag along to a pal's draft. Observe how certain players are perceived locally vs. nationally. Learn from others' mistakes. Find the smartest guy in the room (hint: he won't be thumbing through a magazine), and take note of his (or her) moves. Hit up the spread and snag a couple free beers. There's no hiding behind the computer; experiencing a live draft gets you dialed into reality, and more focused than ever. Another great opportunity for the MPLS/St. Paul crowd is the Fantasy Football Weekly crew's Fantasy Training Camp, held late summer at Treasure Island Casino in Red Wing. This is as "insider" as it gets. From slideshows of statistical gold, to an expert mock play-by-play, you will leave this event with a decided advantage over the rest of your league. And, like the rest of these new age fantasy tools, it's free.
Follow this advice, and you'll go from an ordinary fantasy participant to a feared power player in your league. Do you utilize other non-traditional resources? Feel free to share and discuss.