The end of the NFL preseason signals the biggest event of the year for tens of millions of fantasy football players around the world: the nearing of draft day.
With the seemingly infinite amount of websites, experts and magazines, it can be helpful to stand back and look at some key points that can help you win your league or at least put forth a strong team this season.
Tip #1: The first overall pick is not set in stone
Average draft positions compiled through results from thousands of drafts on Yahoo, ESPN and CBS illustrate how widely varied leagues are and how fantasy managers evaluate top talent differently. Some prefer Adrian Peterson of Minnesota for his consistency and unquestioned status as the Vikings' top offensive player. Others like Jamaal Charles of Kansas City for his combination of rushing and receiving production. LeSean McCoy of Philadelphia enthusiasts love the carries and catches he commands in coach Chip Kelly's offence.
Paul Charchian, president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, said many fantasy players are even getting away from the idea they need to draft a running back in their first round in part because running backs often get hurt.
Tip #2: Pay close attention to league settings, draft accordingly
Most leagues now use custom scoring, deviating from the decades-old standard scoring that awards points mostly based on yards and touchdowns.
Every shift in scoring and roster requirements counts and must be accounted for when you draft: 6 points or 4 for touchdowns? Yardage bonuses? Starting two quarterbacks? It all changes where players should be drafted.
For example points-per-reception leagues, which offer players points for every catch, potentially hurt players like Frank Gore, Ryan Mathews and Chris Ivory while helping others such as Shane Vereen, Darren Sproles and Roy Helu who are targeted more in the passing game. Know your settings, and adjust your strategy.
Tip #3: Player values change, avoid overpaying
It's hard to be good at fantasy and take a hard line on any player able to put up start-worthy stats. Skip a must avoid or must draft stance — it's more a matter of how much you'll need to invest.
In Yahoo leagues, Denver receiver Wes Welker is getting drafted early in the fourth round in 12-team formats, despite recently suffering his third concussion in 10 months.
Understandable, given his strong connection with quarterback Peyton Manning. But at that price, receivers Andre Johnson and Roddy White are still available.
Even if you want Welker, be sure to adjust what you're willing to invest in him based on the latest news.
Tip #4: Be an active owner
Some of the most successful fantasy owners are those who stay active on free agents and pounce on unexpected players showing signs they're breaking out.
Last year, Knowshon Moreno and Zac Stacy went undrafted in many leagues but ended up finishing with some of the best per-game numbers in the league.
Not every free agent pickup will be that successful but a stagnant roster means missed opportunities and unacknowledged mistakes.