Fantasy football is simple enough for beginners to enjoy and complex enough to reward years of study and practice. Of course, brand-new players don’t necessarily want to learn everything by trial and error. It’s a lot more fun to be knowledgeable from the start and win as many matchups as you can.
Some mistakes are unavoidable. Others, though, can be anticipated. Lots of fantasy football rookies before you have made plenty of mistakes. And, as the old saying goes, a wise person learns from the mistakes of others. Here are the classic fantasy football rookie mistakes that you should take care to avoid.
Not setting your lineup
Nothing is more frustrating for a fantasy football player than forgetting to set the lineup each week. If you go to war with a bunch of injured players and bye-week guys in your starting lineup, then you are pretty much guaranteed to lose. On top of that, failing to set your lineup will annoy your fellow team owners. Fantasy football is a lot more fun when everyone in the league is interested and engaged, so don’t be the weak link.
You might forget to make some changes on a Sunday morning or two during the season. But you’ll have a better chance of getting the right starting lineup if you set your lineup a few times during the week. Take a look at it early in the week and then again on Thursday before the Thursday Night Football game locks the first players of the week into their slots (remember, you can’t swap a player after his game has started). Check again before the weekend, and then make your final decisions on Sunday morning. If you check your lineup often, missing a day in there somewhere won’t be as devastating.
They carry the wrong players on their bench
You need a player (or defense/special teams) to fill each starting lineup on your roster and score your point each week. The players on your bench, on the other hand, won’t score any points for you. But they’re important nonetheless.
Your bench is where your backups are. It’s the right place for your running back or wide receiver handcuff (a handcuff is when you take a player’s backup so that you still have a team’s starter if your primary guy gets hurt). It’s where you stash up-and-coming players and replacements for your starters’ bye weeks.
The bench is not a good place for injured players; they belong in IR spots, so that they’re not robbing you of a roster spot. It’s also not a good place for a spare kicker or (usually) defense. It’s generally not worth rostering more than one kicker, except perhaps on your main kicker’s bye week. It’s easy enough to drop and pick up kickers each week, or just keep the same guy in the lineup without a backup. This is slightly less true of defenses; if you used some fantasy football defense rankings to pick up a great defensive side, you may want to protect it during bye weeks by keeping it on your bench, or bench that defense when the matchup is really bad. Still, you’re rarely going to want a defense taking up a bench slot. Generally, you should either keep one defense all year or drop and pick up defenses on a matchup basis, rather than trying to juggle multiple defenses on one roster.
They draft by position
You’ll have a roster to fill out at your fantasy football draft, but don’t go into the draft planning to pick each position in order. Particularly in the early stages of the draft, you’re almost always going to fare better by choosing the best player available with each pick. Later on, you can fill out your roster, and you don’t want to end the draft without a real lineup; but, by and large, it’s wise to remember that valuable players matter more than neatly drafting positions in order. Remember, you can always trade a stud running back. There’s rarely a situation in fantasy football where you’ll lament having too many great players at one position.
These aren’t the only mistakes rookies make. You’re sure to make many more. But if you can avoid these major pitfalls and learn from your more minor stumbles, you’ll be a fantasy football expert in no time.