NFL Fantasy Football: Player Research

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Fantasy Football Talk

Fantasy football requires skill in order to be successful. Many people argue that it is just a game that involves a lot of luck. These are the same people, let’s call them non-believers, that equate fantasy football with playing poker, a gambler’s game full of luck and coincidences.

I partially agree. I think football fantasy games involve a little bit of luck. I also think fantasy football is much like poker. However, that’s where me and the non-believers similarities end.

I think fantasy football is an art and it takes time and a whole lot of effort to hone in the necessary skills and become successful...just like poker.

So, let's start with research.

Fantasy Football Strategy

How does one research fantasy football? Don't you just pick the best fantasy player available? That is correct, but it's much easier said than done.

To save time and the hassle, many people will follow what the 'experts' say. They listen to experts from places such as rotowire.com, ESPN fantasy, and Sports Illustrated Magazine to name a few. And they peek at the fantasy player rankings on yahoo and foxsports, and then pick who the experts think are best fantasy player on the waiver line.

If this is your fantasy football strategy, please stop. Now, I'm not trying to deter you away from the ESPN fantasy experts. By all means, sneak a peek at a fantasy football magazine and take down some notes.

However, whatever you do, don't use the experts as a crutch. The reason is because that's what everybody does. If you follow the crowd, guess what, you'll never be ahead the game.

Fantasy Football Research

Research comes down to overall player analysis. This means as a fantasy football owner you need to look at certain trends during the course of the NFL season. The final outcome of your analysis needs to focus on two aspects:

1). The player's proven record - You need to analyze the player's past performances with a fine tooth comb and pick out the player's strengths and weaknesses. For example, during the previous year, did the player make the majority of his points against weaker opponents? If he had 6 to 8 touchdowns, did most of them come in one or two games or was it more spread out during the course of the season? Mainly, you're checking to see if the player is consistent or sporadic. Consistency is key, remember that...always remember that.

2.) The player's potential - This is a little harder to define, but will be more evident as the season wages on, usually around Week 5 or 6. First, you need to analyze the player's statistics during the current season just as you did in the 'proven record' mode. Also, you need to see their role in the offense. If it's a rookie, or a new acquisition to the team, did his playing time increase?

Additionally, you need to look at their team. Is the team struggling or is the team on a hot streak? Is the team's offense more pass oriented or run based? How about the team's strength of schedule? Are they playing horrible defenses where they can rack up a bunch of points, or are they actually playing some solid teams out there? (This is why it becomes more apparent as the season progresses. Not every team they play is going to be horrible or great. It will all even out eventually.)

Again, look at the consistency. Only this time look at both the team's consistency and the player's. For instance, if you are looking at a running back to pick up in free agency, then ask yourself the following questions. Is the player getting a sufficient amount of carries and does he produce? Is the team's record horrible or great? Does the team's offense look more run-oriented based?

If the answers are all favorable for you, then you need to go ahead and check mark this player. Next you start the process all over again and try to find more players to check mark. Finally, out of those players, you need to compare and contrast and see who is the best available check marked fantasy player.

NFL Injury Reports

All right, so you have the research mode down. Now you need to apply it to everything you do. Always look at the NFL injury reports. You can find it on football sites such as NFL.com or ESPN.

It's key to look at every team because you're looking for the next break out fantasy player. Also if a key player goes down, such as Ryan Grant this past week, then you can pick up the back up running back (in this case Brandon Jackson) and have him as your number 2 running back or flex player.

And be sure to do it as quickly as possible. Depending on the fantasy league, the free agency waiver market may be on a first come first serve basis. Although this system is gradually changing into a ranking market, where the losing teams have first bid on free agents.

Okay, so these are the steps to in-depth fantasy football research. Good luck fantasy players!

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3 comments

Boomer60 profile image

Boomer60 6 years ago

Thanks for the article. I wanted to do this last year with my husband, but neither of us knew how to play. Thanks to your article maybe we will join this year.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland

Fantasy Football is a great way to get involved with the game. It lasts the season and gives you an added interest. Yes I agree it does take skill and a lot of research and a little bit of luck.

It is a great pastime and an added interest plus the bonus of maybe earning some money too.


Sam Hendricks, author of Fantasy Football Guidebook and Fantasy Football Tips 5 years ago

Another key to research and winning is knowing the scoring rules in your league.

You can research all you want but if your league does not award points for catches (points per reception or PPR) or only awards for TDs, that has to be your starting point for researching players. Some leagues award 4 points for a psssing TD, others 6 points. This is critical to drafting a QB.

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