Skip to main content

Winning fantasy football strategies to dominate your league

Fantasy football, like beer, comes in many different varieties -- all of them wonderful in their own way. But there are some basic truths that transform all fantasy football formats.

Try to get a running back with your first pick, regardless of the league. Call this the golden rule of fantasy football. Seems obvious to veteran fantasy players, but you will be surprised by all of the guys who take a quarterback or receiver in the first round. There is a place for people like this.

The consolation round.

In addition, kickers and defense -- don't do it. In fact, if your league doesn't require you to pick one in the draft, skip it, take a couple of fliers and fill out your kicker and defense prior to Week 1.

Know your league's scoring system. Very important. Pay attention if your league awards points per receptions, six points for a touchdown pass, etc., which will change player values.

Know the bye weeks; Week 5 is quarterback death. Jay Cutler, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers are all off in Week 5. Don't have two of those quarterbacks on your roster, otherwise you will be scrambling for a backup and end up starting Shaun Hill.

Let's look at some of the more advanced league strategies.


The most basic scoring systems award points only for touchdowns, field goals, PATS and some yardage milestones, such as 100 receiving yards, or one point for every 10 yards rushing.

There were a number of different strategies that I've used over the years, but here is my new one: The Josh McDaniels. Picking up after Mike Shanahan, McDaniels took the running back by committee one step further by seemingly signing every available free-agent running back. Then he pulled the draft stunner by taking Knowshon Moreno in the draft. While puzzling at first, it now seems brilliant.

Use this strategy in your draft. The RBBC has killed full-time running backs, so they are at a premium. In a recent in-house mock draft, I nabbed Chris Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson in the first two rounds only to follow it up with Moreno in the third round. Say it with me, "championship."

Can you always count on rubes making boneheaded picks? Well, every fantasy league does have its Matt Millen, so yeah.


Auction leagues call for you to bid on players, viewing everybody as a free agent. Unlike drafts, everybody has a fair chance at all available players.

The first time I played in an auction league, I wanted Colts RB Marshall Faulk badly. He was the first player I offered for bid and you know what happened? The guys in my draft drove up the price because they knew I wanted him, leaving me to overpay for Faulk and little money to complete my roster.

The lesson here, target the guys you want and then don't nominate them for auction until later. Nominate quarterbacks early because you will get somebody to panic and overpay. Nominate players from your buddy's favorite teams. Those loyalties will cause them to overbid. Conversely, don't become too attached to guys on your favorite team.

Don't be afraid to get in the mix for some of the top studs, because it would be hard to "moneyball" a good fantasy roster. And it's not like you are going to sneak Matt Forte past everybody. Running backs, again, are your best bet here.


Touchdown-only leagues only award points for touchdowns. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong.

Fifteen players had more touchdowns than Adrian Peterson last year -- the top pick on the draft board for many fantasy leaguers. Does that mean he's not a top 10 fantasy leaguer in touchdown-only leagues? Not quite. Peterson is fine.

Who do you think is more likely to get 20 touchdowns this season -- Peterson or DeAngelo Williams? If you don't think it's Peterson, you league mates thank you for your donation.

But one caveat, look for guys who can catch and run. A guy like Matt Forte could be a better choice in touchdown-only leagues because he's going to be one of Jay Cutler's top targets in the red zone.

LenDale White is another guy who will give great value in TD-only leagues, especially with reports of him showing up to offseason workouts weighing only 238. So look for touchdown vultures who can plunge into the end zone, particularly on teams like the Steelers who love to use bruising fullbacks at the goal line.

Touchdown-only leagues are probably the only leagues where targeting a quarterback in the first round is acceptable. Not endorsed, but an argument can be made.


PPR leagues reward one point for a reception in addition to basic scoring. This one will turn your fantasy leagues upside down and change everything you know about fantasy football. Alright, that might be a little dramatic. Here's the thing, running backs, still very important. But the type of running backs is the key.

Forte becomes way more valuable than Peterson. Wesbrook, Maurice Jones-Drew and Reggie Bush all become studs. But don't overthink it.

Receiver in the first round, not necessarily a bad thing. But a pass-catching running back should be your top target. And don't even think a quarterback in the early rounds. Don't do it.


IDP leagues use individual defensive players instead of team defenses. Why do this to yourself? Do you hate your family so much you want to double your fantasy workload? I beg you, only use

Alright, but if you won't listen to me, here's the skinny on IDP leagues. Don't draft defensive players early. Even when there's an inevitable run. Defensive ends are the running backs of the defense -- take them early. And then be sure to take cornerbacks that get beat (those are the guys that quarterbacks throw at giving your interception and tackle opportunities).


The most important thing here, have fun. It's just fantasy football.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.