Fantasy Football serves differing purposes for each of us. For some people it's just a hobby, for others its a career path, for me its a passion with potential for more as opportunity's arise. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, if you want to succeed in fantasy football consistently, you need to put time into preparation.
The offseason is not a time to forget about fantasy football, it is a time to get a leg up on your sleeping competition. The work you put in now will pay dividends during your fantasy drafts come July and August. I've been doing fantasy football for over 10 years now. It took me 7 years to win my first championship.
For the first 6 years I didn't do the proper research and preparation during the offseason. I didn't put the time in to achieve fantasy success. Since I've started offseason preparation, I have won my primary league 3 times out of the last 4 years, and I've added 2 other championships in other leagues during that time frame.
As with all fantasy, there is a certain amount of luck or good fortune that goes into winning a championship, but consistent hard work in season and off will put you in a position to have consistent success in fantasy football.
These are my top 10 offseason keys to fantasy football success in no specific order:
1. Don't take time offI explained my reasoning for the offseason grind in my opener. Keep up consistent research and preparation and you won't have to worry about playing catch-up when the season starts.
2. Keep up with player trades and offseason free agent signingsKnowing that Lamar Miller is a Texan and not a Dolphin is useful information. Understatement of the year I know, but no less true. Some players become fantasy relevant with new teams and others lose fantasy value. If a quarterback loses weapons like Andy Dalton did this offseason when Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones signed with the Falcons and Lions respectively, his value may drop. The loss of those weapons may not negatively affect Dalton's fantasy value, but could positively affect A.J. Green's value with an increase in targets. Regardless of the effect, where players end up is important, so take notes.
3. Pay attention to coaching and system changesA coach or coordinator change can affect a player's value. If the team hires a coach with a run heavy philosophy, your 4,000 yard quarterback and 1,200 yard receiver could quickly become a 3,000 yard QB and 700 yard WR. This would simultaneously increase the value of the RB's while decreasing the value of the passing game. New coaches bring new changes and trends in fantasy. Keep up to date on them.
4. Watch the NFL DraftThe Draft can have a huge impact on fantasy value. Where rookies end up can change fantasy value for other players in addition to setting their own fantasy value. Darren McFadden went from RB 1 to a RB handcuff when the Cowboys took Ezekiel Elliot 4th overall. Rookie WR's that end up in New York may have better value than WR's that end up in Cleveland. Having Eli Manning as your QB is much better for fantasy than RG3 or Josh McCown. Watch the draft or at least keep up with where and when players are drafted. It can have a huge effect of fantasy value.
5. Listen to a fantasy football podcast or radio showListening to people debate players, and discuss the latest fantasy news and injuries will help you be better prepared for your season. It's easier for me to create my own player rankings after I hear people talk about and debate their own player rankings. This may help you as well.
6. Read articles and news about rookie mini camps, OTA's (Organized Team Activities), and training campsYou can get useful information that most people miss when they skip reading up on news from these. You can get early information on rookies and new players on the team and their chemistry with the coaches and other players. You can also get your first look at players coming off of injury. This gives you inside information to their recovery and rehab process and will let you know if they are on schedule to play.
7. InjuriesKeep up with players recovering from injury, it's important and can affect their fantasy value. Also knowing about new injuries during training camp is essential for success. Melvin Gordon had microfracture surgery on his knee in January. The news about this didn't surface until months later. I now will be completely avoiding Gordon in drafts due to high risk of re-injury. I may have drafted Gordon without this injury news but since I have it I can avoid him in drafts safely. Injuries hinder fantasy success, so keeping up with the is essential.
8. Create your own player rankingsThis is important for draft success. Formulate your own opinions. There are no perfect rankings systems out there, so don't just follow Matthew Berry or Michael Fabiano's rankings. I may start out with a particular analyst's rankings that I like or trust his fantasy knowledge the most on, but then I will tweak them and make them my own. Use the wealth of knowledge gained through all of your research, trends, and your personal experience to create your rankings. When you practice ranking players you get better at judging talent and predicting fantasy success in players.
9. Look at game schedulesSchedule difficulty based on last years statistics can be helpful, but don't put too much stock in it. Teams change through free agency, the draft, and coaching changes. The NFL is continuously adapting and changing, so you must as well.
10. Mock drafts, Mock drafts, Mock draftsPractice makes perfect. You can pick up on draft trends and learn the ADP (Average Draft Position) of players being selected. It is still important to know your league though since mock drafts cannot accurately create the exact situation you will face in your real draft. Know your league rules and your league member's draft tendency's. For example, if you know a guy loves Peyton Manning, and will draft him every year, even in the first round, you can better prepare for the RB or WR that may fall to you because of your league members Manning love.
If you follow these 10 things you should see a drastic improvement in your performance in fantasy. These steps will bring you closer to the level of fantasy football expert, and will put you in a much better position to win fantasy championships.
Hit me up on Twitter @ugagood, Facebook, and Instagram to tell me your offseason keys to success.