Draft Prep 103: Research

082314_spt_dolphins_ae_016So, it’s draft time again, and you’ve made a huge list with every player you might possibly pick up. But you did it early to try and get it out of the way, and you haven’t watched any of the preseason games. The preseason doesn’t matter, right? Wrong. You can definitely get a good idea of how a player is feeling by watching those preseason games, and your rankings might well change as a result.

Then there are the suspensions. Matt Prater will miss the first four games of the season, so don’t draft him. Josh Gordon will likely miss even more time than that, but since you still don’t know, don’t draft him. By the time he returns your fantasy team may well be already out of the playoff hunt, with him sitting there wasting a bench spot.

And the injuries. Oh, the injuries. Sam Bradford out for the season. Cam Newton nursing a fracture in his ribs. Wes Welker getting another concussion. I can see his average draft position going down as we speak. Jamaal Charles has a bruised foot. Montee Ball is recovering from his appendectomy. And let’s not forget the Jeremy Maclin scare against Pittsburgh last week. It made me wonder if he will be able to stay healthy for the entire season.

For every injury or suspension, there are also the numbers to consider, of course. Contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t all about name recognition, even though the novices to fantasy will only consider the players whose names they know. But often the numbers don’t add up to the “name” players being the ones to deliver the better fantasy stats.

Did you know that Fred Jackson and Chris Johnson were top 10 fantasy running backs last season? Jackson was the backup to CJ Spiller, but he outplayed him constantly when they were on the field together, while Johnson is generally considered to be washed up. Both made a dynamic impact in fantasy, though, more so than popular names like Frank Gore and Ray Rice.

This year will offer some surprises when it comes to stats, and your key as a fantasy drafter is to consider who has the best chance to deliver those numbers. That’s where research comes in handy. I would personally target running backs like Giovani Bernard, Andre Ellington, Knowshon Moreno, and Reggie Bush. Bernard doesn’t have a recognizable name yet but after this season he will.

So do the research. Look at the numbers. Study the revamped offensive lines, the new coordinators, the advanced schemes, and the pre-season action. Don’t just look at the names or you will be sorely disappointed.

The Fantasy Ace

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