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Fantasy football players, avoid these pitfalls

For plenty of middle-aged men across the country, it’s the most wonderful time of the year (cue the poorly-timed holiday music.)

Football at all levels is just around the corner. And with the return of football comes the chance for everyone to become a champion … of their respective fantasy football league.

I’ve reveled in fantasy football over the past several years. Yet I don’t claim to be an expert, by any means.

What I can offer you, though, is some advice on what not-to-do when drafting your fantasy football team.

And after a weekend comprised of two drafts -- one with a lump sum of money attached to it -- I feel as though I’ve grown from a young grasshopper to a wise sense in terms of how to avoid a poor draft.

That, and I’m talking up my teams as best I can, trying to reassure myself that I didn’t make any mistakes.

So without further ado, here is some rational advice from a seasoned vet on what to avoid in your drafting war room:

1) Being green

Going green is one of the better things you can do for the environment. Being green going into your draft could prove disastrous.

Making sure you’ve read up on the league rules and regulations is a must, especially if you and your friends score in an unorthodox fashion. Also, make sure you know which pros are injured, or simply not playing.

No one wants to be that guy who drafts Rob Gronkowski, who won’t be back until mid-September at the earliest (this guy!).

Even worse is the guy who drafts Aaron Hernandez and pencils him in as their backup tight end (not this guy!).

2) The player who’s past his prime

Sometimes it’s tough to pass on the Randy Moss’s of a generation, but if you’re still planning on drafting Chad Johnson, you might as well call it a year right now. Johnson, while still listed as an available player on, has yet to land on a roster and probably won’t, ever again.

While an extreme case, avoiding players similar to those in Johnson’s situation (i.e. Willis McGahee, Plaxico Burress, Tim Tebow) is a must.

3) Playing favorites

It’s hard not to play favorites when someone from your favorite team is on the board. But if you draft five offensive players from the Buffalo Bills, you’re not making the playoffs this year, or any year.

It’s alright to choose one, maybe two players from your favorite team, but don’t bog yourself down by drafting the whole team. If the offense has a bad week, no one will score you any points.

Likewise, try to avoid doing the same with any team, even if they do happen to be an offensive powerhouse.

While drafting Aaron Rodgers and James Jones may seem logical due to the big-point possibilities, it could blow up in your face if Rodgers has an off week and throws three interceptions.

4) Overdrafting

There are several forms of overdrafting to discuss. The first is when you should draft your defense and kicker. Before this year, I had always been one to try to fill up my entire starting roster before filling in my bench positions. It only seemed natural to get a good defensive/special teams unit and kicker before the top teams and players were gone. However, drafting a kicker in the 10th round (of a 14-round draft) just because you want to round out your starters is not a good idea. Trust me, I would know.

Instead, wait for someone else to break the seal on defensive/special teams units and kickers. You may not get the top option at those positions, but it gives you a chance to strengthen your bench for when you’ll need to replace someone on their bye week, or an injured player.

The second form of overdrafting is in regards to those crucial first couple of rounds when all the top talent is flying off the board. If you still need a running back and are afraid you won’t get a good one, it doesn’t mean you need to draft a mediocre one with your second round pick. I’m sure that mediocre back will still be available in round three, or four, or five, or maybe six. Instead, go after another position that you haven’t filled yet, such as wide receiver or quarterback. Those players will be just as crucial to your team’s success, maybe even more so than your first pick.

Once again, just because Tom Brady and Drew Brees are off the board, it doesn’t mean you need to go into panic mode and draft Philip Rivers sixth overall because you’re worried you won’t get a decent QB in the later rounds.

Speaking of Rivers …

5) Never Draft Philip Rivers

Part of this advice is fact, and part of this advice is pure pent up anger that hasn’t yet dissipated. But all of it will save you from a dreadful second half of the season (December and January; i.e. the most crucial part of the year) that has you consulting a Magic 8-ball, a shrink, and a Ouija board to see who is going to have the better Week 15 performance: Rivers or Mark Sanchez.

And yes, this situation actually happened.

Stick to these draft day tips, and your team shouldn’t have anything to worry about, well, at least until the regular season starts. Then you’re on your own. I don’t give free agency advice. I’m not paid for that.

Speaking of payment, should you happen to win your league, I’ll take a 25 percent advisory compensation in check form.

But cold hard cash works, too.

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