A fantasy player’s guide to the NFL offseason

Officially, the NFL season ended on February 4th and doesn’t start again until September 9th. For fantasy players however, there’s no offseason. If you play in a dynasty league (or seven), you’ve probably already done tons of research on rookies and followed the NFL draft very closely to see where everyone landed. Now we’re at the point in the offseason where OTAs have started, we’ve settled down from analyzing rookies in their new homes, and we’re just beginning to think about the fantasy drafts we have coming at the end of the summer.

Here are some pointers for what to do and what not do over the NFL offseason.

Create your own rankings

There are expert rankings available all over the place, but each “expert” can be wildly different from the next. If you play fantasy football, you’ve probably been able to accumulate a few of your own opinions, and having your own personal researched list of rankings with you at your draft is a lot more convenient than trying to jump around to see what every analyst says about the guy you want when you’re on the clock. Creating your own rankings is an exciting way to get a head start on fantasy football action, and they’ll be extremely helpful when you only have a couple of minutes to decide which player you like better mid-draft.

Mock draft early and often

The best way to get a feel for how your draft will play out is mock drafting. You get to see where players generally fall so you’ll have an idea of who will fall to you and who you may have to reach for based on your draft position. Fantasypros.com has a free automated mock draft feature that generates every other pick based on consensus rankings, so you don’t have to worry about some jerk in a live mock picking a kicker in round 1. Mock drafting enables you to try out multiple draft strategies and see how your team looks using each one of them. Nothing prepares you better for your draft.

Be careful with coach speak and hype trains

Do a bit of your own research before you jump on a hype train about a player who is “definitely going to break out this season.” Between OTAs, training camp, and preseason, every coach and coordinator is going to say that all the players on their team are impressing everyone in the training facility. They’ll say things like “player x is really turning some heads at camp” or “we’re going to try and get the ball to player x a lot more this year.” Don’t fall into these traps. Devante Parker was supposed to breakout every year since he was drafted. He hasn’t had more than four touchdowns and 51.4 yards per game in any of his three seasons. Amari Cooper was also supposed to take the next step in 2017, and then he had the worst season of his career.

Set your draft date for as late as possible before the season

Preseason injuries are the most unfortunate part of football, and they happen way too often. Last year alone, Ryan Tannehill, Julian Edelman, Cameron Meredith, Quincy Enunwa, and Spencer Ware all had season ending injuries before the season started. There is no need to rush into your actual draft and risk one of your top guys going down. Be patient, keep mocking, and draft at the safest time possible, at least after the third preseason game (starters generally don’t play in the final preseason game).