By: Andy Wheeler

It’s that time of year again and for the first time in a long time the Eagles will be the only game in town once September comes. That is of course unless you are a Fantasy Football player. Your season is just beginning to get rolling. I know this because I’m starting to get emails and stopped by people at my local watering hole as to what I think about certain players this fall.

While we are only a few days from the first preseason games we can start judging our players from, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few ideas. Here are some basic tips:

1. If you are going into your draft without having watched a preseason game that doesn’t involve your favorite team, you’ve already lost. NFL Network, NBC, ESPN and most importantly CBS will be airing games. It’s the best time to see who looks good. It’s also the best way to find sleepers to take late in the draft. Don’t miss this opportunity to form your own opinion with your own eyes. As much as people like me proclaim to have a better idea than others, nothing substitutes for you doing your own home work.

2. Review your keepers, your league rules and what owners are returning and not returning for your league. It’s been a long time since last season, if you have 2 leagues and one is PPR (point per reception) and the other is standard then you can’t draft the same. If the guy in your league that’s the Steelers fan isn’t coming back, that means you can get some Pittsburgh guys later than usual. Got new league members? Who is their team? This can help you plot what will be available to you at certain points in your draft.

3. Kickers and Defense are the last things you need. If you are in a snake draft, if you waste a pick any higher than your last 2 picks on either a Kicker or Defense, it’s a wasted pick. If you are in an auction, which is the best way to play in my humble opinion, then no more than a dollar for either. Every dollar counts. Besides your most likely going to drop your K or Defense by Week 4 anyway…why waste?

4. Plot out your OWN top QB, RB, WR, and TE’s. You can go off of any sites “Top” list, but you might not agree. If you do your own list you’ll have a much better handle on your draft.

5. Watch the injury reports. Don’t be that guy that picks somebody that’s out for the season.

So there are the basic tips. Now to some of the top questions I’ve gotten.

1. Who should be the first player picked?
That can be answered a few different ways. If it’s a PPR league then I’m taking either LeSean McCoy or Calvin Johnson. But for me, in a standard league I’m going with everyone’s fantasy darling Cam Newton. On our last show of the year last season, I told Beasley Reece the same thing. Cam Newton should easily be the first guy gone. Now everyone is saying the same thing and for good reason. Most fantasy guys will be putting out numbers right now…but not me. You know how good Cam was last season. If you owned him you got rushing touchdowns out the Wazoo. And that’s his appeal. You get a Quarterback that doubles as a short yardage Running Back. His rushing touchdowns could decrease considering the outrageous number he had last season. However, his passing and understanding of NFL offense with a full offseason, should improve. If you are picking 2nd or 3rd or even beyond that in your draft and you get to take Newton, you have my permission to make fun of everyone that picked in front of you every time Newton scores.
2. Is Rob Gronkowski a first round pick?
Of course he is! You just won’t see me taking him in the first round. Look, the guy is an animal that much is clear. However I personally can’t justify taking a tight end with that many great RB’s, QB’s and WR’s still on the board. I’ve seen some people saying that Gronk should be drafted before Tom Brady…which is madness!!!! Here are my arguments against taking him in the first round. First, how many people said this guy was going to go nuts like this last year? Nobody. Which means that can happen again with some other tight end. Second, after a year like that, which he ended injured, there is a better chance his numbers are less than what they were because they were so good. Also his partner Aaron Hernandez finished 3rd in tight end scoring in my league…what’s to say he’s not the guy to own this year? Third, Jimmy Graham finished with 80% of the numbers Gronk had. The next grouping of tight ends around 40 to 45% less. That speaks to just how ridiculous of a season he AND Graham had. So assume that Gronk settles down a bit for arguments sake. If I can get a guy that will put up 70% of the production that Gronk can 10 rounds later…I’ll do that every time because my other skill players will be better than yours. You always want to avoid drafting a guy based on last year instead of how you think he’ll do this year. However, the guy is a beast so I can’t blame you if you do take him.
3. Where will you draft Peyton Manning?
I won’t. Period. I won’t own him in any league under any circumstances. Listen, he’ll probably be great or at least among the Top 15 QB’s this year. And as Beasley has told me many times, 1 hit can end anybody’s career. There is just something about neck operations that make me incredibly nervous about owning him. Factor in a new system, new faces to work with and playing a majority of his games outdoors for the first time in his career, my answer is 2 words. No Thanks
4. How do you think the Saints offseason will effect them?
Well I can’t say really. Do I think Drew Brees will stink? No. Do I think that their players aren’t worth owning? No. Do I think that Sean Payton being gone for the whole season will effect them? Yes. He’s one of the best coaches in the league and one of the better offensive minds in the game. He will be missed. Will it make me be gun shy in drafting some of the Saints? Yes, but on the ones that are borderline…Drew Brees is still Drew Brees.
5. How high would you draft Tim Tebow?
In another instance of don’t be that guy…DON’T BE THAT GUY!!!! Listen at the end of the year will Tim Tebow be the starting Quarterback of the Jets? I think so. And that’s not a specific YES…so to me he’s not worth drafting in the first 8 to 10 rounds, but that’s your call. Here’s what we know. He’s not, as of this moment, the starter. Mark Sanchez stinks. However, the Jets coaches have to give Sanchez ample amount of time to come up small and fold to the pressure that will be New York. I can’t say take him early, unless you are a huge Tebow fan. Personally he’s a guy that I’d like to end up with in case of an emergency or potentially as a guy I can put in for a bye week.

I’m going to start some mock drafts this week, so I’ll let you know a little more as time goes on.

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