A Pro Stance On Fantasy Football
Aug. 31 (KGO) -- Oakland Raiders running back Lamont Jordan loves fantasy football. He doesn't play it, but he loves it.
"I think fantasy football is great," Jordan said recently during training camp in Napa. "It's great for the sport."
Jordan is the anti-purist. He thinks fantasy is great because it generates interest in games most casual fans would have no intention of watching. You know, those December battles between 3-10 teams, he included his 2005 Raiders in that lot. "You still have people watching that game because they have players," Jordan said.
Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley is a rare breed of NFL player. He came out of the fantasy closet to the Washington Post recently, admitting that he indeed is a fantasy geek. Big time, too. He had four teams last year.
"I don't think a lot of guys are into it," Cooley admitted to the Post. "But I try to keep playing because my friends do it and stuff. But it's hard for me every Sunday to really care about what happens to my fantasy team. I kind of goof around. I just like to do it with my friends."
Being an NFL player didn't translate into success for Cooley. In fact, it actually cost him.
"I made the playoffs with one (team) and honestly lost because I beat myself against Dallas," Cooley told the Post. "The guy on the other team had me, and I scored three touchdowns against Dallas, and I lost to myself on fantasy points."
Aside from perhaps a little embarrassment, Cooley isn't doing anything wrong admitting his fantasy fandom. NFL rules do not prohibit players from taking part. Most, though, find the everyday reality of the game enough for them. That doesn't mean they can keep it from impacting their lives. San Francisco 49ers running back Terry Jackson knows that first hand. His friends aren't shy about asking for inside information. "Who's playing, what's going on, I just say, I got no idea, you'll find out in the game on Sunday, just like me," Jackson told me.
Lamont Jordan gets hounded, as well. "I know guys, 'hey, what do you think I should do', blah, blah, blah." He doesn't seem to mind, though. It comes with the territory these days. After all, an estimated 10 million people play fantasy football on a given Sunday, and we're all looking for an edge. Even Chris Cooley.
Five Ways To Kill Your Fantasy Draft
- BEING UNPREPARED: Walking into your draft with the Fantasy Football edition of Sporting News doesn't mean you're prepared. Aside from getting lucky, successful fantasy owners do their homework. They know who's banged up and who's winning the late training camp position battles. Drafting is like studying for test. Those who prepare usually ace it. So spend time researching.
Another tip, give espn.com's mock draft lobby a try. It's like a scrimmage for fantasy players. It helps you work out the kinks in your draft strategy. So do your homework, it's the difference between winning and losing. It will spare you from being embarrassed, like drafting guys who have retired (see Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith).
- LOYALTY: Loyalty is great when it comes to your NFL team, but it has no place in fantasy football. To put it simply, loyalty can kill your fantasy team, especially if you're a fan of a bad team. For example, Niner fans are drooling over Frank Gore now that Kevan Barlow is gone (traded to the Jets). Gore does show promise and the 49ers offensive line is improved from last year. But o-lines take time to gel, so don't get antsy about Gore. He's a mid-round pick at best, especially when you consider San Francisco should be playing a lot from behind.
- NOT PAYING ATTENTION: "I'll take Mark Bulger." "Dude, he wasn't drafted three rounds ago." That's an exchange heard in every fantasy draft, some doofus picking a guy who's already been picked. It usually happens three for four times, and it's usually the same guy. A successful owners pay attention. They anticipate what's going to happen next. They know who's available and what round that player is expected to go. My advice, listen carefully and know the trends of the other owners in your league. You should also know who their favorite players and teams are, because a lot of guys don't pay attention to rule number two above.
- RUNNING WITH THE CROWD: Every draft has one, usually two or even three. I'm referring to the inevitable run on players at one position. It usually involves receivers in the third to sixth rounds, defenses in rounds nine through eleven, and kickers after that. My advice, don't get caught in the rush. If it's your pick and there's a run on say, defenses, pick one only if it's one you want. But if there's a higher ranked player on your board, stick with your plan. Good defenses and kickers often develop after the season starts. So don't panic.
- ROOKIES MISTAKES: With the exception of running backs, avoid taking rookies in the early rounds, especially receivers and tight ends. Bay Area fantasy players will be tempted to take Vernon Davis. My advice, don't, especially not early. Same goes with wide receiver Santonio Holmes of Pittsburgh. These guys were first round choices in the real NFL draft, but they have no business being taken before the rounds roll into the double digits. Rookie wide receivers are generally terrible fantasy players, that's because the position is arguably the most difficult to make the transition from college to pro, aside from quarterback. Offenses are more complex, and defenses disguise coverages much better in the pro game. But if you've got your mind set on grabbing one, wait until the last few rounds.
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