This one can be tough. Big Denver fan? Going into your draft you must be able to take off your giant foam Broncos hat and realize Wes Welker might not go crazy this season. Sure, he’ll be a dynamite addition to the real Denver team, but his fantasy production will likely be limited by the plethora of receiving options on the team. If you’re looking to win, take a step back and try to remain impartial. It will make a huge difference. – Adam McFadden
You always handcuff your top players.
Handcuffing your players commits two roster spots to the production of one player. You’re playing it safe, and that’s not the best way to win. For example: You take a running back first overall then handcuff his backup later in the draft. In the best case your first pick is healthy and excels, while your handcuff is a completely useless player for the entire season. If you took a chance on a sleeper instead of the handcuff, your best case is much sunnier. The other problem with handcuffs is that you’re guessing on depth chart moves months in advance. If Marshawn Lynch gets hurt, maybe “clear handcuff” Robert Turbin steps in. Or maybe rookie Christine Michael will have impressed the team enough to get the starter’s share of carries by that point, and you wasted a draft pick and roster spot. – Adam McFadden
You continue to draft skills… instead of opportunity.
Remember going into the 2012 draft season when David Wilson was just too good to not be, well, good? Well the Giants did not share that assessment. Ahmad Bradshaw led the team in rushing yards and Andre Brown led the team in rushing touchdowns. Wilson flashed potential (and is a good sleeper again this year with the depth charter much clearer), he simply didn’t have enough opportunities to produce like the mid-round pick that he was. Skills are secondary to opportunity. Teams don’t always get all wobbly-kneed from a fast 40 time like fantasy owners do. Take the guy who has a clearer path to consistent playing time. – Adam McFadden
You hold your kicker because he was supposed to be good.
Let’s call this the David Akers Rule. Akers was way ahead of the kicker pack in 2011 and, justifiably, was a top kicker selected in 2011. After a strong start, he was mediocre the rest of the way. Fantasy owners who held on, clinging to the hope he would turn things around, were missing out on points every week. Take a kicker from a good offense (with your last draft pick) and don’t be afraid to cut the cord for a better option. – Adam McFadden
You keep picking a defense early.
There is a big difference between a top fantasy defense and a terrible fantasy defense. The problem is it’s extremely difficult to predict which defenses will be elite. Among “sure thing” defenses on draft day in 2012 were the 49ers, Texans and Ravens. Teams reached to grab these squads. All three finished near the back of the top ten or worse. Injuries, strength of schedule and freak return touchdowns all play havoc with defense rankings every season. Pick a solid crew with what appears to be an easy first few games in the second-to-last round, and save that earlier pick for a sleeper at RB or WR. – Adam McFadden
You write your draft plan in stone.
Fantasy football drafts are exciting because so many different things can happen. Despite the fact that you spent hours and hours (and hours) obsessing over your pre-draft research, you need to be flexible on draft day precisely because of that element of the unexpected. Have a certain WR you plan on taking in the third round no matter what? Don’t. Something better might be there at that time. Come away from your research with a guide, not a super-specific plan. And be sure to even take a look at the players you are almost certain you would never draft. When the price is right, anyone is worth a draft pick. – Adam McFadden
You bench your studs too early.
This one changes as the season goes on (sometimes your studs officially lose their studliness after several straight weeks of not performing), but especially in the early weeks: Never bench your studs. Intimidated by Chicago’s dominant defense last season? Well Adrian Peterson shredded them for 262 rushing yards in two games, like an elite fantasy player should. If you benched Jamaal Charles after two stinkers to start the season, you missed an explosive game against New Orleans in Week 3. You picked these guys in the early rounds for a reason. Keep the faith longer than your panicky inner-fantasy owner wants to hold on. – Adam McFadden
You don’t pay attention to early-week games.
The weekly Thursday game can play havoc with the best fantasy football player. It can downright ruin a weekly matchup for the casual player. So here it is again: Beware the early-week game. Get in the pattern of looking over your roster every Wednesday to make sure you don’t accidentally do anything dumb. If you have a questionable player going in a Thursday game, get acquainted with the best source of news for his team because that is one of the toughest choices a fantasy owner has to make. – Adam McFadden
You don’t handle bye weeks correctly.
Spread them out, or stack them all in one week, just don’t ever pass on a player you love because of his bye week. The one exception: Backup QB. As the season progresses, bye weeks become part of the routine, like injuries. Sure, they can put you in tough roster spots at times, but don’t ever give up a sleeper’s full season of production because you’re scared of who you might have to start in your flex spot for one week. – Adam McFadden
You take a backup tight end.
Have a lower-tier tight end that you think will break out this season? For 99 percent of cases, there are really only two options. Draft him as your starter, or don’t draft him at all. With the hit-or-miss nature of most tight ends outside the elite, you will drive yourself insane trying to play matchups with two similar tight ends. Instead, use the roster spot on a sleeper at WR or RB, and improvise on your starting tight end’s bye week. – Adam McFadden
You keep spending a high pick on a backup quarterback.
If you play in a standard, 10-team, one-QB league the first backup will be taken around the time guys like Tavon Austin and DeSean Jackson are getting drafted. That doesn’t make sense. Especially if you step up for an elite QB, your backup will only be playing in one game, ideally. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. Injury history or taking another QB to potentially trade down the line are just two solid reasons to spend for a second QB. But most of the time if you take a guy like Aaron Rodgers, don’t waste a pick on a guy like Andrew Luck. – Adam McFadden
You don’t understand your league rules.
Do you get a point for receptions? Do you get a bonus for long touchdowns? How about kickoff returns? Some rules can seem mundane, and you might get into the trap of thinking strong players will perform well no matter what the settings are. Don’t. In PPR leagues, a guy like Darren Sproles suddenly becomes immensely more valuable, while someone like Marshawn Lynch loses a bit of his luster. – Adam McFadden