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The 6 Best Fantasy Football Strategy Guides – Draft Theory for 2018

Fantasy Football Strategy Guides

Do you ever wonder why the same players always seem to finish at the top of your fantasy league?  Or maybe why 1% of daily fantasy sports players win 91% of the profits?

I'll tell you why.  These stand-out players leverage fantasy football strategy to gain a consistent advantage over opponents.

Today I reveal to you the best fantasy football guides for the 2018 season.  If you're looking for actionable, tested, and proven draft strategies to enhance your fantasy aptitude, you're in the right place. 

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Comparing the Best Fantasy Football Guides

Here is a list of the draft strategy guides that I'll be reviewing in detail below.  You can click on any of the product links to quickly check each book's current price on Amazon.

The Role of Fantasy Football Strategy in 2018

Fantasy football is a popular game because anyone can play.  And not unlike most games, a small percentage of players will possess a drive to discover strategies that give them a consistent advantage over the competition.

That small group of obsessed owners is usually the ones hoisting the championship trophies (or cashing the big check) at the end of fantasy football season.

Most fantasy players ignore strategy and draft on instinct

When it comes to implementing a fantasy football draft strategy, many owners follow the path of least resistance. They wait until draft-day, grab the latest printable cheat sheets, then work their way down the list as they make put their stickers on the fantasy football draft board.

And there's nothing wrong with that. It certainly beats cheating by looking at other player's rankings.

Every fantasy league has those owners who come to the draft unprepared.  They show up with nothing and try to use other owners' player rankings to make their picks.  


I created a way to discourage this behavior and make those lazy owners pay.


At your next draft, generate a few fake fantasy football cheat sheets and lay them around your draft room.  Lazy owners will take the bait and commence to embarrass themselves as they blow yet another draft.

Some owners are a bit more committed, maybe spending a few hours to a day reading articles, scanning sleeper lists, and creating their cheat sheet based on their findings. Again, this is a legitimate way to cram for a draft, and players sometimes win fantasy championships without doing much research.

But there is a better way.

Consistent winners use proven fantasy football draft strategies

Fantasy Draft Strategy Algorithms

There is a small minority of fantasy owners that take fantasy football a bit more seriously. They not only want to know who the best players are, but they want to apply proven draft strategies to their fantasy drafts and gain a substantial advantage over their competition.  For these elite fantasy enthusiasts, there are fantasy football strategy guides.

But what makes a strategy guide different than your typical fantasy football publication?

A valuable fantasy strategy guide goes beyond the purely data-driven analysis of fantasy football magazines to evaluate overarching football trends, applicable game theory, and produce proprietary player valuation algorithms.  These algorithms were developed specifically to build fantasy championship teams before, during, and after your fantasy football draft.

Once you add these strategies to your arsenal, you'll be able to apply them in your private leagues, NFL.com fantasy football, ESPN's fantasy site, or any other fantasy football host.

The power of an actionable strategy in fantasy football guides

If you're looking for the latest player rankings, cheat sheets by scoring system, or mock drafts results, a fantasy football strategy guide probably isn't what you're looking after. That's because much of the content in a modern strategical guide [typically] centers around broader and more evergreen topics.

These guides might include:

  • Team and coaching analysis providing context to player rankings
  • Proven draft strategies that can give you an edge on draft-day
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    How to adjust your strategies for standard scoring leagues, PPR, or even DFS leagues.
  • Unique interpretations of NFL statistics and analytics
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    Game theory as it relates to fantasy football and, in particular, draft strategy
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    How draft theory can dictate how you develop your custom 2018 cheat sheet

That isn't to say that a fantasy football magazine focusing mainly on player evaluations isn't useful.  It certainly is.

But being knowledgeable about player potential is only half the battle. The other half is applying that knowledge scientifically to maximize your roster's fantasy potential.

Let's look at some reasons why strategy guides are so actionable in 2018.

Our Free Draft Prep Tool:  Create player rankings on a custom fantasy football cheat sheet.

Evergreen fantasy football strategies never expire

Fantasy football strategies have evolved over the years.  However, at its core, the object of the game is still the same: pick the players whose collective performances will produce more points than your competition (of course, factoring your specific league's scoring configuration).

Even though this sounds simple, translating stats directly into player rankings doesn't always produce the best results. Fantasy football experts exhort various formulas for calculating player valuations, algorithms for formulating cheat sheet rankings, and strategies for roster management that use science to give you an advantage before, during, and after your draft.

These scientific principles never go out of date.  And many times, they provide the edge you need to win those few critical games that determine who walks away with the championship.

Coaching philosophy can play a huge role in player valuations

Coach Sean Payton

Player values can sometimes fluctuate wildly based on their team, injuries, or depth chart shuffling. However, each NFL coach's style generally remains constant regardless of the team or players they are coaching.

Some coaches are conservative on offense.  Other coaches don't mind taking considerable risks to put the ball in the end zone.  Just think about what Philly did in 2017!

Coaching philosophy plays a significant role in player valuation.  Coaching tendencies give you a glimpse into how players of a particular position will likely perform under their direction.

For instance, a wide receiver coached by Sean Payton would have a much higher ceiling than one coached by Hue Jackson.  Some players can't reach their true potential if their coaches don't utilize them properly.

A first-rate fantasy football strategy guide will typically include coaching analysis.  This is because coaching philosophy stays somewhat consistent and has a direct impact on the potential of so many players.

Team performance projections can significantly affect player projections

Team performance has a direct impact on its players' potential fantasy value.  Player production can be limited by the strength of their team as a whole. Team performance is harder to predict than coaching philosophy, but a reputable fantasy expert can draw some sensible conclusions based on past performance and roster turnover.

Knowing how well a team is expected to perform is an important consideration when making your draft selections. As such, most fantasy draft guides will include team projections for this purpose. In some cases, experts even align their team projections against the projected win and loss records according to Vegas.

Reviewing the Best Fantasy Football Strategy Guides

Let's jump right in and talk about the top draft guides for the 2017 season. All of these guides have something unique to offer, and each has its strong and weak points.

Some guides emphasize theory while others shine when it comes to analytics.

Pay particular attention to the pros and cons of each publication as they can give you a good indication of which guide is a better fit for your drafting style.

The 2018 version of the Fantasy Football Black Book is Joe Pisapia's 11th edition. For the ten previous years that his fantasy football strategy guide has been on the market, Joe has been the #1 Best-Selling fantasy sports author on Amazon.

That's not easy!

Joe's credentials go beyond merely being a top author. His radio show was also named the FSTA Fantasy Radio Show of the Year. So Joe has a proven track record when it comes to being a legit fantasy football expert.

Joe's success as a fantasy football prognosticator is partially due to his formula for evaluating players known as Relative Position Value (RPV). He is a big proponent of value-based drafting, and the Fantasy Football Black Book goes into detail on why you should adopt this draft strategy in your fantasy football leagues.

In his 11th edition of the Black Book, Joe brings in fantasy experts from across the web to provide their insights. This list includes Jake Ciely of RotoExperts, Gary Davenport of IDP Sharks, Sammy Reid of Fantasy Footballers, and FSTA award winner Matt Franciscovish.

This fantasy football guide has been on the market for longer than many of us have been playing fantasy sports. Consider grabbing a copy of the 2018 Fantasy Football Black Book if you want to learn about popular strategies utilized by the top players.

What I like

  • A proven, 11-year publication
  • Draft strategies for all league formats
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    Stellar customer reviews on Amazon
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    Easily digestible for both newbies and established players

Not so much..

  • The layout of this draft guide is awkward and hard to scan

Triple J's 2018 Fantasy Football Report straddles the line between being a traditional fantasy football magazine and a draft strategy guide.  Authors James Wagner and Scott Bolton are proven high stakes fantasy football players who have consistently placed in various competitions and circuits.

Like a traditional fantasy publication, the 2018 report covers player rankings, top free-agent moves, and rookie analysis.  But what makes this more of a strategy guide is its analysis of real, high-stakes fantasy football draft boards for drafts in which they have participated.

This year's guide analyzes several completed draft boards from the Fantasy Football Players Championship.  That is the place to play if you want to gamble big and win big in seasonal leagues.  The 2018 Main Event prize is $250,000!

Concerning high-stakes boards, I like reading through their pick-by-pick analysis of each draft.  I compare their logic against my cheat sheets and draft strategy to see if there are any factors I haven't considered.  Then, I adjust accordingly.

If you're looking for insightful draft analysis from high-stakes players with skins on the wall, you should check out Triple J's 2018 report.  You're sure to pick up a few useful nuggets for your fantasy draft.

What I like

  • Actionable post-draft analysis of $350 money leagues 
  • Written by proven high-stakes fantasy & DFS players
  • Useful, team-level statistics that are fantasy relevant
  • A good mixture of content, illustrations, and graphics 

Not so much..

The 2018 version of the RotoRadar Fantasy Football Draft Strategy Guide from Patrick Tursic starts with the premise that "you win or lose on draft day".  Although RotoRadar claims to be the leader in DFS advice, the 2018 fantasy football guide is written specifically for people who participate season-long fantasy leagues.  

The book's author, Patrick Tursic, has written several books on fantasy strategy, spanning much of the sports landscape to include football, baseball, and basketball. 

The 2018 RotoRadar guide once again takes a page from game theory to offer draft strategies that focus on finding value throughout the draft process.  This guide starts with a review of game theory and how it applies to fantasy football. From there Patrick delves into many draft strategies that have proven to be successful in the context of fantasy football.

Instead of re-hashing player rankings, or telling you exactly which draft strategy to use, this guide presents you with various drafting styles and how to use them effectively at your live draft.  These evergreen fantasy strategies are applicable to any fantasy draft.

Some of the strategies discussed include:

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    Value-based drafting
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    The Zero-RB draft strategy
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    The Zero-QB draft strategy
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    ADP-based drafting

If you're looking for a fantasy football draft guide that is heavy on theory and will not lose its value when the next fantasy season rolls around, check out RotoRadar's 2018 strategy guide. If nothing else, it will undoubtedly increase your fantasy football IQ.

What I like

  • An evergreen fantasy guide that will retain its value
  • Covers the popular draft strategies in detail
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    Heavy on theory and backed-up with real data
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    Actionable tips that can be applied to any league

Not so much..

  • Not many player evaluations

Warren Sharp is a civil engineer by trade who is renowned for developing computer models to understand the factors that contribute to NFL success. He applies these frameworks to create a yearly football preview that is a staple in the industry.

His football research has been published worldwide including the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo!, and the Huffington Post. Warren is a regular guest on sports radio shows, and his expertise has been recognized by ESPN.

The 2018 fantasy football guide covers the game thoroughly but also provides insight into many relevant topics specific to the NFL. Some of the more notable topics include:

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    In-depth analysis of all NFL head coaches
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    Discussion of Vegas odds as they relate to fantasy football
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    Front office analysis of each team
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    Visualized, actionable data analytics

Bucking the trend to achieve fantasy success

This book is the antithesis of what you usually see in other publications, and that is by design. Warren preaches that the most successful fantasy football owner are those that do the opposite of what the majority of publications teach.

Warren first considers football fundamentals, then evaluates each NFL team (including their coaching philosophy), and ultimately assesses the players. He uses detailed visualizations to illustrate his systems and straightforward data analytics to support his strategies.

Reviews for the 2018 Football Preview are off the charts, with the most damning criticism being a few spelling or grammatical errors. If you'd like to get your fantasy football prep straight from an engineer's mind (not some arrogant frat boy in a tie), then this is the fantasy football guide for you.

What I like

  • Clear and actionable analytics
  • Easily digestible graphics
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    A proven track record of accurate predictions
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    Outstanding customer satisfaction

Not so much..

  • Minor spelling and grammatical errors

This smart and insightful book by Jonathan Bales focuses entirely on fantasy football as it relates to daily fantasy sports.  Jonathan is the author of more than a dozen books and the founder of both Fantasy Labs and RotoAcademy.  

Fantasy Labs counts Mark Cuban among their investors, so Jonathan might know what he's talking about when it comes to DFS.

Fantasy Football for Smart People aims to increase your daily fantasy football IQ by providing insight into the psychological and data-centric factors that affect DFS.  After reading this book, you'll possess the tools and mindset necessary to compete with the sharks on daily fantasy sites.

I particularly like Jonathan's list of 68 heuristics that sum-up the book's contents.  These include the most actionable strategies for daily fantasy football, data points to help you dominate your league, and a supplemental reading list.

What I like

  • Packed full of actionable DFS advice
  • ​A smart balance of stats and strategies
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    Unique insight into the psychology of daily fantasy sports

Not so much..

  • A long read for someone looking for a quick intro to DFS

Fantasy Football Draft Strategies by P.J. Tursic is a comprehensive guide for knowledgeable fantasy players who want to take their draft game to the next level.  This draft strategy guide walks you through actual scenarios to detail how you can use analytics to give yourself an edge throughout your fantasy football draft.

If you've ever researched how to gain an advantage at your football draft, the concepts covered in this guide will sound familiar.  There is a thorough break-down of value-based drafting, the wisdom of crowds theory, and how you can utilize a player's ADP to out-maneuver other players on draft day.

Although these concepts may seem intimidating at first, Patrick does an excellent job of simplifying the theories to make them easily digestible by even the most feeble-minded fantasy enthusiast.  This book is a fantastic draft guide for anyone looking to improve their odds of consistently winning fantasy football championships in redraft leagues.

What I like

  • Covers many of the most prominent draft strategies
  • Good examples help to simplify complex theories
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    A useful football draft guide for fantasy novices

Not so much..

  • Stat examples are a bit dated
About the author

Brad Perniciaro

Brad is a software developer and has been running successful fantasy football leagues since 1999. When he isn't playing fantasy football, he's writing about fantasy football.

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