When it comes to developing 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 simply work their way down the list as they make put their stickers on the draft board.
And there's nothing wrong with that. It certainly beats them looking over your shoulder at the rankings you carefully researched and compiled! By the way, you can cure this problem with this ingenious, fake fantasy football cheat sheet.
Some owners put in a little more effort, maybe spending a few hours to a day reading articles, scanning sleeper lists, and creating their own cheat sheet based on the knowledge they glean during this short research session. Again, this is a perfectly legitimate way to cram for a draft and many fantasy championships have been won in this manner.
But there is a better way.
Using theory, science, & strategy to gain a draft day advantage
There is a small minority of fantasy owners that take fantasy football strategy 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 in order to gain a substantial advantage over their competition. For these elite fantasy enthusiasts, there are fantasy strategy guides.
A valuable fantasy football strategy guide goes beyond the purely data-driven analysis of fantasy magazines to analyze overarching football trends, applicable game theory, and product proprietary player valuation algorithms. These algorithms were developed specifically for the purpose of building fantasy championship teams before, during, and after your fantasy football draft.
In this article, I will review four of the best fantasy football strategy guides for the upcoming 2017 NFL season. Here is a list of the publications I'll be reviewing in detail below. You can click on any of the product links to quickly check their current price on Amazon.
Fantasy football strategy guide comparison table
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The Power of a Good Fantasy Football Strategy Guide
If you're looking for the latest player rankings, cheat sheets by scoring system, or mock drafts results, a guide on fantasy football strategy 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 might include:
That isn't to say that fantasy football magazines with the latest player evaluations aren't useful. They certainly are. 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 at your draft.
Let's look at some reasons why fantasy football guides can be so useful.
Evergreen fantasy football strategies never expire
Although strategies in fantasy football have evolved over the years, 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, based on 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
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, others don't mind taking huge 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. This is because 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. This is an extreme example, but you get the point. A player's performance won't always live up to their abilities.
A good fantasy football strategy guide will typically include coaching analysis because coaching philosophy stays somewhat consistent and has a huge 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 value because they are obviously limited by the strength of their team as a whole. Team performance is harder to predict than coaching philosophy, but a good 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.
The Best Fantasy Football Draft Guides Reviewed
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 are stronger on theory while others shine when it comes to analytics.
Pay special 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.
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.
This 2017 fantasy football strategy guide covers the game thoroughly but also provides insight into many meaningful aspects of the NFL. Some of the more notable topics include:
Bucking the trend to achieve fantasy success
This 2017 strategy guide is the antithesis of what you normally 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 preach.
His strategy is to first consider football fundamentals, then evaluate each NFL team (including their coaching philosophy), and ultimately assess the players. Warren uses detailed visualizations to illustrate his system and straightforward data analytics to support his strategies.
Reviews for the 2017 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 from an engineer's mind, and not some arrogant frat boy in a tie, then this is the fantasy football strategy guide for you.
What I like
Not so much..
The 2017 version of the Fantasy Football Black Book is Joe Pisapia's 10th edition. For the nine 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 simply being a top author. His radio show was also named the FSTA Fantasy Radio Show of the Year. So he's got skins on the wall 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 strategy in your own fantasy football leagues.
In his 10th 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, and Sammy Reid of Fantasy Insiders.
This fantasy football strategy guide has been on the market for longer than many of us have been playing fantasy sports. Consider grabbing a copy of the 2017 Fantasy Football Black Book and take your fantasy game to the next level.
What I like
Not so much..
This new fantasy football strategy guide from Patrick Tursic takes a page from game theory to offer draft strategies that focus on finding value throughout the draft process. Patrick has written several books on fantasy strategy, spanning much of the sports landscape to include football, baseball, and basketball.
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 each can be used to give you an edge on draft day.
Some of the popular strategies discussed include:
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 latest publication. If nothing else it will undoubtedly increase your fantasy football IQ.