FANFOOD Fantasy Football 101


It’s that time of year again, Fantasy Football is Back!

Training camps have opened it’s time for the position battles to begin.

It’s never too early to start talking about your draft, but it might be too early to start ranking. We will need to see who wins those battles, who underperforms at practice and in the preseason games, and who gets injured before we can accurately rank the skill players in the league.

The difference between fantasy baseball and fantasy football is night and day, but there are some similarities.

Just like with fantasy baseball in order to dominate your draft, you need to be informed and once the season starts in order to win you must stay active and make the right moves when the inevitable injuries happen and players exceed expectations or are underperforming.

And like with the lottery, you gotta be in it to win it. You cannot take the championship by simply staying put, throughout the season you have to identify the players that will help your team and not be afraid to bench or even part ways with the ones that are hurting you.

There is a wealth of player information out there on you will find links to great sites that make it their mission to keep you informed.

In the coming weeks we will provide you with Fantasy Football tools, just like we do for Fantasy Baseball.

Let’s start with how to prepare for your upcoming fantasy football draft and how you can dominate the day.


Preparing for the Draft


Everyone wants to sell you a Fantasy Football Draft Kit, and it’s up to you to decide if it is worth the money. Last week, I was at Regan National getting ready to board a flight, and I realized I forgot my headphones, so I went into a news stand and looked at buying one, I really couldn’t justify buying a new one because I had a couple at home, so instead of spending the money on new buds, I decided to pick up the Sports Illustrated Fantasy Football edition. I didn’t have time to look through it before I laid out the cash, and when I was on the plane reading it, I realized that they had ranked Aaron Hernandez as the #2 TE and even had a big article about how he was going to have a great season for the PATS. They even had (the other) Steve Smith listed as a Sleeper for Tampa (he retired in May).

My point is, do you really know what you are going to get in a draft kit? Sure, you might get some pointers and information about players that you didn’t recognize, but is the information current? And what about the rankings? They will change from day to day and can you really rely on them?


Ranking the Rankings


Fantasy Football rankings are like opinions, everyone has one, it’s what you do with them that counts. The guys over at Fantasy Pros take rankings from all the so-called experts from around the web and combined them into what they call “ECR”, short for Expert Consensus Rankings”. I highly recommend you check them out and use them for your cheat sheet.


New Faces in New Places


Every team has them. It might be a new coach, or a new starting RB, whatever it is and whoever they are, you need to know everything you can about them. Take Chris Ivory for example, last year he was just one of 4 backs in the New Orleans offense and his stats reflected that, this year he is the starting RB for the JETS and is expected to get the lion’s share of the touches in this run-first offense. If you didn’t know this the day of your draft, you might end up passing on him based on what he did last year.


Different Offenses


Many teams have new head coaches and or new offensive coordinators that will install a new type of offense. This changes the way the skill players are used, dictating how many touches or targets they will have per game. It goes without saying that the more they have of these, they more valuable they are for your team. Andy Reid going to KC is a good example; the Chiefs are switching to his west coast type of play which changes how their players will perform on the field, it’s up to you to decide what this means.


Know Your Rookies and Their Immediate Impacts for Their Teams


This goes back to new faces in new places. Every team has rookies, every year. Some may have immediate impacts, and some may not. Teams drafted skill players, defensive coverage guys, tackling machines, starting lineman and special teamers. Who are they and how will they affect a team’s DST? A great example is Le’Veon Bell of my beloved STEELERS. He was drafted to carry the rock, and doesn’t have much in the way of competition in the way of playing time. Did they make the right call? Should You take a chance on him?


The Preseason Games Count (for something)

You are never going to be able to watch all the games, and you might not even see any highlights, so what do you do? The box scores don’t show the whole picture as many times teams are playing guys they don’t even think will make the final roster cut. What most teams do however is start their #1 guys for the first couple of series on offense and defense. Watch the first few minutes or read the early play by plays in the box score. This will help you find out who the team thinks their starters are and how they are going to distribute the ball.


Keep Informed of All the Position Battles


I don’t think there is any team that has figured out ALL their starters going into August. This is what training camps and preseason games are used for. Though some teams will employ the dreaded RBBC (running back by committee) approach, there will always be that guy teams go to, to either carry, catch, throw or kick the football. Knowing who these players are will go along way for your fantasy squad.

Keep Informed of All the Injuries


It’s part of the game, it’s inevitable. The NFL stands for Not For Long, because every year a player’s season is cut short and every season a player’s career is shortened, it’s just the physical nature of this game we love. But devastating injuries aren’t the only ones that you need to know about, it’s the bumps, bruises, pulls and strains that keep players performing at their highest level and scoring your team points. You need to stay ahead of the curve early and know who is out before they even begin. Don’t be that player who drafts someone who is out for the year.


Don’t Fall in Love with the Term Sleepers


Like I said last year in the post “32 Teams/32 Targets” the term sleeper is like crack for fantasy players. Don’t smoke crack. If you take all of the FANFOOD suggestions in preparing for your season, you won’t need to use this term you will know who these players are and what their value is to you and draft accordingly, while never using this term again!


Don’t Forget about the D


While it is true that Defenses can win championships in the NFL, it isn’t in fake football. Sure your DST squad can score you so many points that it carries you over the top in a particular week, overall, it’s how you manage the skill players on your roster that will carry you over the finish line. This doesn’t mean that you should just bypass them on draft day, or ignore them when doing your research. Picking the right DST is crucial to winning your fantasy league. Like I said before one great game can get you over the top in your weekly matchup, but one bad one can lose it for you also. Bottom line is, you are going to be stuck with them all season long, so read about all the squads and have a list a few you can live with. You really only need to draft one, but you will have to cover a bye week and the possible bad matchup, so you will most likely draft two. CHECK the bye weeks of the teams you are targeting Don’t be that manager that picks 2 defenses with the same bye week! Tip: If your league has return yardage as a stat category, try to draft your DST’s return guy to get double the points in case of a big return or TD. You can use that player as your Flex option. There isn’t huge separation between the average DST. If you don’t get one of the top squads, pick the team you like to root for, but don’t over-reach. You really don’t have to start picking a defense until the middle/later rounds.


Don’t Have the Bye week Blues


There are varying options about what to do with your bye weeks. Many people will tell you not to draft multiple players with the same bye week, and others will say that you should never pass up on the best available player based on his bye week. I am here to tell you that you need to do both, especially when it comes to your QB, TE, and DST roster positions. You would have to be seriously skilled (and lucky) to draft a complete starting roster all with the same bye weeks (and thus punt the entire week), so I wouldn’t even try. What you need to do is try, make that ensure, that you do not draft 2 QBs with the same bye, two DST with the same bye, and two TE with the same bye. What’s the point of having a backup if you cannot use them to fill the position when your starter is required to sit out the week? When it gets later in your draft, you might see a great player (or team) staring you in the face that you want to draft to be your backup. Always do a discount double check and look at the bye before you make your selection.

Now, lets say you start your draft with a great RB and WR that both happen to have the same bye, you shouldn’t skip on a team need if a great option is available with that very same bye, you can fill these roster positions and hope that you will get enough points from your backups to carry the week with them. Bottom line, never give up on a week, it may make the difference between your team making the playoffs or being out of the money.


Week 15 & 16 = Playoffs & Championship


One thing you should do before you draft your team is to take a look at the NFL schedule for the weeks that your league will hold its playoffs. Check your league settings. Do you have a two or three week playoff and championship? If so what weeks are they? Typically, week 16 in the NFL is fake football’s championships, so take a look at the matchups and keep them in mind when making a decision between two players. You don’t want to put that much emphasis on these, there is a lot of football to be played, and the DST we think will suck today, may be dominate, and vise versa. Just remember, you have to get into the playoffs to even think about a championship, so don’t put the proverbial cart before the horse.


Create a Cheat Sheet


It’s important for you to print out and refer to a cheat sheet. This can take time or money, but it is nice to have the information in front of you at your draft. Don’t be that manager who asks to see someone’s rankings. Have you own, print them out. Don’t try to use a laptop and surf when it is your turn. You will just run out of time, get stressed and ultimately make the wrong choice because you were rushed. Here are things that you need to include in your cheat sheet:

• Top 150 overall
• Position Rankings (top 20/40)
• Player/Team Bye weeks included
• Your Targets (per round)
• NFL Schedule (weeks 15 & 16 especially)
• List of Players that are injured/out for the season
• Room for notes and or team tracker




The way I make it sound, preparing for your draft sounds complicated and a lot of work. It is and it isn’t. If you want to dominate the day you need to be prepared, whether you buy a draft kit, or create you own. This can take time or money. Since you are reading this, you are in luck, because you can let do the for work for you and it won’t cost you a red cent. Check back every Thursday for all the tools you need for your Draft Prep, and keep it here throughout the season for who to start and who to sit every week throughout the Fantasy Football season.

Next Up: FANFOOD 101 Fantasy Football Links



Vietnamese Meatball Sandwich  (Banh Mi Xiu Mai)


Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches may feature a whole host of things, as long as they’re boldly flavored with lots of garlicky or savory goodness. Bánh mì (/ˈbæn ˌmiː/; Vietnamese pronunciation: [ɓǎɲ mî]) is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread. Bread, or more specifically the baguette, was introduced by the French during its colonial period. The bread most commonly found in Vietnam is a single serving baguette, therefore the term bánh mì is synonymous with this type of bread. The bánh mì is usually more airy than its western counterpart, so as a result, has a thinner crust. It is often associated with a set of sandwiches, often called Vietnamese sandwiches, that are made with the bánh mì’”. This recipe is a take on the classic meatball sandwich.



For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground pork
1 large egg
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup minced green onion
½ cup minced jicama
½ tablespoon cornstarch
½ tablespoon Wondra flour
½ tablespoon fish sauce
½ tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon whole black pepper

For the Sauce:

½ cup water
½ tablespoon cornstarch
½ tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces canned tomato sauce
1 tablespoons canola oil
1 cloves garlic, minced
½ tablespoon sugar
1 scallion, chopped
½ teaspoon black pepper
Light sprinkling of garlic powder
Light sprinkling of onion powder
Light sprinkling of ginger powder
For the Sandwich:

1 loaf French Bread
pickled daikon
shredded carrots
fresh cilantro

For the meatballs:

Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with your hands.
Use your hands to form meat balls, putting each in a glass or metal bowl, put it in a steamer and steam over boiling water until cooked, about 40 minutes.
This seems like a long time. I would check after 15 minutes, assuming that the meatballs about 1 inch wide.

For the sauce:

In a small bowl, mix the water with the cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, salt and tomato sauce.
Stir to combine well and set aside.
In a small saucepan over high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until aromatic.
Add the water and tomato sauce mixture and stir until the sauce has thickened.

To make a sandwich:

Slice the meatballs in half and put inside the French bread.
Spoon the tomato sauce atop the meatballs.
Finish with some pickled daikon and carrot and a few sprigs of cilantro.






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