Tips to dominate your fantasy football league

Football season is upon us again, which means it’s also time for fantasy football.

Fantasy football has become extremely popular for a few reasons:

* It’s a lot more entertaining than watching baseball or whatever else is on ESPN

* It adds excitement to an otherwise meaningless preseason

* It gives you a reason to watch a game like Chiefs vs. Bills

* It allows you to trash talk to loved ones behind the safety of your computer

* It doesn’t require players to be physically gifted, smart or athletic in any way

It’s usually frowned upon to take your friends’ money, but not in fantasy. Use the following tips and you’ll run away with your league and their dough:

*Draft wisely*

The draft is the most important day of the season in fantasy football. Make sure to know your league’s scoring settings and have a list of players in mind going into your draft. If your league isn’t that large (12 or fewer teams), don’t worry about taking a quarterback in the early rounds — build your team around solid running backs and wide receivers.

Also, keep in mind when your league’s playoffs will be taking place. For example, you may be choosing between Steven Jackson and Michael Turner in your draft. In Weeks 14, 15 and 16 — the usual fantasy playoff weeks — Jackson faces the Seahawks, Bengals and Steelers, while Turner goes against the Panthers, Jaguars and Saints. Since Turner faces more run-friendly defenses, he may receive a slight edge over Jackson.

Most importantly, don’t draft a kicker until the last round. Most kickers will score about the same, and you can just pick up a free agent with the best matchup each week.

*Play mind games*

Talk up players you have no interest in drafting so your friends get stuck with them. Don’t overreact to the early season, let your adversaries do that. After the first few weeks, managers will grow impatient with some of their players and their slow starts — use this time to your advantage and make some trades. Get a good backup quarterback and running back; you will be able to use them as trade bait later in the season. Teams with no backup will come calling when mayhem happens.

*Go with your gut*

Regardless of what anyone says, fantasy football is still more of an art than a science. Projections and analysis can only predict so much. Use your picks to bolster your bench or take a flier pick on a rookie or someone you aren’t sure about. If you really like a player — take him. Don’t worry about projections or the preseason too much, because they really don’t mean anything — it’s all a crapshoot once Week One starts. Everyone’s team looks good on paper at the beginning of the year, but don’t forget to check the free agent wire. Free agent pickups can make or break your season. For example, Michael Vick and Arian Foster, two of last year’s top scorers, were both free agents in most leagues. Stay up to date on injuries, rookies and breakout performances and you might be able to nab the free agent that will put your friends’ cash in your pocket.

_Kevin Thornton is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]_