If you're new to fantasy football or have been playing for years and haven't brought home the trophy yet, allow me to give you a hand. After over two decades of playing fantasy football and several first place championships, I believe the rules I applied way back when hold water to this day.
courtesy of Cincy Jungle
There are 7 very important rules to follow when drafting your fantasy team. Some are more important than others but if you follow each rule then you will be in the playoffs with a chance to win your league. Let's not waste time!
Save the kicker for your very last pick. Here's the deal with kickers - they're literally hit or miss! It doesn't matter if you draft the most accurate field goal kicker in the game. If he plays on a team in which the offense doesn't move the ball and have opportunities to score, then you may as well leave your kicker position empty. Point being that when you do pick a kicker with your last draft pick, try and get one who's on a team with a good offense. Even that won't guarantee big points so don't waste your time pondering over a kicker.
Stock up on running backs and wide receivers. I'll tell you sometimes I'll use my first 6 picks on WR's and RB's. Reason being is that those are the players that get hurt most often. You need to draft deep at these positions because you'll end up using every single one of them. Whether it's a bye week, an injury or a bad matchup - you'll find yourself kicking your own ass for not stocking up on the big skilled positions.
Don't draft a quarterback until at least the 6th or 7th round. Guys it's not worth drafting Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen or even Lamar Jackson early in the draft. Because the fact is that the top 8 - 10 quarterbacks are going to be within just a few fantasy points away from each other by the time the season ends. This rule correlates with #2 as if you take a QB in the 2nd round you'll miss out on many of the top tier skilled position players, especially in a 12 team league. There's nothing wrong with selecting Derek Carr, Dak Prescott or even Kirk Cousins in round 10 while you pile up the meat of your roster.
Wait to take your defense as long as you can. Much like the kicker position, your defense will be very inconsistent and more than likely you'll be on the waiver wire by week 4 looking for the best defensive matchup. I don't take my defense until the second to last pick of the draft. Even if you draft the best defense in the league like the Steelers, Rams, Ravens or Broncos - doesn't mean they're going to get you a ton of fantasy points. Defenses accumulate points with sacks, interceptions and fumbles returned for touchdowns. Winning the game 20 - 10 without these stat fillers will get you single digit points and nothing more. Luck is very much a factor! You can try and pick the best matchup possible but again if the defense is just playing really good football and not creating turnovers then you won't get much help in that category.
Try to grab a top tier tight end! This means you'll likely have to spend a 3rd or at best a 4th round pick on one of the better fantasy tight ends in the league. If you can get Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews or even Kyle Pitts then I'd say go for it. I would throw George Kittle in there as well but his history of injuries removes him from the top tier. If you can't get any of the big time tight ends then don't get nervous and think you have to take one just because everyone else is. This is another position where some players will emerge as the season progresses and be able to pick up a player on waivers. It may be a good idea to draft two tight ends based off of matchups if you don't have one of the premier guys.
Get players that play from behind or are on a team that the defense gives up a lot of points. In this case you want to focus on the wide receivers and quarterbacks to an extent. Fantasy matchups are often won and lost in the last 5 - 6 minutes of the game. When a team is down by two TD's late in the fourth quarter, you want to have those receivers who will get you garbage points that don't belong in the trash. Take advantage of a players teams defensive disadvantage. A good example of this is Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings. Cousins has two great wide receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Theilen. The Vikes defense is mediocre at best. So you know Cousins will likely be throwing the ball around in the 4th quarter of games padding his stats and his wide receivers stats as well and in turn giving you more fantasy points.
Get back-ups to your starters. Now don't do this for every starter of course! This is directed towards the running back position more than any other. Running backs get hurt more than any other skilled position on average. That's why in week 10 we see players in the backfield we never heard of before. So if you are drafting Jonathan Taylor you may want to grab Nyheim Hines later on in the draft. Or better yet if you draft Zeke you better get Tony Pollard as well.
courtesy of Pro Football Network
If you follow these 7 rules I promise you're team will be in the mix come playoff time. Injuries are one thing we cannot precisely predict. That just comes with the territory. That's why I believe rule #2 is the most important on the list. When your running back goes down for four weeks you don't want to have to scramble the waiver wire for his temporary replacment. You want to have that guy on your roster already so you're ahead of the game.