imagesHere’s the thing about most of the fantasy football articles I read (I’m looking at you, Matthew Berry); they all have long-winded introductions. All I really want is to find out which quarterback I should target, but first I have to wade through several self-indulgent paragraphs written by some blowhard who thinks he’s funny. He’ll probably tell some dumb story about how he is really short, and one time he met this really tall guy, and boy was it funny to see them standing next to each other. You keep reading because you want to be sure you are paying attention when the actual fantasy advice comes along, but deep down your frustration is growing because you can’t believe the guy is still going on and on and on,but hasn’t told you a thing about how to handle your draft or who to target as possible undervalued players that you can steal later. Truthfully, I suppose the system is to blame. I mean, if a person is getting paid to write, he or she feels a certain obligation to provide some style to the information, not for the readers, mind you, but for the editors and supervisors. Anyone who obsesses over fantasy football can just say “Arian Foster is a risky bet this season”, but websites don’t hire just anyone; they hire writers. Writers have to demonstrate how clever they are in addition to their grammatical prowess. Smart editors know that the average consumer really hates it when bloggers disregard the basic rules of written English. You wouldn’t want to read this at all, for example, if I did things like wrote in the first person, would you? No self-respecting fantasy footballer would dare take advice from a writer who bounced from first to second to third person pronouns, right? Having said all that, I want to assure you that this will not be one of those fantasy football blogs that has copious introductions with no real point, or one that uses a cornucopia of flowery prose just to try and impress you. No sir or ma’am; it is straight to the fantasy advice. Wait, what?

So, without further doo-doo, here’s my list of certain things you need to be knowing about before you draft because they are so important that you need to be knowing them:

1. Cam Newton is your starting quarterback. The schedule counts. The schedule is everything. Most respectable fantasy leagues hold their playoffs in weeks 14-16. Newton plays New Orleans twice in the fantasy playoffs. New Orleans. Twice. Not only will the Saints score at will, forcing Carolina to throw early and often in order to keep up, but the Saints defense was historically bad last year. So to fix it, they hired Rob Ryan. Ryan runs a complicated, gambling defense that just doesn’t work needs great players at a lot of positions. He doesn’t have them. Sure, getting Drew Brees would be great, but you have to address other needs first. Cam’s the top tier quarterback you can wait for after others have grabbed Rodgers, Brees, Brady, and Manning.

Other reasons you can wait on a QB: Matt Stafford will be around, and Detroit chucks the pigskin more often than a professional pig-thrower at a county fair (just go with it.) Tony Romo will be around too. He’s the perfect fantasy storm: a pass-happy head coach who’s job is on the line, receiving weapons galore, and an O-Line that opens less holes than the sewer maintenance guy who’s job it is to open sewer manholes and check them for stuff (taking a class in similes, starts next week).

2. Guys I’d rather have than Arian Foster: Jamaal Charles. Matt Forte. Ray Rice. LeSean McCoy. And I wouldn’t blame you for taking Doug Martin ahead of him as well.

Guys I don’t want to risk my season on (draft them only if they fall): -C.J. Spiller (we’ll see if he can handle this workload, and Fred Jackson is still around)
-Trent Richardson (hard to wrap my head around a Cleveland player being as a lead offensive weapon)
-Alfred Morris (Shanahan changes his mind about RBs more often than Waffle McNotsure©)

3. Dez Bryant is better than Calvin Johnson. This year. In Fantasy land, at least.
-Receivers tend to break out in their 3rd year. This is year 3 for Torrey Smith. His average expert ranking puts him in the 3rd tier of wide receivers with guys like Steve Smith, Pierre Garcon, Eric Decker, Stevie Johnson, and DeSean Jackson. Of those guys, he’s the one you want.

4. Don’t draft David Wilson, Darren McFadden, Steven Ridley, or DeMarco Murray and expect them to start for you every week.
These are guys I want on my team, but not as one of my top 2 RBs. The guy you do want only because he is way undervalued right now: Ahmad Bradshaw. If Bradshaw stays healthy, he’s the kind of guy that puts you over the top, and you are better off taking a flyer on a guy like that than a mid-tier wide receiver.

5. Vernon Davis is lining up as a wide receiver in San Francisco.
But don’t waste a high pick on a tight end, even someone the likes of Jimmy Graham. Wait for Cameron in Cleveland.

6. Denver’s Defense is probably overrated on your chart.
Now that Von Miller is suspended for the first 6 games and Champ Bailey is hurt, this is a weakened option.

There. Turns out it was 6 things, but there’s a lot more.