ENGEL'S ANGLES: Fantasy Football season is finally here

Monday, July 25 turned out to be the day we had all been waiting for. The day some feared would come much later. Until July 25, we had been holding back. Holding back the passion that drives us all, that sprouts in the summer, blossoms in the fall and then simply grows to epic proportions every winter. Now, the passion is finally palpable again. You can feel it everywhere.

Anxiety was keeping our emotions in check. Even the most admirable among men could be seen quivering. Major League Baseball players, who have embraced Fantasy Football as a pastime, were as openly worried as much as the grandma who loves the Green Bay Packers. They all searched for words and grimaced as they uttered the same words: “if we have a season …”.

Now, the excitement can unfurl and truly start building to the ultimate crescendo again later this year. You can breathe that long-awaited sigh of relief and start studying for a Fantasy Football season that is no longer a frustrating object of hope. There is a true goal now among all of us, it’s real and we can see it again. Even for the most confident of us recently, there was a hesitance to regularly start studying and speculating again, as we always do every summer. Now, you can unleash your zest for the greatest sporting hobby in existence. Sorry, Madden football, you are a nice No. 2.

The never-before-seen flurry of player moves due to come will thrill us like never before. We will see an unprecedented avalanche of player news compressed into one offseason period. As a Fantasy player, it may seem like a thrilling, but overwhelming experience. With less time for players to adapt to new teams and work with them, underperformance and lowered expectations could become true concerns. It may also seem very challenging to keep on top of the latest news.

When you begin to think the blizzard of movement will blow you away, simply remember that the end results will be the same. There are new players on new teams, and there will always be adjustment periods. With training camps also expected to open this week, most players should still have ample time to get into game shape.

There are going to be some unknown factors, but you cannot draft or strategize in fear. You still have to hold fast to the axioms and approaches that have led to success in the past. Yes, we have concerns that there could be more risk for injuries and disappointing performances because of the accelerated schedule to prepare for the season. However, there are obviously unforeseen injuries and busts every year, even with a standard NFL calendar.

I have always recommended conservative approaches to drafting in the past when applicable, and that is not going to change this season. In fact, I may emphasise the safer routes more often this year. Sure, it’s fun and can make you look smarter to go with upside, but this year, I will be opting for proven performers wherever I can, more than ever before.

There are some things we know for sure this year, no matter when the lockout would have ended. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are going to play at very high statistical levels. Adrian Peterson has performed well in the past with questionable talents around him. Larry Fitzgerald has posted very good numbers with all types of quarterbacks. Chris Cooley may not be elite, but you can still depend on him to catch a lot of balls.

Of course, as a draft rolls along, there are many more questions surrounding players. This season, though, at most points of the selection process; I may recommend or opt for dependable veterans whenever I can. Or even if players are injury-prone, at least I know what I am getting. I would rather have Lance Moore than A.J. Green. I may take the risk of drafting Frank Gore, but I know how well he will play when he is in the lineup, and I will draft plenty of quality depth behind him.

Of course, all the conjecture, speculation and recommendations mean that we are officially back in Fantasy Football mode again. It’s a world where we never have full reassurance on anything, yet unknowns only make the game more compelling. Now, we can actually look forward to a certain, solid date with great anticipation. We battled nerves until July 25 arrived. Now we can simply look forward to Thursday, September 8. Let the countdown begin, with a grin.  

Celebrate the return of Fantasy Football with the Xclusive Edge Fantasy Football package! Scott Engel’s updated PPR and standard league cheat sheets are now included!

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