It’s almost football season. The NFL back in action. And that means it’s almost fantasy football season. For those of you not in the know, fantasy football is when a bunch of guys get together and divide up the players in the NFL via a draft. After you’ve drafted your team a player’s performance for the week counts as happening on your fantasy football team. That is: if I have Peyton Manning on my fantasy football team and he throws a touchdown pass on Sunday that TD is scored by my fantasy football team. Score more points than your opponent for the week and you win the game. It’s a lot of fun.

Right now I’m preparing for my leagues draft by analyzing all the players performances from last year and trying to figure out how they will do this year. It’s a bit of a fool’s errand, as is most sports prognosticating, but I find it fun. I made a bunch of charts of players and how they scored last year and how they compare to everyone else from last year. Now I’ll try to rank them in what order I want to draft them in. It’s a tall task because, with a few exceptions, there is little difference between the stats. Sure the number two guy is way better than the number twenty guy but the difference between numbers thirty and thirty one is minimal. It’s easy to pick the stars but most of the league is just regular players. The key to winning is finding some regular players who will play like stars. That’s easier said then done.

There are endless magazines and websites devoted to fantasy football drafts and tons of “experts” giving out advice in said mags and sites. These guys love going out on limbs and trying to pick the regular players who are about to turn into stars. They are hardly ever right but it’s only fantasy football so no one holds it against them. After all no one ever looks at who they picked last year. It seems like every year there is a consensus “breakout player” before the season. Last year it was Dolphin running back Ronnie Brown. He didn’t break out. Maybe this year. I’d say the experts are about one out of three with their consensus breakout players. The year before it was Bengals QB Carlson Palmer. They were right about that but I didn’t pay attention and draft him because they got it wrong the year before that. I’m not even sure who that three year ago player was. Might have been Matt Hasselbeck (solid QB but a miss fantasy wise).

Just as with real NFL team injuries can kill a fantasy football team. If your number one draft pick goes down you are in serious trouble. Two years ago, for a couple of games, my top five draft picks were all out with injury. I didn’t do much winning that season. It was quite a challenge to even field a team for a couple of weeks. Yet it was still fun to try. After all I don’t have millions of dollars at stake.

Luck is a huge part of fantasy football. I’d say 60% skill and 40% luck. You need the skills to spot players on the rise, know when to play them, and most importantly know when to give up on a player even though you like him. But that 40% luck is huge. League winners usually end up with a couple of players that were picked up in the middle to late rounds of the draft who played like first rounders for a year. Guys it was impossible to predict would do so well. Still, you fell like a genius when you’ve got those guys on your team. Hey, not everyone can be Einstein. I’ll take what I can get.