The Ultimate Fantasy Football Draft Guide

Yahoo! Fantasy Football Expert Brandon Funston provides a draft-day guide to help you start the season on the right foot.

Fantasy Football Peyton Manning

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Your fantasy football draft can make or break your season. Draft a successful mix of big-time studs and under-the-radar steals, and that championship ring will be yours 16 weeks later. Miss on the big names and take unnecessary gambles that come back to haunt you, and you'll be ridiculed until 2015. Luckily, we've put together a comprehensive draft guide to ensure you avoid the latter fate. Yahoo! Fantasy Football Expert Brandon Funston gives you all the information you need to draft like a genius.

Pre-Draft Preparation

Don't Overdo Your Player Research

Fantasy owners can spend months prowling the Internet for the latest player rankings, inside info and sleepers no one else knows about. Then they stroll into the draft with a notebook as thick as a Harry Potter novel and more notes than the Oxford English Dictionary. Our advice? Keep it simple. Go to the draft with one sheet of paper that lists all the players you like at each position, ranked. If your highest-rated quarterback gets taken, cross him off and move on to your No. 2. Keeping things simple and not over-thinking will keep your head clear and pave the way for a successful fantasy football draft.

RELATED: Fantasy Football 2014: Sleepers and Busts

Know Your League's Scoring System

Are you in an auction league? A PPR league? Did your commissioner recently drop running back touchdowns from six points to four, and give out bonuses for receivers who go over 100 yards? Know your rules, even the mundane ones, and know which players will excel within your league's system.

Draft Dos and Don'ts

Do: Be flexible with your plan. You've got to be smart enough to take the player with the highest value instead of what you think you need according to your draft board. Sure, it might be a good idea to take running backs with your first two picks, but what if Calvin Johnson is sitting there in the second round? You need to be flexible enough to take Megatron instead of springing for another running back with a lower value. Don't be afraid to mix it up.

Don't: Draft a backup quarterback, kicker or defense too early. The backup quarterback might be the most overrated position on your fantasy roster. If you take a stud QB, he will miss exactly one game due to the bye week (a freak injury excepted). At that time, hit the waiver wire to pick up a serviceable QB for that week; you should have no problem finding one.

Defenses and kickers don't win fantasy games, so don't splurge on Seattle's Legion of Boom or Sebastian Janikowski before the second to last round. You may even want to do what Funston calls "stream defenses"—i.e., pick up a different defense each week, depending on the match-up.  Look at some of the worst quarterbacks in the league and pick up whatever defenses are going against them that particular week.

Do: Pay attention to your opponent's rosters as the draft progresses. Understand what positions they still need to fill to give yourself a good idea of what players may be available when it's your turn to pick again. You might be focused on a running back, but the three teams ahead of you all need one. Shift your view to wide receivers.

Don't: Gamble early. Your first few picks should be studs who are going to contribute each week. These picks should be your safest: guys like LeSean McCoy, Calvin Johnson or Peyton Manning. Take players who have potential high upside at the running back and wide receiver positions with some of your later picks. Don't let one of your early picks burn you, or you'll never recover.

Be Wary of Rookies

Very rarely do rookie wide receivers come in with 1,000-yard seasons. Ditto for rookie tight ends. Steer clear of rookies at all skill positions except running back. If you've read that a rookie running back has done well in pass protection during training camp, expect him to be on the field for a lot of snaps this season (example: Terrance West of the Cleveland Browns).

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Topics: FOOTBALL | RUNNING | RECEIVER | FANTASY FOOTBALL