With the National Football League season underway, fans contemplate the opportunity to join their friends in a battle for bragging rights and sometimes even a money pot. As a perennial fantasy footballer, I have found myself in every predicament, have learned lessons and quick tricks to have a great season.

Which platform provides the ultimate fantasy football experience?

In the last couple of decades, fantasy football has evolved. It is more rare to see a group of friends running a league on their own, piling into a common area with a huge whiteboard to pick their players. Some of the biggest entities on the Internet host leagues. No disrespect to ESPN, CBS, NFL.com and the others, but for me Yahoo stands out as the strongest. From the draft, to the week-to-week basis, it really provides an easy way to have fun while monitoring your team.

What kind of league is more fun to play in?

Leagues are set up for two different ways — you either play for fun and bragging rights or you submit money into a pot, hoping to win the league and most of that money. I have often seen brand-new players burn out too quickly when they play for money, and struggle to get any type of momentum. I get it, it’s tricky, but I recommend playing in a league with friends first for no money until you feel comfortable putting money down. It ends up being a low-risk, high-reward hobby.

Should I be the commissioner of the league?

When you first start off, absolutely not. Leave this responsibility to the player with the most experience. Whoever is in charge needs to exude patience and problem-solving skills. Although the commissioner of course wants to win, he or she has to be unbiased in dealing with issues that arise. I encourage others interested in running their leagues to give them a couple of years to get comfortable with running their teams first before considering serving as commissioner.

Who are some of the more valuable positions in the draft?

Approaching the draft may be difficult for people new to fantasy football, but what you need to look for is frequent production. Some of the top running backs and wide receivers will be the heavy hitters for your team. When you see someone like reigning MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes going off the board early, do not fret. Great quarterbacks are going to still be available in the later round. Build your running back and wide receiver corps that will start for you and rack up your points.

After securing those positions and a starting quarterback, address your other needs. A healthy tight end is appreciated, and a strong defense is a must. Fill your bench with strong players who could jump right into a starting role in a moment’s notice after injuries, or fill in during those dreadful bye weeks. Lastly, don’t address your need for a kicker until toward the end of the draft!

How about monitoring your team?

Football shines in the fantasy world as you really only have to pay attention to your teams on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays. Be attentive to how each of your players are doing, and be ready to make moves when it’s necessary. You don’t want to keep a guy in your starting lineup when he’s playing terribly. Also in fantasy football, it is important to keep an eye on who your opponents will be letting go, and you can pick them up on the waiver wire. Be open to making the right trades when someone is looking to have one of your players.

Corey Kirk is the Baker City Herald's sports editor.

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