There are still a couple weeks left until NFL training camps open, but football fans everywhere are beginning to gather their materials and arrange their draft boards as fantasy football season arrives.
The wounds of last place finishes and memories of 2006 first round fantasy busts (Carnell "Cadillac" Williams anyone?) that were beginning to heal in the summer months are viciously ripped open by the non-stop trash talking of league rivals.
Whether by e-mail, text message, or word of mouth, invitations to fantasy football leagues are being received and groups of men will soon make their annual retreat to a basement or local watering hole for their fantasy drafts.
Part of what makes fantasy football drafts so thrilling is the variety of managing styles you are sure to find among the owners of fantasy football leagues.
The Hardcore Player
Fantasy football previews
July 27: Quarterbacks
Aug. 3: Running backs
Aug. 10: 2007 Fantasy Overview
Aug. 17: Wide receivers
Aug. 24: Tight ends, kickers and defense
He's the one who watches every game, knows every players' stats and knows his team's point total without having to turn a computer on. Hardcore's brains, rather than his mouth, intimidates the other owners.
However, Hardcore has the tendency to overthink matchups, benching Terrell Owens in favor of Reche Caldwell if the Patriots are playing the Bengals.
The Homer tries to draft every player on his favorite team. This owner will be that guy who has a man-crush on Brett Favre and drafts the Packers quarterback in the first round every year. The Homer will likely try to draft Favre even after he retires.
Donald Driver will be the Homer's second round pick and Brandon Jackson will come in the third round and so on until the entire Green Bay roster is on his team. This drafting technique isn't recommended.
The Guy Who's Just There for the Food
Food Guy will arrive in a stained Chargers T-shirt and holding a fantasy football magazine he picked up at a convenience store on the way to the draft. If Food Guy doesn't bring a fantasy draft magazine, feel free to provide him with your 2003 edition.
After selecting Priest Holmes and Marshall Faulk with his first two picks, he will contentedly savor a plateful of wings and Doritos. This is the same guy who will draft Jamal Lewis, thinking he still plays for the Ravens.
The Trash Talker
There is always at least one trash talker per league, and quite frankly, the more the merrier. The Trash Talker runs his mouth more than Pacman Jones is running from cops. It doesn't really matter how well his team is doing, Trash Talker will criticize your every transaction until you're unsure of yourself.
Be confident, beat his team by 25 points and you'll be talking your way to the championship.
The Hustler will wine, dine and shine on you with his sweet deals and trade proposals, always promising that YOU will come out on top. Be wary of this individual, he's looking to swipe the best players from around the league for pennies. Do your own research on teams and players instead of taking his shallow word for it.
The Silent Assassin
The Silent Assassin studiously sits in the corner, not drawing attention to himself with surprising picks or outrageous smack talk, waiting to make his move. He goes with the safe picks and nobody realizes what Silent's team is capable of until his are at the top of the standings.
Please go easy on The Newbie, it's his first time playing fantasy football and he doesn't quite have it all together yet. Although he brought plenty of materials, he will listen to anything the other owners tell him.
I remember being this guy my first year playing fantasy football. During the draft, I made the No. 1 mistake that an owner can make, I asked my fellow owners who I should pick. They were happy to help fill my team with a group of fantasy bums.
Give friendly advice and help The Newbie out while the other owners put him through the fantasy draft gauntlet.
Over the next five weeks I will build a comprehensive fantasy draft guide that will give Dispatch readers all they need to know about sleepers, busts, players whose stocks are rising and falling, rookies to watch and smart picks that will give you an edge in fantasy football drafts.
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