In the summer of 2003, Glenn Colton and I were chasing down a back-to-back victory in the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR).  We were also writing the first Rotoworld Fantasy Football Magazine with publisher, Matthew Berry.  We had just penned the SMART System for fantasy baseball to poke fun at every fantasy writer who thought they needed a TLA (three-letter acronym) to define their system.  Our football system had a couple of the same ideas as our baseball system and we worked on an acronym.  Hilariously, we ended up with the same one.

Of course, we have rules that are very different in baseball than in football.  For instance, in baseball, don't pay full value for a player who changes teams and gets a big contract.  In football, we added things like take super talented second year wide receivers instead of counting on rookie wide outs when you draft.

So, without further ado, the SMART system, a set of general principles to help you draft and WIN:


This pertains to the offensive system that is used by the player’s NFL team. Each fantasy football player needs to ask some questions surrounding players.  What are the head coaches and offensive coordinators like. What is the offensive line like?  How does the talent on the team complement the player within that system? You need to factor this information into your drafting. A good example is the new blocking scheme and coaching philosophies in Minnesota.  Dalvin Cook under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and assistant head coach Gary Kubiak could be primed for a big year.  He is 100% healthy and the offensive scheme (setting up the play action pass) is perfect for a runner like Cook.


Manage your draft preparation and your team all season.


DO NOT DRAFT A QUARTERBACK EARLY– You will get good quarterback value later in the draft. Do not pass on quality running backs or wide receivers in favor of an early quarterback. Want proof?  In the FSGA draft on June 27th, Russell Wilson , Drew Brees and Matt Ryan went in the 10th round.  Where did the GOAT go?  Tom Brady went in the 15th round as the 24th quarterback off the board.  You will get Jameis Winston , Ben Roethlisberger , Dak Prescott or Philip Rivers very late in your draft and have little to worry about.

RUNNING BACKS RULE – Draft an elite running back in the first round. Draft a full-time starting running back in the second round unless a stud wide receiver has fallen to you. In leagues with a Flex position that allow you to start three running backs per week, we always get three running backs in the first four rounds. Finding productive wide receivers later in the draft is easier than finding an elite running back. With the backfield sharing that exists today, there are so many less stable running backs you can count on week in and week out.  Simple math.  There are less than fifteen running backs to count onso if you get three, that means that the rest of the teams in a 12 team league can have one a piece.  It is a defensive play as well.  Also, simple math.  There are 2+ good wide receivers on almost every team meaning that there are 75-80 potential starters.  You will have plenty to pick from and will have one good one in your first four rounds.

TRACK COMPETITOR’S NEEDS – Make sure you keep up with all the teams' needs. For example, if you need both a quarterback and a tight end and notice that all of the teams who pick before you go again have their QB1, then wait on quarterback and take the tight end. Start the runs and don't end them.  No one has a tight end after the first three big tight ends.  Take a tight end to start the run and get one before you miss out on any that are important to your strategy.

FOLLOW THE DRAFT WHILE NOT ON THE CLOCK – Watch the board for position runs and other opportunities. Most importantly, there is NO excuse for making a bad pick because your guy was picked one spot before you. Have a plan A, plan B and plan C for every pick.


PAY ATTENTION TO BYE WEEK – Grab your BYE week replacements a couple of weeks in advance to avoid overpaying in FAAB. Also, players on BYE in a given week do not get picked up but can provide value for you. Your competitors will be shocked that player is no longer on the board in FAAB the next week.

PLAYOFF WEEKS – Look ahead and roster players with great matchups in your critical playoff weeks. This will pay off.


The older the player, the more likely they are to get hurt or suffer a steep decline in performance. For running backs, it is about talent, youth and opportunity. For wide receivers, it often takes some time to learn a system and to get used to the NFL. So, we believe that second & third year wide receivers provide better value – especially when fantasy owners think that player underperformed the year before.  For instance, you see Calvin Ridley starting to emerge last year.  This usually means he takes the next step this week.

RESERVES (Hand-Cuffing)

In a typical fantasy football league, there are 12 fantasy teams with 16 NFL players on every roster. There are 32 NFL teams. Thus, you are guaranteed to have two starting quarterbacks, two starting running backs and two starting wide receivers. Assume you draft two quarterbacks, four running backs, four wide receivers, two tight ends, one kicker and one defense to make up your 16 roster spots. That leaves you with two spaces. Think about using at least one of those two spots to back up your best running back (provided he is in a good system and has a capable backup). For example, owners of Todd Gurley should be looking at Darrell Henderson and owners of James Conner should be looking to draft Jaylen Samuels .


Football is more predictable than baseball. The players with talent often score most of the fantasy points. You should use a couple of roster spots on the best talented players irrespective of their current slot on the depth chart.  The one that Colton and the Wolfman are watching is D'Onta Foreman.  Huge talent behind a veteran whose talent is sliding in Lamar Miller.  


We do not preach that you must use this system.  We preach that you must use A system.  Have a plan.  There is so much information out there and so many people who are really good at fantasy football.  If you are busy and cannot keep up with "that guy" in your league, then you have to have an edge.  The SMART system can be that edge.  Try it on and if you don't like it, make your own, but please, have a plan. 

Whatever you do, have fun.  It is the best thing to have.