Five Keys to Winning a Major Fantasy Football Tournament

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Most fantasy leagues are among friends and done either entirely for fun or for a small cash prize.

On the other side of the spectrum are the big tournaments like the WCOFF and FFOC.

This year I'm competing in the million-dollar Fantasy Football Open Championship. Now, I'm probably premature in writing an article about how to win a league like this (because I haven't), but I've found that I've had to approach this league differently than normal leagues.

I am doing well so far and I'm 4-0 in the preliminary 10-team league. Each week is a head-to-head matchup, and then if your total points are in the top half of the league that week you get another win.

Here are five tips that I plan to follow this season in the FFOC:

1. Draft well

The draft is important in every league, but it's especially important in the FFOC because there is no trading allowed during the season. Since there's no trading, it's important to draft well at every position.

Just drafting the best player available won't necessarily work. You really need depth all around. My depth is best at quarterback (Brees, Roethlisberger, Rodgers) and running back (Westbrook, Graham, Forte, Brown).

2. Identify key weeks

Sometimes the league specifies a unique ranking system that could affect how you play the game. In the FFOC, the overall winner is determined by the total score of this equation:

(Average of weeks 1 through 9) + (Average of weeks 10 through 15) + (Week 16)

With this weighting system, games during weeks 10 to 15 are valued 50% more than those in weeks 1 to 9, while week 16 is valued nine times more than a game in weeks 1 to 9. Also, week 10 is the league championship game that determines who goes on to the national tournament.

Whichever tournament you're in, you need to target players with good matchups in key scoring weeks and avoid players with byes on those weeks. My only problem is Earnest Graham's bye in week 10, but Forte should fill in nicely.

3. Start players with upside

Looking at the overall standings, the top teams have started all the right studs in both weeks so far. When deciding between two similar players, pick the one that seems more likely to hit it big. For instance, start Chris Johnson over Thomas Jones even though Jones might be the safer pick.

When you're playing against thousands of other teams, you're not going to get to the top by playing it safe. Winning a big tournament is going to take a bit of luck anyways, so it makes sense to take some calculated risks.

4. Be diligent with free agents

You can't let any worthwhile free agent slip away. When you're playing for a million dollars, it's worth the time to stay up-to-date on every transaction going on in the NFL.

5. Spend wisely

Although it's important to watch for valuable free agents, don't spend frivolously. The last couple years have featured breakout players late in the season. If there's a cap to free agent spending like there is in FFOC, don't spend all your cash too soon. Just because a player has a great week 1 game doesn't mean they can produce all year long.


Again, these are just a few ways that I'll be approaching my major tournament differently than my other leagues. I haven't won any tournaments yet, but I hope that following these tips will change that.

If you're not in a big tournament this year, I highly encourage joinging one next year. It's a lot of fun playing with so much on the line.

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Categories: fantasy leagues