Time flies!  I have to shake my head when I realize it was 20 years ago that Rick Wolf and I first published our SMART System – a set of rules for fantasy football success. There are a few truly gifted fantasy football experts out there who can approach the football season or a draft without a plan and just go with the flow, zig and zag and end up winning their league.  Rick and I know we are not so gifted and candidly most of the 60+ Million fantasy footballers are not either.  So, our goal was to devise an easy to remember, easy to employ set of basic rules fantasy football managers – whether they be sophisticated or novice – can employ in their quest for fantasy football glory.  For us, it has worked.  Teaming up with the brilliant Stacie Stern, Rick and I added our 5th FSGA Champions League ring in 2022. Look over our fantasy football rankings, fantasy football projections, and the fantasy football ADP report to lead to even better success with the SMART system. 

What is SMART?  It is an adjective and a goal but most importantly for this purpose, it is an acronym that lists 5 key principles around which one can plan for fantasy football success. 



This pertains to the offensive system that is used by the player’s NFL team. Each fantasy football manager needs to ask some questions about surrounding players and coaches.  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. 

For instance, Kellen Moore is now calling the plays for the Chargers.  As a die-hard Cowboys fan, I watched all the games in which Moore called the plays.  I have real issues with his inability to properly manage key portions of games (see calling a low percentage long sideline throw to Noah Brown that predictably fell incomplete, stopped the clock and gave Jacksonville a timeout they should never have had and then used to beat the Cowboys).  That said, Moore is someone who likes to chuck it, chuck it and chuck it some more.  Justin Herbert should have a very good statistical year in that system.  That might be a slightly chalky prediction but how about this one – Moore often pushed the ball to the third and fourth WR.  That has me eyeing Joshua Palmer late in drafts.  [Note – to those Chargers fans reading this article, my hope for you is the head coach overrules some of the bizarre game management Moore calls that will otherwise be coming your way].


Manage your draft preparation and your team all season.

Here are some basic rules when drafting:

DO NOT DRAFT A QUARTERBACK EARLY– According to some listings I have seen, the difference between QB 5 and QB 12 last year was something like 30 fantasy points.  Sound like a lot?  Well, when you divide by 17 games, it comes to under two fantasy points per game.  While, one can debate if it is worth taking Mahomes/Allen/Hurts early, it seems pretty clear that taking a Lamar Jackson in round 3 or 4 when you can get Dak in round 6-7 or Cousins in round 7-8 does not seem worth it.  

Of course, SuperFlex leagues are different and there is really no choice but to get those QBs early.  

RUNNING BACKS RULE – I know Justin Jefferson is great.  I know Jamar Chase is great.  However, there really is no denying that the bell cow back is becoming more and more scarce.  Translation – if you get two of them you have a huge advantage over your competition.  Moreover, in non-SuperFlex leagues that allow you to start three running backs per week, we always get three running backs in the first four rounds. Here are the finer points on this: (1) Finding productive wide receivers later in the draft is easier than finding an elite running back; (2) With the backfield sharing that exists today, there are so many less stable running backs you can count on week in and week out.  (3) Simple math.  There are about ten (maybe) bell cow running backs.  Based on ADP at this point, they will all be gone by some time in the third round.  Thus, if you want three, those are your first three picks.  Plus, if you have three, the other 11 teams in your league need to split up the other 7.  Strong advantage.  (4) Simple math.  There are 2+ good wide receivers on almost every team and thus there are 75-80 potential starters.  You will have plenty to pick from and will have at least one good one in your first four rounds.  There are approximately ONE-EIGHTH as many running backs to count on at draft time.

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 the teams who pick before you pick again have their QB1, then wait on the quarterback and take the tight end. Start the runs and do not end them.  

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 WEEKS – Grab your BYE week replacements a couple of weeks in advance to avoid overpaying in FAAB. Also, players on BYE in each week do not get picked up but can provide value for you. Your competitors will be shocked that the 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.  For example, a few strong second-year wide receivers who will be undervalued will be Chris Olave (as people still talk about Michael Thomas and wonder about Derek Carr), Christian Watson (as people worry about Jordan Love), Treylon Burks (remember what AJ Brown, another big talented receiver did in Tennessee).  


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 wide receivers and if you follow the SMART system two-three starting running backs. Assume you draft a quarterback, four running backs, four wide receivers, a tight end, one kicker and one defense to make up 12 of your 16 roster spots. That leaves you with four spaces. Think about using at least one of those four spots to back up your most vulnerable running back (provided he is in a good system and has a capable backup).  

For example, if you draft Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren is a must.  If you invest in Christian McCaffrey (as I have in many best ball drafts on RTSports.com), jump up and get Elijah Mitchell.  If you invest in Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier should be in your draft queue as soon as you hit the draft button on Bijan.  You get the point.    


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.  


We do not preach that you must use the SMART 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 good at fantasy football.  If you are busy and cannot keep up with "that guy" in your league, then you must have an edge.  The SMART system can be that edge.  Try it on and if you do not like it, make your own, but please, have a plan. 

On Colton and the Wolfman, we draft at least once per week starting in April.  Tune in to the show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio every Tuesday night at 10 PM ET to hear what we are learning about the draft board, strategies that work and those that do not and about players who might have escaped your notice.

Enjoy the games, have fun and draft SMART!


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