Draft Day has arrived

There are some questions you need to answer before drafting in a new league.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - And so it begins. This evening after work I begin the first of my five NFL fantasy drafts. This one is with co-workers, so bragging rights are at stake and being the Fantasy Editor I would be embarrassed if I do not place high in the standings. Not to mention I won't be able to walk around the building without hearing it from my friends. Talk about pressure.

I've done all the studying I can do, read all I can read, now it's time to put the knowledge to good use.

It is the first year of a keeper draft, meaning budding superstars have more value than veterans at or near the end of their careers. Young running backs such as Tennessee's Chris Johnson, Chicago's Matt Forte and Houston's Steve Slaton have their fantasy values increase in keeper leagues, while a Larry Johnson, Thomas Jones or even a Brian Westbrook may lose a couple of spots because of age or wear-and-tear from many years of physical abuse.

Which brings me to my first suggestion, particularly, for those out there who are entering their first draft, but also for the vets.

Read the rules of your league. You'll be surprised how many people don't know the specifics of the league they just entered.

How many players per team? When do the playoffs start? How many points for a passing touchdown?

The third question is very important. In a six points-per-touchdown league, quarterbacks take on extra value and you must adjust your picks accordingly. Drew Brees and Tom Brady and even Peyton Manning could all be first-round selections in a six-point per TD pass league. On the other hand, there are four-point and even three-point league which make running backs and receivers more valuable at the expense of quarterbacks.

Do return yards count?

Another huge question. In a league where return yards are added to a players totals (normally at one point per 25 yards), Darren Sproles adds an additional 71 points to his total, Leon Washington adds 67 and even Maurice Jones-Drew returned a few kickoffs and punts last year which would add to his statistical total. It might make Josh Cribbs, who is looking like he'll win the No.2 receiving spot in Cleveland a viable fantasy receiver since he already earns points as a great kick returner.

You should also make sure you know how the waiver pickup order is determined and when pickups and lineups must be in. Nothing is worse than missing a deadline and being stuck with last week's starting lineup, particularly in the early weeks where teams have off and you could be stuck getting a zero.

Now that you've studied the rules and studied the players you are ready.

Lastly, come on time, come prepared and enjoy yourself, after all, that's why you entered the league - to have fun.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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