Make the soup your own

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Do you really want to win your fantasy football league or are you just in it for the camaraderie? If you truly want to win, have to win, here's the most important message I can impart... think for yourself!

Recognize that the ever-expanding gaggle of self-proclaimed experts will be wrong a significant portion of the time. Which means that every fantasy expert's rankings and projections, including mine, must not be thought of as gospel.

When you see a list that you want to use for your draft, remember that its author doesn't have any idea of your league's rules. The author's just making generalizations.

Does you league set quarterback touchdown passes at six points, four points or three points? Do you get one point for every 25 yards passing or 50 yards?

Are running back bonuses at 100 yards, 150 yards and 200 yards, or some other method?

Are you in a PPR (point-per-reception) league where every catch has added value? The value of running backs like LeSean McCoy (78 catches), Arian Foster (66), Ray Rice (63) and Peyton Hillis (61) are greatly enhanced in PPR leagues.

Are punt and kickoff return yards included in a player's total? If so, Danny Amendola (689 yards receiving, 1,596 yards in returns), Percy Harvin, Devin Hester, C.J. Spiller and Darren Sproles get huge boosts in fantasy value.

Do your defense/special teams get bonus points for holding teams under a specific point level, or do they use a yardage system?

These and many other scoring differences can make any generic ranking much less valuable for your own use.

I equate this to making soup.

While some may have the time to make soup from scratch, these days, most of us get our soup from a can. Do you simply take the can off the shelf, toss the contents into a pot and turn on the heat, or do you add more ingredients to make it taste exactly as you like it?

And even if by some chance a fantasy expert uses the exact scoring of your league, it's still no guarantee.

Using a site which many fantasy players use as a reference, I went back to last year's listing to analyze the performance. Taking the top 10 quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and tight ends from a July 19, 2010 ranking list, I found that only 20 of the 40 players (50%) listed in the pre- season top-10 rankings actually finished the year as a top-10 at their positions. They got six of 10 quarterbacks correct, but just four of 10 running backs and five each of the receivers and tight ends.

The moral of the story is a fantasy owner who wants to win should do some work independently. That's the only way to get it done exactly to your liking. Or, if putting in all that time and effort is a problem, at least take an expert's list and make it your own by adjusting the rankings to fit your fantasy league's scoring rules.

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

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