Fantasy football draft rules to follow during this coronavirus season

Hooray all! Welcome to the 2020 fantasy football season! Hopefully.

While you have been socially distanced from the Fantasy Madman, we’ve been preparing for what is certain to be the strangest and most unpredictable football season we’ve ever seen. And, inevitably, fantasy strategy has to change to adapt to this new reality.

The rules are fairly simple, and some are going to be widely touted by the fantasy community. There are times to be contrarian, but this is not one of them. In fact, you can separate yourself by sticking steadfast to these rules, and avoid the temptation of audibling away from the game plan.

Rule 1: Draft players on teams whose offense hasn’t undergone significant changes. If a team has a new coach, offensive coordinator or quarterback, etc., be wary. Even if that new QB is Tom Brady. This rule applies especially to the Panthers — who violate this rule on all three counts.

That doesn’t mean you can’t draft, say, Christian McCaffrey. But considering his team violates all three parameters of our first rule — new coach, new coordinator and new QB — our expectations for CMC, the consensus top pick, are more modest than others.

Certainly we expect him to be among the top running backs, and we know running backs are the most sought-after position (particularly early in drafts), but … let’s just say the Madman won’t poke fun at you if you were to draft Michael Thomas there instead. Like we said, we are seeking stability this season.

And yes, we know CMC was enormously productive even with Kyle Allen at QB last season. But again, QB is just one of the three warning flags.

Rule 2: Avoid rookies. We give a little more leeway for rookie running backs, but just those who won’t rely heavily on contributions in the passing game. So despite Clyde Edwards-Helaire rocketing up draft boards after Damien Williams opted out, we plead patience.

Coach Andy Reid has been much more open to platooning ballcarriers in recent years, and a rookie learning pass-protection during a virtually nonexistent offseason puts CEH in a deep hole catching up to the scheme. The Chiefs aren’t going to put QB Patrick Mahomes in harm’s way for rookie RB trying to learn the pass-pro ropes.

Rookie wide receivers are an even bigger risk. And do we need to remind you rookie tight ends are always a bad investment?

Rule 3: Handcuff RBs. Normally, the Madman is not in the camp of handcuffing. But this season, with a variety of players almost certain to get sidelined unexpectedly by positive tests, it is not only injuries you have to worry about. Instead of waiting to cuff only if secondary option falls to late rounds, we do not object to grabbing a cuff in the middle rounds this season.

Rule 4: Take a backup QB. Normally we do this anyway, since we often only draft QBs late. This season, even if you land a stud, grab a backup option, too. Again, more risks this year that players miss time, and you don’t want to rely on an in-season waiver pick over multiple weeks.

We know it is tempting when a fresh new name falls to you, but stockpiling depth among those experienced in their systems is preferred in these tumultuous times.

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