PARRY: Living the fantasy, and you can follow along

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) shown during NFL football training camp, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in Mankato, Minn. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)

It really has become a sport all unto itself. Beginning in August with preparation for the draft, it absolutely consumes me.

Do I draft a running back first?

Is this the year to hold off on ball carriers and focus instead on a sure-thing quarterback like Aaron Rodgers.

What if I draw the last pick of the first round? How will adjust to having 13 players already off the board?

Of course, I am talking about Fantasy Football.

All of these concerns and more will be put to the test this Sunday when myself and 13 other team owners convene in Tyler for the annual Dereliction league draft. I joined Dereliction in 2004, which is comprised of fellow sportswriters, a couple bankers and an insurance guy, among others.

The commissioner of our league is Cedric Golden, former Tyler Paper sportswriter and current columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, who started this league in 1999.

Now, I have played fantasy football since the mid 90s when I was in college, but this is unequivocally the best league I’ve ever been associated with.

The reason why?

These guys take this seriously.

There aren’t owners just coasting through the draft and season; you pay your entry fee and try to win it all.

The main prize is to have your team’s name engraved onto our league trophy — ultimate bragging rights and historical significance.

It is the responsibility of the previous year’s winner to get the current champion’s name taken care of and brought to the draft where the trophy will be handed over to the new victor.

Like a crown being passed at a Miss America pageant.

Mournfully, I’ve never received the crown. Not in this league anyway. I’ve won other fantasy football leagues, but entering our ninth year, the Last Action Heroes (underrated movie starring a former Governor of California) are still waiting to sit atop Dereliction.

Not that the Heroes haven’t got close. We made the Super Bowl once and have been a playoff team in seven of our eight seasons.

But the Heroes always seem to come up hort. Kind of like the Philadelphia Eagles. But in a 14-team league with only eight teams making the playoffs each year, that is still not too bad.

Every Thursday, I will give fantasy tips and an update on how the Heroes are doing; any feedback from readers is welcome and appreciated.

Also, any questions I can answer about strategies or trades, pickups, drops or whether to start someone, feel free to send email to cparry@tylerpaper.com or tweet to @CParryETFS. You can also ask questions on our ETFinalScore.com facebook page.

A Few Draft Strategies

Know YOUR league: Each fantasy league is an island unto itself and the most important thing I can press upon fellow fantasy football aficionados is know what your league scoring system is what positions are required. For instance, in our league, we do not have keepers or individual defensive players. We have a snake draft. Each roster has to be able to start each week: a quarterback, three receivers, two running backs, a kicker and a defense.

We do not use tight ends as a position, but you can play a tight end as a receiver. In our league, we give 6 points for passing and receiving touchdowns while other leagues I’ve seen only give four points for passing TDs. We also give a point per two receptions. This makes receivers and quarterbacks more valuable.

Nobody puts You in a corner: Just because you’ve planned out a strategy in the day’s leading up to the draft does not mean it will work on draft day. I may really want to draft Aaron Rodgers (and who wouldn’t) but if I am picking 13th out of 14 teams, he will probably not be there when I select. Always have a second, third and even fourth plan when things go awry. That way you can shift your focus and draft maybe the best player available at 13 and look for a quarterback in the second or third round.

Remember, the magazine, just like this Takeaway, is someone’s opinion: Listen or read five fantasy experts and each will have their own foolproof way of drafting. One believes its sacrilege not to zero in on a running back in the first two rounds. Others may say to focus on quarterbacks and wait on running backs this year because of the injury uncertainty surrounding usual blue chips like Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles or Darren McFadden. It’s only one person’s opinion. You are your team’s owner.

If you pick first?: Hallelujah, the world is your oyster. I could make a case for Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, but could make just as big an argument for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Remember, it depends on your league.

What about the fifth pick?: This one is tough because absolutely the three “safe” running backs (Foster, Eagles’ LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice of Baltimore Orioles) will be gone by the fifth pick. If it’s me this year, I am looking at a quarterback or Detroit Lions phenom receiver Calvin Johnson.

What about the ninth pick? Many big names will be gone, but this also means it will be coming around to you for the second round pick sooner. Depending on your draft, this is where I zero in on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady or maybe take a chance that Charles returns to form after recovering from injury.

What if you pick last?: The positive thing is you get two selections, but you MUST choose wisely and you ABSOLUTELY have to take at least one running back. In our draft the 14 and 15 picker waits an eternity before choosing again. My advice is not to take chances. Get a solid quarterback like Matt Stafford or Cam Newton and a stable running back like the Cowboys’ Demarco Murray or Michael Turner from the Falcons.

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