Read this for guaranteed fantasy success   

Updated: August 28, 2007, 6:45 PM ET

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ESPN.com resident fantasy football expert Matthew Berry wrote an excellent column on rules every owner should follow when drafting.

But every fantasy veteran knows you can never have enough information at your disposal come draft day. So, I present "DJ Gallo's Rules To Draft By" – 10 rules guaranteed to make you the champion of your league this season. You're welcome.

Rule No. 1: Take a pass in the first round
Everyone who has played fantasy football for at least a few years has had a season ruined by a first-round pick who doesn't pan out – be it to injury or poor performance. A bad pick in the first round cannot be overcome. Don't fall victim to that this year. Take a pass in the first round. You'll thank me later. Still doubting me? Even NFL teams, with their millions invested in scouting, do this. Take the Minnesota Vikings in the 2003 NFL draft, for example. So, be smart on your draft day. Be a Viking. Then celebrate your fantasy title at the end of the season on a boat while living out all of your fantasies.

Rule No. 2: Draft a kicker early
You will want to get kickers early and often. Think of all the times you have lost a fantasy matchup by a single point or two. It is infuriating. It ruins your week. Well, no more. A good kicker can give you that extra point you need. While your rivals are scrambling in the final round to pick up a middling kicker, you'll already have an Adam Vinatieri, Nick Kaeding or a Shayne Graham (or all three if you're smart!), guaranteeing yourself an extra point per week. Sometimes a top kicker can even give you an extra three points – or four (WHOA!) for a 50-yard-plus field goal. Now we're talking Blowout City.

Rule No. 3: Don't fall into the trap of drafting running backs
There are a lot of myths surrounding fantasy football. One of them is that running back is the most important position. Pshaw to that, I say. Pshaw! Look at the top fantasy running back from last season, LaDainian Tomlinson. He finished with 416 fantasy points. Meanwhile, the worst fantasy running back from last season finished with zero fantasy points. That might look like a big disparity, but when averaged over a 17-week NFL season, that's just 24 points per week. Have you ever beaten anyone with a 24-point week? Yeah, me neither. So let your friends overreach for a running back they hope will produce in the 24-point range, even though there are only a limited number available. You'll be growing fat on the near limitless crop of backs in the zero-point range.

Rule No. 4: Defense, defense, defense
The point of this article is not to share conventional wisdom with you, so I apologize in advance if this next rule seems a bit elementary to you, but here it is: Draft defense early. Why? Well, because – as everyone knows – "defense wins championships." There's not a more tried and true paradigm in all of football. So once you get your kicker, go with a top defense like Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens and dance, dance, dance your way to a title! And to quickly recap, so far the top of your draft board should read: "1. Pass. 2. Kicker. 3. Defense." Good? OK, let's continue.

Rule No. 5: Draft who was hot at the end of last season
A successful sleeper pick is a huge boon to any fantasy team. But how can you identify a sleeper? One way is to focus on what players finished the 2006 season strong, expecting them to continue the pace in 2007. Specifically, I like to focus on Week 17 of the previous season. So, this year I'll be drafting someone named Hank Baskett, an Eagles wideout who led all receivers in Week 17 last season with 177 yards. That projects to 2,832 yards this season – WOW! Then I will pick Week 17 rushing leader Tiki Barber (234 yards and three TDs … 3,744 yards and 48 TDs!) and Week 17 passing leader Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals.

At this point your draft board should read: "1. Pass. 2. Kicker. 3. Defense. 4. Hank Baskett. 5. Tiki Barber. 6. Kurt Warner." To be honest, if this is how you draft, you have more or less won your league already and don't need to make any more picks. But be a good sport and complete the entire draft. No need to rub your awesomeness in your friends' faces. Yet.

Rule No. 6: Rub your awesomeness in your friends' faces
It's time to take another pass. With your team already loaded, you can afford to do it. So, when your next pick comes up, spend your allotted time talking smack to your friends. I suggest: "I've got Hank Baskett, y'all! You've never heard of him because he's just that good: his greatness cannot be described with words." Or: "Tiki Barber is money in the bank. The tension between him and Eli Manning this year is going to result in huge numbers." Or: "WWJD – Who Would Jesus Draft. You know it's Kurt Warner, suckers. I'm taking you down like Moses took the Ten Commandments down off of Mount Sinai, thereby giving humanity direction in this dark and sin-filled world. Booyah!"

Rule No. 7: Get insurance on your top player
Let's say you somehow get a LaDainian Tomlinson or Larry Johnson. That might seem all well and good – until they get hurt. That's why you need some insurance and, in fantasy football, insurance consists of drafting your top player's backup. So if you have Tomlinson, also draft Michael Turner. Of course, Turner could also get hurt. So you should draft third-string back Darren Sproles, too. And as insurance on Sproles, draft fourth-string back Tyronne Gross, then starting fullback Lorenzo Neal and his backup, Andrew Pinnock. Following Pinnock, take a running back on San Diego's practice squad. Finally, as the ultimate insurance, select Natrone Means, who the Chargers might go to if they're really in a jam.

Now let's update our draft board: 1. Pass. 2. Kicker. 3. Defense. 4. Hank Baskett. 5. Tiki Barber. 6. Kurt Warner. 7. Pass/Gloating. 8-15. Entire depth chart behind your best player.

Rule No. 8: Keep an eye on injured players
Players with a track record of injuries always get a lot of attention on draft day. As they should. But it should be positive, not negative, attention. Think about it: A player who has spent much of his career hurt has also spent much of his career resting and receiving cutting-edge medical care and physical rehabilitation treatment. That means they should be rested and ready to break out and perform at 100 percent this season, while so-called "healthy" players are hobbling along thanks to years of abuse from full 16-game seasons. Remember: If your team smells like liniment, it will reek of excellence.

Rule No. 9: Spill beer on your friends' draft cheat sheets
"Hey, what's that you have there  your draft cheat sheet? Whoa … whoops! I didn't mean to spill my beer all over your papers. Here, let me wipe those off for you. Oh, no. Now the ink is smeared everywhere. It's all unreadable. What a shame. I feel really terrible."

Rule No. 10: Share these draft rules with your friends
"To show you how sorry I am about ruining your cheat sheet just moments before our draft was to begin, I'll let you use my copy of 'DJ Gallo's Rules To Draft By.' I have an extra copy here. What – you have never heard of DJ Gallo? Not surprising. He's a bit of a tool. But he is quite respected in fantasy football circles. In fact, you could call him 'the Hank Baskett of fantasy football experts.' Anyway, here is your copy of his rules. And, yes, there are only eight rules. There were no additional ones on the part I just ripped off. Honest. So, hey – good luck on your draft!"

DJ Gallo is the founder and sole writer of the sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He is also a regular contributor to ESPN the Magazine and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book – "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck" – is on sale now.


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