RIO DE JANEIRO -- The U.S. womens basketball teams dominating performances at the Olympics over the past two decades isnt the result of simply having the best players in the world.Of course that helps, and continuity plays a major part. But dont discount the players being well versed in the rules and nuances of international basketball. Diana Taurasi and most of her U.S. teammates spend their offseason playing overseas because of the financial incentives.Most of the Olympic players are either teammates of the American players or opponents in leagues around the world -- including Russia, Turkey, France or China.The U.S. mens basketball team, which has won 50 straight international tournament games, is still adjusting to the different style of play in Rio. There are 10 first-time Olympians on that squad, which has been challenged in the tournament.We talk about it all the time. Last night I was talking to Kyrie (Irving) and Kyle (Lowry), talked to Draymond (Green). Its a different type of basketball, Taurasi said. Until you play it, or experience it, you dont understand it. The more games the guys have played, I thought theyve felt more comfortable in each scenario. Everythings way different. Ive been lucky to play overseas for 12 years so I understand it a little bit better.Taurasi wasnt surprised at Serbia point guard Milos Teodosics success against the U.S. mens team in pool play, when he had 18 points and six assists in a 94-91 loss.Ive been watching him play for 10 years and hes one of my favorite players and no ones ever heard of him, Taurasi said. Hes an unbelievable basketball player. Im sure they didnt hear of him. We have the luxury to play against all the Serbians, the French, the Aussies, the Spanish, the Chinese. We played against them for 10 years now. We have that comfort level.The U.S. women certainly have looked comfortable over the past 20 years in the Olympics. The Americans have won 46 Olympic contests in a row with only one game being decided by single digits. The men are also 5-0, but won each of their last two games by three points.Its slower. Teams try to slow the game down, Kevin Durant said of one of the many differences between the NBA and international play. They have a lot of continuity in their sets. Defensively they can sit in the paint, so its different. The floor is a little tighter, but we got a lot of shooters, and we just try to find our rhythm on the offensive end. But, defensively, we got to do a better job of talking to each other.Ten of the 12 U.S. women players have spent a few seasons playing abroad, with only Breanna Stewart and Elena Delle Donne lacking the international experience. Stewart will play in China this offseason.I do feel like its a different game overseas, said Tamika Catchings, who has spent time playing in Russia, Turkey and South Korea. You play USA Basketball and you go over there maybe, but its a different animal when youre in that country and playing.A lot of the guys may not have played with the USA junior level. When you play on this elite level, definitely every country wants to beat us. Theyre training every single day knowing their goal is to beat the U.S. team to win the gold.The U.S. men will learn Monday night who they will play in quarterfinals on Wednesday.The women begin quarterfinal play on Tuesday against Japan, the team in Rio the Americans know the least about. Japans top player, Ramu Tokashiki, plays on WNBA Seattle Storm along with Stewart and Sue Bird.Geno Auriemma has been impressed with how Japan has competed.I dont think theres another team in the world that plays the way they do, the U.S. coach said. Play as quickly as they do, as crisp together as they play and do as many things as Japan does, I think they are unique in the world in that respect.---Online:AP Summer Games website: http://summergames.ap.org/---Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinbergVapormax UK From China . "We have always prided ourselves on the way we play defence. Having two big pieces back is going to be a key for us moving forward for years to come," said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. Wholesale Vapormax UK . World champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia won the gold medal with 237.71 points, Moore-Towers and Moscovitch followed at 208.45 and Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia were third at 187. http://www.clearancevapormaxuk.com/ . The Browns coaching search remains incomplete. Wholesale Nike Shoes UK . -- Al Jefferson found a groove just in time for the Charlotte Bobcats. Vapormax UK Outlet . Its an influence in football and a big part of the game.My friend is a senior vice president at one of the worlds most famous investment banks.I bring this up not to brag that I actually have a friend (although, lets face it, that is an upset) nor to name-drop what his job is. I mention it only because this information sort of comes into play later. And I am all about foreshadowing. And name-dropping, of course, but trust me, this isnt the name-dropping moment. That comes later. More foreshadowing! Im a foreshadowing machine!The story actually starts with the fact that my friend Paul has a son who has graduated from high school and will be starting college soon.Now, I also have an 18-year-old who will be starting college soon, so were talking, Paul and I, about where the kids are going, what they plan on studying (as far as I can tell, for mine, its Snapchat, girls and girls on Snapchat), and its all exactly what youd expect, until Paul tells me this story.This past spring, he and his son are at the college his kid has gotten into. Its orientation weekend for all the incoming freshmen and their parents. Now, its a smaller school, with maybe 1,500 kids entering this year. Ive never been, but by all accounts its a fantastic university and looks amazingly beautiful. Even with the understanding that most college campuses are pretty nice, this place is exquisite.He gets there and its a fairly typical orientation weekend. Theres a tour, there are presentations explaining how to choose your course load, the kid meets his counselor, etc., blah, blah, blah. Its all what you expect when suddenly, Paul is slipped an envelope.Its an engraved invitation.For a dinner.With the president of the university.He assumes everyone got one of these and asks some other parents what time theyre going to the dinner. They arent. They werent invited.Oh.Smooth, Paul.So Paul goes to the dinner, and maybe theres 40 parents there of the couple of thousand who are on campus. Its in a fancy-schmancy room, the food is amazing and as dinner is finishing up, the president gets up to speak.Let me get right to it. Heres why youre here. Youre rich.As nervous laughter goes around, the president continues, smiling but serious. Hes not kidding.Why do you think you guys are sitting here eating filet mignon and drinking champagne while everyone else is at a cookout? Ive got an endowment to raise and I want your money. You see how beautiful the campus is? All the new buildings going up? How do you think that happens? Rich parents.He continues. Ive got buildings to build. Improvements to make. You want your kid to live in a dump? You want your kid to be safe? Because that costs money. And as all the parents are thinking about this, the president goes for the kill.So heres the deal. If you donate and your kid screws up, well look the other way. If you dont and your kid screws up, he or she will go into the system like everyone else and you take your chances.I stare at Paul. He shrugs. Clearly, when he showed up on campus, they Googled his name or something and quickly figured out what he did. Remember that, kids. No matter what your job or interest is, it can always be improved with some research.Im shaking my head at this story as I ask Paul, So, what are you gonna do?Donate, of course. My kids a screw-up.Although he didnt actually say screw-up.Now ...I have a lot of reactions to this story. I cant believe the president was that brazen. Am I shocked? Of course not. This is not new behavior or rules. Its been happening since the beginning of time.But to be that blatant about it? Whatever your status and position in life, it certainly speaks volumes about how this country works, for better or worse. Add this to the long list of stuff rich people get that everyone else doesnt.But my biggest reaction was that I was a big fan of the approach. Is it unfair? Of course. But its honest. You may not like the rules, but at least you know what they are. And when you know what the rules are, you can make choices, you can prepare, you can set yourself up as best as possible to navigate them and succeed.Which brings us meandering slowly via a semi-awkward segue (my specialty!) into the 18th annual edition of the Draft Day Manifesto. Sup, kids? Been a minute, hasnt it?Ive been in the same fantasy baseball league with my friend Don Smith for 33 years now. He was my very first commissioner, and on draft day, every year for 33 straight years, he shakes my hand and says the same thing. Its only the best day of the year.I smile back and say the same thing. Yes it is, Don. Yes it is.Theres nothing better than draft day, and frankly, nothing more important. And thats why we are here: to get you ready for draft day.For almost two decades, weve been doing the Manifesto, and as always, some things in here are unchanged from last year: The basic blueprint for ways to start to construct a championship team, some of the strategy and, of course, as I was just telling everyone in the deep sleepers chat room on my free Fantasy Life app, there will be some over-the-top self-serving promotion.And, as always, its crazy-long, so get comfortable, or better yet, save it for about two hours after lunch. The Manifesto continues to lead ESPN in printed articles left in the stall.But dont worry. Theres also new research, new analysis and at least one new joke for my editor. (Editors note: That wasnt it.)Lets start with the most important thing about this. If you take only one thing from this entire article, it should be this, especially since I already worked in the plug for the app. The secret to winning fantasy football is, very simply, this:At a fundamental level, fantasy football is all about minimizing risk and giving yourself the best odds to win on a weekly basis.Thats it. That simple. Everything leads back to that.Everything.I write it every year because its not only true, but its also very easy to lose sight of. Exactly one year ago, no one thought the backup running back for the Falcons with just three career carries inside the tackles would wind up as the No. 1 running back in fantasy. That a backup in Pittsburgh who got double-digit carries in only eight games would be the fourth-best RB. That a 30-year-old tight end in his ninth season playing with a variety of QBs would be the fourth-best tight end in fantasy ... and score 80 points more than Jimmy Graham. That Kirk Cousins would outscore Aaron Rodgers and have twice as many points as Andrew Luck. And that Tim Hightower, who hadnt played in the NFL since 2011, would be the second-highest-scoring fantasy running back during the seasons final four weeks.You cant predict the future. I definitely cant predict the future. No one can predict the future. I literally had the main playcaller of a team with a running back by committee (RBBC) tell me one of the two guys was going to have a big week last season because of what they were scheming and what they saw on tape. Now, this person has given me good info for a number of years. Second series, the other guy broke a big play and that was all she wrote. The one guy barely touched the ball again, as the other RB had a big game. The coach texted after the game, Sorry, man. After that run, he wasnt coming out. He stayed hot all game.It is what it is. No one can predict the future. So all you can do is stack the odds in your favor as much as possible. How do we do that? Answer this question: Whats most likely to happen? And then do that.Does Paul definitely need to donate? No. Will his kid screw up? Who knows. But from talking to Paul, if hes playing the whats most likely to happen game, the answer is yes to both questions. So hes donating to the college, hes gonna offer internships to the colleges business department and whatever else he needs to do, because his kid is a bit of a screw-up and he wants to put his son in the best position to win.It may not work. At some point, the kid has to figure it out on his own, at least on some level, but Paul is doing what he can to stack the odds in his favor.Its not fair, its not just, but it is the reality of the situation, so I understand why Paul is doing whatever he can. Save me the kid needs to learn for himself emails, tweets, snaps and Facebook messages. Im just relaying the story that Paul told me. But I get it. If you have the means and youve been told that thats the deal ... Im not gonna judge a guy for doing whatever he can for his kid.The truth is, be it college, fantasy football or any other aspect of life, the advice is the same:The way to give yourself the best odds at getting the outcome you want is to minimize risk and play the percentages that give you the best chance to win. It wont always work, and there will be long shots from others that pay off, but it will work a lot more often than not.So how do you stack the odds, lower risk and put yourself in the best position to win? Do the following:1. Realize that there is no magic bulletWait on a quarterback! You must grab two wide receivers in the first three rounds! Go zero-RB! Go contrarian and go RB/RB!As you start reading, watching and listening this preseason, youll hear a lot of suggestions on what to do in your draft. If you keep reading this (or hell, who are we kidding, skimming this), I am going to tell you my take on each position. But the most important thing to realize is that there a lot of paths to glory on draft day.I asked the great Sean Comerford, who last year oversaw our ESPN League Manager product (100 percent free to play! With an awesome free app! Seriously, wait til you use it!), to look at the championship rosters from the millions of leagues that play with us. ESPN leagues are fully customizable, he said, slipping in one more plug. But I asked Sean to just pull ESPN standard leagues, as thats by far the most popular format (seriously by faaaaar ... so calm down, PPR truthers. I like PPR, too, but it is not what everyone plays.) and is fine for our purposes here.Heres the list of most common players on teams that played in the championship last season on ESPN.com in our standard league format, along with the percentage of teams they were on:I used 15 percent ownership as the cutoff, and thats the list. No kicker got more than 11 percent. Last season was a such a weird year with all the injuries, and you dont have to look further than Tim Hightower, Charcandrick West or Gary Barnidge to know how important staying active on the wire during the season is ... BUT, last year, both Adrian Peterson and Antonio Brown were consensus first-round picks and millions of people who went RB in the first made the championship game, just like millions of people who went WR. And in case you were wondering, Rob Gronkowski showed up on 11.34 percent of championship teams last season.I am a big believer in best player available for the draft. By the time you are done with this article (looking like middle of next week at this pace), youll have the tools and pieces in place to be able to make any decision to put yourself in the best possible position to win, no matter what happens in your draft. Thats the point. Not having any one specific way to draft, but rather a framework that allows you to do whatever the draft brings you.2. Know your leagueI promise, theyre not all this obvious, but youd be amazed at how many people dont know all the rules of their league. Playing with three wide receivers in your starting lineup is different than playing with two. Whats your roster size? How often can you make moves? Whats your waiver system like? Is it a PPR or 1/2-PPR league? Do tight ends get 2 PPR? How much for a TD pass? Does your defense score points for holding opposing teams to certain yardage totals or is it yardage totals and scoring totals? Whens your trade deadline? How many teams make the playoffs and when do they start? Is it a re-draft league or a keeper/dynasty league? All of these things and, frankly, every rule you have in your league helps shape a players value. Frank Gore has more value in a re-draft league this year than in a dynasty startup, you know? And how can you evaluate players unless you know their value?You need to know your leagues rules inside and out, backward and forward. Because that knowledge is what youll use to (legally!) exploit those rules and construct the best team possible on draft day. Is there an injury slot(s) in addition to the normal roster, like a DL slot in baseball? You can be more aggressive with talented but injury-prone guys, in that case. Are you required to leave the draft with a full lineup? I say you should have to, but if not, dont bother with a kicker or a defense, and use those two slots for extra position picks. You can waive them just before the season starts or do a 2-for-1 trade to grab a D/ST and K just before Week 1 starts.Realize that the roster you construct on draft day is not what you are stuck with for the whole season (unless its a best ball type league), so knowing what kind of movement is allowed is important.Allow me to use this moment to say that if you dont have a constitution for your league, you must have one. The more clarity, the fewer fights. I also suggest have a three-person competition committee that anyone in the league can appeal to if there is a dispute with the commish that you disagree with. And there should be two alternates in case the dispute involves the commish, a member of the committee or that the complainant is on the competition committee.3. Its not a yearly gameOK, I said they werent all going to be that obvious, but I didnt say none of them would be obvious. I cant tell you how many years Ive been talking about this, and its very important to remember two big things when constructing your lineup on draft day:a. Its a weekly game. b. Your roster is NOT a finished piece of work when you leave the draft.Seriously, dumb as it is, write these two phrases on a piece of paper and underline them. (And put it next to the idea that fantasy football success is all about minimizing risk and playing the odds. Also, draw my name and put a heart around it, just to weird people out).Youll hear a lot in the preseason about how many points, yards, catches, etc. someone got in a season, during the past three years and so forth, but as Hightower (out of the NFL in October, second-highest-scoring RB in fantasy the final four weeks of the season) teaches us, its about what you can do in any one given week and thats it.On draft day, you are putting together a squad that needs to do one thing: outscore one other (predetermined) team during a certain week. Knowing that there will be injuries, bye weeks and many other surprises during the course of the season, whats the best collection of players you can put together on draft day to give you a foundation to have the best shot at success every week?4. Your magic number is 94Ninety-four is a number that has been thrown around a lot here at ESPN Fantasy HQ. You see, in 2015, the average playoff team in a standard ESPN league scored a shade over 94 points per week. The previous three years it has been 93, so we feel pretty confident in this range. There will be weeks you score more than 94 points and lose, weeks where you score fewer and still win, but in general, get to 94 points a week in ESPN standard scoring and youve got really good odds of getting into the dance at the end of the fantasy regular season.Now, there are a lot of different ways to get to 94 points, of course, but heres how it broke down, on average, last season:QB: 19 points RB1: 11 points RB2: 8 points WR1: 13 points WR2: 9 points TE: 8 points Flex: 8 points K: 9 points D/ST: 9 pointsThats the average per position, but obviously itll fluctuate based on what players you have. LeVeon Bell averaged 15 points in the games he started and finished last season. So if youre getting 15 from RB1, you can get just 15 from your QB ... or 17 from your QB and 11 from WR1.There are many ways to get to 94 from the combination above, but forget specific players for a second. I just want to focus on a simple exercise that will help during the draft (mocks or real) to get your team to a point where it can get to 94 points on a weekly basis.I will say that nine points from a kicker strikes me as high. Its extremely hard to predict kickers with any accuracy (see what I did? Accuracy? Hahaha. Ah, kicker jokes. I might be going crazy. How long have I been working on this? Send help and food.).So I want you to make a sheet that reads like the thing I posted above, but slightly adjusted:QB: 19 points RB1: 12 points RB2: 9 points WR1: 13 points WR2: 9 points TE: 8 points Flex: 8 points K: 7 points D/ST: 9 points Total: 94 pointsPlay with the points all you want. It doesnt matter, you can adjust during the draft.So in the draft, say you manage to grab pick No. 6 in an ESPN standard draft. We go to our handy ESPN ADP and see Todd Gurley is currently the sixth player taken on average in ESPN standard league drafts (as of July 24). So we put down our little sheet from up above and we get to pick No. 6 and take Gurley. We project Gurley to play 15 games and, rounding up, we have him averaging 15 points a game. So now our list looks like this:QB: 19 points Todd Gurley: 15 points RB2: 9 points WR1: 13 points WR2: 9 points TE: 8 points Flex: 8 points K: 7 points D/ST: 9 points Total: 97 pointsWe had penciled in RB1 for 12 points, so with Gurley we now get three more points to play with, making our new total 97 points. As we go through the draft, this will be a sliding scale. So, for simplicitys sake, lets just go down ESPNs ADP for the picks that draft slot would net and fill out the rest of our lineup. In Round 2, its Jordy Nelson at pick 15. We see WR1 is supposed to be 13 points a game, but we project Jordy at 12. So now our roster looks like this:QB: 19 points Todd Gurley: 15 points RB2: 9 points Jordy Nelson: 12 points WR2: 9 points TE: 8 points Flex: 8 points K: 7 points D/ST: 9 points Total: 96 pointsAnd so on. Just using that draft slot via ESPN ADP, the next six picks go like this: Sammy Watkins, Demaryius Thomas, Dion Lewis (it actually would be Ben Roethlisberger, but I went Lewis here at pick 46 -- Lewis ADP rank was 48 -- because there is no QB that lines up with the exact draft slot through the first 10 rounds), Delanie Walker, Carson Palmer (pick 68 instead of pick 66) and the Carolina Panthers D.So now heres what that roster looks like, with projected weekly point totals:Carson Palmer: 17 points Todd Gurley: 15 points Dion Lewis: 9 points Jordy Nelson: 12 points Sammy Watkins: 11 points Delanie Walker: 8 points Demaryius Thomas: 9 points K: 7 points Panthers D: 8 points Total: 96 pointsThere you go. This is actually a pretty solid starting lineup. Theres definitely some injury risk here with Gurley, Watkins, Lewis and Nelson all coming off injuries, or having a history of it, and I dont love going that early for a defense, but still ... a lot of upside.And you have two points to play with, on average, per week. Not sure many folks would go for the third WR after grabbing Nelson and Watkins, but it just goes to show there are many ways to get there. Having the point totals helps keep you from veering off course too much.Now that was just going down the sheet and not veering any. What if we put a little thought behind it? Here are three other lineups you could get from various draft positions, using ESPN ADP as our guide:Now, I dont agree with all of these projections (some are a bit high for my taste), I rounded up in every case and getting 16 points a week from your kicker and defense is no given these days. You should be using whatever projections line up with your thinking (or just tweak ours until you feel good about it).The point is merely to show a goal to hit and a bunch of different ways to construct a starting roster that will give you a pretty good shot at winning every week. Especially once we add a bench in there that we can mix and match to account for injuries, poor matchups, bye weeks and whatever the hell happened to Eddie Lacy last year.Because, while this is a useful exercise, its really some loosey-goosey math. Gurley isnt going to get you 15 points every week. Some weeks itll be 22, some itll be eight and everywhere in between. Gurley is a no-brainer, start-every-week guy when healthy, of course, but not everyone on your team will be. So how do you decide which players to start every week? Well, thats what every article and ranking during the season will be for (more foreshadowing!), but for the purposes of draft day, how do we choose which players to roster?6. Range of outcomes: YearlyI discussed this in much more depth in last years Manifesto, but I want to bring it back for a refresher here. As you prepare for your draft or auction, you need to have an opinion on every player. You dont need to have stats or projections memorized, but just a general sense of how much you like that player in comparison to other players. Even if its just someones rankings that you trust, some way to differentiate between players as the clock ticks down on your pick.Heres one way that I evaluate players and Id like you to think of this as well: Every single player I roster has to have a range of outcomes that are one of two things:1. Players with high floors during the course of a season. 2. Players who could wind up as an elite option at a position in any one given week.Hold that thought and lets get back to what I said at the top of this:At a fundamental level, fantasy football is all about minimizing risk and giving yourself the best odds to win on a weekly basis.Thats it.The way we do that, of course, is by answering one simple question: Whats most likely to happen?Every decision -- whom to draft, whom to start, whom to pick up, whom to deal, everything -- all comes back to that.Its not tough to figure out.Adrian Peterson has scored double-digit touchdowns every season he has played more than one game. Whats most likely to happen this season?Drew Brees has thrown for at least 4,300 yards and scored at least 33 total touchdowns in eight straight seasons. Whats most likely to happen this season?Last season, 21 players had more receptions than Doug Baldwin. Last season, 43 players had more targets than Doug Baldwin. And last season, no player caught more touchdowns than Doug Baldwin. Whats most likely to happen this season?It doesnt always happen, but again, more often than not, players come back to the mean. Do I think Baldwin has a nice year? I do, and my rankings reflect that. But do I think Baldwin has a regression on his total fantasy points? You bet.Its a very simple exercise. Whats most likely to happen? Answer that question for yourself before every move and then, of course, act accordingly. Put the odds forever in your favor, Katniss, and more often than not, itll work out.Remember: You dont need to be perfect. You just need to win more often than not. You dont need to beat every team. You just need to outscore the one you play in your league each week.So lets go back to No. 1 in this section: players with high floors during the course of a season.Too often, people evaluate a player only in terms of what he could do in a positive manner, the best-case scenario for that player. People also tend to have recency bias, meaning we think only about how the player performed in the near past, not looking at a larger body of work.But just as important as what heights a player could reach is also what could happen if it all falls apart. Injuries are a whole different subject, but one of the reasons why I have Adrian Peterson as my No. 1 running back is because of his floor. Ive seen all of the stats on RBs over the age of 30 (he turned 31 in March) and with excessive usage (including playoffs, Peterson had 382 touches last season). I expect a bit of a downturn and I actually dont expect him to finish the season as the No. 1 running back.But I have him at No. 1 because of his high floor. You dont have to finish the season as the top RB to be worth the top pick. I do, however, feel hes the safest running back out there. Barring injury, his most likely range of outcomes is somewhere between RB1 and RB7. He has the least likely chance of being this years Eddie Lacy.Meanwhile, David Johnson is goingg fifth among RBs and in the first round on ESPN.dddddddddddd. Johnson had an amazing rookie season and I think he is a very talented running back, but he has had a total of four -- count em, four -- games in his NFL career with double-digit carries. Thats it. He performed very well in those games, but its a very small sample size, and ask anyone who spent an early-round pick on (ahem) Montee Ball, C.J. Anderson or even Jeremy Hill last season. All were high draft picks based, in essence, on having a big half a season and none lived up to their ADP.So ... could the Cardinals go to a three-man committee with Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington? Or maybe defensive coordinators spent the offseason studying tape of the Seahawks in Week 17 last season when they held David Johnson to 59 toothless yards on 14 touches and figure out a way to bottle him up. DJ also had only 78 total yards (on 21 touches) against Green Bay in the playoffs, averaging just 2.3 yards per carry. In fact, including the playoffs, the Cardinals finished the season with four games versus playoff teams. During that stretch, David Johnson averaged just 3.18 yards per carry. He beat up on a hapless Philly defense that seemed to have given up for the year, but the jury is still out on him against tougher competition. Now, I have Johnson ranked high, so Im a believer, but Im also a little nervous. His range of outcomes is very wide, anywhere from a top-three running back to this years Zac Stacy.Im not going to do this for every player. Everything else you read/hear/see from me (and everyone else) this preseason will be about player evaluation, so Im keeping this mostly to theory and strategy.So, as much as possible, I want players with a high floor. And not just a high floor for the season, but a weekly high floor. That consistency, week in and week out, is what wins championships. Not every player is a stud, but knowing you can count on a solid seven points a week from someone is more valuable to me than a DeSean Jackson type, who will score 12 points one week and then two the next. Its still 14 points over two weeks, but Id rather get the seven every week. That consistent production at as many roster spots as possible is what will help you plan the rest of your roster to figure out the best way to get to 94 points a week.Remember when I spoke earlier of having an opinion on players? It was probably last week in terms of actual reading time. Well, I want you to at least have an opinion on the range of outcomes for every player. Even if you just take a rankings sheet and quickly go down the list making notations like wide, medium or small. Doing this exercise will help reshape how you view each player and guide you through the draft.If you want extra credit, I suggest taking our projections, along with a few other sources, and creating a range of projections. So when you are doing the sheet we discussed up above, when you draft, say, LeSean McCoy you can write 11-16 for a range of potential points per week he could get. And now, instead of shooting for 94 points (or whatever your target is), you can aim for more of a range, say 90-100 for a week.Now theres a finite amount of players with a high floor and/or a starters level of consistency that we want them in our lineup. So if Im not drafting high-floor guy, Im drafting potentially a stud in any one week guy.7. Range of outcomes: weeklySo, as you move toward the middle, and especially later, rounds of your draft or auction, I want you to stock your team entirely with players who could potentially have a high weekly ceiling.Again, this is a weekly game. So, obviously, every single week you are going to look at all the players available to you -- on your roster and in the free-agent pool -- and decide on a starting lineup.As obvious as it seems, thats actually a huge step that gets overlooked a lot in fantasy. Because its not just enough to have a good player, you need to know when to start that player. In Week 11 last season, Spencer Ware had 12 touches for 101 total yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers, but very few people started him that week, as Ware had received only two carries for four yards the week before.Compare him to DeAngelo Williams, who was useless behind LeVeon Bell, but when you knew Bell was out (first two games last season and Weeks 9-16) he was a top-five fantasy running back and everyone started him. I would much rather have my roster filled with a bunch of guys like Williams than someone like Theo Riddick. Riddick is a nice little PPR play, but in standard leagues, hes never going to be a top-five player in a week. There will be a lot of weeks this season when Riddick outscores Williams ... like all the weeks Bell is playing. But Id still rather have a dominant, say, five weeks of Williams than 11 games of five points or so from Riddick. Even if Bells suspension is not upheld and hes eligible to play all 16 games, Id still draft Williams ahead of guys like Riddick.So, because I nerd out on stuff like this, I went back and looked at the ESPN consensus ranks for every offensive position for every week last season. Specifically, I wanted to see how many different players we ranked as starters in any given week. Regardless of the accuracy of the ranks, the point is that going into any one week, the expectation was that this player was generally accepted as worthy of starting consideration.? During the course of a 17-week season, 20 quarterbacks were ranked in the top 10 (starter worthy) at least once.? There were 53 RBs ranked as a top-20 option at least once last season.? There were 45 WRs ranked as a top-20 option at least once last season.? Finally, there were 19 TEs ranked as a top-10 option at least once last season.? In total, 137 players were worth putting into the 60 starting slots of QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE of all teams in a standard 10-team league at least once last season.It takes a village.This is a very simple but very important concept: not every player on your team needs to start every week. In fact, they cant. You just want players who can start for you some weeks. Some of them will be the every-week building blocks we discussed earlier, but others will be just weekly rentals.Yes, there will be the Kirk Cousinses, Thomas Rawlses and Gary Barnidges of the world who will emerge, but for every Spencer Ware and Tim Hightower there are a lot more Dwayne Harris, Mike Gillislee, Devin Funchess, Matt Jones, DuJuan Harris and Charles Clay types who are hot pickups one week, only to be back on the waiver wire in a few weeks.Heres a crazy stat: Of the 137 players who were ranked as a starter at some point last season, approximately only 20 percent of them were not drafted in ESPN standard leagues. In 2014, that number was 18 percent.In other words, the majority of your starters this year are most likely going to come from the group of guys who were drafted/purchased at auction. So, while the draft isnt the final piece of the puzzle, it is a big one.In assembling your team, realize that you want players who have the potential for a high weekly ceiling -- someone who, if the situation is right, could be an elite option in a given week. Speaking of building your team ...8. All about the first four, baby!Ive said before there are many ways to win, and while I (mostly) dont care what positions you go with in the first few rounds, I do care that whomever you get is rock solid. Consider this (or just sit there while I write it at you): In the past two years, the average ESPN Fantasy team has seen 26.1 percent of its annual points come from its first two picks in the draft. Extend it one pick further and youre talking about 36.4 percent, two picks further and its up to 47.5 percent of your points ... 47.5 percent!Thats nearly half your points coming from just one-fourth of your picks. (Not to brag, but I did that math in my head.)As Ive said often (possibly at the start of this article. Who can remember anymore? Where am I? Where are my pants?), you cant win your draft in the first few rounds, but you can lose it. Never has that been more true than in todays fantasy football landscape.If you have to take a shortcut during your fantasy football research, do it in the later rounds. When you mock draft, when you research, focus the majority of your time on the first four rounds. Its important to have late-round sleepers and youll have some of your starters come from the middle rounds, so no snoozing then, but if theres one area to focus on, its the first four rounds. Hopefully you know your draft pick early enough and you can mock from that slot, considering every possible scenario.9. Whats with all the WR-early-in-the-first-round talk?Yeah, last year was brutal for early round running backs. And many rankings have wide receivers at the very top of the first round, including my buddy Antonio Brown at No. 1 (told you the name drop was coming!). So whats the frequency, Kenneth, he said, showing hes still hip with the cool references. Is this something to consider? Is this just an overreaction to one anomaly of a year or is this a legit consideration?Its legit. Too legit to quit! (Seriously, its no wonder Im such a hit with the kids on MySpace). Anyway, I looked at the RB-versus-WR thing for our ESPN Fantasy magazine, and heres what I found:During the past three years, wide receivers drafted inside the top 30 (the first three rounds) were the most likely non-quarterbacks to return top-30 value at their position.Check it out. In 2014 and 2015, 25 running backs were drafted in the first three rounds of ESPN standard leagues. Only 68 percent of them finished the year as top-30 running backs.However, in that same time frame, 19 wide receivers were drafted in the first three rounds, and 89 percent of them finished as top-30 receivers.One of the reasons receivers consistently return value is that they arent as big of an injury risk (sorry early Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin drafters last year). During the past three years, running backs taken in the top 30 overall on ESPN.com have missed 131 total games (2.98 games a season on average), and receivers have missed only 43 (1.43 games on average).Thats just a bunch of numbers to tell you what you instinctively know (I get paid by the word. Hopefully.) ... that playing running back is more hazardous to your health than wide receiver.Incidentally, last season was a weird anomaly, but its still worth noting that seven non-quarterbacks had at least seven games of 15 or more points. Six of them were wide receivers.More on the position:In the past three years, 14 different receivers have had at least two seasons of 1,100 receiving yards or more. Seven of those WRs had back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons in 2014 and 2015. With three times as many 200-point receivers as running backs in 2015, the going safe early argument favors the wide receiver.10. So Im going WR early and blowing off RB, right? Got it.Hold on, Sparky. Running backs -- and running backs early -- are still a crucial part of a successful draft. Much of the take-a-wide-receiver-over-a-running-back data is skewed by last season, when there was an inordinate number of injuries and ... Eddie Lacy. (Bangs head against desk repeatedly. No, Im totally over it, why do you ask?)As I mentioned what seems like a month ago at this point, its a weekly game. And stud running backs are more likely to provide weekly help. Per my friend FSWA Hall of Famer Tristan H. Cockcrofts consistency rankings for the past three years reveal that the most consistent non-QB position is, in fact ... running back.Counting only players who have played at least two seasons since 2013, 12 running backs have a start percentage of at least 50 percent (meaning they finished the week as one of the top 25 players at their position in a given week at least 50 percent of the time). Meanwhile, only nine wide receivers can say that.If we raise the bar to 60 percent of the time (and, come on, 60 percent shouldnt be too tough since we are talking about the stars here), we are left with only four wide receivers. Four! Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. On the other hand, seven running backs qualify, and that number jumps to nine if you count David Johnson and Todd Gurley (I didnt due to their much shorter track record).Running backs score more touchdowns, and it makes sense since they get more red zone touches (2.5 a game for running back compared with just 0.7 for wide receivers among top-30-drafted players the past three years). That translates to more opportunities for scoring (more touches near the end zone ... who says I dont go in depth with the analysis?) and, ultimately, tasty fantasy points, which, now that I see it written, I promise to never write again.11. So now Im going RB? Wait, what? Im totally confused now. This sucks.The answer, frankly, is either/or. The odds are better that a highly drafted wide receiver will, by the end of the season, return more value than a highly drafted running back, but on a week-in, week-out basis, stud running backs are more consistent than stud wide receivers.One of the reasons for this is its easier to know when a running back will go off. My team of fantasy minions and I went back and studied start percentages of all the ESPN active leagues (so as not to throw off the data with leagues where teams stopped playing). Last season on average each week, there was a 51.1 percent chance that a WR that finished in the top 12 that week was on someones bench. Meanwhile, a top-12 RB was not started only 42.1 percent of the time. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Its easier to project when a running back is going to get a decent workload than a wide receiver, even a stud. Theres more competition for balls at the pass-catching position than at running back. So when deciding between a RB or WR in the early rounds, its not just about the specific player, how the draft is going and your own roster construction, but also how confident you feel in your own weekly lineup setting abilities.Come on now. Be honest with yourself. Ill start. I downloaded a bunch of Disney songs for my kids on my phone, but sometimes I listen to them when theyre not around. Hey, some of them are catchy. So sue me.By the way, as long as we are talking about running backs, we looked at all the games in which a running back had 20 or more touches. Eight teams alone (Vikings, Falcons, Steelers, Bears, Bills, Bucs, Panthers and Rams) combined for 40.5 percent of the 20-touch games from RBs. You want to know which handcuffs are worth reaching for? There you go. Capable running backs in run-heavy schemes are worth picking even if you dont have the starter, as they are only one injury away from being considered a safe weekly play.12. Are we at quarterback yet? Seriously dude, I just qualified for social security. This is taking forever.What can I say? Im waiting on quarterback this year, even in analysis. Ive been playing fantasy football for almost three decades and never have I entered a season with the QB position as deep as it is this year. As we keep talking about building a team to compete on a weekly basis, elite QB production is the easiest to find on the waiver wire during the course of a season.Fun fact: There are 32 teams in the NFL, and last year there were 32 quarterbacks who posted a top-five fantasy performance during a week.Fun fact 2: Going back to those start percentages, 33.3 percent of all the top-five QB performances last season came from a player owned in less than 50 percent of active ESPN leagues that week. Almost a third of all top-five performances were on the wire in a majority of leagues. For comparison to the studs, the QBs who were owned in at least 95 percent of leagues that week? They accounted for 31.1 percent of the top-five performances. Yep. On any given week, it was actually more likely that a top-five quarterback was in free agency than essentially universally owned.To give one more example, I looked at the top five quarterbacks in each of the following segments: Weeks 1-4, Weeks 5-8, Weeks 9-12 and Weeks 13-17. Thats four segments of five quarterbacks, meaning there are 20 spots to be claimed. Youd expect the elite to occupy most of them, no? The elite class was represented, but so was the middle class and the lower class. All in all, 14 quarterbacks made this list. Fourteen. Thats 44 percent of the starting QBs in the NFL. If youre curious, heres the list: Aaron Rodgers, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Russell Wilson, Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins and Blake Bortles.You never want to put too much stock into any one year, but as teams continue to pass more and more -- last year there were 18,298 total pass attempts, the most in NFL history -- and the fact there are so many talented QBs in fantasy-friendly offenses ... I will not be the first person to draft a QB in any of my leagues this year.12a. The Gronk You tour continuesTom Brady is a very viable QB to draft this year and I am not worried about the four-game suspension. Among my favorite QBs to pair with Brady are (with their first four games in parentheses):Derek Carr (@NO, ATL, @TEN, @BAL)Kirk Cousins (PIT, DAL, NYG, CLE)Matthew Stafford (@IND, TEN, @GB, @CHI)Joe Flacco (BUF, @CLE, @JAX, OAK)Matt Ryan (TB, @OAK, @NO, CAR)13. Speaking of Gronk ...I have Rob Gronkowski just outside my top 10, so I have no issue if you want to draft him at the end of the first round or early in the second. But as much as I love Jordan Reed and think Greg Olsen will have another strong year, if I am not in on Gronk, I am waiting on tight end, as the position is fairly deep and theres not a ton of difference to me between TE4 and TE10. Depending on how my draft goes, I am OK with Reed in the fourth (his current ADP), but no sooner than that because while Reeds upside is worth it, I feel hell be pretty easy to replace. But thats the only non-Gronk tight end Id consider in the first six or seven rounds.14. Two-minute drillSome quick-hitting pieces of advice:14a. Roster constructionIm a one tight end, one kicker, one defense kind of guy (and you know to draft a defense and kicker in the final two rounds, right?). Depending on what you do at QB, I am OK with rostering two QBs this season, but everything else is RB or WR. And when in doubt, in the middle and late rounds, go running back over wide receiver. Looking at No. 11 above in a different way, there is a better chance a startable WR is on your waiver wire during the season in any given week than a RB. Youll likely need more RBs during the course of the season and there are more chances for one to pop. I want as many shots at having one of those guys that pops on my team as possible.14b. I dont care about ...? Bye weeks -- So much can happen during the season, you wont know until you get there if you are light or OK during a heavy bye week? Schedule -- A year ago at this time, everyone was talking about how great the Dolphins defense would be. You cant know in August what a bad matchup will be in December.? Players on the same team -- Tom Brady doesnt know you also have Rob Gronkowski on your team, and he doesnt care. Pick the best team possible, and if it means you own players on the same team, its fine. Weve done studies, theres no significant difference one way or the other.14c. Just because its a plug doesnt mean it isnt trueMock draft, baby. Practice makes perfect. You just read this whole damn thing, youve clearly got time. Why not do one now in our free mock draft and auction lobby?Speaking of mock drafts, if you do join one, dont leave. People who leave mock drafts early are, like, the sixth-worst people on Earth. Also, if you join a mock draft, dont impersonate me or someone else. I cant tell you how many tweets I get that say Im in a mock draft with you! And its not me. Its so weird, I dont get why people do that. Anyway, just know every time I do a mock draft (or any kind of league), I will put it out on Twitter.14d. The big ADP secretADP is largely driven by the default ranks on whatever site you play on. So the ADP ranks on ESPN probably differ in some ways from the ADP on other places where people play fantasy, because our default ranks are different than other places. Find a rankings source you like, compare it with the ADP of the site you are drafting on and you will be able to find players that are going way too high or too low for what you want. Thats where youll find market inefficiency. (And itll be the focus of this years Love / Hate ... foreshadowing!)14e. We all lie, lie, lieThis article is almost entirely about theory and strategy, but everything else you read this preseason will be about players and their values, both high and low. And just know that every single thing youll read isnt actually a fact, but rather an opinion disguised as a fact. Trust me. Or better yet, read my 100 facts you need to know before you draft. It came out a while ago, but its among my favorite articles I write every year and if nothing else, the intro is helpful to understand how analysis is created.14f. Theyre just names and numbers, baby!A common question Ill get is some version of: I have pick two and I really want Ezekiel Elliott. Is that too early? And the answer is ... sort of. Look, I wouldnt draft him that high and my ranks reflect that. But if you want Zeke, hes not coming back to you in the second. So grab him there. Just understand that rankings, whether you use mine or someone elses, are a loose guideline. They are not hard and fast, and the market value of players, which is what the rankings are on some level, changes with every player selected, as certain positions may suddenly become more scarce or plentiful. Its your team, you have to live with it, so draft the guys you want, not what some piece of paper that doesnt know your league or the participants in it tells you.14g. Checkers and chessThe Elliott example above is yet another reason why you should be doing an auction instead of a draft. Its a much more fair way to distribute players, its more fun and its an even better test of skill. Seriously. Its chess compared to checkers. Try it once.14h. Speaking of trying something new ...If youve read this far, youre a gamer. You get it. You know how much fun, how awesome, how addicting fantasy football is. You know how it brings people together. So why keep it all to yourself? Make it your goal to convince one person in your life who has never played before to try a league this year. We need more women playing, more kids, more senior citizens. Fantasy football is something everyone can enjoy, so ask your parents, your kids, your neighbor, co-worker, someone. Just one person. Come on. Help me spread the word.14i. Not sick of me yet?Listen to my daily podcast (starting in August) with Field Yates and Stephania Bell. Watch Fantasy Football Now on Sundays on ESPN2. Read me on ESPN.com. And be sure to read/listen/watch the fine works of my colleagues Stephania Bell, Matt Bowen, Mike Clay, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Ken Daube, KC Joyner, Eric Karabell, Jim McCormick and Field Yates. Feel free to follow me (MatthewBerryTMR) on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/Fantasy Life.15. Finally, please remember thisWe do this for FUN. This is a pastime, OK? Its embarrassing to use social media to harass a player, coach or a fantasy analyst. Calm down. Theres plenty of negativity in the world already, no reason for you to add to it over a hobby or to lose a friendship over it. Unless you got a shot at the title. I mean, come on. Friends are overrated.Many thanks to Kyle Soppe of the ESPN Fantasy department and Ben Bradley from ESPN the Magazine for their research help.Matthew Berry, The Talented Mr. Roto, is sure he forgot something. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a paid spokesman for DraftKings.com and one of the owners of the Fantasy Life app. Editors note: Some information contained in this column previously appeared on ESPN.com or in the ESPN Fantasy magazine. ' ' '