The 2014 National Football League (NFL) season kicked off on Thursday, Sept. 4, and with it fantasy football also began. Millions of people worldwide have been obsessed with fantasy football for several years now, and it seems to only grow more and more popular each year. Although fantasy football drafts have already happened and the season has started, there is still an entire season to be won or lost. Here are all of the of the steps you need to take in order to become a champion and to get the most out of your fantasy football experience.

Picking Your Lineup

• Always wake up and check your lineup before the 10 a.m. Sunday morning to make last minute changes based off of gametime decisions

• Don’t choose your starters based off of projections entirely (Go with your gut and start the guy projected for 10 points, not the injury prone guy with 15 projected)

• Don’t drop a defense, tight end or kicker just because they are on a bye, someone else will steal them off waivers; instead, drop that fifth wide receiver that you know you will never play

• Don’t drop a star if they are out for a few weeks, bide your time and keep them on the bench

• Know who is guarding your player (The overall defense may be bad, but their number one cornerback could be an elite player who is matched up with your number one wide receiver)

• Check the rankings of the defenses that your players will face to ensure they will perform up to task

• Get a good player on your favorite team they’re available and you could use them; it is much more fun to root for your team even harder than for that random tight end on a team you don’t care about

• Always know your players role (You don’t need the guy who gets a 60 yard rush, you can get the hard-nosed running back who punches in the one yard TD on the goal line for the same points)

• Don’t tinker; if you have what you think will work, close the computer and don’t second guess yourself 

• Don’t have a lineup set in stone, performance varies week to week

Services

• Follow the best fantasy experts on Twitter, (Matthew Berry, Eric Karabell, Christopher Harris and the rest of ESPN Fantasy)

• Get NFL Redzone so that you can watch your players perform instead of just staring at stats

• Read Matthew Berry, he is the single best fantasy guru and his “Love/Hate” article gives you the information necessary to make the decision of who to start and who to bench

• Watch “The League.” If you love fantasy, it will be perfect for you

• Ask your friends for their opinions.  It’s good to hear what other people think about your particular situation, although you should be the one who decides the final lineup

Trades/Aquisitions

• Be active, make trades. Trade a player right after a really good week, you will get the most value for them

• Monitor the waiver wire religiously for sleepers and bye week replacements

Things to Avoid

• If you can avoid it, don’t pick players that play on bad teams.  Just because they’re a starting running back doesn’t mean they’re a good starting running back

• Trash talking before the game is actually over.  This can lead to some awkward situations after Tony Romo throws three interceptions in the first half and loses the game for you

• Don’t talk about fantasy every available second of the day.  An occasional remark regarding football is always welcomed, but don’t make it the focal point of every conversation

• Never draft players based on their physical attractiveness.  Just because Tim Tebow is undeniably adorable doesn’t mean he’s going to be productive on the field.  In fact, he’s not even in the NFL which is going to make it hard for him to produce.

• Don’t trade for a player until you do an in-depth background check. There will be a lot of people out there looking to dump off Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson because of their off the field issues.  You want to avoid these players who have trouble with following the law.  A little research can go a long way!

• Don’t only play guys who are on your favorite team.  Fantasy football is about the individual, not the team as a whole. 

• Never hop all over a player who has one big game.  Every player in the NFL has talent and athletic ability, that’s why they’re playing. Use this to your advantage: don’t wait until a player has a terrible game to trade him.  If a player has their best game, that’s usually when their value is the highest.  Buy low, sell high.

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