A Fantasy Football Blog by Nick Cattles, 98.5 The Sports Hub

BOSTON (CBS) – The Fantasy Football season is upon us. It’s time to study statistics, bye weeks, projections and rankings.

But, before you get back to your usual pre-draft routine, there are some things stemming from the too long lockout that could effect your drafts. With that said, it’d probably be a good idea to keep the following in mind, when heading into the draft room:

1) New Systems/Coaches – Every year there seems to be at least four or five coaching changes in the NFL.  But, it’s not every year that those new coaches are forced to instill their system in drastically less time.  With not much camp time before kickoff, there will likely be a longer than expected adjustment period for players being fit into new systems.  For example, former Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels is now running the offense inSt. Louis, after being canned in Denver.  It stands to reason that Sam Bradford and his weapons could get off to a slow start.

2) New Faces in New Places – As the above mentions, changes in the NFL happen yearly, but this year is much different.  You should be cognizant of skill players changing teams this season and trying to learn their new team’s playbook in a shortened amount of time.  Yes, some players have the talent that will overcome that challenge within the season’s first month.  But, those first four games could mean you make or miss the playoffs.  Furthermore, some systems are tougher than others. Seattle might tailor their offense around Sidney Rice and just tell him to beat his individual defender, while Chad Ochocinco is asked to change his entire route running mindset.  Make sure if you draft a new face/new place player, you understand it could take him time to adapt and give you the numbers you were hoping for.

3) Tough Shell for Rookies to Crack – Every football season there’s at least two or three rookies that make an impact.  Last season, it was Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount, both in Tampa Bay.  If you’re looking for rookies to make your bench strong this season, be cautious.  With no rookie camps or OTA’s, it’ll be tough for first year players to adapt to the NFL.  Now this doesn’t mean to erase these guys off your board completely, just don’t go drafting Mark Ingram in the 3rd round.

4) Stick With The Usual Suspects – So since we’ve explained how new changes might equal less production, the opposite also reigns true.  That is to say, veteran players that have been in a system and under the same coaching staff for a number of years are that much more valuable.  While Denver players might take some time adapting to John Fox’s conservative approach, you can expect the Patriots to continue to post great offensive numbers.

5) Keep an Eye on Those Depth Charts – It never ceases to amaze me how many fantasy football owners either don’t pay attention to depth charts at all or rely on them too heavily.  With so many moves and changes happening so quickly in the NFL this season, depth charts during the preseason will fluctuate rapidly.  Use them as a guide and not a strict decision maker.  Remember, teams tend to shake things up after you’ve already drafted your team, anyway.  Just don’t go into your draft room blind, drafting a guy who was a #1 receiver down the stretch last season, but now is the #3.

Hopefully these pointers will help your preparation process during, what should be, an interesting season.  When all is said and done, just remember to do your homework and have fun.  Nothing is worse than having a league full of people who don’t care and don’t pay attention.

Read: Nick Cattles’ Sports Blog

For more fantasy football news and advice, check out 98.5 The Sports Hub on Sunday mornings from 9am-10am, starting this Sunday, August 28 for the Progressive Software Fantasy Show. Mike Lockhart and I take your phone calls and texts on any fantasy question you have.

Looking forward to a great year!

– You can follow Nick Cattles on Twitter: @NickCattles and @sportshubfantfb

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