Last updated: February 16. 2013 5:54PM - 206 Views

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I started played fantasy football back in the "olden days."

The deep, dark recesses of the late 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president, Justin Bieber was teething, gas cost $1.30 and Brett Favre hadn't annoyed us all yet.

My very first pick in my very first draft was John Elway. I thought I did fine. Little did I know, this noob had just broken the cardinal rule of fantasy football: Draft a running back in the first round.

It made sense, of course. The NFL was powered by the running game and top flight RBs were scarce. If you passed on Terrell Davis or Barry Sanders in 1997, you ended up with Natrone Means or Chris Warren. Yechhh!

It's a different NFL these days. The league is a passing league, and the top fantasy scorers are almost all quarterbacks. But people still hold fast to the "golden" rule and reach for risky RBs when a better QB option is available.

It's time to break that "RB first" rule on draft day. And, while you're at it, there are a few other rules you should break.

RULE 1: WAIT TO DRAFT A QB: Just how valuable is having a top-tier quarterback on your fantasy roster? Let's do the math.

In 2011, a QB had a four-TD or more performance in a game 29 times. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton were responsible for 19 of them.

Now, bump that number up to five TDs in a game. That happened nine times. Rodgers, Brees and Stafford had eight of them.

Don't shy away from these elite guys. If you can't get a difference making RB like Arian Foster or Ray Rice, take one of these five over the next tier of backs.

RULE 2: DON'T DRAFT A TIGHT END EARLY: There were five players who caught more than 10 touchdown passes in 2011. Two of them were tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.

There were five players who had more than 90 receptions last year. Two of them were Gronkowski and Graham.

There were seven players who put up more than 1,300 receiving yards. Two of them were .. well, you see where this is going.

After Calvin Johnson, the "G-Men" are your next best pass catching options. Taking one late in round one or early in two is worth it.

RULE 3: BEWARE OF RBS OVER 30: OK, so this rule still has some value, but maybe we can amend it. "Beware of RBs over 30 with heavy workloads."

The Bills' Fred Jackson may be 30 years old, but he's spent most of his career playing in Europe or as a backup to Marshawn Lynch. He finally got his chance to start in 2011 and he ran with the opportunity. Until he broke his leg in Week 10.

Average his stats over 16 games, and you get … 1,512 yards rushing, 10 TDs and 63 receptions for 706 yards.

That's more rushing and receiving yards than Arian Foster and Ray Rice. And more TDs than Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson and Matt Forte.

If he stays healthy, he will be a top 10 fantasy back. Maybe top five.

RULE 4: BEWARE OF INJURED STARS: That depends on what kind of injury. Beware of stars coming of knee injuries might be a better way to put it.

Chargers' tight end Antonio Gates has lost part of the last two seasons with a foot injury, and a lot of people are writing him off . That's just silly.

Think of this.

In 2010, Gates got off to a blazing start. He hurt his foot in Week 8 and played in only 10 games, but still managed 50 catches, 782 yards and 10 TDs. If you average those numbers over a whole season, that would be, 80 receptions, 1,250 yards and 16 TDs. Very Gronkowski-esque.

And, Gates put up those numbers in the 10 games the Chargers were without no. 1 WR Vincent Jackson.

Flash forward to 2012. Gates is healthy. Vincent Jackson is in Tampa Bay. The Chargers just lost promising young WR Vincent Brown to a broken ankle.

Sounds like Gates to the rescue.

Rich Sheposh is a page designer, editor and ne'er-do-well who writes stuff about fantasy sports. If you feel so inclined, you can reach him at rsheposh@timesleader.com

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