10 Fantasy Football Draft Rules

A note pinned to a cork board reminding with the text 10 Fantasy Football Draft Rules
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So you might be realizing your fantasy football draft is just around the corner. Draft day is like glorious Christmas morning. 

Hopes are high! Anticipation grows waiting for the players you’re going to roster. The surprise presents (I mean players) your going to score! Who’s going to drop to you in the draft? It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 

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You need to harness all this energy and excitement in the right way. What has helped me over the years is 10 Fantasy Football Draft Rules! 

Even as a seasoned fantasy veteran, I look over these tried and true rules as a refresher. It’s important to started the year off right, and select the best players possible. If you stick to these guidelines you’re bound to draft a team destine for the Fantasy Football Championship!

A gold trophy and football sitting on grass on a football field inside a football stadium
A calendar of a month

#1 DON’T DRAFT UNTIL AT LEAST THE END OF AUGUST 

If at all possible, convince your leaguemates to not draft until at least late August, or better yet early September right before the season starts! I like to go with that weekend leading up to the Thursday night season kickoff game.

The NFL is an ever changing landscape. You want as many injuries to flush out in training camp and preseason BEFORE your draft. Nothing sucks more then starting your fantasy season picking a star player then watching them get hurt days later in practice!

The longer you wait to draft the more accurate sneak peek you get at each teams real season lineups and depth charts. It’s all about gathering the most accurate up-to-date information on the players and teams.

A person holding up a sign that says EARN POINTS

#2 KNOW YOUR LEAGUE RULES & SCORING SYSTEM

Fantasy football at the core is a game. Make sure before you go into your draft you look at your league rules and scoring system. You want to know all the rules and all the ways your team can score the most points! 

It’s important to know how many points each player receives for touchdowns, catches, yards, etc. For example if your quarterback receives 6 points per passing touchdown verses 4 points per passing touchdown that makes a difference in how valuable quarterbacks are in your league, and where you might consider selecting one in your draft. 

If you play in a PPR (Point Per Reception) league it can change the value of certain running backs and wide receivers, and alter your drafting approach.

A tablet that says "PREPARATION IS THE KEY" on the screen

#3 PREPARE FOR YOUR DRAFT 

In any sport you need to prepare before battle. It’s called practice.  We all know practice makes perfect. Looking at fantasy football websites, listening to podcasts, and reading draft articles are all great places to start your preparation. 

You want to plan out a strategy. Map out what you want to happen before game day starts. Make sure you’re studying and doing the prep BEFORE your draft so you can make sound quick decisions when your on the clock! Your goal is to just stealthfully react to the value on your draft board while your leaguemates squirm sitting there over thinking.

The words Rank and the numbers 1,2,3 written in chalk on a chalk board

#4 MAKE A LIST OF YOUR OWN RANKINGS

It’s best to use your own rankings when you can. A lot of sites have customizable sheets to help you create these lists. When you construct the rankings you can have this internal discussion with yourself about how you feel about each player and situation. Creating your own rankings helps to develop your strategy.

Don’t have time to formulate your own ranks? Check out Ladies Love Fantasy Sports continuously updated Draft Rankings here.

Men and ladies sitting on a couch with snacks cheering for a football team

#5 KNOW YOUR LEAGUE

Do some of your fellow owners love a certain NFL team? Do quarterbacks go early in your draft or does everybody wait on QB? All this information helps you capitalize on draft value. 

Also if you know a lot of people in your league don’t take the time to create their own ranks, and just go off your leagues settings, then it’s important that you have a copy of those rankings. It might be CBS or ESPN ranks.  Even though you aren’t using them. It’s kind of a treasure map to how they are going to draft.

A chalk board with three post-it notes and the words THEORY into practice written on the chalk board

#6 DO A COUPLE OF BEST BALL/MOCK DRAFTS BEFORE YOUR OWN DRAFT

Doing Best Ball/Mock drafts helps you get a realistic idea where players are being drafted (called ADP or Average Draft Position). Being armed with this knowledge makes it easier to identify values in your own draft. 

Mocks can help you establish those decisions you’re struggling with. You can then go further research those players BEFORE the draft, when you’re not on the clock and you’re league mates are yelling and laughing only 10 MORE SECONDS!!! 

Make sure you take a look at the results of your mock afterwards.   Evaluating the team you pretend drafted can be really valuable. 

Do you like the team? Would you make any changes? What players were you deciding between and would you make any different decisions now looking back at your final roster construction?

If you can do the mock drafts on the site your league plays on even better!  Regardless of whether you’ve played on that site before it’s nice to familiarize yourself with the draft room setup and layout every year. Often sites add new features. Understanding how everything works quickly keeps you from accidentally auto drafting a player you didn’t want. 

The words "I'M THE BEST!" written on a piece of white paper with a black sharpie marker with a big bold black arrow pointing down.

#7 FOCUS ON DRAFTING THE BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE

I like to not lock myself into drafting a specific position at each round.  Especially in the first six rounds. You want to be flexible. Let the draft come to you.  Let the value come to you. Your leaguemates will make mistakes, and that leaves value on the board that you want to swoop in and grab!

Silver arrows pointing up

#8 DRAFT UPSIDE PLAYERS IN THE LATE ROUNDS

In the late rounds of your draft is where you want to pick players with a lot of upside. Some players may bust, but you only need one to really make your season. If you hit on a few breakout players then it’s total domination of your league!

A doctor and a football player standing next to each other

#9 DON’T DRAFT ALREADY INJURED PLAYERS

The NFL season is long and brutal on these players bodies.  There is a saying in the NFL that “Every player is injured by the end of the season, it’s just how bad.” 

Except if you’re getting that player at a deep discount in your draft it’s just better to avoid them all together.  Injuries rarely get better until the offseason.  Trying to wish them away for your fantasy team is the quickest way to a losing season.

A road looking out on to the horizon that says "Changes Ahead."

#10 REMEMBER THIS IS ONLY THE START OF THE SEASON

You will not get every pick right in your draft.  But when you look back at the end of the season you just need to be right about a few big picks. Remember it’s a long season. A marathon, not a sprint. That’s what the waiver wire is for! Good luck!

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