So you might be realizing your fantasy draft is just around the corner. Draft day is like Christmas morning! IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! Hopes are high. There’s the anticipation of what players you’re going to roster. The surprises of what presents (I mean players) your going to get, and who’s going to drop to you in the draft! COME TO ME BABY, ONE MORE PICK AND YOUR ALL MINE! You have to harness all this energy and excitement in the right way so you don’t draft a kicker in the 3rd round. What has helped me over the years is a few draft day rules I live by. I call them My Draft Day Commandments to get my season started off right, and help select the best players possible. If you stick to these guidelines your bound to draft a team destine for the Fantasy Football Playoffs!
I. THOU SHALT NOT LET THEIR FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE DRAFT UNTIL THE END OF AUGUST. If at all possible make sure your league is drafting after the third NFL preseason game. The third preseason game is kind of like the “dress rehearsal” of the NFL (If you can only pick one week to watch NFL football in August it needs to be Week 3 of the preseason). The dress rehearsal is where you get a sneak peek and the most information about each teams real season lineups and depth charts. Also you want all the injuries to flush out in preseason before you draft. Nothing sucks more then to start your fantasy season drafting a star player and watching them get hurt days later in a preseason game or practice.
II. THOU SHALT KNOW YOUR LEAGUE RULES AND SCORING SYSTEM. Make sure before you go into your draft you look at your league rules and scoring system. Fantasy football at the core is a game. 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 approach of how valuable certain running backs and wide receiver can be.
III. THOU SHALT PREPARE FOR YOUR DRAFT. Like any game or sport you need to prepare before battle. It’s called practice. We all know practice makes perfect. Looking at fantasy football websites (Like this one and others), listening to podcasts, and reading draft magazines are all great places to start your preparation. You want to plan out the strategy and decisions about what you want to happen before game day. Make sure you are studying and doing the prep before your draft so you are ready to make a quick good decisions during your draft. Your goal is to just react to the value on your draft board when it happens while your league mates are sitting there over thinking their decisions.
IV. THOU SHALT 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 them. When you construct these rankings list 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.
V. THOU SHALT KNOW MY OWN LEAGUE. Do some of your league mates 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 ranks or ESPN. Even though you aren’t using them. It’s kind of a map to how they are going to draft.
VI. THOU SHALT DO A COUPLE OF MOCK DRAFTS BEFORE YOUR OWN DRAFT. 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. Also doing mock drafts helps you get a realistic idea where players are being drafted (ADP or Average Draft Position). Being armed with this knowledge makes it easier to identify values in your own draft. Mock drafting can help you establish those decisions you’re struggling with making so you can go research those players 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 draft afterwards. Evaluating the team you mock drafted can be really valuable. Do you like that team? Would you have made any changes? What players were you deciding between and would you have made any different decisions now that you looked at your final roster construction?
VII. THOU SHALT FOCUS ON DRAFTING THE BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE (ESPECIALLY IN THE FIRST 6 ROUNDS). I like to not lock myself into drafting a specific position at each round. You want to be flexible and let the draft come to you. Let the value come to you. Your league mates will make mistakes and that leaves value on the board that you want to swoop in and grab!
VIII. THOU SHALT FOCUS ON DRAFTING 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. You want to be able to come up with a narrative of them having a break out season. You may have some players that 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!
IX. THOU SHALT NOT DRAFT ALREADY INJURED PLAYERS…unless you’re getting them at a really good value in the draft. 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. Unless 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 fantasy season.
X. THOU SHALT REMEMBER THIS IS ONLY THE START OF THE SEASON. Just remember 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 that’s what the waiver wire is for!