Fantasy Football Drafting Lessons Learned
I still remember my first draft. We all got together after work, ordered a few pies, grabbed a six-pack and let the ribbing begin. I was probably the butt of most of the jokes that season. You see, I was the only new guy to the league and since I was also new to fantasy football I had a lot to learn. So I read some articles on the Internet and started participating in mock drafts. Before I knew it, I was coming out of drafts with a solid team that I could easily build around. That was all fine and well until I decided to join a dynasty league. While my team wasn't terrible it had or should I say has, a few holes that have been hard to fill. So let me share with you some of the things I've learned.
The first question you need to ask yourself is 'How serious do I want to be?' Are you the guy that has to win every game? Are you the guy that wants to win but doesn't care if you lose a couple? Or are you the guy that chips in your league dues so that you have something to talk about Monday with the rest of your co-workers? Don't be afraid to admit you're this guy. Every league has one or two. If you said yes to question three then grab your beer, kick your feet up on the desk and enjoy these tips for what it's worth. If you said yes to the first two questions grab your pen and paper and let's get started.
The first, and probably most important, thing to know is your league rules. How many players on a roster? How many starters at each position? What's the scoring system? Is this a keeper league? How does free agency work? How does trading work? When's the trade deadline? Last, but not least, what's the draft order? Once you've digested all this information you're ready to get started.
A second thing to note is some information about the other owners. As I stated before, there are three types of owners. Know which category each of the owners in your league falls into. Pay special attention to the owners that take this seriously. Unless you're in a keeper league, most leagues only have three or four really serious owners. Know where they are in each round of the draft. These are the guys most likely to grab that player you wanted next. In the first few rounds you'll lose the next player you want to the guy who could care less. But, more often than not, he's not paying attention to you so he won't draft the player you're looking at.
Now it's time to rank the players. Everyone has his or her favorite players and teams. What I've found over the years, is that it's not a good idea to play with your heart. So be honest with yourself and rank the players as best you can. Here at FFToolbox.com we have draft tools that can help rank players. Use these tools and your own gut feeling to rank each starter, their backup and yes the backup's backup by position. Once you have everyone ranked its time to start drafting.
Practice Makes Perfect
So maybe not always perfect but at least you'll get a feel for what to expect. Sign up to participate in a few mock drafts. Try to find drafts with the same number of teams and similar rules as the league(s) you'll participate in. If you know which position you're drafting in this fall try to get that same position in the mock draft. If you're unsure of your draft position, be sure to participate in a few drafts where you pick at the top, middle and end of each round. This should give you a feel for what you can expect in those positions each round.
As the mock progresses, pay attention to players on your list that are ranked high, yet fall to the lower rounds. Maybe you've over estimated their value or the player has some injury you don't know about. Also, pay close attention to players you've ranked low and wind up being selected well before their time. Sometimes this is because an owner is playing with his or her heart. Often times however, these players are coming into their prime or, due to a recent trade, they've moved up the depth chart and now have value. Whatever the reasons, pay close attention and do some research after the draft. This will only help you be better prepared for your draft.
Don't be afraid to play it safe
I can't count the number of times I've been mocked for making the safe pick. I tend to shoot for the more proven veteran. Go with the guy playing for the same team, same coaches and someone who doesn't get injured too easily. It sounds very blah but that's okay. I'd rather have a blah team that consistently scores a few points above the league average than a team that scores the most points one week and the fewest the following week.
Everyone wants to pick that dark horse but don't do it too early. Wait till the 5th or 6th round before you grab that high reward high risk player. Some say that's too late but there are always a couple of good players still available. You'll have a solid core built by this time and should your dark horse not pan out it shouldn't hurt too much. With all the injuries that occur during the season, filling in for a bad pick should be easy.
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