Preparing for your upcoming fantasy football draft can be fun but it can also be very confusing. There are a lot of people giving you advice and some of it may be conflicting. I tend to listen to a lot of people and then use my wisdom to filter and process the information. At the end of the day, you want to pick players that you feel good about. Most of the time, there are enough players (even in the later rounds) that you will like and feel comfortable with.
Last year, I won my fantasy league despite drafting last, trading away Ezekiel Elliott and having Tyrod Taylor as my top quarterback. Those are some huge obstacles to overcome but I did it to win another season-long league. Here are 11 tips that might help with your draft-day preparation as you seek to gain an edge on your competition.
(1) Know your format. Know your format. Know your format. You can’t draft effectively if you don’t know the scoring system or the roster construction. Is it a two-quarterback league? If so, then you’ll want to draft QB’s sooner. Do QB’s get 4 or 6 points for a TD. If it is 6, then you will want to draft a QB sooner than normal. Is it PPR (point-per-reception)? Most are going that way. If that is the case, then don’t overlook passing-down backs or slot receivers that might not get the hype but are more consistent or effective than you might think.
(2) Listen to ESPN’s 06010 podcast featuring Matthew Berry, Field Yates, Stephania Bell and Mike Clay. Click here to subscribe to it on iTunes. Go back and listen to the recent episodes as they talk about every team in the NFL.
(3) Read articles from Evan Silva (usually on Rotoworld). He is as detailed and insightful as you could hope for. It might be information overload but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone in your league more informed than you.
(4) Draft your Kicker and DST at the end. If you are not required to draft one of these then don’t draft one. Wait until the week of your first game and look to stream those positions. That will give you two extra position players on your roster for a few weeks before having to make a final decision on your roster. Click here for more detailed strategy for Kickers and DST.
(5) Figure out where you rank players going into your draft so you aren’t the person holding up everyone else. Having a tier-system might even be better than having actual ranks. This will also help you mentally because if you were going to draft the #8 RB but he got taken right before you and now you have to take the #9 guy, you can more easily cope with that if you have them in the same tier or group. Here are the preseason rankings that you should look at before drafting so that you can come up with your own list of players that you want to draft.
(6) If you have a plan or strategy that has worked for you in the past or that you feel comfortable with, then stick to it. If not, then I highly encourage you to read the great article from NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano’s that outlines his specific strategy that has proven to be a winner time and again. However, remember rule number 3 from above.
(7) Every time that I have won a season-long league, I was loaded at the running back position. Some years, including last year with Melvin Gordon, I have had Top-10 running backs sitting each week because I had better ones playing ahead of them. This is helpful in three ways: (1) protects you if an injury occurs, (2) Keeps a stud from your opponent, and (3) gives you flexibility based on matchup and you still get to start a stud.
(8) Don’t be afraid of the suspended guys. I took Le’Veon Bell in the 3rd round last year. He was supposed to be out for four games. It ended up being only 3 games. However, just because a guy is suspended doesn’t mean you take 0 points for the weeks he is out. You find an adequate replacement and stash the stud on your bench and wait patiently. Last year, I started off 2-2 and then won 10 in a row. This was partly due to rule number 7 as I had the depth that others didn’t when injuries started to take a toll but also because I had Bell and he ended up number three in total points at RB even though he missed the first 3 games.
(9) Don’t get caught up in the Gronk hype. Rob Gronkowski is a very talented player. He could win you some games in fantasy. However, the tight end position is extremely volatile from week to week. There is no question that if he is healthy, he’ll have some monster weeks. However, I would rather take and elite WR or RB then to take Gronk where he is going in some drafts (late 2nd-to-early 3rd). Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen and Jordan Reed all have comparable upside at a much lower cost. Even Delanie Walker and Jimmy Graham could provide you with an All-Pro season in the 6th, 7th or 8th rounds.
(10) Be ready to adapt to your draft atmosphere. Sometimes, people will do crazy things during their drafts. You might find a stud landing in your lap that you didn’t expect. You also might find that there is a run on a certain position. All of a sudden, people are going crazy and drafting a bunch of quarterbacks (or any other position) before they should be drafted. If this occurs, it will help if you know what tiers your players are in (see rule #5 above). You will have to decide if you want to stick with your pre-draft strategy or call an audible based upon the flow of your draft night. This happened to me last year when a bunch of QB’s started going quickly off the board. I was ecstatic because I had decided that the depth of quarterback wasn’t that different between the #’s 3-12 QB’s. For me, once Brady and Rogers were off the board, then it didn’t matter who I took. However, I made one key error with this…I forgot rule #1. This was a 2-quarterback league that gave 6 points for a passing TD. The quarterbacks would end up typically being the highest scorers each week. I was lucky in that Tyrod Taylor had a Top-10 season and Phillip Rivers had a Top-15 season. Don’t forget rule #1.
(11) I saved the best for last. When it comes to season-long fantasy football, ESPN has the most popular games. Matthew Berry is the most popular fantasy football analyst for ESPN. Every year, he comes out with his Draft Day Manifesto. It is is packed full of fantasy goodness and this year is no different. If you are not reading this before you draft then you are not serious about winning. It contains the best advice I’ve seen when it comes to preparing for your season-long fantasy football draft. Click here to read Matthew Berry’s Draft Day Manifesto.