Fantasy Football Draft Preparation Tips
As a person entering my 25th fantasy football season, it goes without saying that I’ve been in a
ridiculous amount lot of fantasy football drafts over the years. Live, online, slow email, televised, satellite radio, auctions, via telephone, while driving- you name it, I’ve done it.
No matter how you decide to bid or draft your fantasy league this year, as always, the best way to assure that you have a successful season is to be prepared.
That may seem obvious for veteran fantasy players, but doing something as simple as spending five minutes a day reading relevant football developments can give you a huge advantage over leaguemates who think stopping at the store on their way to the draft and picking up an outdated magazine is “draft preparation.”
Let’s look at some advice and tactics that should preclude any fantasy football draft or auction, and how doing the work now will increase your chances of winning that coveted championship in December.
1. Read News Daily
Once training camp hits in August, you’ll want to stay abreast of every bit of news that you can possibly absorb. Even knowing relevant injuries to defenders and offensive lineman can be key in helping you determine who to draft. Five minutes every day spent browsing your favorite fantasy sites while you’re supposed to be working can pay off huge on draft day, and throughout the season. And the best part is, if you do it when you’re on the clock, Lumbergh is paying you to play fantasy football!
2. Know your league’s scoring rules
Not all leagues are created equally. Before you get started, thoroughly read every single setting and rule in your league so that you’re 100% up to date. A seemingly minor rule tweak, like including kick/return yardage, 6-point vs. the standard 4-points for passing touchdowns, or varied bonus points for different positions can make drastic changes to your rankings. Gridiron Experts members can take advantage of our custom tools that allow you to input all settings and will customize a cheat sheet for your specific league settings.
3. Draft strategy: Have no set strategy
Far too often people enter their draft of auction with a seemingly solid strategy, only to have it backfire when somebody else employs a similar tactic, or other owners make illogical picks. Having a more relaxed, flexible approach can allow you to adjust, on pounce on those mistakes when they occur- and they will. The best fantasy strategy is to have a general idea oh when and how you want to attack the draft, but to be willing and capable of changing on the fly. Always pay attention to your opponent’s mistakes, be proactive about taking advantage of unforeseen opportunities, and consider the “best available player” approach, regardless of needs.
4. Math, your one true, unbiased friend
Torn between two players? Just let math dictate who to take. If you are doing your own research and fantasy projections, you should already have a good idea of what your realistic expectations for those players are. Just crunch the numbers in your head or punch them into your smart phone’s calculator. Ignore positions and team allegiances and just go by raw data.
Player A= 73 receptions, 978 yards, 6 TDs (206.8 fantasy pts.)
Player B= 1140 rushing, 20 receptions 174 yards, 7 total TDs (193.4 fantasy pts.)
In the above example, Player A looks less appealing on paper, but ends up generating more PPR fantasy points than the running back, Player B. Of course, you must consider filling our your minimum requirements at each position and sometimes are forced to take a player who might mathematically have a slightly lesser value, but when picking flex spots and being torn early, trust the unbiased numbers.
5. Mock Drafting
This might be the best tool in the prepared drafter’s arsenal. Join enough mock drafts and you’ll have an excellent
idea of what player’s perceived values are, when you can expect specific players to be drafted, and how to avoid getting caught behind dreaded “position runs.”
Mock drafts are like practice for the main event, and can usually be accomplished in a matter of minutes, if desired. They can also be conveniently be scheduled just about anytime, with real live opponents, or with computer generated ones.
Get a handful, or more mock drafts completed ahead of your actual draft and you’ll be giving yourself a huge advantage over the guys in your league that think they know it all and can just wing it when the clock starts.
6. When possible, know your opponents
Every league has its fair share of contrasting fantasy football personalities. Getting to know your opponents can help you take advantage of opportunities. If you know you have a huge SEC fan in your league, maybe you can predict that he’s about to take that Vanderbilt quarterback and you can hold off, one more round on your sleeper target.
In time, you can even start to know your leaguemate’s tendencies, preferences and skills. All of this knowledge can be used to help you make more educated round-by-round decisions on draft day.
And by all means, use your learned knowledge to talk trash and get into their heads if you can. Once you can get “The Guzzler” to start chugging Fireballs, or get another owner on tilt because you keep snagging his guys, you got two less runners-up to worry about come championship Sunday.
7. Study the Schedule
Make sure you peruse the NFL schedule and have a rough idea on the strength of schedule for the players you are targeting. You should be aware of potential winter weather conditions, overseas trips and the often wacky schedule that can include Saturday games right in the middle of fantasy playoff time.
Perhaps the most important element to consider from the schedule is knowing your bye weeks. You don’t have to alter your strategy completely, but try to avoid drafting two signal-callers that have the same week off, and always pay attention during the draft. If you’re torn on some back-ups, knowing your starter’s bye weeks can help you make the right choice.
Senior Writer Gridiron Experts. 2012 FantasyPros Most Accurate Fantasy Expert. Member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. 26-year fantasy football veteran. Featured on NFL.com, Fantasypros, Football Diehards annual magazine, local AM sports radio, podcasts everywhere and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Once scored 4 touchdowns in a single game for Polk High School.