7 Tips for Drafting Your Fantasy Team by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
Hut One- Study, study, and study some more!- If you want to come in last place, just study for one hour before the draft! When someone at your draft hasn’t studied, everyone usually knows it by round 3 or 4. Truth is, any Joe or Jane off the street can do a Fantasy Draft for the 1st 4-5 rounds. It’s after those rounds that championship teams are built. A good tip is to study a little at a time, up until your draft, rather than a one long crash course. Make yourself familiar with the fantasy stars from the previous season, where free agents landed, who the rookies are from this year’s NFL draft and where players are being drafted in mock drafts ( thousands of fantasy owner’s heads are better than one) Fantasy Football magazines are a great place to start, and the internet has an endless amount of information for you to research from, via search engines, sports websites, and blogs. Before drafting your fantasy team, you need to research all the available players so you can pre-rank them according to your personal preference.
Hut Two- Be prepared to have another player(s) selection ready, in the event that the player you wanted has just been taken- It’s important that drafts move a nice pace. It helps keep team owners stay focused, and it helps you to make a good selection because you are prepared. When one team owner of the league takes an eternity to make each of his/her player selections during the draft, his/her team suffers and the rest of the league can as well. Make sure you have player options ready when it’s your turn, or you will be 1) lost as to who you do want next and 2) rushed into selecting someone that you really don’t want. When my turn is 3 teams away from picking during the draft, I have spent the time since my last selection, focusing on 3+ players that I desperately want on my fantasy team. If two of them were chosen before it’s my turn to pick, I’m ready, because I have that 3rd player ready to draft.
Hut Three- Draft Quality Players at Every Position- During the draft, keep a record of how many players you have selected in each position. Team owners that have drafted 4-5 top RBs in a row, agreeably will have the best stable of RBs in your league, but by ignoring the other positions, that team will ultimately be beat week after week, by teams that have strength at every position. Remember, you can only score two RBs each week, so those other 3-4 superstar RBs that you are smitten with, aren’t helping your team sitting the bench. You need quality WRs to score each week, as well as a strong TE ,QB, DE and K. Pay attention to your team, and draft intelligently at every position.
Hut Four- Drafting in Tiers-
I previously wrote…. “Before choosing your fantasy team, you need to research all the available players so you can pre-rank them according to your personal preference.” I want you to do one more thing. After you pre-rank players according to your personal preference. then divide your QBs, RBs, TEs, WRs, Ks and DEFs into “Tiers”. “Tiers” are same-position players categorized by groups of talent. For example, your RBs list might have your top 60 RBs ranked 1-60, but “Tier One” may only included J Charles, M Lynch, M Forte, A.P. ,Eddie Lacy and LeVeon Bell in it. “Tier Two” might start with L McCoy, C J Anderson etc, and include as many RBs that you think rival their fantasy value. When drafting, if I know I am after either a WR or a RB, I will refer to my Teir rankings and select a “Tier 2” WR” over a “Tier 3” RB. An example of Tier rankings can be seen at this CBS Sportsline link- TIER RANKINGS
Hut Five- Do Not Draft a Kicker or Defense Until the Last Few Rounds- This one is self- explanatory, but even as simple as this strategy is, many fantasy owners don’t end up follow this advice.This usually happens because 1) a team is unprepared when it’s their turn in the draft to pick a player, and therefore end up swinging for a kicker or defense out of desperation or 2) Someone is enamored with the successful performance of a kicker/defense from the previous season. Particularly concerning kickers, very seldomly do they follow up a great stat year, with another great one. Pick your kickers last. Pick your defense(s) next to last if you can, (even the Seattle Defense only ranked as the 23rd DEF in 2014. Note that last season, the Philadelphia DEF wasn’t selected in most drafts, and they ended up being the #1 DEF for 2014. In 2013, the Kansas City DEF wasn’t selected in most drafts, and they ended that season as the #1 DEF. DEF Rankings for years 2014 thru 2000 can be seen at this FFToday link- DEF RANKINGS
Hut Six- I’ve never been hurt drafting QBs later in the draft. I usually get a couple of good fantasy QBs later in the draft , and play the match ups. If you do get one early, know that you paid a big price for a big QB, so concentrate on filling other positions for the bulk of your next 9-10 rounds. A fantasy owner who drafts QB Andrew Luck with their 1st or 2nd selection shouldn’t be looking to draft another QB until very late in the draft. Tip #3 above reminds you to draft quality players in every position. You only score one QB each week, but in most leagues, you have to score 2 RBs, 3 WRs and TE, and you want them to be good ones.
Hike- Do not ignore the Bye Weeks. During the draft, when you are keeping a record of how many players you have selected in each position, note their bye weeks as well. You never want a lot players that you drafted to be off during the same bye week.