Dos and Don’ts of Draft Day

Like many situations in life preparation is critical, and fantasy football is no different.  Whoever came up with the asinine notion that fantasy football is luck must have been perennially looking up from a cold, bitter world known the fantasy cellar.  To ensure you avoid the same black hole of fantasy, we have compiled some important tips to get you ready for fantasy dominance.  While designed for those (relatively) new to fantasy, even the wiliest of veterans could benefit from a quick read over.  Without further ado…

DO understand all the rules of your league.   No matter the master category your league falls under, you’ll be hard-pressed to find some universal rules system unless your league accepts a commissioner service’s default settings as gospel.   In that case, you should challenge him/her and earn instant credibility.   Suggest a milestone bonus or engage in the often lively debate about whether a quarterback’ deserves four or six points for a TD pass. (For what it’s worth, I vote four.)    The point being that understanding the value your league assigns to this category  and others will have a major impact on your draft strategy.  If a quarterback gets six points for a TD, suddenly Drew Brees and Tom Brady are first-rounders.  If your league operates in the 21st century, you should be able to check how a particular player would have scored last year based on this year’s rules.  Impromptu sub-category rule:  Don’t play in a league that does scoring by hand; that’s so lame and archaic.

DON’T forget bye weeks.  There’s already a lot to think about, but bye weeks are particularly important for the RB/WR positions.  There is nothing worse than multiple star players on your roster being off the same week.  Yes, there are waiver wires and free agency, but you don’t want to entirely rely on new pick-ups for making or breaking the week for you.  Those players are not already on rosters for a reason.  Heed my words:  Spread out your bye weeks.   Plus it’s a noticeably different viewing experience when you’re waiting for your makeshift WR just to get a pass thrown to him vs. your Pro Bowl WR, who comes with a majority of  receiving plays drawn up for him to do his job – score you lots of fantasy points!

DO familiarize yourself with your league’s draft, whether online or off.   Make sure you understand the design.  Is it an S-shape draft or a straight linear draft?  Did you commissioner set an auto-pick option?  Make sure to arrive at least ten minutes early to your draft, particularly if new to fantasy football.  Holding up other owners on draft night is the easiest catapult to zero credibility.

DON’T rely on fantasy football magazines.  What do Steve Smith, Donnie Avery, and Antonio Bryant have in common?  They’re all injured WRs that are surely not accounted for in those newsstand publications. I know it’s exciting to see those glossy covers in April, but adhering to it could make you the embarrassment of the draft. With all the nifty draft boards out there, look for those magazines to be obsolete well before we bid adieu to the last paper edition of the New York Times.

DO pick two or more online draft boards and check for discrepancies.  It is the rare fantasy player that develops hers/his own draft board from scratch.  Why spend the time when there are myriad “experts” who get paid big bucks to do it for you?  Our advice:  Don’t rely on just one and check for variations.  Find out why “Expert A” has Maurice Jones-Drew third, while “Expert B” has him fourth.  Drawing your own conclusions is part of the joy of fantasy; otherwise you would just use a fun sapping auto-draft.

DON’T overlook the later rounds.  Even following the above rule, you’re not going to find much discrepancy when it comes to the first three rounds.  Not the case as draft boards wear on.  This is where your intuition comes into play.  Take advantage of other owners’ draft fatigue (more about this syndrome below).   As you look for your sleepers, I’d recommend prepping three distinct categories 1) Veterans with something to prove, usually due to off-field issues, age or a return from injury.  2) Rookies 3) Players with a situational change (i.e. new coach, new starting QB).   Fantasy stars will emerge from all three – we guarantee it!

DO get plenty of sleep and drink lots of fluids.  Yes, this type of advice is usually reserved for a marathon runner or LSAT taker, but it applies to fantasy drafting too.   Draft fatigue is no joke; it has happened to every single one of us (unless you’re an auto drafter, in which case you needn’t be reading this article). You’re two hours in, every pick is being hemmed or hawed over, you get bored and frustrated, your hands start to saunter toward that remote which uncontrollably presses play to that day’s TiVoed Rachael Ray (sorry for the stereotype, but we are a female slanted outfit).  Suddenly you’re embroiled in some budget-busting recipes when you’re supposed to be scouring all your beautifully organized materials for the diamond in the rough that is supposed to be your 13th round steal that you now have only 30 seconds to select.  Avoid the tempting distractions that come with late round fatigue.  Stay focused and keep the brain oxygenated.