Dr. Fantasy’s Basic Draft GuideL
So you’re preparing for your draft and you want to make sure that on week one you haven’t already given up hope for a Fantasy Championship. The keys to a draft are simple ones, but are often times ignored when the pressure to build a solid team becomes the focus.
Make your own rankings: It’s important to read up on expert analysis and player values to determine how to rank your own players. If you simply print out the top 300 ESPN list, chances are you’ll miss out on a lot of valuable players due to lack of information. Not only are you drafting players who’s value is more to your liking, you’ve educated yourself on the potential for everything from sleeper picks to overrated bust candidates.
Understand your league rules: I’ve participated in so many leagues with different formats that have at least one or two drafters that are completely ignorant of the nuances of their scoring format. If you don’t realize that this league awards a full point for a PPR player, you may never target Danny Woodhead who’s value skyrockets if he approaches the 75 catches in San Diego. If you’re league awards big play bonus, you may ignore a player like DeSean Jackson who jumps up on draft boards due to his big play ability. It’s important to adjust your rankings with this information in mind.
Don’t get caught up in Bye weeks or Strength of Schedule: While I may ruffle some feathers here, and there’s some evidence that drafting with Bye weeks in mind can be helpful, I wouldn’t get too caught up in trying to out think other owners. By trying to adjust on the fly to fit two players together with bye weeks, you may miss out on having the best player available for that pick and it’s not a good stratagy to pass on great players because you’re concerned with how you can employ a worse player on week 9. As a tool, Strength of Schedule is nearly useless. To rank an Elite player higher or lower because they play Seattle is a surefire way to over think the draft and sabotage your team.
Make a list of players for Sleepers and Busts: This can be done any number of ways, you could highlight players based on which list their appear, you can keep a seperate list with their names on it; whatever your method, it’s important to denote the players you think will either out perform their value or under perform. This will come in handy in the middle rounds when you’re looking to maximize value with 2nd and 3rd starters for your team.
Have a plan B: You’re going to spend weeks, or even months preparing for your draft. You’ll draft five rounds and you’re eye will drift to your must have list, names of players in the middle or late rounds you know you want. And suddenly the guy drafting right before you starts taking everyone you want. You’re on tilt, a poker player with a bad beat. If you didn’t prepare for this, your failed foresight could cost you in the long run. It’s important to have a plan B. Odds are most of the players who you covet, someone else in the draft has them on their must have list too. You can’t have them all, it’s just not realistic. So prepare to lose out on a few of those players, and make sure that you don’t change your draft stratagy half way through because you think your balloon has popped. There’s nothing more infuriating than looking back after a completed draft and realizing you changed your targets and missed out on players you didn’t realize were there.
Know the other team owners: So you have your draft rankings, compiled personally with the league rules in mind. You have your list of players you value high or low, and you’re prepared with possible scenarios in which you’d have to adjust your stratagy. The last thing, and often times the most difficult, is to try and understand how your fellow Fantasy owners draft. This takes some time if you’re new to the league, but don’t underestimate how important knowing Drafter A values WR’s over RB’s could be when you’re deciding who to take at the turn. Will the player you want later be available? Does Drafter B value rookies higher than the rest? Will the player you want fall to the late rounds?
HAVE FUN: the most important thing is to have some fun. Fantasy Football is a game, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t remember to enjoy yourself. Don’t let a bad draft disuade you from following week to week, because if it’s one thing that’s constant in Fantasy Football, its that the strangest things can happen.