I’m watching Inside Out while I write this, and luckily I have a kid next to me or it would be slightly embarrassing. You know the Disney film about the major emotions in a young girl’s mind? They battle each other for position, but eventually they realize that they need each other to exist, and to thrive.
What does this have to do with fantasy football? That’s easy. So many fantasy owners have tunnel vision. They can only focus on one aspect of fantasy football at a time, leaving the rest to chance, which is a bad move. Don’t let it be a daunting prospect, overwhelming you at every turn so you end up making decisions you’ll later regret.
The single biggest decision you have to make as a fantasy owner is which players should populate your team by the end of your league’s draft. And players aren’t interchangeable either. Each one can individually help to make or break your team, so before draft day you need to figure out the best way to make sure your team can thrive even if others’ fall apart.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that before each season I share my own helpful hints to keep in mind when contemplating an upcoming fantasy draft. Last year I told you 8 Steps to a Successful Draft, but just like the league itself things shift from year to year. So, before you draft this year, think about these 7 Helpful Hints for a Great Draft…
- Act. Don’t React. It’s easy to get caught up in what others are doing during your draft, but don’t allow yourself to get pulled under by the other league owners. Surprises happen, like in one of my leagues last year when three tight ends went off the board in the first round. Don’t freak out when things like that happen. You had a plan for when you want to pick up a tight end. Stick to that plan.
- Know the Rules. Each site that hosts fantasy leagues has its own set of rules, and sometimes even your own individual league has its own unique set of rules. If it’s a PPR league then you should value receivers even more than in a standard league. If your Flex position allows for TEs in addition to WRs and RBs that might change the way you draft. If your QB gets 4 points per TD rather than 6 it makes a big difference. Read your league rules carefully before drafting.
- Have a List For Each Position. Make it an exhaustive list too, based on tiers. Only include players you would feel comfortable having on your team. If someone is a huge injury risk and you want to avoid him, then leave him off your list. It will make things a lot easier for you when the spot comes up in the draft and you have choices to make. Take it a step further and put the ADP (average draft position) numbers by each name on your list to keep you aware of where each player is generally going off the board, so you can know if they will be or should be available when your spot comes up to draft next.
- Don’t Be a Hater. I can’t stand the New England Patriots. I think they’re cheaters and frauds. However, I know they have some outstanding players who could very well help me win a fantasy championship, so I put those players on my draft day list. Gronkowski heads that list, but Julian Edelman is certainly on it as well. I also wouldn’t sleep on that D/ST unit.
- Rethink Running Back Value. In the past I always advocated going RB if you had a top-5 pick in your draft, but the position has gotten so watered down, and injuries have played more of a role lately. That means you need to pick the best player available, and last year more of those best players were WRs rather than RBs. More than ever, also, quality RBs can fall into your lap in later rounds. Draft WRs early, but fill your bench with RBs. You’ll thank me later.
- Get to the Draft Room Early. Most draft rooms open an hour before the draft begins, which is when most owners can find out their draft position. If you get there as soon as you can then you have the maximum hour to figure out a game plan. You will have a different plan if you know you’re going 1st than if you know you’re 12th out of a 12 team league. If you’re 1st, by the way, I say pick the top player on your list regardless of if it’s a WR, a RB, or Gronk.
- Go QB Early or Go QB Late. Don’t get caught reaching for a QB. Personally, I say go QB late. There are tons who will be available at the 7th round or later who can anchor your fantasy team just fine. The difference is the top five: Rodgers, Luck, Newton, Brees, and Brady (and for Brady this year you’ll need to pair him with another QB for those first 4 games). If those five are gone by the time you draft in round 3, then JUST WAIT. Reaching for anyone else that early will hinder the rest of your team, and it won’t gain you any production on the back end.
The key to any good fantasy draft is sticking to your game plan, even if things go differently than what you thought would happen in an unpredictable draft process. That means having a quality Plan B, though, and a viable Plan C as well. Having your definitive list gives you a leg up on contingencies you have to make along the way so that you’re still always acting instead of reacting.
And, before you know it, you’ll have a team you’re proud of, one that should work together well because you did your research and made the right choices on draft day.