For the millions of people who play fantasy football every year, the draft process can get very confusing, hectic, and even stressful! As we approach the start of the regular season (less than two weeks away) I’ve decided to share some of my fantasy football drafting knowledge with you to make it a little easier! Let’s assume that we are talking about a 12 man league with a snake draft, and using default ESPN fantasy scoring as the template…
1) Draft Strategy:
It’s a smart idea to to go right down your team roster, almost chronologically, and draft positional round by round. Use your first round pick on an elite RB or QB, and then select the opposite position in round 2. From then, make sure you are grabbing the best available WR in round 3. Then you can start getting into some strategic planning come round 4.
It is usually best to use rounds 4 and 5 to fill your other starting RB and other starting WR. Come round 6 you either have the option to still grab a top 5 Tight End (usually), or use this pick to fill your “flex” starter with either a WR or RB. Once you get into rounds 8 and 9, it gets a little interesting. If you are uncertain with some of your starters, maybe based on injuries or lack of consistency, you can still select a very solid alternative for that position. If you are pleased with your draft so far, it is a good idea to start looking at Defenses and kickers to fill out your starting lineup. Once you get into later rounds (10-15) you need to make sure you have a strong bench with some quality backups for bye weeks and potential lineup changes. If you do this strategy of drafting chronologically, you are definitely going to end up with a solid roster!
2) Draft Order:
Don’t get frustrated if you end up with the 11th or 12th pick in your draft, it can definitely work to your advantage! Having those first and second round picks so close to one another, really allows for you to grab some quality talent early (two of the top 15 fantasy players in the league). In opposition, the first pick in the draft is obviously a great place to be at as well, basically getting 3 of the top 25 fantasy players in the league. However, if it was up to me, I’d want to draft 5th, 6th, or 7th. This allows you to select an elite player in round one, and also never be waiting around for too long in between picks. The snake draft is designed to even the playing field, so no matter what your draft position is, you still have a great opportunity to draft well and build a very strong team.
Try to avoid drafting based on instincts and emotion! We all want to draft players from our favorite team, but unless they are actually someone who can make an impact on your roster, do NOT draft them just because you like them. I always say that you should never have more than two players from your favorite team on your fantasy football roster.
4) Drafting Needs vs. “Can’t Pass Up” Player Still on Board
This is the issue of drafting by needs, or taking that “can’t pass up” player if he is still on the board come your pick, even if you don’t need that position. This question is one that is pondered by many NFL teams each year in the actual NFL Draft! Should you continue to draft your needs, or select that player that you never thought you’d have a chance at, even though you don’t need this position? This is tough to give advice on, because you really can’t! This is the fun part about drafting, you get to make pressure, spur of the moment type decisions like this! I usually like to recommend drafting needs, but if there is an elite player still on the board for some reason, and you are 100% confident that you just can’t pass up on him, THEN GO FOR IT!
5) Use Auto-Draft to Your Advantage:
This is perhaps the most interesting and clever tip I can give you! If you see someone was unable to make the online draft, and the computer is drafting for them, pay close attention to it! Usually, the computer will simply take the best ESPN ranked player available. So a league member could end up with 4 very good RBs, be overloaded at that position, and maybe have a weak Defense and WR core. Use some of your later round draft picks to snatch up some solid positions that this member lacks, so you can use it as trade bait to them! They will have no choice but to fill their weak positional needs, and therefore trade one of their very good RBs. If you strategically pay attention to this, it could definitely serve to your advantage!
Written by Mike Sullivan. Follow on Twitter @MikeSullivan