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One of the biggest mistakes fantasy football owners make is to base how they draft this year solely on last year. I say you have to look back even further in the past. I’m not suggesting that you pencil in Marshall Faulk as your first-round pick this season; I’m here to reveal a simple strategy to track your league’s draft results and arm you with valuable data. There are two valuable tools that you can take away from keeping up with your league’s draft results. First, you can make note of owners who like a particular player. Second, you can track the number of players from each position that are historically drafted each round. Why do those things matter? Draft preparation!

The most obvious reason to keep up with draft results year to year is to see if there are trends in specific players that other owners tend to target. Many times this can be done without too much effort. If an owner has success with a particular player and he feels strongly about him in subsequent years, unless he is a seasoned poker player, he will likely let you know himself. I can all but guarantee you that Aaron Rodgers will be the eighth pick in my upcoming draft. The guy who drafted him last year was a rookie owner and drafted him far too early. He was fortunate and Rodgers carried his team in to the playoffs so now we have a guy who is slobbering all over his cheatsheets hoping to snag Rodgers again this year no matter the cost. Those sort of player love affairs aren’t uncommon and they can shed some light on early-round picks, but tracking your entire draft for several years can equip you for the middle rounds of your draft as well.

I have made a habit of having a spreadsheet draft grid up in a window during my football drafts. Each time a pick is made, I simply log the name in across the board and at the end of the draft I have a recap of each owner’s team. After a couple of years of doing this, I have the basis for valuable research, research that will help reveal trends and suggest what players might be available when my draft slot rolls around. By taking the averages of each position that are selected in rounds you can identify a range of players that should be available to you when your pick is up.

For example, this year I am picking No. 1 overall in my league. The history of my league suggests that when it is my turn to make my second- and third-round selections that I will be looking at QB5, RB14 or WR7. When the fourth and fifth round turn comes my way I am staring at QB9, RB22, WR18 or TE2.

Now, I have two things that I can do with this information. The first is that I can prepare. Armed with this information I can get comfortable with who should be available once I am on the clock. If I choose to consider a quarterback with one of my picks at the second/third round turn then I need to get familiar with the guys I have ranked fourth-sixth and decide who I would like to target. By projecting each positional scenario I can evaluate which draft strategy leaves me with the strongest team after the first several rounds. In addition to participating in mock drafts, I can use this tool to get inside the heads of the other owners in my league and reasonably predict, not necessarily who they will pick, but who will be available for me to pick.

Secondly, I can look for values. If my second pick comes up and the running back I have ranked No. 10 is available then I grab him. He is too valuable to pass on, and in order for him to still be available other positions will have been picked over. Value shopping like this is especially handy in the early rounds and then again later in the draft. In the middle rounds you have to fill your roster out and can’t go chasing your 10th running back when you have no quarterback because you drafted strictly on value.

We all understand the value of average draft position (ADP). Think of this type of research as an even more specific ADP where the trends and history of your league give you a peek in to the future and what your opponents might do on draft day!