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7 Guidelines to Winning Your Draft

This is the best time of the year in the fantasy football world. You are trash talking your buddies, the research has been done, the proclaiming of your reign for the 2015 season has begun, and your confidence is sky high heading into your draft! The only issue is, most often this feeling doesn’t stay with you for long after the draft. How often do you look at your team after a draft and ask “What Happened?” You took the time to know what you wanted to do, but your team doesn’t match your dream of what your fantasy team should look like. How do we solve this issue so 2015 can be the year of (insert your team name here in all caps)!

1) The Draft Chart

In a draft, you have to realize that your draft isn’t won with your first pick or your last pick. The whole draft is based on how you put together your team through ALL the rounds and how you work the waiver wire throughout the season.

Let me explain:

Rounds 1-4 = Competitive

Your first four picks make you competitive in your league. These picks are the foundation to your fantasy team. If you establish a base of four strong you will at least float around .500 in your league.

Rounds 5-8 = Playoff Contention

The next four picks after establishing your foundation will determine if you will be in playoff contention. If you continue to add quality players in these middle rounds, it adds overall depth to your squad for week-to-week consistent performance.

Rounds 9 – End = Championship Contention

The final picks in your draft will establish the quality of depth for your team. When injuries occur and bye weeks come and go, those final picks are extremely important to obtaining more wins and competing for a chance at the title.

Waiver Wire = Champion

Here is what you need to know – the draft determines if you will be in contention for the league championship but doesn’t determine the champion. Whoever gets the top players off the waiver wire throughout the season will have a huge advantage in taking home the championship. The draft is three-quarters of the process to having a championship team.

2) Knowing the Players Worthy of a First-Round Pick is Key

Often you have your eyes set on a specific player with your first pick, and when the player is picked before you, the panic sets in. During this moment of uncertainty, you move to the highest “projected” player, a homer pick or a name you recognize from last season who was good. It’s the classic panic moment that begins the disappointing feeling in your stomach. I would compare it to when you are heading to your favorite steakhouse for dinner and all day you’ve been craving that 14 oz. Porterhouse cooked to perfection at medium-rare. You get there and they are out of that particular cut. You panic and select the sirloin. You want to talk about a disappointing feeling in your stomach …

Players Worthy of taking in the First Round (in my personal order):

#1 Eddie Lacy (RB) – Obvious

#2 Jamaal Charles (RB) – Obvious

#3 Adrian Peterson (RB) – Obvious

#4 Marshawn Lynch (RB) – Obvious

#5 Le’Veon Bell (RB) – Suspended for the first few games, have to get DeAngelo Williams as handcuff

#6 C.J. Anderson (RB) – Peyton Manning is getting older, the team will rely more on the run game with Gary Kubiak at the helm, Anderson will thrive in zone scheme

#7 Matt Forte (RB) – Coach John Fox has always seen the run game as vital, will take pressure off Jay Cutler, versatility of his run game and pass-catching skills

#8 Andrew Luck (QB) – Potential to put up record-breaking numbers is too high to pass up here at the end of the first round

#9 LeSean McCoy (RB) – He will lead the offense this year with an unsure quarterback situation and a decent offensive line, will see plenty of touches on the ground and via checkdowns out of the backfield

#10 Jeremy Hill (RB) – See “Believe the Hype” by Thomas Casale

If you notice, nine of the 10 players above are running backs; there is a reason for that. Running backs are the key to starting a successful draft. Take a look at my friend and colleague Walter Collazo’s article as he broke this down.

Now go with confidence into your draft knowing the 10 players that are worthy of being taken in the first round, but we are not done.

3) Look how the Projection Rankings try to Manipulate how you should Draft

If you examine the different websites that help you draft or create drafts, you’ll notice a trend in all of the rankings and projections.

1st Round expected picks: RB heavy

2nd Round expected picks: WR heavy (2 QB)

3rd Round expected picks: RB/WR heavy (2 QB)

Believe it or not, they are trying to help you. Going with a running back first, wide receiver in the second, and the best value at running back/wide receiver in the third round is a solid start to your fantasy team. If you want to add one of the quarterbacks in the second or third that isn’t a bad idea either. There is a reason they project and rank these players in this specific order; they are trying to help you create a good foundation. Going with at least two running backs in the first four rounds is crucial to creating a solid groundwork to head towards a playoff and championship-winning season. You do not have to follow the rankings and projections to a “T”, but do take the advice it’s trying to offer with the manipulation in rankings during the draft. This idea brings me to my next point …

About Dan Collins

I have always been an avid football enthusiast. The NFL Draft and Fantasy Football is my passion in the realm of football. I write Mock Drafts and inform readers of what is happening during the critical stages of the NFL Draft. I spend way too much time working through Fantasy Football analysis, situations, and thoughts; it is an issue. Follow on Twitter @Dan_R_Collins for Football info and the occasional joke or wisecrack.