Draft Day Essentials
We’ve all been in this situation…Your draft starts tomorrow. You’ve been on top of football matters, mostly how they apply to fantasy football and players you already own or might draft. You’ve done your research and data manipulations. It doesn’t matter what kind of league it is: re-draft, keeper or dynasty (initial or rookie). You still have butterflies in your stomach and doubts of what you’re going to do and who you are going to pick.
It’s very tough to script who you will pick, whether you are in a league with a bunch of guys you’ve been in for years or whether it’s a new bunch of guys with a completely different scoring system. It’s also tough to know who you will pick on the basis of just a cheat sheet.
And I’m in the same boat as the rest of you (as is anyone who will tell you the truth)…
So here’s my list of things to bring to the draft:
- The cheatsheet.
- The scoring rules/roster requirements for the league.
- A list of bye weeks for the teams.
- A sheet on which you can put the number of players drafted per position for the other teams.
The Cheat Sheet
By now, we’ve all gotten used to using cheatsheets. They can be VBD-based, AVT-based or M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E-based. The thing is; if possible, have them all on one piece of paper. No, it’s not like in the old days of a resume being only one page long. Simply put, you don’t want to have too much with you on draft day.
I’ll repeat this, as I feel it’s crucial:
“You don’t want to have too much with you on draft day.”
I’ve seen, on a number of occasions, people who know what they are doing get panic-stricken on draft day because time limits are added into the mix. The picks (and, most likely, the beer) are flying, people are being taunted (“Fred Taylor? You took Fred F’n Taylor with the 2.03 pick? See ya next season!”) and the clock is ticking. If you aren’t organized you can get bogged down in piles of paper and make a panic pick. If you’re adequately prepared, you should be able to have a one page cheat sheet, two at the most, for your picks, and be able to make that crucial pick as the clock is winding down.
The scoring rules/roster requirements for the league
This, in my opinion, is the basis for your cheatsheet, just as much as the “gut” feelings that cause you to rank the players where they are or the system you use to get them (like VBD). If you don’t really know your league’s scoring system rules and starting roster requirements you’re chum, but you just don’t know it.
A list of bye weeks for the teams
Raise your hand if this applies to you: You come out of your draft, well pleased with the job you did. You’re putting together your first week’s starting lineup in the league website and you notice your TEs both have the same bye week (or your D/ST or your kickers, etc.).
I’ve found that it can be a big advantage to having the bye weeks for the players you are going to select with you on draft day, either on a separate sheet of paper or built into your cheatsheet. Other than the obvious reason, that you don’t have both of your D/STs with the same bye week, there is an additional reason that is frequently overlooked: Free Agency.
Typically, the first week of free agency in the regular season is very important. By then, you’ve either seen players that look like they will break out or your stud QB/RB/WR has been injured and you need his replacement. If you really want to pick up that stud, potential stud or replacement, there is a chance you might not be able to make an additional roster move because of the screw-up you made while drafting.
As a corollary to this, keep a list of your players as you go through the draft with their bye weeks next to them. Use this to ensure that you don’t overload at a position with the same bye week.
A sheet on which you can put the number of players drafted per position for the other teams
Here’s one that I accidentally came up with a few years back. During a draft (we were in position 9 of a 12 team re-draft), we were up at pick 3.09. We had 2 RBs and nothing else. Brett Favre was on the board and we wanted him badly, but I noticed that the two teams after us already had their QB but no #1WR. So we took our #1 WR first, and then took Favre on the way back. If we had taken Favre first, we would have been just as set at the QB position, but we would not have gotten the #1 WR on the way back. Obviously, this scenario plays out best if you’re picking at the beginning or end of a round.
To track the players drafted by other teams, take a piece of paper and put the names of the teams in the left-hand column and the positions (QB, RB, WR, TE, K and D/ST – or the “D” positions if you use IDPs) at the top of the rest of the columns. As the draft goes on, simply put a scratch in each box as a team drafts a player in that position.
This is a simple process but I’ve found it to be a powerful drafting tool.
Use of these tools, along with the preparation you’ve done for the draft, will help you to pick a better roster for the season. As you work with these tools, you’ll become more comfortable with your draft as you’ll have that much more confidence in yourself.