Drafting is the first phase of your fantasy football season. It is an exciting day for most, one that people look forward to after all the hours of research they put in. There are plenty of things that can and will go wrong, as no draft ever goes according to plan. There are a few simple practices that you can follow to kick-start your team for the season. You won’t win your fantasy season with just a good draft, but it sure helps to start the season ahead of the competition in your league.
Know Your Rules
Sounds like a simple concept, yet there are people out there who don’t know the rules in their leagues. As time has moved forward, leagues have become more complex and there are a plethora of rules in fantasy football that make sure no two leagues are alike. Different players get a value boost depending on what format you play in. Leagues that have been established for a while often make rule changes in the offseason, so familiarize yourself with anything that might have changed. Knowing your scoring system will help you target the best picks throughout the draft.
Don’t Draft in the Past
The biggest mistake people make going into a new season is drafting players based off of last year’s performance. Just because a player had a great 2018 does not mean they will produce the same results in 2019. Players change teams, teams change coaches and coordinators. Nothing stays the same forever. Teams run different schemes and call plays differently, a receiver who was in a pass-heavy offense may now be on a team that likes to run the ball more; players either fit a system or they don’t. Basic knowledge of what system a team runs will help a tremendous amount during the drafting process; stay one step ahead of your league by keeping up with all the offseason movement around the league.
Pay attention to Training Camps
Players move up and down draft boards constantly during the summer months and into the preseason. Don’t buy all the hype that you hear out of training camps, because most of it ends up not panning out in the end. If you have your eyes on certain players, check in at least once a week with a fantasy news source or a beat reporter on social media to get the pulse of what’s going on. Follow the injury reports and battles going on in camp. A player’s performance during camp will help clear up muddled depth charts and average draft positions will start to rise or fall. Knowing who will be on the field come the start of the season will help you in making those tough choices later in drafts.
Nail the First Three Rounds
The first three rounds of a draft are super important as this is where you are building the foundation for your team. This is not the time to try and get cute and outsmart everyone in your league. Grab players who are proven and who are in good situations with good offensive schemes. Gambling on first-year players or troublemakers is not a wise decision this early in the draft. Not all rookie running backs are going to pan out like Saquon Barkley or Todd Gurley, and rolling the dice that early on one is a risk that you don’t need to take. Having a plan for how you want to start your draft is a good thing, but remember you have to be able to adjust on the fly. You are not going to win your league in the first three rounds, but with good selections, you will have a leg up on your competition.
Make sure you head into every draft with some sort of ranking system. These could be your own that you have formulated or those of your favorite fantasy analyst — but have something. It helps if you have those rankings broken down into tiers. Using the tiered approach helps you in those tough spots when you are not entirely sure whom to go after because you got sniped the pick before, or you start to run out of time. You can consult your groups, and if set up correctly you should be able to find the best pick at any given time. Using this approach you should never be caught off-guard as the values are constantly in front of you. When making your selections through a tiered-based system you will be able to evaluate what talent is left at each position more easily than just looking at a generic list with “projected” point totals on it.