Drafting Made Easy

People often ask things like “Why don’t my teams do better” or “Why do I get unlucky every year?” Lady Luck does play a huge roll in every week to week match-up. I tend to believe fantasy football is 60% skill and 40% luck. A lot of bad situations can be avoided when proper measures are taken. These measures often begin with the single most important day of the fantasy year, the draft. A lot of these apply in every league and can be altered to fit other sports as well. Though we are in week 5, take the time to remember these or save them somewhere for the future. You will thank me.

1. “Avoid Rookies Early.” As I wrote in my post “Rookie Mistakes,” picking up rookies early in the draft (where your starters are selected) is fools gold. There is often 2 or 3 big name rookie position players that creep up the draft board based on hype. If you were to just step back for a minute, it would be easy see that trusting your team to a guy who has never played in a professional game is crazy. Hoping is not for your starters, it’s for your bench.

2. “Pay Attention To Other Teams’ Picks.” Obviously you want to know who is off the board when it is your turn, but thats not why this is important. I’ll use myself as an example. My main league is a keeper league. I was the only person who didn’t keep a QB, as my play at that position was less than admirable. Before we began, I noticed this and immediately changed my strategy. My thought was that most of the teams won’t select any backups, until round 6. Here is how I figured this. We start a QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, a Flex, a TE, a K and a Defense. Most people are going to want to fill these positions (minus K and Def) as early as possible. With 2 keepers, that makes 5 rounds to fill the other 5 starter roster sports. So, with everyone else holding a QB, this is how I believed I had until round 6 to pick up a QB. This will stand true unless a player drops a lot lower than he should. It allowed me to stock up on position players and hold off on my QB need until late. Most people would not have realized this and selected a QB higher, wasting the opportunity to get higher end RB’s, WR’s or TE’s. Little things like this make a huge difference on your draft day performance.

3. “Pre-Draft Trades Can Be Key In Keeper Leagues.” Once again, I’ll use my draft from this year to prove a point. One of my keepers was Roddy White. While he is consistent and rarely gives me bad weeks, I wanted a potential game breaker at wide receiver. I targeted Brandon Marshall and began haggling with his owner. I was able to get Marshall and a 5th round pick (equivalent to 7th round because of keepers) for my 2nd round pick (basically 4th round). Now, how many leagues can you trade your 4th round pick for Marshall and a 7th round pick? Not many but the situation gives you this opportunity. I then traded both my 5th round picks (mine and the one I got from the first trade) for a different person’s 2nd round pick. I didn’t want to miss out on the value in the first couple rounds. With both of these trades put together, I basically traded my 5th round pick (7th in non-keepers) for Brandon Marshall. Can you say touchdown? Draft picks don’t have a solid value like players and depend on the individual. Don’t go into a keeper draft without trying to pull off a positive trade.

4. “Find The Diamonds In The Rough.” This is obviously easier said than done. If it wasn’t, everyone would target the same players and they would no longer be “in the rough.” I will share one strategy. Look for new NFL starters who have previous experience. Most people go for players who have started before or have big names; this includes 1st round rookies. They either have been successful starting experience or mythological hype based on college stats. Players who already have NFL experience but haven’t benefited from starting, and the fame that comes with it, have a tenancy to slip through the cracks. In my draft, believe it or not, Arian Foster slipped to me in the final round. While he did start a couple games for the Texans last year, he still wasn’t well known. I hit the jackpot and didn’t over “pay” for his value in my draft.

5. “Create Your Own Cheat Sheet.” This is the last tip for today (this post is already too long). I see so many people just grab the cheat sheets from ESPN, Yahoo, etc. and base their picks on that and some personal feelings. Experts are experts because they get paid, not because they have all the answers. Creating your own pre-draft rankings makes you become more familiar with players who you normally would know very little about. You may find a stat that, in your mind, lowers the value of a big name quite a bit. If you do this tip alone, I guarantee you will have a better draft.

As always, if you’re playing me this week, Be Afraid.

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