Have you gotten your Fantasy Mags? Still suffering through the pointless pre-season games? Ready to get this draft going, and kick off the season? Here is an updated version of a piece I wrote for voodoobrown.com a couple of years ago. I removed some older references, but the core elements have remained in tact. Enjoy.
#1: The team you draft is not going to win you a championship. Ever.
OK, in rare cases, you might hit the lottery and stand pat all season. But chances are, you’re going to drop, add, trade, have injuries… you need to be nimble and adjust to the ebbs & flows of the season. You can LOSE any shot at a championship if you draft a bunch of crappy players and have no way of competing, trading, etc… but if you can escape the draft with at least 1 elite player at each of the 3 major positions (QB/RB/WR), you have a shot.
#2: Know what your opponents needs are.
If you are doing a traditional serpentine draft, and you know the 3 guys picking after you have a QB, don’t waste a pick on a QB. Grab a player at another position and get your QB on the way back. This is such a simple concept, but so many people either overlook it, or they are too lazy/ADHD to keep track. For years I have been using a chart I created that has every team in 12 columns, and every position running down the left – starting & bench. Once a player drafts their guy, I quickly fill in that position. Essentially, it’s a visual representation of everyone’s needs that should be used for the first 10 rounds. This is an essential tool, which REALLY helps if you are picks 1-4 or 9-12.
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#3: It’s OK to overload talent at one position.
Especially if you have a stud in that position. Let’s say you drafted Aaron Rodgers – Colin Kaepernick is available in round 5, and there is marginal talent available at WR or RB. Take him. Somebody is going to need a QB at some point in the season, and they will realize that they can’t ride Ryan Tannehill to glory. They might have a WR that you need, and it’s worth holding onto talent to ultimately capitalize on it. When in doubt, reference Tip #1, and know that you will not build the perfect team on draft day. The average turnover for a fantasy football roster is 35%, and yes, I pulled that stat right out of my ass. But it’s gotta be close to that, right?
#4: If you can draft Brees or Manning by round 2, DO IT.
Fantasy football keeps moving away from the traditional “You need RBs to win” model, since more NFL teams are passing, less NFL teams are featuring RB workhorses – and more & more fantasy leagues are going to PPR. The reason why you take one of these QBs: there is nothing more frustrating than not knowing which QB to play every week. On the flip side, having that position solidified is a luxury that only a few teams can enjoy, and they are usually the teams that make the playoffs.
#5: QB/WR Hookups can be risky. (BUUUUUT…)
I learned that the hard way early in my career about 19 years ago when I drafted 4 players from the Scott Mitchell/Herman Moore Detroit Lions offense (they set a record for points the year before). They sucked that year, and so did my fantasy team. But QB/TE hookups can be LETHAL. If you don’t have one of the top TEs in the league, you are not getting much production from that position – much like the rest of the league. So if you get TE production, it’s a bonus. Agreed? So what if your QB throws a TD to your TE? DOUBLE BONUS. Try to get a top tier TE. If you don’t land an elite TE, take a flier on the TE for the QB you drafted.
#6: Try starting a trend with TEs & QBs. (yes this actually can work)
One of the disadvantages to being on the 1-4 or 9-12 end is the gap in your picks. A ton of talent gets gobbled up during this long wait. A way to buy yourself a few picks is to start a trend. If there are sub-par WRs left in round 3, take an elite TE. I guarantee you a few TEs go between your picks, and now you just increased your chances of getting a better player than you otherwise would have. A QB surge usually starts in round 2 then ends, but you can put some pressure on other owners that plan on stealing a tier-2 QB in a middle round by drafting a good backup QB earlier than you intended. Thin out that talent pool. Apply this pressure, and you’ll have more choices once it swings back to you.
#7: If you are one of the top 8 picks, and you REALLY REALLY want a guy that you know won’t be around by the time it’s your turn to pick, take the guy you want.
Who cares what the room says. You got your guy! There is so much pressure to make the right pick in the first round, but you are basically looking to get someone who will put up numbers on a weekly basis, and has not been an injury-riddled player.
My parting words: Listen to your brain, not the hecklers in the room. Make sure you fill your roster with talent first, and don’t worry too much about an even balance between the positions – it’ll lead to a diluted roster. Anticipate who your opponents would select AFTER you made your pick (especially if you’re on one of the bookends of the serpentine order, picks 1-4 or 9-12), and have their probable selections weigh in your decision. Stay on this course, and you’ll have a successful draft.