Fantasy football drafts have replaced Christmas as most people’s favorite holidays. I’ve seen a lot of YouTube videos of fathers in the emergency room experiencing the birth of their child, I get the same feeling when I’m about to experience the birth of my new fantasy football team.
This is important business, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Some leagues are just getting started, and others are in their twentieth year.
The draft is the most important building block of a potential fantasy football championship. Sure, you can scour the waiver wire for the next big thing, but you build the foundation of your team in the draft.
Here are 5 steps to get you ready for your fantasy football draft:
1. Don’t Stress Over It
I just went on about how the draft is the most important facet of building a fantasy football team, and now I’m telling you not to stress about it.
Does anyone remember the Boy Meets World episode when Eric was studying for the SAT’s, and Mr. Feeney told him to do everything but study? I’m not saying don’t do mock drafts, don’t set pre-draft rankings, and don’t read plenty of articles, but I think Mr. Feeney is on to something with this approach.
The more we fret on who were are going to draft or freak out about whether or not we’ll be able to draft our favorite player in the second round, the more we begin to doubt ourselves.
Don’t over do it! Trust your rankings, trust your guys, and everything else will fall into place. Whether or not this is your first draft or you’re coming off a down 2014 season, relax, you know your stuff.
2. Trust Your Yourself
If you have a guy that you absolutely believe in don’t listen to what other experts or people in your league might be saying. Draft him whenever you think it’s appropriate.
A few years ago, Jamaal Charles broke out in 2009, and I knew he was going to have a big 2010 season. I had the twelfth pick in the draft, and surprisingly Yahoo!’s default rankings had him in the 25 to 30 range. I wound up taking him in the first round.
Don’t be afraid to draft guys that you value over default site rankings. Default rankings can be a horrible thing.
For a more recent example, Brad Evans recently stated that Melvin Gordon should go somewhere in the third or fourth round. If Gordon is a guy you are targeting, I’d take him in the second or early third. No way will I let him get anywhere near the fourth round.
3. Set Your Own Rankings
I’m not saying go through an entire list of 300 guys, and rank the entire draft, but at least rank the top 30 at each position.
In my past life, when I didn’t prepare myself adequately, I’d get caught deciding between two guys and wind up taking someone that I’m not entirely sure about.
If you at least rank the top 30 or so guys at each position it allows you to not have to make the tough calls during a draft with the clock ticking down. This way you already know if you prefer Eli Manning or Philip Rivers, etc.
4. Practice but Don’t Over Do it
Fantasy football mock drafts are a great time, and a lot of fun. FantasyPros Mock Draft Simulator is one of the best tools and lets you do a mock draft in like 5 minutes.
The same goes for mock drafts on ESPN or Yahoo!. However, these are much longer, and can drag on. Also, you can’t always trust an ESPN or Yahoo! mock draft because of rampant auto-picking, and people just randomly drafting players.
However, though I have said mocks are great fun, they can get boring, and make you lose your excitement over your draft.
A few years ago I had friend in a league who would always ask if I wanted to do a mock draft with him. We probably did like 30, it becomes quite boring, and after a period of time it made me less excited about my draft.
Having to setup which draft we were going to join, then sit through a 30 plus minute draft, it just becomes too much. Don’t do mock drafts just to do mock drafts because by the time you real draft comes around you’ll feel like you’ve already done fifty of them.
5. Don’t Try to Recreate the Past
Sometimes it’s hard to forget the past. 2014 may have been a championship year for you, but you can’t draft like you did a year ago. Things change, coaches get fired, players get older, and guys get replaced.
One of the hardest aspects of fantasy football is dumping a man crush. I have been infatuated with Arian Foster for years, I adore him, but it may be time to leave him in the dust. I drafted Foster in the 15th round of my 2010 draft before Ben Tate got hurt, and the rest is history. However, I have to move on, Foster is a top 15 pick, but his injury is too risky. I can’t keep going back to the well with him.
If you want to win in 2015 you need to look at the newest trends, and leave the previous years in the past. A lot of times I have gotten burned going RB/RB in the first two rounds, but now it may be time to go RB/WR or WR/RB or even TE/WR. Who knows.
As the NFL evolves your fantasy strategy has to as well, don’t get caught drafting like it’s 2013 in 2015.
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