The Fantasy Greek wants to share some tips on how to approach and handle fantasy drafts as food for thought. Hopefully, regardless of your experience level, i.e., even for you veterans out there, there are at least one or two things you never considered before that could prove helpful when your fantasy draft rolls around.
Know How Many Teams Are In Your League And What Roster Positions You Need To Fill
Generally speaking, leagues are either ten-team or twelve-team leagues. Ten-team leagues are little eaiser to draft in because for every passing round, there are more players to choose from in each round than a twelve-team league. In a ten-team league, there are two more players to choose from with each passing round. So, in a ten-team league, by the end of Round 4, there are eight more players available than there would have been in a twelve-team league. For any beginners out there, you may want to try a ten-team league to get your feet wet in your first year or two of fantasy football.
Nonetheless, regardless of how many teams are in your league, you will have roster spots to fill. Some of the more typical rosters-types are:
Traditional #1: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, K, DST
Traditional #2: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, K, DST
Hybrid #1: Flex RB/WR: QB, RB, RB, RB/WR, WR, WR, TE, K, DST
Hybrid #2: Flex WR/TE: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR/TE, WR/TE, K, DST
Most leagues then allow fantasy footballers to carry anywhere from five to six reserves during the course of the season.
In a three wide receiver league, it is apparent that filling the wide receiver position could be awfully important to fill with some quality players especially, in a twelve-team league. Yet, if you draft playmakers when they should be drafted, avoid drafting a kicker and defense too early, and treat your tight-end position like it is another wide receiver, you should be able to put forth a solid fantasy team from Day 1 in any format you are drafting in.
Know Your Leagues Scoring System
For example, if quarterbacks are awarded 1 point for 25 yards passing and 4 points for a TD, this is standard compared to some leagues where quarterbacks are awarded 1 point for 20 yards passing and/or 6 points for a TD. With all other offensive positions awarded 1 point for ten yards gained and 6 points per TD, in the former case, the quarterback position is not a valuable position to fill immediately, per se. With all other offensive positions awarded 1 point for ten yards gained and 6 points per TD, in the latter case, the quarterback position becomes a more valuable position to fill early in the draft. Not necessarily Round 1, but picking a QB sometime within the first three wounds would be nice. But, if you are unable to do so (as you likely would not be able to with the first pick of the draft), don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world as there will by other quality players to draft to make up for this.
Do Some Mock Drafts In Advance of Your LIVE Draft
Obviously, if you auto-draft, besides ranking your players, there is not much to do. However, if you have a live draft, whether on-line or in person, doing a few mock drafts could be helpful especially if you know which draft pick you have in advance. Whatever site you use for your league likely has a mock draft tool. You should at least do a mock draft to familiarize yourself with its various features. For example, most sites have a queue where you can drag players from a list down to a queue box to make it easier to see if the player is still available. If the player you dragged into the queue box is gone, they have been drafted. If the player you dragged into the queue box is still there, they are still available. You can put players in there who you may be considering drafting with a future pick.
Nothing could be worse than thinking a player you would like to draft has already been drafted when in fact, the player is still available. Many sites let you scroll through the list of players in the pool by position or by mass ranking. Last season, Arian Foster had moved up draft boards and was being taken in the fourth through sixth round, sometimes later. In one draft, because the scroll bar wasn’t in the upper position, this writer could not see he was available (I was preparing to draft him) and therefore, drafted a different player. Imagine the surprise when the very next pick after mine was Arian Foster.
Besides getting used to the features, get a feel for what 45 seconds or two minutes to draft feels like because on draft day, it seems to go by faster than you would think. Also, if you know you are picking first, second, third, wherever, do some mock drafts to see how you do using that draft order. It’s a great time to evaluate the pool of players you will be picking from after the people before you draft.
Have a List of the Current Top 200
Whether you use The Fantasy Greek’s list of top 200 players, or some other site’s list, make sure it is current. It’s awful to see a fantasy player using a list from a month, or two months before the draft to help them draft. Players get hurt and players lose or gain value even during the preseason. You want the most current evaluation of players even though no Top-200 list is the same as any other. By the way, you don’t have to help the player who is using that old Top-200 list unless you are genuinely a nice person!
Once you have your list in hand, physically cross out names of players as they are drafted. This is a great way to spot a player who has yet to be drafted, but has more value compared to the players already drafted ahead of him. Again, Arian Foster was a great example of that last season. In another instance, there was a draft where Jermichael Finley just hung out there for a round or two after he should have been drafted. Put another way, by crossing names off your list, if the player who should have been drafted in Round 4, is still hanging out there in Round 6 when you get to draft, you’ll know it.
After Your First Pick, Treat Your Top-200 By Groups of Players
After you pick, you should be able to look at your top-200 and get an idea of the next number of players that could be drafted by the time you pick again. You can begin to plan your next pick in advance of it assuming the other people you are playing with take players in the round they should be drafted in. For exmple, if you pick sixth, your next pick will be in twelve picks. You should see twelve of the next twenty or so players in your top-200 be drafted by the time it comes back around to you. Again, if a player in the group of players that should have been drafted is still available, then you may be in the position to draft them next if they fill a roster need.
Draft Your Favorite Player(s) In The Round They Should Be Drafted In
Last season, a fantasy footballer picked as many Vikings players as they could in the first few rounds including Brett Favre in the first round, and the Vikings DST before Round 8. There was a time and a place to draft them, and it wasn’t when this particular player drafted them. And based on the season the Vikings had last year, suffice it to say this fantasy footballer did not do so well. Don’t let this be you.
If There Is A Player You Don’t Trust or Don’t Like for Other Reasons, Then Don’t Draft Them
That said, let’s say you disagree with the rankings of certain players. Or, you are a fan of one team and don’t want to draft your rival’s players in fantasy. Well, don’t draft them. There is nothing wrong with taking a player off the board you do not feel will play well or you do not care for. Professional teams do it all the time. But, be forewarned, you may have a player you do not care for fall in drafts until you may have no choice but to take them. This could be a No. 1 ranked RB or No. 1 ranked WR that falls to you and would fit nicely as your No. 2 RB or No. 2 WR. What do you do? The Fantasy Greek says you should draft him, but of course, it’s up to you.
Draft Players That Will Be Highly Involved In Their Team’s Offense
There are some phenomenal players to draft in the early rounds of fantasy. However, just because you draft one of the BIG names, doesn’t mean they will always do well for you each and every week. Take for example Andre Johnson and Roddy White. Johnson (86 receptions) has been generally ranked as the higher wide receiver as he had some break-out performances over the course of his career. Certainly, many fantasy owners have won championships with Johnson on rosters. However, somewhat surprisingly, Roddy White (115 receptions) was likely the more productive of the two last season because he was more involved in his team’s offense on a week-to-week basis. Indeed, he has had four seasons in a row where he has posted 1,000+ yards, and he has posted 10+ TDs two season in a row. This is not to say you have to draft Roddy White before Andre Johnson, but if you assess players this way, you can really break through and contend in each of your fantasy games weekly.
Draft Your Kicker Third to Last, Second to Last, or Last
When you compare the top-twelve kickers from year-to-year, you will note that that there is an awful lot of turnover between the top-twelve in the rankings. As such, picking a kicker in fantasy drafts can be a crap-shoot. Indeed, kickers’ weekly performances are difficult to predict. As to kickers then, just get a good one on a team that will give the kicker an opportunity to score points.
Put More Value On Position Players Than Defenses and Kickers
If you read the previous paragraph, then explaining why position players should be valued more than kickers should be self-evident. As to defenses, there is a split of opinion. When you compare the top-twelve defenses from year-to-year, you will note that that there is not as much turnover but there are always a few that everyone expects to do well before the season begins, only to disappoint their owner. Then, there are always a few defenses that surprise us all in breaking into the top-twelve.
The Fantasy Greek sees nothing wrong with drafting a top-tiered defense if you have your starters and a back-up RB and a back-up WR in tow. Indeed, there are three or four defenses that are arguably, appropriately drafted as early as Round 7, 8 or 9, but that’s it. Last season, The Fantasy Greek is aware of four championships being won with the following defenses being played for most of the season: the Saints, the Ravens, the Bears, the Chargers, and the Eagles. “But wait, weren’t these all good defenses last season?” In part they were, but in part, each defense struggled at different times of the season. Besides, if defenses really mattered, how can you win four different league championships while playing five different defenses? Exactly. This also suggests that you should draft one defense, not two, unless your league has seven or more reserve positions.
Draft Your Tight-Ends Like They Are Another Wide Receiver In All League Formats
Five years ago, it was typical that the tight-end position was an afterthought if you didn’t draft one of the top two or three. However, in the past few seasons, many tight-ends are now playing like their team’s best or second-best receiver like Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Vernon Davis, Zach Miller, Jason Witten, and Jermichael Finely, to name a few. Treat the tight-end position like you are drafting a wide receiver. So, after you draft your No. 1 wide-out, if the next best receiver on your draft board happens to be Antonio Gates, don’t pass him up. While this might mean your second or third wide-outs aren’t the best at the wide receiver position, that’s okay because you have a good tight-end to make up for that. Besides, there are always a few receivers who will go undrafted that rise to the top over the course of the season and become instant waiver wire adds. Last season, this included Mike Williams (Buccaneers), Steve Johnson (Bills), Austin Collie (Colts), Mike Williams (Seattle), and Mark Clayton (Rams). Coupled with, let’s say, Andre Johnson and Antonio Gates, this makes for a fierce set of fantasy wide receivers.
In The Hybrid #1 League (RB/WR), Value Running Backs More Than Wide Receivers
There is a difference of opinion on this but, when you are in a league which allows you to flex-play a running back or wide receiver, by playing either a running back or wide receiver, try to play a running back. While there are owners that value wide-outs more than running backs, the fact of the matter is that even the best wide receiver can disappear from the stat column from week-to-week. Compared to wide receivers, where many teams have two or more receiving options, teams have to run the ball through one or two running backs on a week-to-week basis. As such, running backs are more likely to post points in yardage and touchdowns on a more consistent basis than wide receivers. Given this, when drafting, try to fill that all important RB/WR flex position with a quality running back if you can.
Your Back-Up QB Can Be A Bye-Week Filler
There is always some trepidation among some fantasy owners where there is a fear that if their No. 1 QB goes down to injury, without a very good back-up, their season is lost. Of course, there is a risk of this but remember the following: outside of the wide receiver position, quarterbacks likely sustain the least number of season ending injuries. Last season, Tony Romo was a highly ranked QB that went down to injury early on. Some owners were devastated, but others moved on with their back-ups or picking up a QB or QBs off waivers. At least one that The Fantasy Greek knows of won a championship after Romo went down by playing match-ups through the use of Jon Kitna and Ryan Fitzpatrick. So, with the QB position being one of the least vulnerable to injury, it would be a waste to draft Tom Brady and then Matt Ryan, just to watch Ryan sit on your pine for the entire season except for Brady’s bye week. Indeed, why would you ever bench Brady? Of course, Brady could pull a tough match-up, but by drafting a high caliber QB like Ryan, you will be passing up on a good player to fill a position that you will need to fill and play every week.
Keep Track of The Players You Drafted and Their Bye Weeks
Many a seasoned player has drafted a team where many of their drafted players have the same bye weeks, creating a must-drop situation during the course of the season of a good player or defense. Many owners are able to maneuver the situation. But, if you feel you may not be able to, don’t create the problem. Have a grid tells you when your players bye weeks are by position so you can avoid any bye-week conflicts.
Injuries Happen, and Players Sometimes Tank, So Do Your Best To Draft A Decent Team On Paper
Drafting is about walking out with what appears to be a good team on paper. We don’t know who will be injured and we don’t know which players will play below our expectations and which players will play beyond our expectations. The point of drafting is to try to give yourself a chance on Day 1 and have a core group of players to build from. From then on, they have to just play the games!
When Your Draft Is Over, Identify What May Be Your Roster’s Weakness, and Then Play The Waiver Wire
Almost all owners can sense some position they drafted is the weakest. As the season develops, there will be players on waivers you can add to help. Making 20 to 30 or more, add-drops over the course of the season is not out of the ordinary. While you shouldn’t turn over your entire roster, picking up a player that looks to be breaking out and dropping a player that hasn’t been doing much is the right move. Don’t fall into the trap, “What if?” this player who is struggling turns it around. That could happen, and it does. But, if a player is playing that poorly on your roster enough weeks in a row, no one else in your league will likely add them after you drop them, and they’ll be on waivers to add back if you so choose.
Have A Plan
Last but not least, have some sort of a plan for your fantasy draft. Hopefully, after reading this, you are already formulating one.
Tools Provided by The Fantasy Greek
The Fantasy Greek provides a number of tools within the Draft Pack, including some special articles for unique consideration.
- Rankings by Position
- Special article for Wide Receivers facing Darrelle Revis
- QB / Defense Pairings
- QB Handcuffs
- Top 200 Non-PPR League
- Schedules, including Favorable / Unfavorable Determinations by Position
- What to do with the #1 Pick?
If you have specific questions as you approach – or even while you are going through – your draft, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions. You can Contact Us through the site, or via Facebook and Twitter. We’ll answer as soon as possible so that you can make the best picks as possible.
The Fantasy Greek also wants to make sure you enjoy your fantasy football season completely, with a well-rounded experience, not just due to the success of your team. Because of this, we’ve compiled a list of optimal Game Viewing & Drafting Locations, submitted by site users for various cities. We can always add more if your city is not yet represented, so Contact Us with locations to be included!