The Fantasy Greek wants to share some tips on how to approach and handle fantasy football drafts as food for thought. Hopefully, based on your experience level, there is at least one or two things you never considered before that could prove helpful when your fantasy football draft rolls around.
Know How Many Teams Are In Your Fantasy Football League And What Roster Positions You Need To Fill
Generally speaking, leagues are either ten-team leagues 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-formats 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 bench players 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 Day1 in any format you are drafting in.
Know Your Fantasy Football Leagues Scoring System
For example, in most leagues, while all players get 6 piints for rushig for a touchdown or catching a pass and scoring a touchdown, it is standard for quarterbacks to be awarded 1 point for 25 yards passing, and 4 points for a TD. This obviously makes running backs more valuable than quarterbacks in general in those leagues. Put another way, the quarterback position is not a valuable position to fill immediately. However, in some leagues, quarterbacks are awarded 1 point for20 yardspassing and/or 6 points for a TD. This obviously makes quarterbacks more valuable than running backs. In that case, the quarterback position becomes a more valuable position to fill early in the draft, including, but not necessarily, in Round 1. But, if you are unable to do so, 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 Fantasy Football Draft
Obviously, if you let the website of your league auto-draft for you, 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. If you do not know your pick in advance, do as many mock drafts as time allows, picking form the front (picks 1-4), middle (5-8), and end (9-12) of the draft order.
Whatever site you use for your league likely has a mock draft tool. You should at least do one or two mock drafts 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. You can put players in the queue who you may be considering drafting with a future pick. 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.
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. Two seasons ago, RB Arian Foster had moved up draft boards and was being taken in the fourth through sixth rounds of many fantasy football drafts, sometimes later. In one draft, because the scroll bar wasn’t in the upper position, The Fantasy Greek could not see Foster was available (The Fantasy Greek was preparing to draft him) and therefore, drafted a different player. Imagine the surprise when the very next pick was Arian Foster! The lesson: get used to your sites functions and features.
Besides getting used to your site’s functions and 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 CURRENT List of Rankings By Position
Whether you use The Fantasy Greek’s list of rankings by position or top 200 list for your fantasy football draft, 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. Some players get hurt and other players lose or gain value during mini-camp or during the preseason. You want the most current evaluation of players even though no list is the same as any other.
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, RB Arian Foster was a great example of that last season. In another instance, there was a draft where TE 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 undrafted in Round 6 when you get to draft, you’ll know it.
After Your First Pick, Divide Your Fantasy Football Rankings Into Groups of Players
You should be able to look at the rankings you bring to your fantasy football draft and get an idea 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 example, 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 rankings be drafted by the time the draft snakes back 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
One season, a fantasy footballer picked as many Vikings players as they could in the first few rounds of a fantasy football draft, including Brett Favre in the first round, and the Vikings DST before Round 8. There was a time and a place to draft Favre and the Vikings DST, and in this specific year, it wasn’t when this particular fantasy football player drafted them. This particular fantasy football player passed on multitude of other, better players. Needless to say, Favre and the Vikings DST did not do well that season. 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. There is nothing wrong with taking a player off the board you do not feel will play well, you do not care for, or, don’t want to take a risk on such as players coming off injury or holding out. Well, don’t draft them. Be forewarned, though, you may have a player you do not care for fall in drafts until you may have no choice but to draft 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
Or, let’s say, you are a fan of one team and don’t want to draft your rival’s players in fantasy football. Well, The Fantasy Greek supposes you don’t have to draft them, but why not? Believe it or not, the team you root for can win its game despite your fantasy football player playing well.
Draft Fantasy Football 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 footballers 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 five 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 (like Julio Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Victor Cruz), 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 fantasy football rankings every season. As such, picking a kicker in fantasy football 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.
The Fantasy Greek understands fantasy footballers want Sebastian Janikowski (Raiders) or Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots) on their team. But, do not sacrifice a quality position player for a kicker. There are always good kickers available in the last round of fantasy football drafts. The Fantasy Greek expects some combination of Jason Hanson (Lions), Matt Bryant (Falcons), Robbie Gould (Bears), Shayne Graham (Texans), Matt Prater (Broncos), and the Saints Kicker — either Garrett Hartley or John Kasay — to be available to be drafted. All of them are solid kickers.
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 defenses that everyone expects to do well before the season begins, who only disappoint due to injuries to key players or for some other reason. Then, there are always a few defenses that surprise us all in breaking into the top-twelve such as the Texans did last season.
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 8 or 9, but that’s it. The Fantasy Greek is aware of four championships being won with five different defenses. Even when a defense is good, it can struggle 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 you are required to draft two defenses, you can always add a defense off waivers for bye weeks or add a surprise defense off waivers.
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 have played like their team’s best (Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham) or second best receiver, in years past, Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, or Jason Witten, to name a few. Treat the tight-end position like you are drafting a wide receiver. So, if the next best receiver on your fantasy football draft board happens to be a tight-end, 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 Victor Cruz (Giants) and Laurent Robinson (formerly of the Cowboys).
In The Hybrid #1 League (RB/WR), You Can Value Running Backs More Than Wide Receivers
There is a difference of opinion on this but, when you are in a points per reception/rush league which allows you to flex-play a running back or wide receiver in one of the starting roster spots, 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. Tony Romo has generally been a highly ranked QB. He went down to injury early on in the 2010 season. Some fantasy footballers were devastated, but others moved on with their back-ups or by up a QB or QBs off waivers. At least one team 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 fantasy football bench 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. Besides, there is a lot of depth at the quarterback position this season and The Fantasy Greek feels there are likely a few QB2s and a couple of undrafted quarterbacks that could play like QB1s more often than not.
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 maneuver this situation, don’t create the problem. Have a grid at your fantasy football draft (usually it is provided as part of the draft product of your league’s website, and you can see it right on your computer screen, but just in case) that 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 just have to 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 likely 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 football draft. Hopefully, after reading this, you are already formulating one.