10 Tips for Winning Your Fantasy Football Draft

10 Tips for Winning Your Fantasy Football Draft

by September 2, 2021 0 comments

The 11 days between the end of the preseason and the start of the regular season mean one thing: fantasy football drafts.

As you prepare to construct a league-winning roster, make sure to follow these 10 tips that will allow you to execute a flawless performance on draft night.

Keep in mind that everybody has their own strategies, so while all of this advice is imperative, some aspects will vary from person to person.

1. Conduct pre-draft research

There’s nothing like showing up to a draft unprepared. While you don’t need to memorize things like depth charts and bye weeks, it’s important to get a general feel for what a player’s circumstance looks like. For example, Brandin Cooks has been a phenomenal fantasy option in the past, but the absence of Deshaun Watson will negatively impact his value. Make sure to keep tabs on injuries, too. This works both ways. You don’t want to draft a player who is out for the year, nor do you want to fade someone whose role has increased due to injuries around them.

2. Mock ahead of time

Most fantasy football platforms allow you to complete mock drafts. These allow you to see different draft tendencies and get a feel for how you real draft might unfold. Consider completing a couple mocks against other people, as well as a couple with a simulator. You can never have too much practice.

3. Don’t bring too much information to the draft

It’s important to be prepared, but don’t show up to your draft with a bountiful stack of paper. Instead, perhaps you could print out rankings from an expert you trust and one more cheat sheet with important notes, such as depth charts or players you want to pursue or avoid. If you overprepare and bring too many resources, you’ll end up scrambling through a mess of information, leaving you even more confused than when you started. An overload of information could lead to conflicting views, too. Keep things simple.

4. Draft responsibly

It’s fine to enjoy your draft, especially if you are drafting with a group of friends or family. However, don’t draft drunk. Nobody needs Cody Parkey or Nathan Peterman at the 1.01. The decisions you make on draft night will determine your team’s success for the next four months. Be responsible and smart so you don’t wake up the next morning with major regrets.

5. Have a backup plan (or two) when drafting

When drafting, you should have your sights set on the player you want to take before you’re even on the clock. However, you might not be alone. If the person picking before you snipes your player, you should be ready with at least one or two fall-back options. First of all, you want to draft a player you feel comfortable about. Second, thinking one step ahead allows for the draft to move quicker, which your league-mates will surely appreciate.

6. Don’t second-guess yourself

Picking a player who flounders hurts, but it’s even more painful to pick a dud over a stud at the very last minute. Go with your gut and select the player that your first instinct tells you to take. After all, you could make excuses (both positive and negative) for everyone in the NFL.

7. True talent early, league-winners in the middle, sleepers late

Generally, you’ll want to open your draft by picking a fairly safe player early on. Even if you think Allen Robinson could finish as the No. 1 wide receiver, don’t pick him over Davante Adams or Tyreek Hill. It’s equally important to make sure you use an early pick on either running back or wide receiver (or both). On the other hand, feel free to snag a Mahomes or Kelce, but don’t try to get elite talent at both quarterback and tight end. As for the middle of your draft, this is where you focus on potential league-winners who you think will break out. And in the end, look out for sleepers. These aren’t league-winners but rather players who could see a larger workload as the season progresses and eventually slot into your starting lineup.

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8. Know your league settings

There are so many different types of leagues. This makes fantasy football awesome, but it can also add some confusion. Before drafting, make sure you understand your league’s settings. If it’s a standard scoring draft, understand how to differentiate between PPR and standard. In a superflex league, considering researching just how much extra stock should go into drafting a quarterback. For auction leagues, know your budget and don’t spend an absurd amount of money on an early pick, rendering yourself broke for the later rounds.

9. Don’t get too attached to players

It’s okay to identify players you love or hate, but don’t get too attached. You don’t want to make a move out of emotion that ends up hurting your team in the long run. This mainly applies during the draft and trading processes, when you should be looking to locate the most talent possible. However, the same can be said when handling the waiver wire. Don’t bypass adding a huge free agent, even if it means you have to cut an underperformer whom you believe deserves a second (or third or fourth) chance.

10. Remember, the draft is just Step 1

The fantasy draft represents the start of the fantasy season, but your duties aren’t done as soon as the last pick is made. You should immediately begin to explore the trade market or waiver wire for ways to improve your team. Even if you aced your draft, you can still improve. The same logic can be applied in the other direction, too. Having a bad draft doesn’t disqualify you from having a great season. Get over it, find some optimism, and right the ship.


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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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