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7 Tips for a Successful Fantasy Football Draft

By Edited Dec 10, 2015 1 2

If you are one of the millions who play fantasy football every year, then you know that the draft is the most important part of the game, and a successful fantasy football draft will set the tone for the rest of the season. A well planned strategy for your fantasy football draft will give you a significant advantage over your opponents to help you dominate all the way to the playoffs. Follow these tips to make sure your fantasy football draft is a success.

1) Know your league rules and settings

This is the golden rule of the fantasy football draft. Whether you are in a standard, keeper or auction league, you need to know what positions you start every week, how points are scored, and how they are lost. The draft choices that you make will be vastly different between a point per reception league and a touchdown only league - and chances are that the settings for your league are somewhere in between. Know the scoring system and choose accordingly. Custom leagues can make things more fun for everyone, but the settings can change every year based on the whims of your league commissioner. Study the rules for your league beforehand so you can adjust your rankings and come to the draft prepared.

2) Use a tiered system to rank your players and make your draft choices

When preparing for your fantasy football draft, don't just you rank your players by their potential points, but also group them into different tiers to separate levels of expected performance. Every position is going to have a few elite players, then a couple of levels of middle players, and finally some players to avoid. When you make your draft choices focus on the differences between tiers more than just individual rankings.

For example, if you are drafting late in the first round chances are that all of the elite, top tier RBs will be gone. So instead of taking a second or third tier RB, grab a top tier WR or QB. Likewise in later rounds, you could use the tiered rankings to choose a first tier TE over a fourth tier WR.

3) Know your opponents

To take your fantasy football draft to a deeper level, you need to look beyond just the actual players you will be drafting and start looking at the other people in your league. Before the draft, check out who your opponents had on their teams in previous years. Some people get fixated on having players from their favorite team, or they like certain players no matter how poorly they are doing or what their fantasy value is now because they helped them win a championship last year. Knowing this could help you during the draft. If you can draft one of their favorite players you can use them as trade bait later in the season. Or you can plan your draft picks because you know who the guy in front of you are likely to choose.

It's also important to pay attention to your opponent's teams during the fantasy football draft. Keep an eye on what positions your opponents have filled, the quality of their players and what they still need. Nothing feels better than having 3 solid RBs on your team, but still grabbing another mediocre one just to screw the guy choosing next who is loaded with WRs. It not only makes for fun trash talking during the draft, but it will be really valuable later once the season starts and you can trade that mid tier RB for a top tier WR because the guy is desperate.

4) Ignore bye weeks - for now

A lot of people focus on bye weeks in their fantasy football draft. Not that bye weeks aren't important, but you shouldn't base important decisions on them as early as the draft. Nobody knows what will happen even in the first few weeks of the season and your team could look vastly different by the time you have to worry about coinciding bye weeks. Passing up a great WR for a mediocre one just because he has the same bye week as your QB is not a good draft strategy. Grab the best players now and worry about working the waiver wire later in the season when it is necessary.

5) Handcuff your superstars - but not too early

Some people draft a stud RB or superstar QB, then panic that he's going to get injured (a la Tom Brady 2008) and immediately grab his backup. Handcuffing your best players is a good idea, but do it too early and you could be passing up better opportunities and wasting a pick. Make sure your roster is filed with proven talent before going for the insurance.

You also want to make sure that when you do get your handcuff that it is worth it. Some stars have weak players backing them up or the position will go to a committee situation when the starter falls. Make sure you do some research on the depth of the position before you even think of grabbing a backup from the same team.

6) Grab a top tier TE, or wait until the late rounds

Every year there seems to be 3-4 top tight ends that will score lots of points, and then there is a significant drop off to the next tier. And every year there seems to be a breaking point in most fantasy football drafts around the 5th-6th rounds where there is a run on TEs. Don't feel pressured to grab a TE unless it is one of the top players. TEs like Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez play a major role in their team's offense and can be counted on to score for your fantasy team, but after them the rest of the field is pretty much the same. If you can't get an elite TE early in the TE run, then there is no point drafting one until really late because any of the mediocre TEs will give your team about the same result.

7) And of course - always draft a kicker last

There are definitely some kickers out there who are better choices than others. They are more accurate and more reliable than their peers. The problem is that no one can predict how many points they will get throughout the year because so much relies on factors of the game outside of their control. Last year the fantasy world's best kicker was Stephen Gostkowski, but he was not the first kicker drafted because no one could have predicted that Tom Brady would go out in the first game and New England would be making more field goals than point after touchdowns. On top of that he was only 25 points ahead of the next guy on the list, which averages out to less than 2 points per week. The bottom line is that kickers are all pretty much the same and your opponents probably won't draft them early either so you can get one in the last round that will do just fine. Save the early picks to back up your key positions and save the kicker for last.

There you are, 7 tips that will help you dominate your fantasy football draft. Good luck!



Jun 4, 2010 2:02pm
This is a well-written article with good points. I disagree about handcuffing and bye weeks (they are very important for your QBs), but I can't argue with how you presented it or what you wrote.
Jul 19, 2011 2:18pm
I disagree with the bye week philosophy. I think you should plan your picks with bye weeks in mind. If a star player has a bye week and you lose because your back up under performed, you could suffer.

I try to find as many good players with the same bye week and just expect a loss and plan for the rest of the season.
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