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Fantasy Football Draft Day Tips

Once again, it’s that time of year when devoted football fans begin researching player availability lists and getting ready for their fantasy football draughts. I thought I would share my strategy for preparing for my fantasy football draught because I have consistently placed at or near the top of most leagues in which I have participated, and I want to help others achieve the same success.

Leave Your Loyalty at the Door

I have participated in so many fantasy football draughts that you can almost always tell who the preferred team of a handful of the players is as soon as they start selecting their roster. Nothing is funnier than seeing someone new to a league start only picking players from one team over and over again. My current league, like most leagues, switches one or two men every year. The best part is when they declare they prefer the Bears after choosing Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Earl Bennett, and Devin Hester. I’m serious. I never would have imagined. Do not misunderstand me; there is nothing improper about selecting one or two players from your preferred team. You are most knowledgeable about their advantages and disadvantages. But to pile up on one team is just too risky for my blood.

Pay attention

Going into any fantasy football draught, it is a given that you must consider bye weeks when choosing players. My recommendation is to choose the running back or wide receiver who has the same bye week as the player who is obviously better. Make preparations for that bye week later. Choose the player with the different bye week if you have to choose between DeSean Jackson and Wes Welker and he has a different bye week than Calvin Johnson but the other one does not. Choose DeSean Jackson instead of Devon Bess if you have to choose, and don’t worry about the bye weeks.

Make a plan.

There is nothing more frustrating than seeing someone go through the fantasy football draught process without any apparent strategy. To give you a fair indication of the pool of players you can choose from in the first few rounds, most leagues set up the first-round order in advance and frequently just reverse it for each subsequent round. As an illustration, if you land a top quarterback like Brees, Brady, or Rodgers, wait to select a replacement quarterback until all other starting positions have been filled. It is a classic mistake to select Eli Manning two rounds after selecting Tom Brady, only to watch him start Scott Chandler at tight end when Jimmy Graham or Jason Witten were passed over in favor of Manning. When you sign a top-tier quarterback, you can put off thinking about a backup until much later—or at the very least, until you’ve filled all of your other starting positions.

Keep an eye out for runs

I know I just said to have a plan, but you also need to be aware of a run at a particular position and be adaptable enough to change your target list as needed. As an illustration of that: If you want one of the top six defenses on the list you are following coming into the draught, you might want to start thinking about defense in rounds seven or eight. At the start of round six, someone takes a defensive all of a sudden. The following pick is made by the next player, and two picks later, another defense is chosen. This is referred to as a run, and if you still want that top defense, you might need to adjust your selection strategy and take one a bit sooner than anticipated, or you risk being forced to play with a bottom-tier defense the entire season.

Study Rookies

Remember that the term “rookie wall” did not appear out of thin air. Every year, a few rookies burst into the NFL scene. My recommendation is that rookies should make up no more than 10 to 15 percent of your fantasy football roster. A rookie wide receiver can be added to your starting lineup as a rotating player, but it’s unwise to make them your running back and wide receiver from day one.

Draft one kicker 

Another occurrence I frequently witness is someone selecting a second kicker and a second defense at the end of the round. Why? Pick either a defense or a kicker for their bye week then drop them the following week if you have a kicker and defense you really like. You know the squad you don’t start will always have a better week if you have two average defenses, and it will drive you mad. The same is true of kickers. One defenseman and one kicker should be selected in the first round, while the remaining two roster positions should be reserved for depth and flexibility.

Gather backups now

Adding a backup to a star player during the season is another strategy that has been successful in the past. I usually fill in one or two roster spaces with the backups to my best players because I just had to choose one kicker and one defense, saving me two spots. That way, if a superstar gets hurt, I’m still protected. The ideal instance occurred when I chose Drew Bledsoe as my starting quarterback while he was with the Cowboys. I was aware of the weak offensive line for the Cowboys and the average but serviceable play of the backup quarterback on my roster. I couldn’t think of another quarterback to add, so I went with Tony Romo, who was Bledsoe’s backup. We are all aware of the year Romo had, so I had no qualms about challenging anyone over a waiver request to include him. It also worked well for me the prior year when I chose Ronnie Brown as my final pick after choosing LeSean McCoy in round 2, who had suffered some injuries the year before. As the season went on, I was able to add my fill-in defense for the bye week and my kicker for a week by using the Ronnie Brown slot as my drop/add spot.

Avoid most trades

My advice is to exercise extreme caution if someone offers you a deal but has a poorer track record than you do because they are probably attempting to unload junk for gold. The person who gives you four players for two and claims that those four have produced the same number of points as your two players is a favorite tactic I’ve seen. Getting the most points from each player is the goal of fantasy football. What use is it to trade two players for four players in the hopes of gaining those points? Any trade that unfairly benefits more than one player should be avoided. Don’t get me wrong, there are some reasonable swaps that benefit both teams, but you should steer clear of the trader who begins in week two.

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