August 25, 2010 Leave a comment
If you’re like me, the day of your league’s fantasy football draft trumps Christmas morning. It is the day that you get to join with close friends in fellowship due to your common interest. It is the day you can wear a crappy team jersey, shit talk, and drink excessively, all without having to deal with girlfriends and wives. And oh yeah, it is also the day that, after 4 months of tedious research and preparing (don’t judge me), you finally get to build your fantasy team’s roster.
But how are you planning to maximize the value of all that preparation? You’ve already done the hard work. You’ve got your final player rankings and know exactly what guys you want and what guys you want to avoid. That’s great, but in order to really build the best fantasy roster you can, you need to know your league as well as you know the running backs on your top 25 list. While you may have a quarterback ranked as a top 5 player going into this season, what makes him even more valuable is also knowing the perfect spot in your draft in which to select him.
One of the most useful things you can do to prepare for a draft is to spend time mockdrafting from whatever spot you have in the draft order. This is beneficial because immediately you will begin to recognize the approximate draft position (ADP) of each player based on the preferences of the general public. With this knowledge you can begin maximizing the value of the players on your own individual rankings by finding the latest round possible to select those players in. Just remember that the ADP you find online must be very current and be derived from a league with similar lineups and scoring as your own.
Now once you’ve done some mocks and have a good idea of what the ADP of your ranked players is, you can start applying this to your own league. This really gets easier and easier the longer you’ve been involved with a given league. In fact, you should view your draft as not just a time to select this season’s players, but also research for future year’s drafts. For example, in my league of 10 friends there are 6 Chargers fans, 2 Raiders fans, a Packers fan, and a bandwagon fan. There are 2 guys who like to have top-tier QBs every year and 1 who wants to dominate the TE market. 4 guys like the RBs ‘early and often’ strategy while 3 are okay with spending early picks on the top-tier WRs. Also I know to keep a watchful eye on the 3 guys who seem the least prepared, because they’re the true wild cards and could really draft any player at any time. So taking all of this knowledge into account, I can make educated guesses throughout the draft as to what I think these other guys will do. And with that, I can really pinpoint which spot to select which players.
This may sound like a lot of strategy just for drafting a fantasy team, but this is just the beginning. Once you’ve mastered the ability to gauge approximate draft position of fantasy players, you can actually begin to visualize exactly how you want your team to look before the draft even begins. Based on your draft position you can start going back to the mockdraft sites and determine the optimum draft style based on your position and the ADP of fantasy players. For example, say you’re picking 10th out of 10 in the first round of your draft (therefore also 1st in round 2). Chances are you will be looking the best 7 or 8 running backs being off the board, along with perhaps the top wide receiver and/or quarterback. Well after several mock drafts you’ll be able to know before even going into your real draft whether you’re better off getting a tier 2 RB or starting out with 2 of the top tier WRs, because you know what RBs are likely to come back to you at round 3 and on.
Another really strong tactic is to ‘draft backwards’. Find players who you believe will be impact players this fantasy season but are not being drafted until the very last rounds or not at all. If you can find a QB for example who you believe can be your starter this season that isn’t going until about round 11 or later, make it a point to take him in round 8 or 9 of your draft. You will guarantee getting your starting QB and it frees you up in rounds 1-7 to not even need to worry about that position, but instead load up on other positions.
In review… take a break from ranking those fantasy players! More valuable than knowing how they’ll do this season is knowing when to get them in your draft. Study ADP, study your league mates. Be able to put together a strong strategy for how to maximize the value you get with each selection because doing that will give you the best possible outcome on draft day.