Fantasy Football: Five Draft Day Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

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It is officially draft month for fantasy football owners everywhere.  Whether you have played for years, or if this is your first season playing the game we all love, on draft day in redraft leagues you are all equals.

It can be easy to fall in to some common traps and make some draft day mistakes in your fantasy football league.  However, if you are aware of common mistakes owners of all skill levels make each season, you may be able to avoid making them yourself, or even better, observe your league mates making them and capitalize.

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One easy way to avoid these common mistakes is to have a strategy and put some work in to your draft prep.  For starters, I would get the Fake Pigskin Draft Guide.  It is loaded with content, covering all formats, even IDP leagues.  It also has articles covering strategies, rankings, and team previews.

Another way to get the best info, is to follow my own draft strategy series over on DavidGonos.com.  I will be breaking down strategies for each round and draft position over the next few weeks.  Of course Fake Pigskin will be providing free and fantastic content all season as well.

Bottom line: be prepared, and don’t head in to a draft and simply “wing it”.

5. Draft with confidence, but not arrogance

If you are like myself, you are in plenty of higher stakes or bragging rights leagues with others in the industry.  You are also likely in a few leagues with co-workers, or friends and family. Often times, these are the leagues that satisfy you the most.  Sure, winning $1,000 would be nice in some high stakes league, but crushing your loud-mouth colleague at work is so much sweeter.

Let’s say you prep your ass off.  You put in all the work and then some.  You listen to podcasts, you follow Twitter religiously, and XM Fantasy is programmed in to all of your pre-set stations in the car.  That kind of hard-core work!  Well, you are likely in a league with a few slouches or the indifferent-type owners.  You know those kinds.  The guys who are in it for fun and the “hell, I even won it a few years ago” types who do nothing to prepare but print out a top-300 sheet.  You also chuckle as they make a terrible pick, take an injured player, draft a defense in round 10, or select three running backs on the same bye week.

Do you:

A: Yell out, ” Ha ha ha you dumb ass!  Good luck with those guys on the same bye!” or ” You know he is suspended for the first four games, right?”

or

B: Keep your mouth shut, laugh internally and take advantage?

The answer is B, because although it feels great to shower your league mates in your vast intelligence and superiority when it comes to fantasy sports, you have absolutely no benefit for doing option A — besides feeling smart.  You also may key your opponents in to their mistake and they may try to right the ship rather than potentially draft TWO defenses, or take yet another guy on the same bye week.

See what I am getting at here?  Gloat, brag, and trash talk is great and essential in many leagues, but be aware of what can be considered strategy and some playful trash talk.  Once you dominate your league and the unprepared owner is making terrible trades midseason because they screwed up, people will know you had a great draft and are far superior to them.

4. Utilize draft tools and cheat sheets, but don’t over-do it

This one is tricky, and took me a few years to master.  I love data, spreadsheets, rankings, ADPs, tiers, tablets, laptops, and a good old strategy guide, too.  The trick is finding a way to use them all, but not on the day of the draft.  There is such a thing as too much information.  On draft day, if you are approaching the point to where you’ll have more than a couple of weapons on hand, you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage over the owner who comes with a top 300 sheet alone.

The key is to use all of these weapons leading up to your draft, and then consolidate the key components from all of them into a few tools.  I prefer a spreadsheet with my tiers and a cheat sheet, as well as a laptop or tablet that has rankings open or accessible.  That is it.

Four years ago or so, I attended a draft with an entire arsenal.  I figured I would intimidate my league mates with my preparation and astounding weaponry, but by round three I had drafted a player already selected, lost power on my laptop and ended up using my cheat sheet and the dreaded top 300 (since my tiers and ADP data were on the dead computer) for the rest of the draft.

I had three different sheets I was trying to cross players off of and none of them matched, which is why I selected a player already off the board.  He was crossed off on only two of my three sheets!

Study hard, cram what you can onto a spreadsheet, worksheet, cheat sheet, or whatever you decide to use.  Just keep it relatively simple so you don’t overwhelm yourself and miss out on the best part of the draft (which is the draft itself) trying to sift through data.

On a side note, I will be providing rankings, sample cheat sheets, tiers and more over the next week or so at DavidGonos.com.

3. Follow the rest of the league and their rosters as they draft

This one is relatively simple and can tie in to No. 4. If you are too busy trying to keep up with your cheat sheet and not really following the flow of the draft, you may already be at a disadvantage.  If you are in the standard 12-team league and you see the top six quarterbacks are gone, but you like everyone from the top 12 up, you know that half of the league will likely not be picking another quarterback anytime soon.

Or if you are sandwiched by owners who each have two running backs in the first three rounds you really shouldn’t worry about them taking a running back again.  Draft flows and that owner getting noticeably more and more tipsy are all things you should be aware of and try to take advantage of.  Having trends and knowing owners needs can help you successfully zig when the rest of the league is zagging.

Side note: In general, I am a believer in avoiding quarterbacks until late rounds anyhow, unless it is a two-quarterback league of course.

2. Stay focused on the draft and not partying….too hard

Don’t take the title the wrong way here. If you like to enjoy a few drinks, or three or twenty on the night of your big drafts go for it! If you are planning on drinking, and heavily drinking, just be prepared with drunk proof cheat sheets. Typically those who go into a draft with a plan, whether it is the trendy new ” Zero RB strategy”, “Late round quarterback” or “drinking heavily”, they won’t be caught off guard.

It is those who show up not intending to get ripped, perhaps arriving to the draft site (at a sports bar) an hour early and chipping in on pitchers, who will likely be in trouble. If you weren’t planning on getting drunk, you definitely weren’t intending to draft drunk either.  Have fun, kick back and take the edge off if need be, but don’t ruin a draft because you suddenly felt like you were 21 again and tried to do three rounds of shots after a few pitchers.

Bigger goals are at stake here!  Don’t let a night of freedom become a drunken night of poor drafting (also don’t forget the lethal hangover you may end up with).  Trust me, if you feel bad because you are hung over, think of how much worse you will feel when you see that newly injured player out for eight weeks on your roster!

1b. Have a strategy, but don’t become attached to it at all costs

Have you ever read that even though great players are available you need to get a running back in first and second rounds?  Perhaps you have heard the logic that whoever scores the most points should be your No. 1 priority. Because of this, you should take a quarterback early.

Is there anything wrong with this?  Absolutely not, I wouldn’t do it, but there is nothing wrong it.  However, maybe you have heard that one of the oldest strategies in the book is to take the best player available.  Period.

"Doug Martin 2013 Pro Bowl" by Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth - http://www.dvidshub.net/image/821780/nfl-pays-tribute-military-service-members-during-2013-pro-bowl#.UQ192mdHo1A. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Doug_Martin_2013_Pro_Bowl.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Doug_Martin_2013_Pro_Bowl.jpg

“Doug Martin 2013 Pro Bowl”

Case in point, you took Eddie Lacy in the first round and now in the second round you are looking at Julio Jones or Doug Martin.  You need to have an open mind. Do you take an elite receiver or stick to your guns with your two-running back strategy?  That is the question.  I say be flexible, and take the receiver.  Strategies are great, but if you aren’t willing to stray from them, you could be regretting it the rest of the season.  Keep an open mind

1a. HAVE FUN!

 

Be sure to send any questions, comments or disputes to me in the comments section. Also follow me on Twitter @fantsychillpony

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