Now, what do you do when it’s the big day? Draft day is traditionally the most fun day of the year in all fantasy leagues. In a lot of leagues, some or all of your league mates get together and draft in person. It’s also the only time of the year you can trash talk to your entire league at once (before you realize how bad your team has turned out!). The saying goes that you can’t win your league at the draft, but you can sure as heck lose it. Part two of the three-part Newbies Guide to Fantasy Football will guide you through your draft to help you make sure you don’t lose your league before the first snap week one.
PART II: THE DRAFT
AKA “The Main Event”
You’ve done your research; you’ve practiced your drafting. You’ve figured out pressure points where you can find players at value at your particular draft site. You’re all ready to go. What’s the worst thing you can do? Panic. The more you practice and prepare, the readier you will be for your draft. The absolute worst thing you can do is panic and draft a player you don’t want. We’ve all been there. You grab a player and get that sinking feeling in your stomach that you just drafted someone you don’t want. This is your team; fill it with guys you want. The easiest way to do that is to just… relax. This is for fun, remember?
Draft for Floor, Then Ceiling:
In the first three rounds, you don’t want to gamble on low floor, high ceiling players. Their variance could win you the league, but if a player has a high ceiling he basically has to hit it in order to justify his first round selection. If he doesn’t hit this ceiling, he likely won’t be a first round pick. Last year the poster child for the player who got this treatment was C.J. Anderson. This year, I fear it will be Ezekiel Elliott.
When you get to the last few bench spots on your roster, you want to take a few risks. Gamble on some sleepers. A bench player who gets you a reliable 7 points a week won’t do you a whole heck of a lot of good, but someone who has week-winning potential if everything breaks right will be far more valuable as you exit the draft. There’s a reason they are called “lottery tickets.” If they hit, you win big. If they don’t, you shouldn’t hesitate to toss them in the trash (cut them off your team).
You Can’t Have Too Many Running Backs, But Don’t Handcuff
You’ll hear a lot about “handcuffing” your stud running back with his backup, in case your star running back goes down. Don’t do this. You’re consuming a roster spot on a “break in case of emergency” plan. It’s playing scared. It’s a waste of a roster spot. Instead, roster 4-6 running backs (even though you only start 2-3) that could end up starting for you if everything breaks right. Guys like Tevin Coleman or Chris Johnson are decent bets. There are also backups that get a big chunk of work in their own right. Guys like Charles Sims and Danny Woodhead.
You need a lot of running backs because a lot of them get hurt, and a lot of them bust. You want to get a lot of darts at that dartboard. That’s why traditionally there are so many first-round running backs, the RBs that are at a low bust risk tend to be valued higher.
You will still need a handful of WRs for upside and bye weeks, but you can skip a backup tight end. Unless you get a top tier QB, you’ll want to snag a second QB to work in tandem with your first QB.
Don’t Be the Kicker Guy or the Defense Guy
This one is simple. Draft your kicker and D/ST in the last two rounds. Look to replace your kicker if anyone seems to becoming amazing. They’re essentially random number generators and there is no rhyme or reason to their production. Just think about it: their production is based on their team succeeding for a while, then failing, but failing close enough for them to sort of succeed. It’s a fine line. With D/ST, you really should be streaming based on matchups. It’s not worth it to reach to get a weekly starting D/ST when their points are mostly based on matchup.
If you’re playing in an experienced league, they know this trick. You can switch it up by starting your K & DST picking in the third-to-last round. This will give you the pick of the kickers and DST that you want while ensuring there will still be players around that you might want (since you know the rest of your league will be going K/DST with their last two picks, you can still get a lottery ticket in the last round).
Like I said at the beginning of this article, you can’t win your league at the draft, but you can position yourself for glory. After the fifteen rounds of a fantasy football draft, you’ll likely end up with:
1-2 x QB
4-6 x WR
5-7 x RB
1-2 x TE
1 x K
1 x DST
While you can definitely end up with a solid roster, no roster at the draft is good enough to win the league. Precise and determined in-season management is crucial to your success, and we will explore that next time in Part III of the Newbie’s Guide to Fantasy Football.