Preparation is Everything
There is nothing worse than going into a draft without a clue. You do not want to be that player who shows up, whether in person or online and just gets ripped to shreds both in the draft and via ridicule. You need to prepare for battle. But how do we do that?
Dig deep into the league rules and determine if there are any weird roster restrictions or if there is bonus scoring involved in your league. Make sure to take notes on how many players you can have at each position, if your league allows for a deep bench, or if there are taxi spots and injured reserve designations.
Know Your Opponent’s Weaknesses
Does Mitch Carl get frazzled when you talk to him when he is going to pick soon? Do your league members have terrible poker faces when someone is selected that they wanted? Write these things down and take note of any reactions you see. Especially if that person picks around where you select. It could be the “tell” you need to decipher his next position target.
Look up the league history and see if there are any drafting trends for each owner. In a few leagues, I know members that constantly choose a quarterback early whether it is the optimal choice that year. Other leagues have members in them where they select as many players as they can from their favorite team.
These are all edges that you can use to your advantage.
Have a Rankings Sheet
Do not go into a draft without some sort of game plan. It starts with at least recognizing that all players are not created equal. A rankings sheet is the first resource you should bring with you in person or have up on your computer.
While drafting, cross out players being selected, or be sure to use that option on your draft board. This will help you realize if there is position scarcity and if you need to pounce on a player early, or if you can wait a while.
Now Tier Players
Rankings are great, but even more importantly are how you Tier players. Sometimes there are drastic differences in value and talent between a single spot in the rankings. By tiering players into different values, you can identify if you can wait to choose someone from the tier or if that player gets picked, are you about to see a significant drop off in talent and potential production?
Account for Byes
When drafting, be sure to track your current rostered players bye weeks. You do not want to end up with a lack of viable options when the bye weeks start to hit. If you draft two quarterbacks with the same bye week, you potentially will have to drop one of them or another solid roster acquisition just to pick up a starter for one week.
Mock Draft, Mock Draft Again, Now Mock Draft Some More
Mock drafts are amazing for practice. It is the Fantasy Football version of standing out on your driveway and shooting free throws. There is no glory involved. Nobody really cares about the results. But it is imperative to make sure you are prepared for the unforeseeable events that happen in a draft.
By practicing in very random mock drafts, you are exposed to all sorts of strategies and weird decisions. They force you to adapt, pivot, and adjust on the fly with your roster and strategy.
Plan for Committee Situations
Some people say not to handcuff running backs. To some extent, they are correct. But not all handcuffs are created equal. There are a few key spots every single season where the current starter is often injured, or maybe is on a short leash heading into the season. Those are the situations you want to identify. Those are the situations where you need to evaluate the backup and put a value on their potential.
If the backup is going to slot into a committee situation with another backup, or if you think the team will just go pass-heavy, then they likely are not a solid handcuff. If the backup is talented but stuck behind a stronger talent, it does not mean they will not succeed when their number is called. Identify those players and roster them for depth and security.
Assess Your Draft Live
While drafting, it is important to assess your roster before each pick. Do you feel like you have a roster full of home run swings and now you are worried about striking out too much? Well, then it is time for you to draft a safer option, even if you are sacrificing a bit of upside.
On the flip side, if you feel like your roster is full of safer options that lack league winning upside, then you need to use the middle and the end of the draft to take some swings at guys that can win you a title.
Pay attention to your league’s rosters. If you notice, there are only two guys left in one of your quarterback Tiers and there are three league members that need a quarterback. You might want to try to snag one of those two guys prior to the next selection for your friends. Sniping needs of others can often put yourself in a good position for the next part of the article.
Accumulate Trade Targets
Oh, yes. This is the fun aspect of Fantasy Football. Having what others need in abundance. Having a surplus in Fantasy Football is always solid if you know there will be a demand for what you have.
If you have stockpiled strong quarterbacks, you might find yourself having trouble off-loading them because the position is so deep. If you have two of the top-10 running backs, you might be able to trade away some of that high-end talent for roster depth at positions you might be needing security in.
Do not Panic
Whatever you do, panicking will not help. Seriously. Keep your cool, take a few laps around the table or room. If you followed the advice here, you likely will not be in a position where you must panic in the first place.
Just like any other league type, you need to know the rules and format. Never is it as important as it is in Dynasty Leagues though.
Be mindful of the number of keepers you can have. Make sure you know how the contracts or signing of players work. And be sure to track every single owner’s history of success and failure in the league.
This is particularly important if you are joining a Dynasty League that is already underway. Look at the league history and study how each team was built. You can learn so much about the members this way.
Assess the Landscape of Rosters
Make sure you know which members have surpluses or deficits at each position. Figure out who is playing to win this season and who is potentially in a rebuilding phase. In Dynasty Leagues, you will often see three types of league members.
First, you will see the competition mode. Those people are trying to win this season. Next, you will find the “trying to do it all” owners. Those players are trying to rebuild and compete at the same time. Lastly, you will find the members who are completely rebuilding from scratch.
All have their strengths and weaknesses; all can be taken advantage of as well. Figure out what category everyone falls into and pounce.
Unlike Redraft Leagues, focusing on long term upside is critical. When you make your rankings list (or use mine), they need to be ranked in terms of what your needs are.
If you are rebuilding, rank your players for their long-term upside and potential. If you need to win now and you are in your “competition window”, then be sure to adjust rankings to mirror more of a Redraft Rankings list.
Tier Players by Long Term Upside
Just like we do in our Redraft Leagues, you need to Tier players. Just be sure to do so with your roster needs in mind.
Do not clump together a bunch of mixed values into a Tier. While they might be equal talents and provide similar stats, or at least have the probability to do so, they likely do not carry the same value.
Does one of them have longer-term potential? Does one of them have more upside in the near future? Is one on the descent while the other is ascending as a player?
Likely, the player on the descent will come at a bargain for the member who needs to win now. While the player on the ascent is going to cost a bit more in a Dynasty League. Same statistics and current talent or situation, two incredibly different values.
Pay Attention to NFL Contracts
One thing I love to do in Dynasty Leagues is to pay attention to the contracts of players. Specifically, you can find out a lot about Running Backs by doing so.
If a player is entering their contract year as a running back, often you will see them play with a ridiculous amount of passion and energy. These guys often will not miss games for smaller issues, as their playing for their next contract. Depending on the position, sometimes it will be their last contract they ever sign.
Wide receivers on the other hand do not always hit their full potential until their second contract is signed. These guys often are rising talents and entering their third or fourth year in the NFL. Those are critical years for most wide receivers. This is when they put it all together or kind of show that they have hit their ceiling.
Players that have signed their second contract already normally do not have a hidden upside. The only thing that really can change that would be the improvement of the entire offense, a coaching or coordinator change, or a new Quarterback.
Have a Plan for Every Single Selection
You cannot enter a Dynasty League draft without a game plan. Truly, it needs to be the most specific plan you have ever created. You need to identify the exact type of talent and value you are looking for depending on your need and then you must plan out how you want to acquire said players.
By creating a road map, you ensure that during the draft keep your eyes on your destination and get the results you need for success.
Draft for Vision
Are you close to winning a title or competing in your league right now? Well, then you need to draft for immediate success. This also applies to anybody starting a Dynasty league. You play to win. Draft to win this season. Worry about the rest as you go.
Are you in a rebuilding phase? Then you need to avoid players at the end of their career or coming off a substantial injury. They are either going to fade into the night or likely just carry too much long-term concern to bother rostering. You need valuable assets and a lot of them. Draft for the future. Take home run swings and hope you land that random young Running Back or Wide Receiver that puts you in contention annually for years to come.
One cool thing about this format is that if you are willing to overpay for a player you love, you can. Hopefully, the other people in your league do not know you love said player, because they will try to run up the price on you. And for this exact reason, you will most likely want to categorize players into Tiers.
If the value of a WR is going higher than you think he is worth, you can let someone else overpay and then draft another player in that same tier. For example, if you believe Odell Beckham, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Amari Cooper are all in the same tier and Beckham’s price is going too high, that is totally fine. Let someone else botch their way through the draft and then you can bid on Juju or Amari later.
One thing to be mindful of is that the last player nominated in a tier sometimes goes for the most money in that tier because several people in your draft viewed that player as the last player available in the said tier. This means they will all be worried about having to select a lesser valued player at a lower tier, which increases the value of the last player in the current tier.
Conversely, sometimes the first guy to go in a Tier can be the cheapest due to the league members seeing a handful of other names of equal talent still available. Track this during your auction because it can lead to you getting strong talent at cheaper costs due to less demand and oversupply.
The most common strategy for nominating players is to nominate a guy you do not want, but you think other people in your draft will want. In doing this, you are getting money out of someone else’s pocket for a player you did not want anyway.
For example, the first player I nominated in my personal draft last year was Antonio Brown. I knew I didn’t want the risk but also knew that other people would pay for him. My goal was to nominate him and allow others to drain their salary cap on someone I did not care about.
Another strategy is to nominate a mid to late-round player you want early in the draft, in hopes that other people won’t really bid on him because they want to save their money for bigger-name stars. This is a fantastic strategy but needs to be executed by also bidding on everyone.
By bidding on everyone, you also confuse your league and disguise your true desires and strategy. Just make sure you do not get stuck with a guy you do not want because you were trying to drive up the price or confuse your league mates. If your tiers and rankings are established before the auction, you should feel more confident in driving up prices while not getting stuck with a player.
Value Estimates and Budgeting
It is important to start a draft with an idea of what price certain players or tiers should cost.
For example, maybe you estimate that the Tier 2 of WRs should cost around $35 ($200 budget). If there is a WR in that tier going for $17, you should probably bid on him because he is a bargain. Conversely, if there is a WR in that tier going for $47, you should probably let somebody else dig their own fantasy draft grave.
By setting estimated values on players, you can manage your salary cap more efficiently. If you “saved” $18 on a player, you can then reallocate that towards another Tier or Position, and feel comfortable overspending on a player who might be an elite talent, just because you know it doesn’t burn a hole in your budget.
Lastly, use your entire budget. Don’t save up a ton of money for the end thinking you are going to control the market and be able to get all those late value players by overspending by $1-2 more than your competition.
There is a good chance you would be better off using the extra $15 or so that you saved for the end, on a Tier 1 player. I prefer to overspend on an elite Running Back than saving it up for a bunch of long shots at the end of my roster. You are only as good as your starting lineup.
For several years now, the QB position has been like the TE position regarding the draft strategy. If you don’t get one of the top few at the position, you just wait and skip the mid-tier and draft a couple streaming options late in the draft. In 2-QB Leagues, we need to be cognizant of the increased value on the quarterback position.
You should begin to start viewing the quarterback position in the same realm that you do the running back or wide receiver positions. Let’s talk about how to do that.
In 1-QB Leagues, you can stream quarterbacks by simply adding and dropping through the waiver wire all season. In a 12-team league, there are a handful of competent options virtually every single week that are available.
In 2-QB leagues, this is not the case. A 12-team league has 24 quarterbacks rostered at any given moment. Some teams likely are carrying 3-4 quarterbacks as well. This leaves the waiver wire a barren wasteland for streaming value.
This means that if you plan on streaming in a 2-QB format, you need to draft three or four of the lower-tier quarterbacks in the hopes that one of them ends up being a QB1 for the season. Then you are going to stream the remaining quarterbacks each week.
There is nothing wrong with grabbing two high-end quarterbacks with your first two picks. You likely will give your team a very solid floor due to the higher scoring floor the quarterbacks provide. But there is a downside.
By doing this with your first two or three picks, you are missing out on high-end talent at the other positions. You will have to focus the remainder of your draft on selecting high-ceiling type players, even if they are volatile.
And you can do this because you have secured your weekly scoring floor by grabbing two stud quarterbacks. Shoot for the stars with your remaining picks and try to win the title in the middle rounds.
Drafting one high-end QB1 with a high-end QB2 is a balanced approach and logical. Nobody will look at your draft thinking you are going to sweep the league, but it’s solid and you will be viewed as a threat.
You will likely have a balanced draft throughout due to the draft capital spent at other positions. There is a downfall to this though.
If you don’t get one of the elite high-end options as your QB1, and then you still go with your normal high-end QB2 option, you likely end up without the scoring ceiling you need while wasting draft capital. If you miss on that first quarterback selection, it might make more sense for you to pivot your strategy and roll out the Streaming option highlighted in the first section.
Main Event Overview (Written by Adam Krautwurst of DraftSharks)
I love High Stakes Fantasy Football. You could say I am addicted to it and if you are reading this article you probably are too! It’s ok we are in this together. I have been playing in high stakes league for 7 years now and have realized one thing for sure….
Without a doubt, the home for Hight Stakes Fantasy Football is at the Fantasy Football Players Championship. The FFPC offers leagues from $35 Best Ball’s to $10,000 High Society Leagues, but their Flagship competition is the FFPC Main Event. The Main Event entry fee is $1,900 per team ($400 off any additional teams) and the grand prize is $500,000. Yeah, that’s right, a half a million dollars. Oh, and a cool trophy too. The best of the best will compete in the main event and I am here to help guide you through it.
I started playing in the Main Event 7 years ago and have cashed every year but one. I felt good about it, but 2019 was a coming-out party for me after finishing 5th overall in the event and hitting a nice payday of $15,500 including league prizes. I played in 3 Main Event Leagues in 2019 winning $17,500 in prizes.
I will be doing a few more Main Event leagues in 2020…naturally…and what I hope to do in this series is discuss some strategies that have helped me attack this High Stakes competition.
How the Main Event Works
You must first know the rules for this unique competition. The Main Event consists of 3,000 teams, which is 250 leagues of 12. You compete with your league weeks 1-11 and your league playoffs start week 12 with 4 teams qualifying. There are cash prizes awarded to the team with the best regular-season record, most points, playoff winners, and for finishing second or third in the playoffs. The top 2 regular season teams and playoff league winner will make it to the all-important “Championship Round” to compete for the $500,000. The Championship Round runs from week 14-16 and pays out down to 125th place.
The FFPC also offers unique scoring and roster requirements. The biggest difference is the TE premium scoring. TE’s get 1.5 points per reception while all other positions get 1 PPR. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is…trust me. The multi-flex option for setting a lineup is also a bit unique and I will discuss more on that below…
You must be at your absolute best when drafting against these sharks. Nobody is spending $1,800 and drafting from rankings off a magazine printed 3 months prior. Don’t be scared…just be prepared. Most sites that offer mock drafts like Fantasy Football Calculator, Yahoo, and ESPN will not be able to help you due to the unique scoring and roster requirements of the FFPC, so legit mock drafts will be hard to come by.
Part of your preparation is knowing the rules and nuances to the FFPC main event. The official rules are right here. https://myffpc.com/cms/public/play/main-event-official-rules/. Like I said, the biggest difference and FFPC’s claim to fame is making TE premium scoring mainstream. The 1.5 PPR for TE’s really moves them up the draft board. We will cover when to target certain players/positions in future installments, but it’s very common to see a TE or two get drafted in round 1.
The Main Event also has a 20-man roster, 18 offensive players with a kicker and a defense. Starting requirements are as follows: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 Flex (RB, WR, TE), 1 Kicker and 1 Defense. The 2 flex spots are what make the draft have a little more strategy and variance from other standard leagues. Getting the most points you can in those flex spots is key to winning big money in the Main Event.
The best prep you can do to get ready for the Main Event is to DRAFT…DRAFT…DRAFT. The FFPC offers a mid-stakes event called the Football Guys Players Championship. The drafts run from late April all the way up to the week that the NFL season starts. Each league is $350, and you can enter as many as you want (I have already drafted twice). Now, it’s expensive prep work and practice but nothing will prepare you more for what it’s like to draft in the Main Event than drafting in these FBG drafts. Most all the Main Event players draft in multiple FBG drafts, so you will get a feel for where you can get your guys. There are also a few sights that offer FFPC ADP.
One of the things that have helped me the most is gathering all the info I can. I listen to 4-5 podcasts religiously during the week to gather insight on players and analytics. I also follow 10-15 people on twitter that I really trust as far as providing actionable data. I don’t necessarily let these pods or twitter follows tell me who to take, I just want all the info I can so that I can make the most informed decision.
Have a Strategy
Every team that registers by July 27th will receive their draft position by August 2nd. This gives teams about a month to strategize before the draft. Come up with your plan, something that best fits your style. Maybe you want one of those elite TE’s early in the draft (one of my preferred methods); maybe you have an early first-round pick and want to take a stud RB and go the best player available after that; whether you plan on going RB heavy or Zero RB make sure to have a plan.
Remember your draft spot does not determine your success. In one Main Event league last year I had the first pick and took Saquon Barkley, he got hurt and missed a month killing my chances at real money. In another draft, I picked 3rd, took Christian McCaffery, and won 15k. Draft spot doesn’t matter for success, but it will affect your draft strategy.
I love High Stakes Fantasy Football. You could say I am addicted to it and if you are reading this article you probably are too! It’s ok we are in this together.
Author – Adam Krautwurst
5th place finisher at the Fantasy Football Players Championship in 2019
These are in full swing and when it comes to fantasy football draft strategies best-ball has a unique style all to itself. Best ball drafts are done early in the off-season, so fantasy owners are drafting from loose projections and a hunch. Many things will change between your best-ball draft and opening day, but I will try to cover a few topics here that will help you win your league.
Types of Players to Target
I want high upside players when building my best-ball lineup. That does not mean I want volatile players it just means I want players with higher ceilings. Now in best-ball drafts, I can get away with drafting players that are more volatile, because I don’t have to select a starting lineup, but doesn’t mean I am necessarily targeting them. Drafting high ceiling players allows me to capitalize on those high scoring weeks to put up monster scores. I would rather draft a player that has fewer fantasy points but more spike weeks than a player that’s consistent but rarely puts up monster games. For example, Leonard Fournette was the 7th ranked RB in 2019 with 261 fantasy points and had 8 games of at least 15 PPR points. Mark Ingram was the 10th ranked RB with 246 fantasy points but had 10 games of at least 15 PPR points. Give me Ingram because he was able to help me with more weeks.
One of the most important elements to being successful in best-ball leagues is roster construction. Since there are typically no in-season moves allowed, the make-up of your roster must have the right number of players at each position to withstand bye weeks, injuries, and poor play from the “studs” on your team.
My most successful roster construction over the last few seasons has been as follows:
This is based on a standard 28 round best ball draft. Obviously, there are other roster constructs you can win with, but this has been my favorite and has had the highest win rate.
RB Early and Often
Roster construction is important, but you still must draft the right players to be successful. The early part of the draft is where you will build the foundation for your juggernaut. In the first few rounds of best ball drafts, I attack RB’s…. hard. I do this for a few reasons and the first reason is position scarcity.
There just aren’t as many bell-cow running backs as there use to be. NFL teams are getting away from hammering one running back all season, or even one game for that matter. Finding a few early #1 RB’s is crucial when building your best-ball lineup.
The second reason I attack the RB position early is that you can get WR’s in the late rounds that will pop off for 80 plus yards and a TD a few times a year and they will slide into your starting lineup. Golden Tate, John Brown, Jamison Crowder, Tyrell Williams DK Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, Cole Beasley, Davante Parker, and Marquise Brown had an ADP between rounds 10 and 18 in 2019. Some of them had stand-alone value (Parker, J. Brown, Crowder, Metcalf) while the others had those spike weeks we are looking for on our best-ball rosters. Samuel 6, Williams 3 , Tate 5, M. Brown 5, Beasley 4 all had multiple games over 15 PPR points.
The only RB’s with ADP between rounds 10-18 to have double-digit 15-point games were LeSean McCoy 3, Devin Singletary 4, Ronald Jones 5, Kareem Hunt 2, Adrian Peterson 3, Jamaal Williams 4. There are just more usable WR’s later in drafts than RB’s.
Stack those Receivers
The third reason I like to wait on a wide receiver is that I love to stack team receiving corps…Like, I love it!! Deandre Hopkins (1st round) was the first WR drafted in 2019 according to ADP. He had 11 weeks with 15 plus fantasy points. John Brown (11th round) and Cole Beasley (17th round) combined for 7 weeks of at least 15 PPR points, Robby Anderson (7th round), and Jamison Crowder (11th round) combined for 11 such weeks. Even Davante Parker (17th round) and Albert Wilson (16th round) combined for 10 weeks of 15 PPR points. Those are just a few examples of later round receiver stacks that provided almost the same amount of WR 1/2 weeks as the first WR drafted in round 1. Would you trade 2 mid to late-round picks for a first-round pick? Of course, you would! Wait on the receiver…
Now you still need to know what players and teams to target to be able to wait on the receiver. We will dive into this deeper in a future article about what offenses to stack. Don’t forget to check the Rise or Fall projections to help fill in the blanks.
Wait on Quarterback
Waiting on a QB should be second nature at this point. Last year’s top 3 fantasy QB’s Lamar Jackson, Jameis Winston, and Dak Prescott were all drafted in the double-digit rounds and after at least 9 QB’s were taken. In best ball drafts you should wait even longer to draft your first signal-caller.
I like to target the position around round 10 and grab 2 that I feel good about. Try to grab one with a rushing upside if you can. In 2019 that was Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, and Josh Allen. You want a few high ceiling options here so that one will pop for a high-end QB1 week and perform as well as the first few QB’s drafted in rounds 2-5. Again, would you trade your 10th and 12th round picks for a pick in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th? Obviously.
Remember I am looking to grab 3 QBs to try and be true to my optimal roster construction. The 3rd QB on your roster does not necessarily need to be a starter. If you drafted a QB with a high-end backup feel free to draft him in case of injury. In 2019 that was Teddy Bridgewater, Daniel Jones, and Ryan Tannehill. It’s not ideal to handcuff your QB but it’s not the end of the world either.
What about TE?
I thought you would never ask! I am looking to draft 4 TEs in best-ball formats. In premium TE scoring leagues like the FFPC, I will look to take a TE before my WR’s. There are far fewer elite tight ends than wide receivers and at 1.5 points per catch grabbing one of the elite ones is huge.
In standard scoring leagues, I treat tight end like quarterback…. Sort of. I do try to target one of the elite ones because there are so few, but if I can’t get one of them, I will wait until the mid-rounds (8-13) and draft a few of them. Again, because it’s best ball and you can draft 2-3 TE’s in the mid-rounds banking on one hit for a top 12 week.
I usually avoid rookie TEs completely. A great year for a rookie TE is 500 yards and that’s no good for your best-ball team. 2020 is no different, in fact, it’s one of the weakest rookie TE classes in recent memory.
Defenses and Kickers
I am drafting 3 of each and I am not too concerned about who they are. I try to take 1 defense in the top 12-15 and then wait until the end of the draft to fill in the other 2 defensive slots paying attention to bye weeks.
With kicker, I am a little more aggressive because I do want 3 of them. Some kickers get hurt and/or cut before week 1. If I am drafting in May or June, I want 3 unquestioned starters because there is no free agency and I don’t want to lose one or two. Kickers aren’t very important in the grand scheme of things but if you must go a few weeks without one it can ruin your season.
It’s best ball so let’s have some fun with it!! Build with the proper roster construction, grab running backs early and wait on quarterbacks. It’s your team so draft your guys, sit back and relax. Good luck this season and see you in the draft rooms!!
Author – Adam Krautwurst
5th place finisher at the Fantasy Football Players Championship in 2019
Know the Schedule
Seriously, take a massive landscape view of the NFL schedule. Print out a ton of the NFL Schedule sheets in your Rise or Fall Draft Kit and draw actual roadmaps to victory on those print outs.
Keep track of where you used a team, which teams you cannot use anymore, and who you plan on using during tough parts of the season. Make sure you are looking at what teams are coming off of a bye week (always better!) and what teams are on short rest (not ideal).
Know the Difference Between a Good Team and a Good Pick
This seems silly to highlight but it’s important. Just because they are good doesn’t make them a good option each week. You need to identify which good teams will be a great play on the week you plan on using them.
A middle of the road team could be a fantastic play against the bottom of the barrel team in Week 11, while a high-end team might be a bad play because they are on the road against a divisional opponent. Good is relative to many variables in a Survival Pool.
Don’t Select Division Games
Avoid these at all costs. Truly, these matchups often lead to upsets. The teams know each other well, coaches scout them out a ton, and there is normally rich history involved. It’s that simple. Go a different route.
Try to Select Home Teams
Home field advantage is a legitimate thing in the NFL. If you have two teams that are similar plays for the Survival Pool week and one of them is away and the other is home, then go with the home team and save the other for another week.
Save a Few Good Teams for End of Season
This seems counterintuitive because you feel like if you save good teams you might lose early and not get a chance later. But circling back to identifying “Good Team vs a Good Pick”, a good team can be saved for weeks at a time because they might be enduring a difficult part of their schedule. Save those teams for later when their scheduled softens up.
Identify Hot Teams
Momentum is huge in the NFL. Teams go on runs of wins and losses. If there is a team firing on all cylinders or fully healthy, they are likely worth targeting in the middle or end of the season. That’s when injuries start to slow some teams down if key personnel are on the bench.
Pay attention to Vegas Odds
Ideally, select a home team that is favorited by 7.0 or more points. If you see the odds being incredibly high, too, then you’ve got a really strong pick. If the Vegas line breaks that 7.0 (or 3.0) mark, meaning it opens at 7.0 or 7.5 and dips down to 6.5 or 6.0, then you should hesitate and potentially look for a better target. That can sometimes mean the Sharps are putting a lot of money down on the underdog.
Personal Routine and Process
Having a routine with Fantasy Football is crucial. We are creatures of habit and generally, we perform better when we are in our element. Finding a rhythm to the season, the draft process, and the in-season management is all a balancing act.
Just showing up to the draft with a haphazard strategy that consists of wasted time and effort is likely going to result in despair and disappointment. Whatever your routine is going to be, ensure that it is something you can replicate on a daily basis for the entirety of the season.
Gather Puzzle Pieces
In the months leading up to the draft, your goal should be to consume as much information as you can. No, I don’t want you to get Paralysis by Analysis, but I do want you to take in as much as you can. That does not mean to analyze it all.
Simple doing what you’re doing by reading this strategy guide is taking in information. You are not necessarily analyzing or strategizing wild reading, but you are actively learning or finding the confirmation bias you needed to proceed with the next step of your routine and process.
Read articles, listen to podcasts, watch videos, scour the Rise or Fall Data Center, read player notes, look at projections, and just kind of gather all your puzzle pieces.
Forming a Vision
Now that you have all your puzzle pieces together, it’s time to start putting them on the board. This is where rankings and sheets come into play. Your thirst for knowledge has been quenched and you have the tools at hand to putting your Draft vision together.
Look at the Fantasy Football landscape. What has changed in your league? What is your goal for the season? How will you find success and by what measurement will you define it?
Form that vision, decide what your goal is, and start to create a strategy to execute it to perfection.
You have your process, your knowledge, your vision, and now you are ready to create an outline to be successful. I mean it. Create an actual outline.
Label your goals, your desires with the season, and all the different ways you are willing to acquire said things. By preparing yourself to adapt to multiple variables, you will be able to efficiently do so when the time comes.
Mock Draft Time
Everything up until this point is a theory. You believe you can accomplish what you want but until you go out there and practice, you will not know how to react once you’re playing.
Consider mock drafts to be essential. Because, in fact, they are pivotal to success. The more you do, as tedious as they can be sometimes, the more effective you will be in the Draft Room. By encountering a ton of different scenarios, you will see these moments play out way ahead of when they do. When the car swerves into your lane, you will remember exactly how to avoid a collision and recalibrate.
While you might be fully ready to draft by Mid-August, it is still imperative to pay attention to the last couple weeks prior to the draft night. Your draft board does not need to change very much at this time, but you can certainly adjust as news comes out.
Pay attention to coach speak, do not worry about pre-season statistics, but do worry about when these players got on the field and with what unit.
If a guy you love is not getting any reps with the first unit by the second week, you likely need to drop him down your list for the end of the draft targets. If a player is being featured early with the first unit before they bow out for the game, said player might have big plans in store for him in the regular season and the coaching staff is challenging him.
There are many ways to view what happens in the pre-season. No matter what your takeaway is, be sure that you are present and available to form an opinion.
You Made It
Okay, it is finally here. The event you have spent months and months preparing for. Congratulations! Seriously, enjoy the little victory while you can. You’ve earned it. That was a lot of time and effort you spent preparing yourself for something that can set you up to win money and less ridicule from your friend group. Winners sometimes earn more ridicule, so just enjoy the money and pride factor.
You will want to either have the Rise or Fall Rankings and Tiered Sheets printed and with you for the draft, or open and up on your computer. This way, during the draft you can cross out names and take stock of who is left and what to do next.
It does not make sense not to go into battle without your armor. Who cares what people say or think? You don’t go into a Fantasy Football fight bare-handed! Bring your Tiers, bring your Rankings, and bring home the title.
Do not panic. No matter what goes on during the draft, keep your cool. There will be some drafts where it feels like nothing is going your way and that’s okay. It does not mean you are not going to end up with a good draft. As long as you continue to do the best you can with what is available, make smart picks based on research, and stick to your strategy you created prior to the draft, then you have to consider your draft a success. No matter the feelings that come attached to your final roster.
What a cop-out, right? Seriously, I am not kidding. Have fun. Fantasy Football is all about community and camaraderie. Winning is a fun part of it, but we ultimately play because we love the act of preparation, we love draft night, and we love in-season management. But the one underlying trait to each one of those steps is the fact that the rest of your league is likely doing the same thing.
Have fun with those people. You all share a common bond and passion. This brings people together and allows us to rally as individuals around one thing as a group.