Fantasy Football: 6 Tips For Draft Day Domination

Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us, and you know what that means.

The single most important day of the year is peeking around the corner. To all the engaged folk out there ready to settle down with someone you could’ve gotten in the fifth round, ahem, I mean, your significant other, I’m not talking about the wedding day. A big “nope” to all the fantasy football expecting mom’s out there, I know the XX chromosome makes up 20% of the fantasy community, but I’m not talking about the day your bouncing bundle of joy takes their first breath.

I am of course talking about draft day weekend. The time when our computers work overtime calculating stats, slaving over rankings, and Googling “Fantasy Football Sleepers” for the 129th time (Bonus Tip: Don’t do that). Before your sleeper RB gets a chance to start, and before you lose to that guy in the office who doesn’t even know MJD is now a Raider, you must draft your squad and try to jam it full of guys who will, well, score you a ton of points.

Below, I’ve outline a handful of draft day tips to check off as you prepare to either destroy the competition, or fall to the wayside and become your leagues glorified punching bag. I’m hoping this will be a civic duty to all who read it, and hopefully we get more of the former.

1. Know Your Settings

These tips are like taking Reggie Wayne in the 6th round. Not flashy, not sexy, but they get the job done, and will be more helpful than you think. They are here to simply remind you to not overlook the small stuff, like your league’s scoring, and roster, settings. 

We live in a new day and age, where instead of only one way to play our favorite game, there are over a million different ways. It’s your duty to know what settings you’re working with, and how they affect the players you’ll be taking on draft day. In a PPR league the Patriots pass-catching fiend Shane Vareen has a lot more value than he would in a standard scoring league.

You could also play in a hardcore keeper league where you keep up to 10-12 players. This certainly makes players like Teddy Bridgewater and Sammy Watkins a little more enticing, knowing you can have them for the entirety of their career.

It’s not just roster settings either, the scoring settings can vary wildly as well. In a league that awards a few extra points for a QB touchdown, or a defensive three and out, Peyton Manning and the Seahawks DST become a bit more valuable. Don’t be the guy who takes three goal-line backs in a PPR league.

What you see: Fantasy points aplenty What I see: Players I won't ever own

What you see: Fantasy points aplenty
What I see: Players I won’t ever own

2. Know Thy Enemy

Living in Maine, which is firmly planted in Patriot land, it is rare for me to own Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, or any other potential fantasy stud playing in Foxboro. However, there IS value is knowing who’s going to be drafting with you.

In a 10 team league, you have the 9th pick. You’re really hoping for Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees. The person holding the tenth pick is a Lions fan, and you know from experience that they’re not really fond of taking a QB early. This makes it a lot easier. You take Megatron with the 9th pick, and watch Brees slide right back down after the turn. It seems simple, but fantasy football is about taking any inch you can get, and trying to figure out how it stretches into a mile. That being said…

3. Separate Your Personal Bias From Fact

Not only does it help to know thy enemy, but you also have to remember not to become them. Growing up a Giants fan, there is a deep-rooted hatred in my blood for the Dallas Cowboys. This not only makes it difficult to watch games with my lovely mother twice a year (stupid Emmit Smith jersey…), but it also means I have to not let my vision be clouded, no matter how much I dislike the other teams in the NFC East. 

For example, I love me some Cordarrelle Patterson this year. In a Norv Turner offense that likes to throw the deep ball, and a strong four games at the end of 2013 (25 rec-215 yds-5 TD’s), I think Patterson could be in line for a monster season. Patterson is going in the 7th round, give or take, of most drafts, which means if I really want to get him, it’s gotta be late 5th, or very early 6th.

We all know how it does though. Come draft time, someone keeps slipping through the cracks, and all of a sudden with the 56th pick, by some stroke of luck, Pierre Garcon is still available. Be smart enough to separate bias from fact and grab the player that has the best chance to end up with the most points. Even if he plays in Washington.

4. Do Your Own Rankings

I know, I know, it seems like a lot of work, but I promise, it really isn’t. Print out one of the many Top-300 rankings you are sure to find, and start editing it to fit your league settings (Rule #2), and to fit your own personal predictions. Remember, you don’t have to be an ‘expert’ to weigh in. Everyone started out just like us, people who love playing fantasy. Within no time, you’ll quickly have a top 50-75. This way, even if you don’t go the whole mile, you’ll be a lot more likely to leave the draft happy if you have a back-up plan when there’s a run on QB’s earlier than you thought.

See people... THIS is dedication, and it was for a TV show! (Bonus Tip: Use paper)

See people… THIS is dedication, and it was for a TV show! (Bonus Tip: Use paper)

5. But if not, grab some cheat sheets

Don’t have time to do your own rankings, because you can’t pause your 85th mock draft? Easy fix. Head to a popular fantasy site, and print out some cheat sheets. Most providers now make these pages fit on a single piece of printed paper, albeit with some smaller font, and they are perfect to have on you for the draft. These help you by separating the positions, letting you see exactly how many stud RB’s are left after the 3rd round, and you can even get a depth chart cheat sheet, which will come in handy in the later rounds, when you need to know what handcuff to grab for Jamaal Charles (Bonus Tip: It’s Knile Davis)

6. Know Your Providers Default Rankings

This one cannot be stressed enough. If you are in the majority, and your draft will be taking place online, you NEED to know what order the players will be listed during the draft. You might check your rankings and find that you might be abnormally high on Victor Cruz. Surely you’ll be able to pick him up a round earlier than you thought. But when those names start coming off your computer screen, you might see Cruz’s slide to the top of the best available list. What you DIDN’T check, was when exactly Cruz would be popping up. This is more valuable than you’ll know. It will force you to put the feelers out and look for some gems later on.

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon was oh so close to being a steal for the Rand’s Rebels

For example, in one league I’m in, a price guide is put out, and you build your team with an entire salary, similar to how an auction league is, minus the bidding. To give time people to study it, it is put out a week before the draft. I co-own this team with my Dad (Bonus Tip: Play with your family. The trash talk is better), and he quickly noticed that Josh Gordon wasn’t listed anywhere on the price guide. With his suspension looming, he was left off. Our leagues policy is that anyone not listed, but on an NFL roster, would cost league minimum, which is dirt cheap. Had Gordon’s suspension not come down, he would have been a MONSTER steal for a team. 

7. Have fun. Seriously

We all love this great game we call Fantasy Football (In fact, click that link to check out FanDuel.com , the number one spot for daily fantasy leagues). It gives fans of terrible teams something to root for, and it can make even the tamest of football fans a stat driven junkie, all within six weeks. Your draft day, whether live or in person (Bonus Tip: In person destroys online drafting), will be one of the best all year, so enjoy it while you can.

You know, before you lose to the guy who took your handcuff to Charles (Bonus Tip: Still Knile Davis)

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