Whether you are someone that is newer to Fantasy Football or an experienced player it never hurts to reflect on what you can do for the upcoming year to be successful. And with the start of the Fantasy Football season about a month away and draft day likely just around the corner for many we wanted to share 10 Tips and Strategies that will help you dominate your Draft!
*Note these tips are primarily meant for those participating in snake redraft leagues without any crazy bonuses and without 2 QB's/Superflex positions
1.) Practice Makes Perfect
It might be a cliché but practice is key in everything and Fantasy Football is no exception. In this case, the single best thing you can do to prepare is participate in Mock Drafts! The great part about this is that whether you start early or a little bit later these mock drafts don't take all that much time and can prepare you for many different draft day scenarios. If you want to go ahead and see what your team would look like if you go RB heavy, focus on the WR spot, or maybe throw caution to the wind and go QB and TE early this is the place to do it and analyze the results. If you want to get the most out of this practice you should also try to follow the below steps:
There are a BUNCH of different platforms out there to mock on (Yahoo, ESPN, NFL, FantasyPros, Sleeper, etc.) but what you ideally want to do is mock on the platform you will be drafting on. This will allow you to get familiar with those particular platform rankings and players ADP's
Many mock draft platforms allow you to change the draft settings and you should ABSOLUTELY take advantage of this. The goal is to duplicate your league settings as much as you can (size, scoring , and rosters) so that you can simulate the most closely accurate draft experience
Play around with the draft spot you pick from as many people don't find out where they are drafting from until draft day. And if you are someone that finds out their draft spot in advance, take advantage of this! Get practice at that particular spot and analyze the players that will be available to you
2.) Know Your Competition
This step admittedly isn't always possible to do for all of us, but in the same breath many of us play Fantasy Football with people that we know or are in a league that has been going on for several years. If that is the case, you should ABSOLUTELY take advantage of it! Basically, the better you know the tendencies of your league mates the better chance you have of building a better roster. For example, maybe you are in a league that REALLY values RB's and hits that position harder than normal. If that is the case then you know that you MUST also draft a RB early on or you will be left with scraps. Also consider the people that are drafting close to your specific draft spot if possible. By doing so you can get a better idea of what players will be available to you when you are on the clock and potentially beat your league mates to a pick that they were likely to make if you also targeting them.
3.) Don't Panic - Be Flexible
This is easier said than done, but many seasoned Fantasy Football players will tell you that it's true. The last thing you want to do is start panicking when you are on the clock. Even though it's less than ideal it happens every year to all of us, at some point in time during the draft you will get sniped and the player you were targeting will be taken right before you get a chance to select him. If that happens, avoid panicking because then you are more likely to make an ill-informed decision and worst case scenario you panic so much that you let the time run out and the computer autodrafts a player for you. But favorably this is where all that practice and mock drafting can help you out! Assuming you have done several mock drafts you know that there are other options available to you and you aren't locked in to a single player or single position. That's why being flexible when drafting in terms of your mentality is also necessary since you never know how a draft can unfold. The best thing you can do is avoid limiting yourself by committing to any one player or position but take the draft as it comes and consider all your options.
4.) Understand Positional Hierarchy
The idea here is simple, not every position is created equal in Fantasy Football. There is a clear hierarchy and standing at the top is the RB position, followed by WR, and finally TE/QB. One of the biggest mistakes that first-time fantasy players will make is that they will reach on a certain position usually like QB or TE in the early rounds. There are several reasons why doing so is a mistake:
The run on the more premiere positions RB and WR occur quicker and more often so you need to make sure you get a difference maker there before a big drop off in tiers occurs
There is more depth at QB and TE in later rounds then RB or WR (you can still get a QB 1 in the 6/7th round unlike RB or WR)
QB and TE breakouts happens every year which are usually closer to double digit draft picks (Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, etc.)
In all honesty, ideally you should come out of the first 3 rounds with AT LEAST 1 RB on your team and probably preferably 2. The QB position especially is one that you want to draft a player before they have blow up because the variability here is incredible and there are always new names entering the Top 5 by the end of the year.
5.) Understand Player Tiers
There is a reason why so many draft guides and rankings nowadays not only rank their top players, but also tier them. The reason for this is because it really allows you to see where that big drop in player projections/potential occurs. For example, even though two WR's are ranked #15 and #16 respectively, it doesn't necessarily mean that the separation between the two of them is that small. Because theoretically if there is a separation in Tiers at this point in time, this could actually be the difference between drafting a projected WR #1 vs a WR #2, and that is a big deal!
By understanding player tiers you also minimize the chance that you will accidently reach on a player. Now sure there are times where a reach by a few spots is acceptable especially if you are drafting at the start or end of a round but we are talking about more extreme reaches that can easily be avoided by following a player tier system.
6.) Draft For Value
Similar to the idea of being flexible and not limiting yourself to a single player or position the best philosophy you can follow is usually draft the best player available. You don't necessarily have to follow the big board rankings on your respective platform, but you can always use it as reference and compare it to your own personal rankings if they exist. We should also mention that to maximize drafting for value it takes a combination of the two previously mentioned steps: Understanding Positional Hierarchy and Understanding Player Tiers. The reason for this is that early on in the draft even though the big board might say that some QB is the next best player available you actually know that you should potentially be focusing on RB or WR first. In the same breath though we should realize that there is a point for every position/player where the value is too good to ignore. For example, even though QB and TE aren't as high on our positional hierarchy as RB/WR if a Travis Kelce or George Kittle (Tier 1 TE's) are somehow available in the 4th round then you should absolutely take them!
Drafting for value is even more important in the beginning of your drafts as this is where the core of your high scoring players will be drafted so you want to get the most bang for your buck. Just because someone else has fallen into the trap of over-valuing a player and reaching on them doesn't mean you have to as well!
7.) Risk & Reward
Naturally, there is some type of risk associated with almost every player. This could be anything from injuries, a looming suspension, a low-scoring offense, all the way to a crowded positional group. As you would expect higher end players usually have less risk associated with them which is why we feel comfortable drafting them higher. But similarly there might also be a very productive player that has a lot of question marks and has fallen in value due to this. And this is truly where you have the ability to WIN your draft and get one of the BIGGEST STEALS if you can analyze the risk and reward properly!
We say it every year, but usually the people that win their leagues are the ones that are more prone to taking a big risk or two. When it comes to the draft the equivalent of this is usually taking a chance on a player with an injury history. But the obvious question that needs to be answered is at what point in time should I do so? First and foremost, let's start by saying that we don't believe in having a DO NOT DRAFT List. There exists a point in every single draft where the risk is outweighed by the reward and it's your job of identifying that point. On the surface what you want to do is minimize risk in the early rounds which is where you want to get proven players and then towards the second half of the draft take a shot or two.
8.) Target Upside In Later Rounds
As you get close to the double digit rounds of your draft the chances are you have already drafted the core of your roster and can now start adding depth. Statistically speaking we already know that a high percentage of our late round picks likely won't stay on our roster all year long. That's why many people swing for the fences in the later rounds and take a chance on a player with high upside. Theoretically what you want to do is target guys that might have low floors but at the same time have high ceilings. This could be anything from high upside rookies to backup RB's with a chance to breakout. If you hit on even one of these selections then your roster got so much better, as did your chances to make the playoffs and win your league!
Injuries are a part of the game whether we like it or not and no injury is more devastating than one to your starting RB. Handcuffing is the practice of drafting the backup, from the same team, to one of your elite starting RB's. There is a lot of debate on this strategy but just look at it this way, you are just purchasing the ultimate insurance policy. Don't put yourself in a situation where you are scouring the waiver wire for a lesser version of your starting RB or selling off the rest of your team in a desperation trade. In fact, handcuffing might never be more important than in 2020 with the current circumstances of COVID-19. With the anticipation of players getting sick at some point in time 2020 could prove to be the year of the backup!
*Note this strategy only applies to the RB position and you should not be drafting same team backups for positions like QB, WR, and TE.
10.) Other Small General Tips
Having covered the majority of the KEY tips and advice below are some other smaller points that you should also keep in mind to further improve your draft:
The Kicker and Defense position are by far the two LEAST important positions on your roster. Do not waste a draft pick on these positions until the double digit rounds and preferably not until the final two rounds of your draft. These positions can be streamed on a week to week basis as they have huge turnover on a year to year basis
Don't be afraid of drafting players with the same BYE week. Often times you'll hear someone complain that they have multiple players off on the same week but if you are drafting for value it doesn't matter as in the long run you got the higher scoring combination of players. Using the waiver wire is how you circumvent the bye week, which by the way everyone in your league will have to do at some point in time
Take your fandom out of the equation. Just because you are a huge Packers fan don't take Aaron Rodgers in the first round or just draft Packers on your team.
Don't draft players with the intention or relying on being able to trade them. For example, don't draft two high end TE's because you think someone in your league will pay up for one of them later. Not everyone values players the same way you do