Links to other parts of this series:
It’s time. You have done your homework. You are now well-versed in fantasy football jargon. Football news flows to you like a river. You have downloaded and practiced with the Draft Dominator.
The draft is upon you. Time to win. Here are some times on how to do just that.
Download the Draft Dominator
This is the single best thing you can do to prepare for your draft and dominate on draft day. Don't take my word for it -- listen to what David Dodds has to say about the app:
"I am clearly biased, but I believe it represents a new breed of logical drafting—things someone could never do without the aid of the computer. Just as VBD and later Dynamic VBD made their marks on this hobby, the Dominator will change how you draft.
- Imagine if, during a draft, you could look at your lineup against your opponent's lineup and attempt to predict team strength, scoring margin, etc., for every single week of the season while the draft was happening.
- Assume for a moment that you could also emphasize or de-emphasize certain weeks during the draft based on how you are faring against your opponents, league rules, etc.
- Imagine an auction draft where you know exactly how much everyone has spent and has left, and the drafting program has dynamically adjusted player values after every pick.
- Imagine a program that you can tell not to look for a kicker or defense until after nine have been taken.
- Imagine being able to assign distributions to players (other than normal) for how they will score their points.
- Imagine a program that analyzes schedule strength and applies it to select complementary players for your roster.
- Imagine a product that recommends different picks to different teams based on their need and how those players would maximize their head-to-head play.
- Imagine a program that works for all positions (IDP included) and virtually any scoring criteria.
You know what. I do not have to imagine these things. The new Dominator does every one of these and a lot more. I know it does these things because Bruce Henderson and I have been working for the past five years to deliver the best product ever to this industry. For those not in the know, Bruce Henderson is a full-time C++ programmer in his normal job. He also is a very skilled fantasy football player. And now, working with our staff and soliciting all of the input last season for improvements, we have put together something that WE KNOW will change the industry.
I will say it right now. If you play in a high-stakes contest (FFPC, etc.) this season and are not using the Draft Dominator, you are playing from behind. I know that to be true."
David Dodds, co-founder of Footballguys
The best thing you can do to prepare for the real thing is to get a feel for it in mock drafts. These are drafts that emulate the real thing, and they come in all sorts of configurations nowadays. There are many sites where you might participate in mock drafts, and it's generally a good idea to use the specific site your league will utilize come draft day. This is a good way to get a sense of where player values are relative to that specific site. Every site has its own set of rankings and ADP, and you can often see where other fantasy team owners will base their decisions on that site's data.
Beyond getting a feel for drafting and how players are valued, mock drafting is a good way to emulate the feeling of the real thing, where there will be many ups and downs. Participating in multiple drafts will show you the volatility from draft to draft, teaching you flexibility, and steeling you against rash decisions when the unexpected arrives.
Panic is the worst thing that could grip you in a fantasy draft. Being late or even just on time to a draft is the easiest way to panic. Ergo, arrive early to your draft. Whether it is online or in person, the last thing you want is to be scrambling when your first pick comes around. Bein early lets you open up and organize your toolbox and keep a cool head.
We play fantasy football for fun, at least in part. Draft parties are the norm, and there is plenty of drink and distraction that can creep into the business you are there for. By all means, enjoy yourself and even imbibe reasonably. But come draft time, try to keep your head clear, and stay focused. Drafting while impaired is a great way to wake up with a headache and a bad squad.
Have a Plan
By the time you sit down to draft your real team, you should have participated in several mock drafts. This should have given you an idea of how drafts are generally going to go, and you should be able to formulate a plan based on that idea. Your draft plan should leverage your knowledge of the league scoring and starting lineup settings, average draft position (ADP), and even anything you might know about your leaguemates. For example, if you are in a league with a bunch of Patriots fans, you may find many of your leaguemates will take New England players much earlier than their ADP.
Stay Calm and Keep Drafting
Unexpected events can quickly disrupt even the best-laid plans. A rogue leaguemate takes two quarterbacks in the first five rounds, or that dark horse fantasy star you thought would surely be available to you in the sixth round gets taken in the fourth. Fantasy drafts have a way of gutting you. Don’t let the whims of the fantasy draft gods derail your draft strategy. Adapt. React. Win.
This does not nullify the previous point. Knowing what you want is still valuable. Understanding that you may need to change how you get it is just as important. So what if your league collectively decides that they are going to draft all the running backs early? That means you can draft a strong receiver and tight end corps while relying on your extensive knowledge of middle-round backs to deftly fill your starting lineup with solid players. Notice that your leaguemates are suddenly lamenting a dearth of receiver talent in the sixth round while you've got three potential WR1s? That's a good feeling.
Early in the Draft
By now you should have a good idea about how you want to start the draft. You’ve done your research, kept up with all the preseason news, participated in a bunch of mock drafts, downloaded Draft Dominator, and generally prepared to the fullest. You know how you want to proceed. Now own it.
The key early in drafts is to fill your starting positions with the best players available. That will depend on scoring and lineup settings, but you will generally know who those players should be. Again, flexibility is key -- take what the rest of the league gives you. Try not to reach for players with questionable health or situations. The guys you are taking here should be studs who are expected to pour in fantasy points consistently.
Kickers and Defenses Go Last
Seriously. This cannot be drilled home enough. Do not draft your defense in the ninth round because they were great last season. First, there is a good chance that defense will not be the best fantasy defense next season. A lot of factors go into having the best fantasy defense, some of which involve good luck. Odds are a team defense isn’t going to return 12 turnovers and kicks for touchdowns again if they did it last season.
More importantly, taking a defense or kicker early is simply poor value. Barring special scoring rules like in the Scott Fish Bowl, you are foregoing a likely starter or meaningful depth in your fantasy lineup to draft a position that will not be meaningfully better than others at that position, if at all, many rounds earlier than you should. Let your leaguemates make this mistake.