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Footballguys coined the Perfect Draft article series way back in 2002 when co-founder David Dodds started the series. We featured detailed stat projections and the principles of my Value-Based Drafting system Footballguys was built upon.
Over the years, it's become one of our cornerstone strategy features, delivering a clear plan for crushing your draft. Our stated goal at Footballguys is to help our customers win more at fantasy football, and the Perfect Draft series is a big part of how we do that.
Way back in 2002, David identified two key principles for a Perfect Draft:
1. All Players Have Value
Most of life can be referenced in The Godfather movie. In this case, it's keeping it business, not personal. This means: don't love or hate players. Don't get emotionally attached. Your goal for a Perfect Draft is to draft players who'll significantly outperform their draft position.
I don't believe in "Do Not Draft" lists. I do believe in "I won't draft him at his current Average Draft Position, so I probably won't be getting him" lists like our buddy Matt Waldman put together here.
2. Understand Your Competition In The Draft Room
Whether it's players for your draft or a new car or Top Shot NFT, if you want to find a good deal on something, you first have to understand the "market price" of the thing. The "going rate" that most people agree something is worth. To find good deals in your fantasy draft, you must first understand your competitors' value of a player. In an Auction Draft, this is easy to see. In a regular draft, the "cost" of a player is their draft position.
You'll have the Perfect Draft when you select players who are more valuable than the "cost" of the spot where you draft them. You need to know how you value a player and how the other GMs in your league value a player. We provide this crucial information for you with our Average Draft Position Data.
I'll add four more.
3. Understand Your Scoring System And Your League
This one is the biggest thing I see fantasy GMs miss. It’s the foundation of my Value-Based Drafting system. Your scoring system matters. A LOT. Your starting lineup requirements matter. A LOT. The number of teams in your league matters. A LOT. You're reading a specific article written for a 12 Team PPR league with a specific scoring system and starting lineup requirement. We’ll say more below, but in this league, you can very likely wait on a quarterback as they're less valuable. But that’s not all leagues. If you’re in a 14-team superflex league, quarterbacks are insanely valuable. Because the situation is different.
It’s why I put little stock in blanket strategies advocating for shunning a position. Zero-RB or Zero-WR blanket strategies are better for gathering clicks than they are winning leagues. You have to know more about your league’s scoring system, starting lineups, and number of teams to understand the value. Fortunately, we’ll do all that for you with our Custom Cheatsheets or our Draft Dominator if you want maximum flexibility. We’ll do the work for you.
Author David Allen writes about a concept called "Mind Like Water." He uses the example of how the water in a pond reacts appropriately to whatever rock you throw into it. If you throw a big rock into the pond, the water accepts the big rock and essentially says, "Nice. Big rock". If you throw a pebble into the water, the water accepts the pebble and says, "Nice. Pebble". The point is whatever you present to the water, it accepts and responds appropriately. In this case, the water is flexible.
This is how you should approach your draft. If you go in fixated on drafting two running backs in the first two rounds or avoiding running backs in the first two rounds or never taking a player over 30 years old or any host of inflexible rules you place on yourself, you won't have the Perfect Draft. Be flexible.
It's the adage of letting the game come to you. You need clear valuations of players. And you need a plan of how things may unfold based on what your league mates will do, and then you let the draft come to you. Respond appropriately as it unfolds.
Seneca said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
Stephen Leacock once observed: "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."
Both these quotes apply to your fantasy draft. Your draft is no different than anything else important you do. The more prepared you are, the better you're likely to perform.
Think about it. Study the players. Tweak the values. And most importantly, think about how it will unfold. This is where mock drafting can be invaluable. Our Custom Cheatsheets offers the ability to quickly do a mock draft. And our Draft Dominator offers even more sophisticated mock drafting capability.
In a draft setting with a short timer for each pick, there's little time to think. You need to have already thought. And execute based on the values you've already determined.
The very fact you're reading this article right now tells me you're on the right track with this one. Stay with it.
6. Get Your Guys And Have Fun
Regardless of the entry fee, almost all of us play fantasy football because it's fun. We think we know more about picking players than the other folks. Building and managing a team is fun. It's the foundation of our hobby. So have fun.
If you're a Bears fan and you hate Aaron Rodgers, as every Bears fan should, and seeing him do well hurts your soul, you don't have to draft him. Even if he's there at a bargain. You can draft him. You can make the case you probably should draft him. But don't remove the fun from the value equation. You don't have to draft him.
The other way I see this play is fantasy GMs who are afraid to get their guy because someone will claim they "reached." Forget about what people say. (Another area where fantasy football is like life) You're drafting players for you. So go get your guys.
Now, of course, there's a balance. Let's say you, like me, love Kyle Pitts. When I wrote this, Pitts is going late in the 4th round of 12 team drafts. If you're picking at the top of the 4th and you love Pitts, get your guy. Few things are as sad as the GM in your draft who makes their pick and sounds like it's killing them. Draft players you're glad to have. It's way more fun.
You'll see plenty we love below as our Clayton Gray breaks down the pockets of value that will help you win.
Pull up a chair. Settle in. You got this.
Let's Have the Perfect Draft
This Perfect Draft is based on a 12-team league that starts the following players:
- 1 quarterback
- 2 running backs
- 3 wide receivers
- 1 tight end
- 1 flex (RB, WR, or TE)
- 1 kicker
- 1 defense
The league scoring is as follows:
- Passing TD = 4 points
- Passing Yard = 0.04 points
- Turnover = -1 point
- Rushing/Receiving TD = 6 points
- Rushing/Receiving Yard = 0.1 points
And in an 18-round draft, this will be your average roster construction:
- 2 quarterbacks
- 6-7 running backs
- 6-7 wide receivers
- 1-2 tight ends
- 1 kicker
- 1 defense
Building Your Core, The Top 60
Below are the top-60 players based on the above scoring system. These 60 players will be your focus for your first five picks and form the core of your team. Using the Draft Dominator will give you a Top 60 that is completely custom to your league. That custom ranking is highly recommended.
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