One of the most intimidating parts of playing fantasy football, especially for the newbie, is the draft. How do I make sure I make the right selections in the right order? How do I avoid making a goofy move that becomes the joke of the 2013 season? The answer is proper research and preparation. As with every other aspect of life, the more prepared you are the easier is it to execute your game plan and do it with confidence. This article is aimed to give you a guide on why preparation is important, when it makes the most sense to prepare, and how to actually do the research and preparation itself.
As we have already mentioned, preparation for the draft is somewhat obvious. The more you know about the players going into the draft, the better your decisions will be and the confidence in doing so will be high. There is nothing worse than getting into something unprepared. If you are truly ready, you will know which players you want to draft, which order you want to draft them, and which players you want to avoid altogether.
Timing of the research and preparation phase is also an important factor in being ready for your fantasy football draft. You do not want to begin research too early as many pre-season events could make the player values very fluid. Waiting until the last week or two could also be a bad idea, as many things in your everyday life could come up and you are forced to cram in a lot of information into a short period of time. We recommend starting at least 30 days prior to your draft, and will describe an ideal system later in the article. For the NFL season that starts the first weekend in September, typically fantasy football drafts are held in middle to late August. This puts preparation starting middle to late July. This proposed timing gives you enough to know where free agents have signed, off season injury status, or any other major team related issues.
Now we move to explain the actual preparation and research process. This has been tried and true several times for many fantasy football gurus we know.
Step one is to start watching or reading NFL related ESPN or other news sources as regularly as possible. This keeps you informed to the key player news for the more high profile players in the league. Don’t feel like you need to go overboard and only watch sports channels. Just keep an eye on what seems to be the most important news. Also, feel free to start this earlier than the 30 day prior mark.
Step two is to make your preliminary cheat sheet guides. Print out multiple (at least 5) draft cheat sheets that list all relevant players available by position for the current NFL season. These are typically free and can be found on pretty much all major fantasy football dedicated websites. Make sure you find the cheat sheet rankings that pertain to your specific league rules (i.e. standard scoring, IDP or PPR format).
Step three is a very fun step and really gets you a preview in how your draft will flow, and that is the mock drafting. Mock drafting is essentially a group of real people meeting online to run through live fake drafts in order to get a sense of how a standard draft may look on the actual draft day. To begin, pick a mock draft platform online and register an account to begin. Here is where your cheat sheet printouts come in. Prior to your mock drafts, make notes on your sheets to indicate players you want by position in a certain order. Run through the mock drafts and draft according to your preliminary ranking sheets. Indicate who you draft and in which round.
Step four is to fine tune. Now that you have a really good picture of how the draft will flow, start revising your printed cheat sheets to rank players again. We recommend ranking each player by tier (i.e. elite, great, and OK). This will give you the final outline to bring to your draft day.
The above four step process is only a recommended guide and there is no doubt that each person’s draft preparation and research phase will look slightly different. No matter if you follow these steps or not, the key to a successful draft is to be ready and confident. Do what makes you feel right about coming into draft day without hesitation or doubt.