Just like in real football, the best way to build your fantasy team is through the draft. The odds of picking up a surprise player like Vick or Arian Foster are rather slim. While it is always good to try and pick up breakout players off of free agency, it isn’t something you should rely on. A good draft is what will set up you team for success. These following rules are what I try to do when I’m drafting, and so far this year it has worked very well.
- Come with a plan
How you draft will determine how good (or bad) your season it is. Drafting your team without a plan will set your team up for defeat. The most important thing to do is to have a list ranking the players in each position by who you would draft first. Some people like to combine this into one master list, but I prefer to keep all the position separate.
It’s best to look through at least 3-4 different ranking sites to get an idea of where players are being put. Combine them as you want to, but make sure you like it. For example, if you rank Calvin Johnson over Andre, be ready to take CJ over AJ. Get the rankings set and don’t change your mind once the drafting starts.
More of VikingsForever's fantasy football draft strategy after the jump:
- Use a tier system (draft for value)
A big mistake to make in a draft is to get caught at the wrong end of a run on a position and to draft someone way earlier than they deserve to go. If 5 runningbacks get taken in a row, you have to know if it’s best to take the next runningback or to move on to a different position. A good way to help solve this problem is to rank players in groups (tiers) of similar projected points. For example the top 4 tight ends might be:
Witten, Gates, Clark, Davis
The projected points for the players next in line are significantly smaller. If you are picking and all four of these get taken in a row, you know that continuing the run is a bad idea as you won’t get good value from that pick. On the other hand, if only one of these players remains you know that picking him will be a good value. It’s best to draft for the best value you can get rather than following a set order of picks.
For example my cousin picked 5 runningbacks with his first 5 picks as that was his strategy. Time will tell whether or not that will work outs, but generally if you try and draft each position in a certain order, you are going to miss out on getting some better players.
- Don’t draft a QB earlier than the 5th round
I’ve seen so many people make this mistake. Yes, Brady, Manning, Breese, Rodgers and Vick are good QBs, but the difference in points per game between the 1 and the 12 best QB is so small that it never makes sense to draft a quarterback any time before the 5th round. In the two real drafts I’ve done this year, I’ve been able to pick up Matt Ryan in the 7th round. Much better than wasting an early pick on a slightly better QB.
The one possible exception to this rule is Vick. He is the only quarterback in this league that is capable of being significantly better than anyone else. But because of his injury history, he is the biggest boom/bust pick in the draft. While he wouldn’t be worth picking in the top 5 spots (one of the top 5 runningbacks would be a better choice), if he is available in the mid first round and later, taking him wouldn’t be a bad idea.
- Get two good runningbacks with your first two picks if you can
Runningbacks are a group of players where the difference between the good players and the average players is like the Grand Canyon. If possible, getting two runningbacks with your first two picks is a good idea. However, this isn’t a strategy that you should pursue at any cost. For example, if you have an early pick (1-3) and there is a massive run on runningbacks before your next pick. It could be better to go with two receivers rather than reach on the remaining runningbacks.
- Know your bye weeks
Not many things are more frustrating than having your top three runningbacks have the same bye week, but this is a very simple mistake to avoid. A simple Google search will get you all the bye weeks; printing them off will make your draft go much more smoothly.
- Getting a top tight-end is a must do
As I mentioned earlier, the difference in projected points between the top four tight ends and the rest of them is huge. Picking up Gates, Witten, Clark, or Davis is something you really should do if at all possible. It will give you a good advantage over two thirds of your league and will allow you to avoid the tangled mess that is the remaining tight ends.
- Its ok to draft with your heart instead of your head sometimes
If Rodgers fell to me in the 7th round, I wouldn’t even consider drafting. Why? Since I’m a Vikings fan I don’t think I could stand the thought of wanting any Packers player to succeed. I’ve never drafted a Packers player and I don’t think I ever will. Sometimes it is better to be happy with your pick then to take the best player. Winning at fantasy football is fun, but having a player or two from your favorite team makes it better.
It's also helpful to use your real life team preferences to break ties in which player you should take. There is a lot of debate over which player should be taken first overall. For me as a Vikings fan it is any easy choice as to me picking Peterson is as simple of a decision as it gets.