Draft Strategy - Prepare, Approach and Adjust

When you get that email from your fantasy football host letting you know that "your fantasy football league has been activated by your league commissioner", you know it’s time to take your off-season research to the next level. You begin to read player news, research last year’s stats, and participate in mock drafts to get an idea of how people are drafting. Basically you get all of your research and notes together to answer one question. Who will I pick?

However, before you determine this, you must know what pick you have heading into the season. Once you know what pick you have, it’s all about preparation. Let’s not forget to leave yourself several options in case that one guy you had your eye on is not available.

Some things you may want to take into consideration before even making a list are:

- Type of league: Keepers, PPR, Two QB, Standard, etc.

- Scoring/Point system your commissioner has in place for your league.

- Draft order (your pick).

- Roster Settings

- Amount of teams

Once you have all of these figured out, it makes the approach you want to take much easier. Obviously the value of players is determined mainly on the league format and how the draft goes. However, no matter what type of league you’re in, there’s always one rule which fantasy owners need to live by. EVERY ROUND MATTERS. While others are content with their starting lineups and don’t pay much attention to the rest of their picks, you must take advantage of the value you have in any given round. This article will focus on a 10 team standard league, emphasizing on how middle picks aren’t always so bad and how setting the tone can help you make the best of the situation.

Let’s say you’re in a ten team standard league. Picks one through five in most cases will be the top running backs available. Picks six and seven? This is where it can get somewhat tricky for owners. Do I take the next running back on the rankings? Do I take a QB? TE? WR? This is what’s going through most fantasy owner’s heads. Many conservative drafters will likely take the next best available running back because it’s the "right" thing to do. However, taking the conservative route in this spot may not always be the best option. Don’t stick to the routine, think outside the box. The NFL has changed and has become a very pass happy league. With that said, selecting a player like Calvin Johnson or even Jimmy Graham (based on my rankings), in the sixth spot would be my approach. Some people would argue that selecting a quarterback is also a good option, but I wouldn’t suggest it. Jimmy Graham finished with 100 more points than the number eight tight end. The second best tight end finished with 56 fewer points than Graham. So the edge you’ll have at this particular position versus the loss in value you’re taking at the running back position is in your favor. By the numbers below you can see the difference between the sixth to the tenth running back is 19 points. The gap from the sixth running back to the other positions scoring leaders is much bigger. Calvin Johnson finished third amongst receivers last season, but still managed to outscore the sixth highest scoring running back. The difference once again between an elite wide receiver and say the tenth best wide receiver is pretty significant when comparing it to the running backs. The edge you are gaining at other positions is noteworthy and can’t be ignored. In full disclosure I’ll draft Calvin and some other elite receivers on my rankings ahead of Graham in this scenario, but I can see where some would make an argument for either.

To give you a better idea, below is an example that will show the difference in points between the number one guy and other players in that same position. Keep in mind; these total points were in standard leagues.

Running Back

Wide Receivers

Tight End


How you prepare and approach a Draft is key. Making adjustments throughout the draft could mean the difference between a playoff team and a championship team. Simply because you have an idea of what you may be doing with your picks, doesn’t mean that you’re completely sticking to it. In some cases a player that you didn’t think would fall to you, may still be available while you’re on the clock. In that case, you take the player you had higher on your board. To make it easier for the reader, I’ll provide an example. If I’m the sixth pick and for some reason Matt Forte would fall to me, I ignore the "approach" I had, adjust, and take the running back. It’s always important to have several scenarios heading into your draft. Being overly prepared is better than not being ready to make adjustments. Always remember, just because the "fantasy books" say "don’t do it", it doesn’t mean you can’t. It’s always fun when your spontaneity catches everyone by surprise and they immediately push the panic button when you’re sitting in your chair getting the players you want.

Draft day is very important because this is where all of your research is put to use and where your championship team is built. Make the best of it!