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Tips for Fantasy Football
Draft Preparation

Make your fantasy football
draft day a success

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by Mike Laverdure, Guest Writer

Updated: July 1, 2013
Original Release: July 7, 2003


Note from the Docs:
Mike has written a timeless classic that will help make you a better fantasy football player.  For the seasoned veteran, it is always good to review the fundamentals of good fantasy football draft preparation.  For the novice, Mike will help bring you up to speed quickly. Without further ado, here's Mike...

This is the most dreaded time of year for fantasy sports fans.  You are either dominating your Fantasy Baseball League or you are out of contention, so there is no reason to pay anymore attention to "America's Pastime".  In either case your little hobby for passing the time between the Super Bowl and your Fantasy Football Draft Day has lost its appeal.  It's the salad before your prime rib; the Wednesday before a long weekend.  You know the good times are coming, but they are still far enough away that it seems like it will never get here.  Your fantasy football draft is still weeks away. What's a Fantasy Football Fanatic to do??

For geeks like me, the answer is simple.  You do your homework.  Now is the time when you should be planning your fantasy football draft strategy.  What's the difference between the guy who took an overrated player too early in his draft and the guy who snared a stud in the later rounds?  The guy who unknowingly drafted an injured player or the guy who got an emerging starter no one else knew about?  The guy who left the room during commercials and the one who stayed and got a double shot of the "twins" from Coors? (OK, not sure what that has to do with Fantasy Football, but the twins just seem to make life a little brighter).  No, it's not dumb luck; it's preparation.

It takes major league stones to win at fantasy football along with major homework. Dumb luck alone will not win you a league, unless you like to surround yourself with idiots. (In which case you probably have bigger problems then winning your league).  Although a good draft does not guarantee you Fantasy Football Supremacy, a bad one will wreck your season. 

OK, so how do you do to prepare?  Here are some simple things you can do to make your fantasy football draft day a better success.

1.  Project player stats and convert into fantasy points.
This one is self explanatory, but do yourself a favor and make sure you fully understand your league's scoring system. Although top players generally remain near the top in most fantasy scoring systems, significant distinctions in fantasy football production can occur under different scoring systems.  (If you have trouble with this let me know and I will find a spot for you in my league). Note from Docs: This is why we created our Fantasy Football Draft Software, which generates custom rankings and fantasy point totals based on your league's scoring system.  For example, rankings in a point-per-reception league (PPR) look much different than rankings for "standard leagues". Folks that have experience in PPR know what we are talking about here.

2.  Get concurrent on NFL off-season moves.
Find which NFL players switched teams.  What do you mean Player A is on Team B? What happened to Team C?? Great, now I have two (expletive) receivers with the same (expletive) bye week. Note from Docs:  Here you go... enjoy! AFC Player Movement and NFC Player Movement

3.  Learn the new NFL bye weeks.
(Very important, see previous comment under item #2).

4.  Note defensive matchups in playoff weeks.
Take all the information in items 1 - 3 and make a list, on a computer if you can, but paper works out ok too. On this list you separate the players by position and include Name, Team, Projected Fantasy Points and what teams they matchup against in your playoff weeks. If your playoffs are weeks 14, 15, 16, then look for favorable matchups in those weeks. Teams change from one year to the next, but the doormats typically remain constant.  Would you rather have a RB that faces the likes of a wet-tissue paper defense in the playoffs, or one that faces a stout, immovable defense?   Exactly!  Now don't go blowing your first round pick on a player simply because he faces a couple of creme pie defenses in Weeks 15 and 16.  But if it's a tossup in the later rounds between two players, creme pie defenses look much better than stout defenses. Note from Docs: Use our Strength of Schedule charts to target favorable match-ups for your draft:

Strength of Schedule - Rushing
Strength of Schedule - Passing
Strength of Schedule - Total Offense
Strength of Schedule - Fantasy Defense

5.  Participate in a fantasy football mock draft.
Why a mock draft? Well, I find it very helpful to run a mock draft as it provides insight into a player's perceived value. It gives you a solid draft strategy by letting you know when a particular player may be taken and what players you can let slide, and if you can get some other members of your league involved, you may even get them to tip their hand prior to your real draft. This works especially well when you don't know when you are picking, as guys tend to lie (imagine that) when they are naming the player they select for their designated spot - yea pal, we really think you'll take a rookie QB in the second round. There is no better feeling than seeing a guy available at four or five that you had ranked one or two (Let's face it, if you have a guy ranked one or two and he is still there at fifteen, you are in for a long year - don't quit the day job). You can really learn the value of a player by performing a decent mock draft. You can project possible runs on positions, as well as potential "sleepers". I usually draft out the first four rounds as they are when all the obvious studs go. Anything more than that is really just a crap shoot unless your name happens to be Nostradamus.

A mock draft also gives you great draft day trade ideas. If you pick fourth and realize there is a drop in player value at that slot and the player you want can probably be had a few picks later, trade down in round one and up in round two (and more if you are a good negotiator). Nothing confuses weaker fantasy football owners then draft day trades. It is a key when you can get the guy you want later in the first round and then move up in the second round to grab a second stud. I always try at least one or two deals on draft day as it makes it tougher for guys to remember who you previously picked, what positions you need, not to mention it breaks their concentration so they pay a little less attention to what is going on in the draft. And let's face it, is their anything better in fantasy football than trade talk?

The moral of the story is do your homework - it's the key to success.

Note from the Docs:
For those that would like to heed Mike's advice and participate in a Mock Draft, check out our Fantasy Football Mock Drafts section, which provides links to key resources for free Average Draft Position information for the upcoming fantasy football season.  Some of the sites listed also include Mock Drafts you can participate in for free.

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