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5 Draft Day Mistakes that Cost You a Fantasy Football Championship

Fantasy football draft strategy

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August 15, 2013

The Internet has seemingly been the great equalizer in fantasy football, making previously hard to find information and rankings readily available to anyone with a keyboard. Yet, despite this abundance of easily accessible information, there are still fantasy football players that consistently win. How is this possible? The answer lies not in the access to the information itself, but how the information is used. There is a distinct difference between a person with experience winning a fantasy football championship and someone hoping this will finally be their year, and it starts in how they approach and execute their fantasy football draft. In this article, we outline five draft day mistakes that separate contenders from pretenders in fantasy football.

1. Becoming too emotionally invested in your draft plan
Dwight Eisenhower said it best, "Plans are nothing; Planning is everything." In essence, the process of planning for your fantasy football draft is important as it gets you thinking critically about the possibilities and the best way to approach them, but executing the plan is not the goal. People are not predictable, and neither is your draft plan. Despite your best efforts, your fantasy football draft will not go as you anticipated, and you must be able to adapt real-time to unexpected picks made by other league members. If something unexpected happens, and it will, don't let that rattle your cage. Keep your cool, and keep your emotions in check. Tap into your inner-Spock, and make draft day decisions based on what is best for your team as the draft progresses, not what is closest to your draft plan.

2. Obsessing over BYE weeks
Oftentimes fantasy owners will get too carried away with BYE weeks. They become obsessed with making sure they balance their roster with players that have different BYE weeks, which can lead to poor draft day decisions and roster dilution. Some folks will even go so far as to pass on higher quality players based on a conflict in BYE weeks. The simple fact is that there are no BYE weeks in your fantasy football playoffs. The goal of the regular season is to make the playoffs. Once you're in the playoffs, you've got a shot to win it all. The fantasy football regular season is a long one, and a quality, competitive roster has a much better chance at winning it all, opposed to a roster optimized for BYE weeks.

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3. Letting the homer drive the show
We all have a favorite NFL team, and it's awfully hard to pass on players from our favorite team during our fantasy football draft. However, just like the stock market, a strong fantasy portfolio needs to be balanced. Having a fantasy roster comprised predominately of players from the same NFL team puts your fantasy portfolio out of balance. It also makes you predictable during your fantasy football draft, which puts you at a decided disadvantage. To make matters worse, reaching for players too early based on an allegiance to a certain NFL team will compromise the potential potency of your starting fantasy line-up. Given the parity in the NFL, the success of your fantasy football team should not be tied too closely to the success of a single NFL team. It's important to maintain flexibility in your roster by leveraging favorable match-ups each week, something that will be limited by a fantasy roster dominated with players from one NFL team. It's fun having a fantasy player or two from our favorite NFL team, but don't put all your eggs in one fantasy basket.

4. Playing the game of sweet revenge
Sweet revenge has its place in the board game Sorry!, but it has no place in your fantasy football draft. When another league member takes a player you wanted or tries to get inside your head with some smack talk, don't let them gain the upper hand. Keep the focus on your team and what draft day moves will best help your team as the draft unfolds. The goal is a far-term one of winning a fantasy football championship, not a near-term one of sweet revenge. Draft day decisions intended to hurt another league member's fantasy roster rather than focused on improving your fantasy roster build fantasy teams that sit on the sidelines come fantasy playoff time.

5. Completing your starting roster too early
During you fantasy football draft, the temptation will be great to complete your starting roster early rather than continue to select skill position players with upside to breakout for a big season (i.e. RB, WR, and QB). The reason these skill position players are still available later in your draft is that they are not household names, and every year fantasy champions can point to a key selection or two made late in their draft, while other league members were taking the #1 and #2 kickers available. The goal is to not complete your roster sooner than later during your draft. The goal is to win a championship. It takes discipline to realize a preseason top-tier kicker or another lower valued position is not the answer to your championship goal. Rather, maintain your focus on acquiring quality key skill position players with favorable circumstances to have a breakout season (a.k.a. fantasy football sleepers). These players can and will have an impact on your fantasy success.

Your fantasy football draft is one of the most exciting events of the year, and there is no reason it can't be exciting and successful at the same time. The key is in the execution, and more importantly, maintaining your focus during the draft. By keeping the above five draft day mistakes in mind, the fantasy odds will be stacked in your favor as you take your first step to realizing the ultimate goal of bringing home the championship title and all the bragging rights that come with it.

If you would like to learn some more tips to help make your fantasy football draft day a complete success, be sure to check out The Walking Dead Guide to Fantasy Football.

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