Fantasy Football Draft Strategy Guide

Draft day. It’s the most important day of the fantasy football season. Your decisions during the draft are crucial to your fantasy success and winning the league championship. What’s your draft strategy?

Below I’ll give a quick overview of basic fantasy football draft strategy and tips for a great draft. This guide will get you up to speed quickly on several commonly used draft strategies. It’s not a comprehensive listing of every possible strategy and is an intro to the ones covered.

The strategies discussed here are for a standard snake draft. If you’re looking for auction draft info, please read the Fantasy Football Auction Draft Strategy Guide.

Let’s talk about ranking first. Ranking is how you order the players on your cheat sheet. There are two basic types of ranking: total point based and value based. Whichever type you choose, always use your league’s scoring rules when determining projected points.

Total Points Based Ranking

A total points based strategy ranks each player against every other player based on total projected fantasy points scored. The ranking is done two ways. Players are first ranked overall against all other players. Second, players are ranked by position (a ranking for QBs, RBs, etc).

Your cheat sheet will have an overall list and a list for each position that your league starts. The position lists enable you to quickly find the best available player at that position when you’re trying to fill a specific roster spot. This is the most common player ranking system.

Value Based Ranking

The object of a value based system is to draft players based on how much they’re projected to outscore other players at their position. Those are the players that will bring you the most value per game.

For example, the top 5 available players at one position might all be within a few points of each other per game while a player at another position is projected to dominate his peers by more than 10 points per game. The player who outscores his position by over 10 points would be considered the better value even though the top 5 players at the other position may be projected to score more total points. This is because his per game point advantage is much greater than any other player available to you.

To build your value based cheat sheet, you first project each player’s total fantasy points the same as for total point based rankings. Then you rank each player based on how much he’s projected to outscore other players at the same position. Use those numbers as your guide when drafting. It’s helpful to list players overall and by position.

Basic Draft Strategies

Below are a few basic strategies to get you started. Choose one before you draft and think about what players you want to target. The flow of the draft can change quickly so be prepared to adjust your strategy as needed.

Remember to consider your draft position when choosing your strategy. For example, if you have the 12th pick in a 14 team league, consider taking a top WR or QB before picking a RB.

Draft Two Running Backs First

Running backs are the workhorses of your fantasy team. With only 32 NFL teams and the rising trend of running back by committee offenses, top tier starting RBs are tough to find. This makes stud RBs very valuable. One of the most popular draft strategies is to use your first two picks on RBs.

The advantage of this is that you’ll secure 2 top RBs with a time proven strategy. The downside is that, in today’s NFL, you might get better value with a superior WR or QB. It’s likely the same draft strategy most of your league will be using which could limit the top RB selections even more, especially if you have a late pick.

Take The Best Available Player First

Figure out who the best available value is across the board each round and pick that player.

The advantage here is that instead of stacking up one position, you could have higher quality starters at multiple positions. The potential disadvantage is that you could end up weak at one or two positions and have to rely on the value you drafted at your other positions.

Draft 2 RBs In First 3 or 4 Rounds

A variation of the 2 RBs first strategy. Here your goal is to secure a top tier RB, an almost top tier RB and a top WR or QB.

The benefit is that you secure a top RB and a top WR or QB to lead your offense. The risk is that your #2 RB won’t be as good.

Draft Tips

Build a Cheat Sheet – A good cheat sheet is a must and you’ll depend on it heavily to guide you through each round. It should include your player rankings with their position, bye week, projected points, notes, etc. Calculate the projected point totals using your league’s scoring rules.

Prepare Early – Start ranking players and building your cheat sheet as soon as possible. Once you get it set up you can make adjustments as needed due to injuries, preseason performance, player moves, arrests, etc right up to the draft.

Mock Draft – Most major fantasy football sites offer mock drafts.  Do one.  Participating in mock drafts allows you to experiment with different strategies and gain confidence before your league’s real draft. Do the mock draft on the same site that your league will use for its draft. That way you’ll be familiar with its layout and controls.

Pay Attention – Keep track of what players have been picked and by who. Take it easy on the alcohol…you’ll need a clear head.

Alternative Draft Strategies

Here are some other strategy variations to consider:

Don’t Draft A Kicker – Use your kicker’s roster spot to pick up an extra sleeper, handcuff or other player you’re watching during preseason. You can drop your least valuable player and add a free agent kicker any time before the season starts. This works best if your league is drafting more than a week before the first game. Some leagues require that you fill all starting roster spots in the draft so quietly check your league’s rules to make sure it’s allowed.

Draft From A Powerhouse Team – It’s risky but you might want to draft several players from a high scoring NFL team (e.g.: Patriots or Packers). Make sure you have a plan to cover that team’s bye week.

Special Tips For An Online Draft

Test Your Connection – Your online draft site should have a way to test your connection and download any required software in advance. Do this well before the draft to make sure that you can connect through your firewall, spyware blockers, etc. with enough time to adjust any settings if needed.

Pre-rank Your Picks – If you can’t attend the draft or lose your internet connection, the computer will pick for you using the site’s default rankings. You can enter your own rankings in advance for the computer to use instead. Do this even if you plan to attend in case you lose connectivity. At a minimum, rank all kickers at the bottom so the computer won’t pick one in the middle rounds for you.

Was this draft info helpful? What draft strategies work best for you? Please leave a comment below…

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