You spend hours crafting the perfect fantasy football draft strategy, you scan the draft guides and player rankings and form a list of players to watch, perhaps you even know where you will be picking in the draft order and have some familiarity with your opponents; all of these are common preparation techniques for a fantasy football draft. Even if you know your competition, the human element of a fantasy football draft can cause even the most experienced owner to toss their strategy right out the window.
Due to that unpredictability and the fast paced draft environment, owners sometimes begin to focus on the positions they need, rather than the players currently available. Even the most basic draft strategy tends to hold up through the first few rounds, but once the draft gets deeper and the player names less recognizable, the risk of growing complacent and plugging players into empty slots grows. How many times have you been drafting, only to see people leave the draft room with three picks left and allow the autodraft to work the rest?
Last season, I took part in a league that had an independent fantasy football expert review our draft and critique how each owner did. I received a favorable ranking (and ended up reaching the league championship), but I was called out for reaching to select a wide receiver to fill a slot, rather than the best available running back at the time.
After selecting Matt Forte early on, and bolstering that pick with two or three more RBs, I reached lower because I only had two receivers and we were late in the draft. While it made sense to me at the time to stock up on a position I had fewer players in, I sacrificed value to pick up a weaker player.
It is one thing to weigh two closely ranked players at different positions and making a selection, it’s another to ignore the next 15-20 players on the list to pick up the next best receiver or running back.
The key to a successful draft is getting the most value out of all of your picks. If you reach at a position, you pass up on value, even if it is a position you already have several players filled in at. It should be noted that this is mostly for the RB, WR, TE positions. I am in no way advocating taking three QBs or an extra kicker.
The same applies for those taking a quarterback early. While Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are flying off the draft list, there are players at the key positions available. As I discussed in last week’s article, the “elite-QBs” do not offer much more than some of the commonly available QBs later in the draft.
When there is a run on quarterbacks, it is common for owners to “get in on the trend” and take a QB as well. However, after the elite QBs like Manning, Brees, and Rodgers are off the board, there is no point in reaching and taking a QB in order to just follow the group. Players like Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, and Jay Cutler will be available later in the draft. While the other owners overvalue the position to follow the trend, you can be selecting valuable players at the RB and WR position.
On every draft list you print, write the word “value”. That is the key to a successful draft and avoiding some of the mistakes owners make due to the fast paced nature of a fantasy football draft.