Now that the season has started, anybody care to share how they prepare for an autodraft (like for Yahoo! public leagues)? Everything I've read pertains to live drafting.
In my office league (16 teams, QB, RB, WR, TE, 3 Off Flex, K, 3 IDPs), I ranked what I thought were the top 300 players and hoped for the best. Since I'm already looking for info on preparing for next year's draft, you can get a good idea of how bad my draft was (it didn't help that I picked 15th).
Anybody do something other than rank your players and hope for the best? Bunch positions on the draft board? List 30 running backs in your top 30 to ensure you draft RB-RB? Drink heavily (hey, it's an autodraft!)?
I don't like autodraft. If you're serious about managing the team, you won't leave the computer to such decisions. That being said, I have autodrafted due to time constraints before, and I found the follow tips to be helpful.
1) Always ranking the top X RBs first where X equals at least the number of teams in your league. Gaurantee yourself that 1st round RB or you're going to regret it. I've seen people end up autodrafting their 1st RB in round 8, it's pretty much over at that point.
2) Know your autodrafting AI. The autodraft I ended up in this year showed me a few things I will hopefully remember should I have to do it again. For instance, every team was forced to draft at least one person at every necessary position before taking backups. This is helpful for constructing your rankings if you know the AI will perform as such. Normally I wouldn't even bother ranking TEs or Kickers, but in this case, it's worth putting them in rankings, just at the very bottom of your list, that way you get the one you want that out of the available for sure instead of the AI picking who it thinks is best.
3) Don't be surprised if the draft ends up lopsided. The truth is that autodrafting has a nasty habit of not following conventional logic. Some of it is influence from players who don't know what they're doing, but some of it is the quirkiness of having static rankings throughout the draft. In a live draft, you rankings and strategy can dramatically change based on your position in the draft, who others pick, etc. Having static rankings to pick players from results sometimes in silly picks, which can be particularly painful in the first few rounds. For instance, last year in an autodraft, I went last and picked Ricky Williams and LT consecutively. In a live draft no one would ever have let both those players fall to the 10th and 11th pick.
My main league was also done with Yahoo autodraft, and I also can't stand autdrafting, even though I did wind up with a very strong team and plenty of trade bait to make it even better. If you take the time to make a good set of rankings, you should still wind up with a solid team, because alot of people either won't bother to prerank, or they'll just create a list of the favorite players on their team or something stupid like that (one Pats fan in my league only ranked Patriots on his prerank, and would up with Brady, Brown, and Vinateri as his top 3 picks........ouch.)
Also, Yahoo's autodrafting is easy to take advantage of. For one thing, it insists on drafting all starting players (including K, defenses and TE.) before backup RB, WR, etc. You can fool that mechanism by putting all kickers, tight ends (except maybe Shockey, Heap, Gonzo) and defences on your exclude, do not draft list. That will prevent the draft from taking any kicker, D or TE, and you can just easily find one off waivers when the draft is over.
Also, take advantage of some of the default Yahoo rankings that don't make alot of sense. Some examples are Brad Johnson ranked ahead of Peyton Manning, Deuce McAllister ranked below Fred Taylor, and Stallworth ranked outside of the top 300 players. If you rank those players relatively high, and almost everyone uses default rankings, you'll probably get them. Also, make sure to exclude guys like Warner, Vick, Pennington, James Stewart, etc. that will be ranked higher than they should with injury not taken into consideration.
I also agree with the first couple posts. It is a must too pre rank your players in the Auto Draft. It is amazing how many mangers do not do this and 9 times out of 10 regret it after seeing their teams.