Many Fantasy Football owners make the mistake of not being prepared on their draft day. This is the single-most important day of the Fantasy Football Season.
Knowing what players you want and having a few "sleepers" is not enough. You need to know your opponents' tendancies and habits when it comes to picking players.
Even more so, you have to see how everyone's team is evolving through the draft. Taking advantage of who everyone is picking, their positions and the bye weeks for that player can help you exploit the draft in your team's favor.
You must compile Fantasy "cheatsheets" of your own that rank the players by overall rating, and also by position. Many internet sites rank the players for you, I advise to consult those before your draft and then go through the list yourself, lowering and raising the players according to your opinion of them.
Once that is done, compile a "grid" on paper that lists position categories along the top, and then the Fantasy teams in your league along the margin. You should list the teams in their draft order, including your own team. During the draft, place an 'X' in the column for a position after a team selects. This way, you'll be able to see at a quick glance how the draft is progressing by position. This may seem unimportant, but during a draft it is hard to gauge when is the best time for a certain position. Combining this grid with your cheatsheet is a powerful tool. For example, in the later rounds of a draft, you might be unaware that the three teams behind you all need a tight end. At the same time, you need a tight end and a backup QB. Your instincts might tell you to pick Tony Romo, because you are surprised he has lasted this long. Meanwhile, the tight end you covet is also there. By seeing that, in a snake draft especially, these other teams will have six cracks at a tight end if you pick Romo, the obvious choice is the tight end. With luck, Romo will still be available as the other teams scramble to pick a good tight end once you eliminate another one off the board.
This also works with bye weeks. You have to watch your own carefully. If you pick a running back with a week 6 bye, you'd be well advised for your next RB to choose one with another bye week. You can use this to your advantage when looking at your opponents' teams. Let's say you are picking 5th in a snake draft, with a 12-team league. When the picks are coming back to you in the 6th round, you have a decision. Do you go with a 3rd RB, or a 3rd WR? Tough decision. By looking at your grid, you can see the four teams after you (which will have a combined 8 picks before you pick again). Let's say you have your eye on RB Jerious Norwood of Atlanta, with a week 8 bye. One team already has 3 RB's and is in need of a QB and TE, so they'll pass on Norwood. Another has only 2 RB's, along with a QB and 2 WR's, so they may take Norwood. However, one of those RB's is Dallas' Julius Jones -- also with a week 8 bye, and his QB is Matt Hasselbeck of Seattle, another week 8 bye. So, there's a good chance this owner will pass on Norwood. The other owner has 3 RB's and needs a WR since he has but one, and the other owner also has 3 RB's, and one of them is Shaun Alexander with the week 8 bye.
So, by checking your info you conclude the best direction to go is Wide Receiver, since you hope that Norwood will be there for you in the 7th round. (Note: sometimes you get burned on these because other owners are idiots and continue to draft regardless of bye weeks -- you just hope in this case you play the guy week 8 -- just let it go).
Also, if this is a league you have come to know well (especially in keeper leagues) you can use past drafts to help determine where rookies will go. For example; last year if Maurice Jones-Drew went in the 10th round, that is a good indication of where other similar rookie RB's may go this year. A player like Chris Henry of Tennessee or Michael Bush of the Raiders may go in a similar round. A rookie RB like Marshawn Lynch may be more comparable to where Reggie Bush was selected last year. (Note: Since so many rookie RB's had great years last year, you may see guys like Lynch, Henry and Bush go 1 or 2 rounds ahead of rival rookie RB's last year).
Also, be aware of what teams your rival owners root for in the NFL. If you know the owner selecting after you is a Vikings die-hard, and he needs a running back, you can rest assured that Adrian Peterson will get selected before the draft gets back to you. Grabbing a player from someone's favorite NFL team can prove profitable down the road for a trade -- sometimes the bargaining starts just after you select the player at the draft table.
The last advice I can give is to go with your gut on a player. Picking a team based on Fantasy Football magazines and websites is no fun. It's your team. Have fun with it. At least you'll be able to say "I knew that guy was going to be good", or "I don't know what I was thinking on that one".
Good read, but I don't usually put a lot of stock in bye weeks. If I have two players very closely ranked it may be a consideration, but I'm not passing on a better player just because he shares a bye with one of my other guys, nor do I necessarily expect my opponent to.
Also, I think getting too wrapped up in what your opponent should or might do can be a slippery slope. Just because he's solid at RB but thin at WR doesn't mean that if you pass on that RB you're eying and grab a WR he won't go ahead and take said RB to use as trade bait. That type of strategy has its' place, but it will come back to bite you as often as not.
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- Voltaire
I agree. If a player is a must-have player, then it would be stupid to pass on him just because you think someone else should/will.
And if a player has talent and I like his upside, yeah I'll pick him despite the bye week. Example -- I picked Vincent Jackson in the 9th round of a mock even though he was my 4th WR off the board, and I had Donald Driver sharing the week 7 bye.
The bye week stuff can work out, but there's also strategy in trying to choose the same bye weeks. Lets say you realize 3 of your first 5 players have the same bye week. It would make sense when comparing players of similar value to draft guys on that bye week. Sac one week to give you the edge most other weeks.
I don't care about other teams bye weeks. That's a waste of time as in my league, everyone keeps track of that and don't make mistakes. Just because a team in front of me has RB 1 + RB 2 with bye weeks of 5 and 7 does not mean that they will not take a RB 3 with a corresponding bye week. With all the injuries (and busts) in the NFL, they are all smart enough to just draft the best RB 3 when they see someone they want. Moreover, we can go "shotgun" and this is one of the reasons for this rule.
I do however keep track of how many players each team has taken at each position. That is very helpful if drafting around the turns but almost useless if you draft 5, 6, 7.
I'll hop on board here. Here are some things you can do during your draft, or bring with you for help...
- Bring highlighters of different colors, and extra pens/pencils
- Have an NFL schedule handy
- Bring a laptop. When someone reaches way early for a player, play the "go, go, gadget arm" byte from Inspector Gadget
- Bring cheat sheets from previous years, and place them strategically around the room
- When it's your turn to draft, whip out a calculator and randomly click buttons for 30 seconds as if you are trying to figure something out
- Bring your cellphone. Have your pal call you every few minutes and mutter phrases like "are you sure he did?", "when did that info come out?", "who just got placed on IR?", etc.
- When drafting, always start your pick by saying, "with the XX pick in the draft, (insert your team name here) selects..."
- Bring a foghorn, and shoot it off after every pick
- Wear the jersey of someone you think will be a huge bust
- Bring a fake expert with you. Have him whisper in your ear at random times.
Something no one has mentioned: alcohol consumption. The most powerful enemy or ally depending on how you work it to your favor. It won't kill you to wait a couple hours to celebrate your great draft rather than inebriate it.
Constantly offer to run to the fridge or buy a round for the other owners though.
This message brought to you by CADD....Champions Against Drunk Drafting.