It is hard to believe that fantasy football is right around the corner. Preseason games have begun, injuries have occurred and if you are smart, draft prep has already begun. Maybe you even took the first step and purchased Athlon Sports’ 2015 Fantasy Football Guide.
Even though many of you may have already been drafting for the last month or more in MFL10s, draft season is officially here. It is hard for some who have been playing fantasy for eons not to shrug off draft prep, or get overly concerned about mock drafting. After all, you may have won the league two of the last three seasons. You know what is going on right?
You certainly may, and perhaps you know all of the helpful rules, but if not, being prepared for your draft and having the right tools and weapons at your disposal are critical to any fantasy owners’ success.
I will provide my top 5 ways to dominate your fantasy football draft. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @fantsychillpony to share yours. Good luck with your draft prep, and actual drafts folks.
1. Know Your League(s) Rules and Scoring
This is the cardinal rule in my world and you would be amazed at how many people don’t know it, or care enough to follow it. Bottom line is if you want to actually compete and win your league you simply need to know and understand your league rules PRIOR to the draft. Ask yourself these questions if you are newer to the game, or even if you consider yourself a veteran. Being prepared and knowing your league in and out will only help you.
*Do you know your league(s) basic rules and roster setup? Make sure you do mock drafts for the same, or as close as you can to the same scoring and roster settings. If you are studying, or doing mock drafts in a 12-team league and your league is only 10 teams you will have skewed results.
*Are you in a Superflex, or 2-quarterback league? Two-QB leagues have a very unique impact on fantasy drafts. If you are planning on rolling into a 2-QB league draft with the “wait on a quarterback” philosophy, you will be in trouble.
*Do you fully understand your league's scoring? Are passing touchdowns four points, or six? Are there yardage bonuses for yards thrown or gained? How about field goal yardage (I know… yuck). Is it a full point, or only half point PPR?
*Any odd or unique scoring rules? Find these and make sure you are ready, and even exploit them. I tell the story of joining a friends league the night of the draft and completely dominated the season. I lost however to a team that started Josh Cribbs and Devin Hester at WR with Leon Washington at RB. If you didn’t guess already this league awarded points for return yards, along with significant bonuses for touchdowns.
2. Make Your Own Cheat Sheet
I know pre-made sheets are nice and easy and in many ways they can work just fine. However I much prefer to nerd out and make my own. I love Google Docs, or Excel spreadsheets too much not too. If your league is truly standard, no scoring tweaks, roster size adjustments, or extra rounds then a cheat sheet found online or in a magazine/guide could work.
I like to make my own and add a top 3 list for each round and pick I have in the draft for snake drafts. For auction leagues I try to forecast my roster as much as possible and include targets along with ADP, auction values and a budget balance ledger you can use as you are drafting.
Either way having a sheet of rankings, tiers, and other details for your league can help you far more than a top 300 sheet ever will. Also, by default you will be more prepared for the draft by making the sheet in advance.
3. Use Tiers and ADP Instead of Straight Rankings
If you have been reading my posts for a while you know how much I love tiers. I use them as my primary weapon during drafts. They help utilize rankings, and ADP if you set it up that way, but most importantly they break up players into, well, tiers. Each position once grouped can then be ranked based on tier level, remaining players in that tier, and by your roster needs.
2015 Positional Tiers and Rankings:
The problem with rankings is it may make owners feel obligated to take a player based solely on ranking rather than considering positional depth, or need for their rosters. Just because Roddy White is available and the highest overall ranked player doesn’t mean owners should always take him. What if they have two WR already or there are five more players left in White’s tier and only one RB remaining in the third tier?
Draft based on talent and need more often than not, but when you get to the middle of drafts having tiers to help make important decisions easier while also breaking up the draft in easy to follow groups. Maybe you can pass on that QB one more round and go for the final remaining WR in a tier.
4. Keep An Eye on Positional Battles and Injuries
This offseason has already been filled with some surprises and injuries. The Bears lost their newest weapon and first-round pick Kevin White, possibly for the season already. This news by default boosts Matt Forté, Eddie Royal, and Alshon Jeffery’s value.
Dallas’ RB situation is still a question mark and although it certainly looks as if they are rolling with Joseph Randle. However, with names like Chris Johnson still floating around the Cowboys’ backfield remains murky, and very important to follow for fantasy reasons. Whoever is appointed the lead back in Big D will have immense fantasy value.
5. Know or Observe Your League’s Draft Tendencies
Sure you may read an expert's columns on draft strategy, listen to Sirius/XM Fantasy, follow industry drafts and mock drafts and feel prepared. You just may be, but what if you are in a league that over-values quarterbacks? Can you still afford to wait on a QB like all the experts say?
Do you have an owner who is notorious for taking two QBs early? Will expecting the top 4 RBs to be gone by the eighth pick in the draft be accurate because of mock drafts? What if you have owners who will take Andrew Luck and/or Aaron Rodgers in round 1? What if you have a die-hard Giants fan and they jump on Odell Beckham Jr. as the first WR off the board?
Want to mock draft? Check out this Mock Draft Simulator powered by FantasyPros.com
If you have been in your league for a long time, then you likely know other owners’ tendencies and which bits of knowledge or recommendations to take seriously from industry experts. It may make complete sense, and actually work well, but it is pointless if your league has unique scoring options, or owners who consistently make unexpected decisions.
If you are new to your league and you can keep track of owners’ moves and make note for future reference it can play into your advantage. Knowing which owner seems to drool over rookies, or the owner stocking up on RBs with intent to drain the pool can help you plan your next pick.
Live drafts bring a far different atmosphere and make the observations easier to accomplish than online or slow drafts. It can still be done though and knowing your league-mates and their styles is critical to winning your league and dominating your draft, along with a little luck of course.
— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.