The Weekly Spartan Nation Fantasy Football Insider: Draft Tips!

Publish date:



August really only means one thing to fantasy football fans: It’s finally time to draft your team! This is a second Christmas to any fantasy football fan. It signals the beginning of the best time of year, and finally lets you have a reason to trash talk your friends again.


           But before you dive head first into your fantasy draft, you need to make sure you take some caution. If you just go in there and pick blindly, you aren’t going to do all that well.  Heck, if you go in there and just use my fantasy rankings you aren’t going to do that well either. I don’t know your friends and how they’re going to draft, so I can only give you part of the equation. So here are a few tips for you to follow when starting your draft.


-Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: I simply can’t stress this enough. Look through anything and everything you can to get a better feel for the players you both like and dislike. Pour through expert rankings, stats and game splits from last year, consult your personal psychic...ok maybe that one won’t help too much, but you get my point. If you aren’t preparing you’re going to be absolutely lost. Also, make sure you keep your eyes on any news coming out of training camp. Injuries, contract disputes, or retirements (or possibly phony reports of retirements?) can be extremely important when the season rolls around. The last type of preparation you’ll want to make sure you do is studying your league specifically. Figure out trends in your friends’ drafting strategies, and as I’ve said in every article, READ YOUR LEAGUE’S SCORING SYSTEM! Preparation will make or break your season, so don’t slack off.


-Loose Lips Sink Ships...and Fantasy Football Teams: Never give up your draft strategy to another member of the league. Even if it seems like something obvious, keep it to yourself. Every bit of information you give to your opponents is something they could possibly use against you. Just a quick example from personal experience. In one of my first years playing fantasy football back in the late 90’s in what I thought was friendly conversation I told one of my friends that I was extremely high on a player. Low and behold, two days later he made a pre-draft trade to jump a spot ahead of me and swiped that player away from me. If you don’t want this to happen to you, keep your mouth shut.


-Handcuffs aren’t Just for Cops: In fantasy football terminology a “handcuff” refers to a player who is a real-life backup to a fantasy starter. Generally speaking handcuffs usually only apply to running backs due to the relative scarcity at that position. For example, if you were to draft DeAngelo Williams as one of your running backs, you would be absolutely foolish not to snag Jonathan Stewart. If Williams were to go down then Stewart would be an absolute stud. There are 2 general rules you should follow when determining if you should draft a running back’s handcuff: 1) The more talented the backup, the more likely you should draft him and 2) the more injury prone the starter, the more likely you should draft the handcuff.


-Bye Weeks aren’t just Time Off: Pay attention to the bye weeks of your players. If you don’t keep this in mind you’re just going to be asking for at least one loss when one or two of your best players go on their week off. It isn’t going to do you a lot of good if you draft Peyton Manning as your starting quarterback and then go and draft Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez as his back up. Why? All three of those guys will be hitting their bye week in week 7. Stafford may have been the best QB available at that point to back up Manning, but you’d be better of drafting a guy you don’t think is as good but will actually be on the field in week 7 as opposed to at home eating Doritos.


-Make Sure You Stretch, because You Better be Flexible: Sometimes a player will go into a draft telling himself he’s going to draft a running back in the first round, a quarterback in the second round and so on and so on. This is absolutely not the way to draft your team. While it’s advisable to grab at least one running back in the first two rounds, this rule isn’t set in stone. You need to draft the guy you think is going to give you the best chance to win, and drafting a guy like Cedric Benson in the first round just because you told yourself you’d draft a running back in that round isn’t going to do that for you. Especially when guys like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Andre Johnson may all still be available. If you stay flexible in your draft plans you’ll end up with a much better team in the end.


-The 18th Amendment: OK, that was a really geeky title, but look it up and you’ll get it. Now I know drafts are a lot of fun, but don’t treat them like watching a game with all your friends. Leave the beers in the fridge, because you’re going to want to be in the best state of mind in order to maneuver correctly throughout the draft. Truth be told, a fantasy draft is much more like a chess game than many of us would like to admit. You have to read your opponents and try to foresee what their next move will be. Try doing that with 3 or 4 beers in your system, and see what your team will look like. Probably a lot like what a toilet in the Brody Complex looks like at 3 a.m. on a Saturday in September.


-Have Fun: It sounds lame, but it’s true. This is a game, treat it as such. Far too many of us take our fantasy teams too seriously and let a fantasy loss ruin our week. If you aren’t having fun, it isn’t worth playing.