If you’re like me (and let’s not kid yourself, you definitely want to be like me) over the last month you’ve probably heard all the fantasy advice clichés you can stand. You’ve ranked your players, you’ve tiered your positions, you’ve identified your sleepers, and you’ve done a silly number of mock drafts while at work, but now as draft day approaches you’re getting nervous. Or maybe you’ve screwed the pooch and draft day is in 15 minutes. Either way, don’t freak out, just remember a few simple tips and you can draft like a seasoned pro, or at the very least you’ll make it look you like spent more than 20 minutes preparing.
Tip 1: Be aware of your surroundings.
No joke, depending on where/how your league drafts, different times/locations/styles/formats can have significant impact on your draft success. For example, if you’re drafting in bar or restaurant, buy your leaguemates drinks and plenty of them, preferably shots. If you’re doing a live internet draft, make sure the draft application works on the computer you’ll use, find a comfortable chair, and hurl insults mercilessly from your mom’s basement to other players; hopefully they’ll be too busy conjuring rebuttals they won’t be able to focus on the task at hand. If doing auction, bid up players you know other owners have mancrushes and remember to throw down a Tight End joke when you successfully get them to bid too much on Greg Olsen.
Tip 2: Take risks.
Fantasy sports are not won by going down the list of ranked players and picking the next best available player. You’ve seen this before: guy shows up with magazine purchased 10 minutes ago on the way to the draft. Guy picks players from the overall 100 list until his roster is full. Guy loses. Don’t be that guy. Be prepared to reach for some players you really like, be prepared to pass over a “sure thing” or the big name if you have a gut feeling. Remember winning requires a combination of skill and luck, without taking a risk here and there you’ll significantly reduce your potential for catching Marques Colston in a bottle.
Tip 3: Don’t draft backup QBs, and in some cases a Kicker.
Many perts advocate waiting till the final round to draft your kicker, and that’s fine if your drafting late in the preseason, but I take this a step further. If I’m drafting with a couple weeks or more left in preseason, I ignore the Kicker and backup QB positions altogether and many times I’ll bypass D as well. By freeing up these picks, you can make a few more high upside picks at the WR and RB positions. When the start of the season rolls around, you’ll have a much better idea of which of your sleeper choices are going to get playing time, then drop or trade some players to grab a waiver wire kicker and defense. Barring injury, you won’t need your backups until week 4 at the earliest (when bye weeks start).
Tip 4: Have fun.
Remember that it’s just a game. Have fun, drink some beers, make some passes at the waitress or leaguemate’s sister. If you’re so stressed about fantasy football your blood pressure is rising, you shouldn’t be playing. Seriously, take up poker because most of us don’t want to play with you. Enjoy the camaraderie of the league and use the draft to catch up, crack jokes, and have an all around good time. If you do this, I promise you won’t be so bummed when Adrian Peterson gets his knee destroyed in a vicious frog-splash pancake tackle by Shaun Rogers in week 1 (you heard it here first!).