I know what you’re thinking: fantasy football is still two months away, I don’t need to start preparing until August. False. If we can agree that this is a fantasy sport, then you can play it at any time of the year. And by playing I mean preparing. Michael Phelps doesn’t wait until a month before the Olympics to start training, why should you? Ignoring the obvious non-correlation between the two, the answer is to get a jump on your competition.
Here are 3 easy steps to ensure that you are fully prepared for drafting season:
Warning: you are not guaranteed to win your league by following these steps. You are only guaranteed to be the know-it-all come draft day.
Read – Yes, I am telling you to read while you are reading my article that is apparently about reading. Find a couple of websites that give daily updates on players and check them every day. Read articles from so-called “Fantasy Experts”. You may find that only 10% of what you read helps you on draft day, but that’s 10% more than the managers who didn’t take the time to research training camp snippets.
Look Back – Here’s the step that most people overlook. Take a look at the leagues you were in last year and see what round players were drafted in or what price they were drafted at. Focus on the players in their early years, 23-28, as older player’s production can drop drastically. This will give you a much better idea of undervalued/overvalued players come draft day.
For those in leagues that are in their 2nd, 3rd, 4th year, this step is incredibly beneficial. Study your previous drafts and see what managers have man-crushes on certain players. Use this to your advantage when that manager is drafting behind you or trying to outbid you.
Rank – Rank players in an order that you would draft them in. This step takes some time and practice, but it makes drafting that much easier. Everyone and anyone can draft using the pre-ranks from ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS, etc. Use what you have learned from reading and create your own ranks. Feel free to refer to your favorite “ranker” when you’re stuck at a tier of players. Speaking of tiers, create your own. Here are my tiers from last year as an example:
By no means were my tiers perfect, but they helped me perceive value during the draft. If one of my 1st tier guys were left after multiple 2nd tier’s came off the board, I knew that I had a steal at my next pick. Creating tiers is also a great way to explore the depth at each position. If you find it hard to group the top 20 guys into two tiers, it’s probably a deep position and you can afford to wait.
For auction drafters like myself, put a personal cap on each player. The cap being the highest dollar amount you would spend on that player. This alleviates that “oh-no” moment when you overbid for Michael Turner because you thought your buddy would go $1 higher. Once you get confident in your pricing, you can be the guy who throws out the $40 bid after the 3 noobs bid him up $1 at a time. Trust me; drafts will move quicker, your mind state will remain calm, and you can take a piss when the bidding war for Frank Gore starts (DON’T DO IT).
I hope that your new found preparation skills will finally allow you to taste greatness. This article was not sponsored by Miller Lite, but if they would like to send me some free beer I would not object.