Yesterday I highlighted five habits to get started on the right track to drafting a superior team. Here are five more for your more challenging leagues.
1. Script the draft. This applies more to those of you who are in a keeper league, but it’s a fruitful exercise for anyone. Use a tool like Sleeperbot or FantasyPros to run your own mock draft, guessing which players different owners will like. You know which of your friends is always early on the buzz players and which never wait on QB. This also helps prepare you for the inflation keepers will cause. In my home league (single keeper) the second round becomes the third when everyone keeps guys like LeSean McCoy, Melvin Gordon, and Michael Thomas. Getting used to that helps you to not feel like you’re reaching. You can also spot trends that matter, like most of your league has their RB1 and RB2 as keepers so the early rounds will be WR heavy or vice-versa.
2. Move away from the default rankings. I wrote an entire article about it recently but I don’t use rankings 1-200 in drafts anymore. I group the individual positions into tiers and work off of the flow of the draft. This lets me wait on QB and TE as long as possible by monitoring the depth of the tier I want to target. You’ll be surprised how well you know ADP without it in front of you anyway. If you want it for reference, print your rankings on the back of the tier sheet. This prevents you from forcing yourself into taking the “value” you’re going to hate owning (and his name is Frank Gore).
3. Use ADP as a guide for rounds. I don’t think ADP is worthless though. It’s actually very hard to beat. The way I like to incorporate ADP is by using the round of an individual player instead of the number pick he is. I’ll write it next to players I’m targeting to keep them on my horizon as the draft progresses. A great exercise is to write out the number for each of your slotted picks and find a player within 5 or so spots of each that you think is a value. Familiarizing yourself with some of the names makes them feel like wins when you land them.
4. Adjust to the room. This is directed more at auction leagues, but still applies to snake drafts. If you’ve come out of an auction wondering why it doesn’t look like there’s a first round player on your team you know what I mean. Every auction room behaves differently. I find top talent typically gets over priced, and while I love getting value later on you can’t compete without top players. Know which guys you’re comfortable going over budget for so you don’t continuously stop bidding against owners rolling out a stars and scrubs approach. You also want to keep tabs on how individual positions are being priced. I don’t want to over pay for a TE unless everyone has been overpaying and there’s only two left I’m comfortable starting. That applies to snake drafts as well. Know whether you want to ignore a position run or steer into it. For me that all depends on what’s left in my current target tier.
5. Find beat writer’s good fantasy players trust. Every NFL team has a throng of local reporters covering their news, position battles, etc. Ask fantasy writers and communities like reddit who they go to for a particular team. I’m in the Philadelphia area and for me that guy is Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski). He recently made waves saying Legarette Blount hasn’t impressed and Wendell Smallwood looks ready to take the next step. You can get Smallwood pretty much for free and he easily has a path ahead of both backs in front of him. Obviously just one specific example but if you’re on the fence about a player look into a reliable local person’s take, not just what someone covering 32 teams had time to consider.
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