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10 Worst Draft Mistakes to Make in 2018 Fantasy Football Drafts

10 Draft Mistakes
Referee Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Draft mistakes are probably more important to know than draft tips. My favorite Fantasy Football adage is that you cannot win your league in Round One, but you can lose it.

That really goes for the whole draft, too. Almost every league I am a part of every year is more about a combination of good-to-great drafting with even better waiver wire managing and a sprinkle of luck. So while everyone thinks they have 100% full-proof plan to draft a perfect team, I can promise you that there is no such thing.

So avoid the draft mistakes and give yourself a chance to be competitive. Don’t try to be perfect; just don’t be horrible once the draft ends. So here are my Top 10 Draft Mistakes to avoid for the 2018 Fantasy Football season.

Top 10 Draft Mistakes for the 2018 Fantasy Football Season

1. Not knowing your league’s roster/rules.

It seems simple enough but every year I see people that do not follow updates to their league. Is your league a Points Per Reception league now? Did you drop it from full-point to half-point PPR? Are you playing with a Superflex now? Is there a limit on the number of guys at a certain position that you can roster?

Every league is different and every league has its own unique rules and setup. You have to factor in these unique changes and differences in your preparation. Speaking of preparation…

2. Not preparing enough or preparing too much.

Yes, there is such a thing as over-preparation for your Fantasy Football draft. I guess it can also be seen as preparing incorrectly.

You can make all the spreadsheets in the world, read every possible Fantasy Football preseason post and follow every pertinent NFL Insider on Twitter: if you don’t form your own opinions on this information, then you are over-preparing/preparing incorrectly.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have to make sure you prepare enough. Everyone has their own style of draft preparation. I am a HUGE spreadsheet guy. I think it is the easiest way to compile all of your information in a quick and easy to read manner.

Another popular route that is less time consuming and you don’t need a PHD in Excel is just making your own rankings. You can do this on most service platforms where you can adjust the generic rankings to a set that you feel more comfortable with. Then you can go right down your list and pick the guys you like. Either way, have some sort of preparation so that you can execute your draft plan.

3. Not having a draft plan.

When I say draft plan I do not mean RB-RB or WR-WR. You need a plan for what the draft board gives you.

I am not a proponent of locking yourself into a certain position in each round or avoiding a position. I am all about finding the best value with every pick. Locking yourself into a certain position makes it nearly impossible to always obtain the best value.

To me, a draft plan is figuring out where the value is going to be (or at least most likely to be). For example, if you think the value of having one of the elite tight ends is paramount to building a strong team, factor that into your draft plan. You need to know when the latest that one of the elite guys would be available to you.

This can also factor into your draft slot picking. I think every league should have their card draw, golf tournament, Beerlympics or whatever you use for draft slots be for PICKING a slot, not being locked into that place. If you have your draft plan in place, and know that you want one of the four elite backs, then you know that you need one of the first four picks.

4. Not being flexible.

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So just because you have a plan does not mean that you can’t be flexible. It seems like a dumb example but if you are thinking you want to take an elite receiver with the 12th pick of Round 1, but LeVeon Bell and David Johnson are both still there do you pass on them? NO!

This is why when I tell you to have a draft plan it is more like an outline or guideline. It is not a set-in-stone, taking this guy/position at this pick. You have to find the best value and return on the investment of every draft pick.  The only way to do that is being flexible. No one will ever know how the draft board will fall. You can mock draft 1,000 times and not one can even come close to how your actual draft will unfold.

I mean what if everyone in your league is not following and making these draft mistakes? Then, all of a sudden, you will have all sorts of values that you did not expect falling your way. If you prepared correctly with a decent, flexible plan in place, then you can take advantage. Not being flexible is probably the biggest of all draft mistakes.

5. Drafting someone who has already been taken.

This is less strategically and more of an annoyance. As someone who is a commissioner of several Fantasy Football leagues, this might be the most irritating of all draft mistakes.

Online drafts do not have this issue as you literally cannot draft the same guy. However in live drafts, when libations are flowing and there is a genuine ruckus in the draft room, picking a guy that has already been drafted causes a complete stop-down and kills any flow. Don’t be that guy.

6. Worrying about bye weeks.

Another thing that I hear in almost every draft, every year, is someone evaluating an early-round pick based on the player’s bye week. This is one of the draft mistakes that is easiest to avoid. Only in rare circumstances should a player’s bye week be a factor.

Yes in a 2-quarterback league or a league with set/balanced rosters (where you MUST roster 2 QB/K/DEF etc.) then obviously you don’t want to have the same bye week for your two signal callers. Besides that, bye weeks should be a LAST resort in terms of comparing two players.

Honestly, I almost go the other way too. I would rather have my entire roster have the same exact bye week. I sacrifice one week, but every other week I am full strength while my opponents will most likely have multiple starters down with an off week. I’m not set on making this happen, but I would rather that scenario than having one of my studs miss a separate week over more than a month.

Also, as Matthew Berry always says, you have no idea what your roster will even be like by the time heavy bye’s roll around in Week 8 or Week 9. So don’t try to tell the future: just take the best value on the board.

7. Filling positional needs over value.

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It cannot be said enough, but getting the most value is the paramount part of participating in Fantasy Football. One of the most common draft mistakes with value is filling a positional need rather than the best player available.

There is no rule that says you have to draft your starting quarterback or tight end before a back-up running back or wide receiver. I know, everyone is thinking, “I don’t do that! I always wait on both positions!” Go look at the ADP consensus.

Between picks 49 and 70, on average, there are 11 quarterbacks and tight ends being taken. So must leagues have 10 or 12 teams, and start some combination of 5 total running backs and receivers. So it looks to me like half the teams in most leagues are drafting their starting five backs/receivers, then taking their QB/TE in Rounds 6 and 7.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the best value is a tight end in Round 6 (I’m looking at you Greg Olsen!). But do not reach on Jimmy Garoppolo just because half the league took a quarterback in the past ten picks. Which leads me to…

8. Being at the end of positional “runs”.

This basically goes hand in hand with being flexible and filling positional needs over value. Let’s do a quick hypothetical.

Say that you are in Round 6 of a 12-team, single quarterback league. Everyone was really trying to wait on a quarterback so only Aaron Rodgers has been taken at the position. All of a sudden, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins fly off the board in the first nine picks of the round. You are up and still need a quarterback. If you get scared that one won’t make it back to you later, you reach on Jimmy G. Because of reaching on Garoppolo, you now are settling for Carlos Hyde as your first bench option at Flex.

If you fight the urge, you can take the falling-down-the-board Ronald Jones II. Then you can scoop the perennially under-rated Philip Rivers as the 16th quarterback off the board (on average) in Round 10. Which option would you rather have?

If you go by FantasyPros.com average projections, Garoppolo is only expected to outscore Rivers by 1.2 points. Yes, he has more upside, but Rivers has a much higher floor. Ronald Jones is expected to score more than 20 points more than Carlos Hyde. I would argue he has both a higher ceiling and floor than Hyde.

So long story short, take the best player available and don’t fall in with the positional run. That is what the people who started the run want: you to leave more players at other positions for them to pounce on and gain more of an advantage on you. It’s all about zagging when everyone in your league is zigging.

9. Waiting on your “sleeper” because he “WILL” be there later.

As I said in my wide receiver sleepers post, there are no such things as the traditional “sleepers” anymore. There is too much information about every possible Fantasy-relevant player now. A person is a “sleeper” if they are just being under-valued not unknown.

So do not think that you are that much smarter and more well-informed than the rest of your league. Long-shot players’ ADP has exponentially more variance than the consensus top tier. Remember, it’s an AVERAGE of draft positioning. That means that the player goes much higher and much lower than that number.

So do not wait, and think that your dark horse to win the running back job in that unexpected explosive offense will be there at his ADP. You will have to take him at least a round of so before that.

With that said, don’t reach too much. One of my biggest pet peeves is someone who takes Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore and Michael Gallup in Rounds 5, 6, and 7, then when one of the three is worthy of being a Fantasy Starter, they brag about “KNOWING” that he was going to break out. It is more prevalent in Fantasy Baseball, but it has started to sift into Fantasy Football as well. The fact of the matter is that they are the one making the mistake of wasting draft capital on the hopes of hitting on a young player “before everyone else.”

10. Getting too drunk.

There might as well be a mirror in front of me writing about this last of my draft mistakes. Any of us can enjoy a solid cocktail or two during the draft. Just don’t over-do it. This mistake is the gateway drug for all other draft mistakes.

When you get a little sauced up you start picking guys already drafted. After a few Buds you become inflexible and reach too far on your sleepers. If you take a few Rumple Minze shots then you fall down as well as fall in with the positional run.

So drink responsibly, my friends. You don’t have to be sober, but you don’t have to be Bluto from Animal House.

BONUS: Not having fun!

It’s a game. Have fun. It’s serious and there’s usually some scratch involved, but if you’re not having fun then you are making the easiest to avoid of all draft mistakes.


For some good tips on Draft Day check out our article on tips for the first time player. You can also read over my WR Busts for the season.

Michael Tomlin
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Michael Tomlin

Michael Tomlin is an ESPY-nominated, former college football player who stays associated with the game through Fantasy Sports. He has been writing his personal blog, Dirkland.blogspot.com, for three years and it focuses on Fantasy Sports, as well as handicapping. He was born and raised in the DFW Metroplex, and he follows all of the Dallas teams, along with Texas Tech athletics and Manchester City F.C.
Michael Tomlin
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