Most people like to focus on different “tips” when it comes to Fantasy Football drafts. I have come to realize that draft mistakes are much more beneficial to watch out for.
My biggest two pieces of advice remain to get the utmost value with every pick and sticking to the cliché that you “cannot win your league in the first round, but you can lose it.” By both of these notions, avoiding draft mistakes is more important than certain tips.
Say I had a crystal ball and gave you the perfect tips for Rounds 3-6 so that you had awesome picks in each round. You would still have a tough time being successful if you made draft mistakes in the first couple of picks.
The thing about draft mistakes is they are much easier to avoid than taking advantage of tips or suggestions. When drafting a Fantasy Football team you are trying to build a strong, versatile and capable team that can compete for a championship. Thinking the team you draft will run through and dominate the league is fool’s gold.
So here are the Top 11 Draft Mistakes to avoid this season when you are drafting.
Top 11 Fantasy Football Draft Mistakes
1. League Ignorance
This is the most important factor in all of Fantasy Football: league setup. Every league has its scoring, roster, drafting, waiver, etc., nuances. You must know your league inside and out.
Did y’all switch from non-PPR to PPR? Did you add a second quarterback? Are waivers now blind bid vs. first come first serve?
All of these things factor in with avoiding draft mistakes with your team. Even the way waivers are set up. If you now have a limited budget or it costs real dollars to pick up free agents, you will be more likely to draft back-ups for your one-start positions.
The thing to notice here is this is not a “pre-draft” mistake. This is a “pre-preparation” mistake. Know your league’s rules and set-up before you even start reading, listening, watching or making a spreadsheet.
2. Reaching/Falling In Love
While not as vital as the first mistake, this one is much more common. Everyone has fallen victim to the hype.
We see an article talking about the hot shot rookie and how he “looked great in OTA’s” or some sort of underwear Olympics. Don’t be a victim of hype. Be an opportunist of others’ gullibility.
I know some analysts say that it’s okay to reach if you “really want the guy.” But let’s not kid ourselves, if we want to root for someone just bet on that game or watch it and root. You play Fantasy Football to have fun and win. Winning is fun.
Do not reach on a guy just because he “might not be there” at the next pick. If he is not the best value, leave him be. The same can be said for Pinned players (like you Pin them on your Pinterest board). Just because you think you are on to something, does not mean you should abandon your best value available philosophy.
3. Not Sticking to Your Cheat Sheet
That leads right into the next common mistake of not trusting your cheat sheet. There is a reason you spent so much time (or at least should have spent) on this spreadsheet. Don’t abandon it in your biggest time of need.
This mistake and the previous really go hand in hand. You fall in love with a guy and draft him too soon. Then, you are scrambling to fill a position you should not have to be, and you go against your cheat sheet.
Think of it this way: NFL teams have entire departments of 25+ people that all they do is scout players. They also have coaching staffs of 20+ guys. Yet, they still take 10+ minutes to make a draft selection, and most of the time they have a Big Board or Cheat Sheet that they go off of.
A single person can have a random, convincing thought that can sway an opinion. A well thought out board/cheat sheet that took hours of time and momentous amounts of data have no opinion. Stick. To. Your. Cheat Sheet.
4. Lack of Flexibility
Now with that said, you have to remain flexible. This does not mean with regard to your cheat sheet. A huge draft mistake is sticking to a certain strategy without variance.
In the old days, it was the RB-RB philosophy. The past couple of years has yielded the Zero-RB Theory. Hell, I even came up with the best strategy to use this year, the Single-RB Theory.
If the board does not fall your way, then it’s okay to abandon your original strategy. The best way to exemplify this: if you are at the Rounds 5/6 turn, and Aaron Rodgers and Rob Gronkowski are both still available, do you pass since you are waiting on those positions? Even better: you are drafting 12th in a normal league setup and LeVeon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott are still there because everyone is Zero-RB drafting. Do you keep with your Zero-RB strategy? NO!!!
Take the best player available. Let the board dictate which strategy you end up using.
5. Getting Too Drunk
This one is simple enough. Keep your wits somewhat about you. Do not let your friendly pal Bud make the pick for you.
I know, if you aren’t imbibing a little bit then you aren’t really drafting. Just do it with moderation. There will be plenty of time to get white-girl wasted post-draft and talk trash.
6. Not Taking Advantage of Slot Situation
This mistake is quite common as well. If you are surrounding a turn of the draft, make sure to keep track of what the person or people in between your picks needs.
For example, if you have the 11th pick in a 12-team draft, and need a tight end in Round 6. You look at the 12-spot’s team and he took Jordan Reed in Round 3. You can go ahead and take the next best player available first, then wait for the turn to make your tight end pick.
This can really be used for either end of four slots in the draft. If you are picking from the 9-hole and two of the three people after you already have quarterbacks, you know at least one of your last two will be there. Take the extra effort to sneak a peek.
7. Falling In With a “Run”
We all have seen the “run” in a draft. Most of the time this happens with quarterbacks or tight ends. Everyone has been waiting to draft their guys at those spots, then once a couple is off the board there is a flood. The next thing you know, there were 9 tight ends taken in the seventh round.
Starting one of these runs is a beautiful sight to see, especially at one of the single-starter positions. If you already have your guy at that position, then everyone else is just leaving the better value at running back/wide receiver on the board for you.
The problem is you never know when you will start one. The draft mistakes happen when you fall in with one of these runs. Do not sacrifice value for positional scarcity.
8. Bye Week Shenanigans
Personally, I do not factor bye weeks into my drafting at all. I definitely do not try to avoid having the same bye week for my first few picks. I am taking the best value available. Hell, if anything, I am a proponent of trying to have my entire team have the same bye week. That way I am full strength every other week while other teams are missing key contributors.
So what I am saying is do not let bye weeks dictate your drafting. Obviously, if you are in a 2-QB league or are drafting a specific backup, then yes make sure their bye weeks do not coincide. These draft mistakes are made all too common where someone passes on a guy in the second round just because he has the same bye week as his first round pick.
The thing is who knows what your team will look like in Week 9? Why sacrifice talent and potential to avoid bye week hell?
9. Picking Players “To Trade”
Another one of my draft mistakes similar to bye week roulette is drafting a player specifically to trade. If you already have Aaron Rodgers what is the point of taking Tom Brady in a single-QB league?
I play in a lot of leagues and there is almost no trading in the majority. You also are putting yourself in the hole because whoever you are trading with knows you have to get rid of one of your quarterbacks. So just don’t do it. Take the best value for YOUR TEAM, not the best trade piece.
10. Not Paying Beforehand
As commissioner of multiple leagues, I can say that of all the draft mistakes this one drives me the craziest. Between Venmo, PayPal, QuickPay, etc., you can get money to someone rather easily without cash. Don’t be that guy that the commissioner is having to chase down.
11. Not Having Fun!
The last thing is to make sure you are having fun. This is a game after all; it is supposed to be fun. If intense preparation is no fun for you, then leave it to the so-called experts. For me, that is the most fun part: building my cheat sheet.
But of all the draft mistakes mentioned, this one can really destroy your experience with Fantasy Football. So don’t take the game too seriously; it’s a game. Have fun with it.
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If you are looking for a place to conduct a mock draft or need assistance with drafting in general, check out the Fantasy Pros Draft Wizard. This is a terrific tool that will help you dominate your league, along with So-Called Fantasy Experts, of course.
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