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Draft mistakes puts you in an unnecessary hole.

It’s not always fatal and depending on your draft mistake, it is possible to regroup and have a successful season. But draft mistakes are so often avoidable, why even start with shovel in hand?

To clarify, there are going to be plenty of specific player or strategy misfires you are going to have on draft day. To help avoid that, SCFE will have plenty of content on strategy and specific players, but for this piece, we are talking “big picture” draft mistakes.

And if watching GI Joe cartoons all those years taught me one thing, it is “Knowing is Half the Battle!”

So here are the Top 10 draft mistakes you should be aware of so you can avoid them.

Top 10 Draft Mistakes

1. Not reading SCFE regularly before your draft

I think I am contractually obligated to say this and I’d rather be preparing for drafts than a legal hearing. But I would recommend it either way. Check out this spectacular piece about takeaways from last year to utilize for this year!

And while it should go without saying, it unfortunately needs to be said—don’t be the guy that buys a magazine on the way to the draft and reviews it 10 minutes beforehand—especially a magazine that might have published six weeks earlier. Or maybe you’re this guy….

2. Too much alcohol

The draft is supposed to be a good time and it often means drinking with friends. I understand. And some leagues have rules that require drinking penalties when you try to draft a player already taken, retired, or whatever. Well, then don’t do that!

I’m not saying don’t drink. In fact, if you’re drinking, your buddies might be more likely to drink too and hopefully they will make this mistake. But don’t drink so much that your judgment becomes clouded. Or you will wake up the next morning having drafted Roger Staubach (he’s got Hall of Fame numbers!) as your QB, Rod Tidwell as a starting WR (it’s a contract year!) and some running back written on your sheet as Jon Ghrtfdz. I’m pretty certain those guys are not going to be major contributors.

3. Not knowing your league rules

This is such an obvious and easy mistake to avoid. But how many times have you been in a draft and someone asks “So we start 3 WRs?” or “Wait, do we get four or six points for a passing TD?” These kind of rules make a difference on your “big board,” so you should know who to lower/raise accordingly before your draft starts, not during.

And it’s not limited to your league’s scoring system either. For example, in one of my keeper leagues a few years ago we had added an IR slot after not having one for years. Most had forgotten about it, but I had not. So while the player I grabbed was going to be the starting the year injured, I was able to add a cheap keeper stud plus pick up another roster slot in the process. Sure enough, the following year at least half a dozen owners did the same thing. You could say they learned from their mistake!

4. Buying into the hype

The hype train is out of control for Ezekiel Elliot this year and I still like him to return first round worthy numbers. But let’s recall how off the rails the hype train was for guys like Ameer Abdullah or Sam Bradford last year. You can like guys that are hyped, just don’t overpay for them. The opportunity cost of doing so is just too costly a draft mistake to make.

5. Your ace in the hole isn’t


Too many owners think that they know who this year’s big sleeper is going to be.

They don’t.

You might have great support for your belief and you might end up being right. But you don’t know. You never know who is going to get injured, who might get traded, and who might end up in or out of a coach’s doghouse. Don’t pass on a position just because you know your sleeper pick will carry you this season.

Furthermore, do you really think your draft intel is that much more superior to your fellow owners? Don’t be surprised if that super sleeper you have falls into a rival owner’s lap two picks before yours.

6. Running with the pack

It is just the nature of drafts that there are going to be “runs” on a position. It happens in expert leagues [link], it will happen in yours. But at one point or another, QBs or TEs start flying off the board for example, and far too many owners panic and keep the run going. If you have a player rated there or even higher, go ahead and pick him.

Just because five other owners in front of you picked that position, it does not mean you need to reach at that spot; you built your board, follow it. Even if you end up with crap at that slot, that’s the beauty of free agency and trading. Avoid the runs.

7. Drafting to Trade

Speaking of trading, this is a draft mistake I have been guilty of making. You’ve got yourself an incredible stable of five RBs and figure “I’ll pass on QB now, as I will just trade one of my RBs for a QB later.” You know what happens? The league realizes the issue and either doesn’t trade with you, often waiting for you to drop one of those players, or another owner ends up robbing you blind because you are desperate. Never assume you will be able to trade your surplus. It’s often a surplus for a reason.

8. Thinking you just drafted a championship team

I say this all the time: “If you think you just drafted the FFL SB team, either you are an idiot or you are playing with idiots.” I am going to assume neither is true. Even if every source tells you that you have the top team, Fantasy Football is chaos theory in action.

Even if you somehow drafted the best players every round and completely avoid the injury bug, you still need to keep an eye on the waiver wire. For example, how many teams predicted to be at the top had Doug Baldwin or Dave Johnson on them after the draft and how many championship teams had them by the end?


9. Letting emotion get the best of you

Okay, I’ve been guilty of this one too. I know sometimes a rival owner might get under my skin and just to shut him up I will take his handcuff when there are players I like on the board more. Or maybe you are the type of owner whose confidence gets shaken when others criticize your picks and you end up making panicked picks. Or maybe you love your favorite team so much, you have to have at least one player from that team to root for during the season, even if it means reaching a little.

These examples and any other pick that you make because you let emotion get the best of you are a mistake. Avoid it.

10. Not having fun

Draftmas is one of my favorite days of the year, even more than Christmas. That’s because you’re Jewish Mark. Okay, point taken, but the point remains that the draft should be fun. If you’re not having fun at the draft, you’re making one of the biggest draft mistakes possible.

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