How To Draft a Fantasy Football Team Like a Brainiac

  • David Gonos

IND-Mack-Michael-Ainsworth

Before we break down how to draft a Fantasy Football team with a great shot at the playoffs, let’s step back and look at what we’re dealing with.

The Fantasy drafting season is officially in the deep water, with the biggest drafting weekends coming up. More people will be drafting in the next two weekends than in the 50 weekends that preceded them combined! Can you imagine that?

Many of your opponents have probably been drafting already in different leagues, and in different formats and styles of leagues. The more experience, the better!

But we’re going to set you up so that you don’t need all that experience in order to be successful.

How To Draft a Fantasy Football Team With a Shot at the Playoffs!

Most of these nine tips are going to be for standard Fantasy Football leagues, but many of them also work well in other formats.

Connect a Draft Assistant To Your League

This Fantasy Football Draft Assistant is easily the greatest Fantasy tool ever created – I’ve listed 51 Fantasy tools right here! But this app connects to your draft site, whether it’s ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS, NFL.com or any of the other draft services, and it follows right along with your draft. Then it suggests players to pick, based on the rankings of several dozen Fantasy writers (including myself!). It also has some great features, like a Pick Predictor, which shows you the odds of whether a player you like will be available for an upcoming round. Just awesome.

Follow Average Draft Position, But Don’t Live By It

You can use a great site like FantasyFootballCalculator.com, for Average Draft Position, but try not to be a robot that just picks according to whichever pick is most commonly drafted after this. Use the ADP as a guide, but you want to use it to help you understand when you should make a move on the payers you really want.

Wait To Draft Your Quarterback… PLEASE!

Sure, there’s something to be said about owning Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees and never having to worry about him. But that also means you didn’t draft a running back or a wide receiver in that draft slot. So think about it this way, the QB you draft late, plus the RB-or-WR you drafted early versus the QB you draft early and the RB-or-WR you drafted late will favor the late QB drafter nearly every time. Matthew Stafford has gone undrafted in many leagues – and you would do very well if you ended up with him as your starting quarterback!

Avoid Drafting QB/WR From the Same Team

Many people try to go the opposite way, hoping to double up their Fantasy points. But really, since you are just playing against one Fantasy opponent every week, you want to make the least mistakes as possible. That means having a diversified lineup. If your quarterback gets hurt or gets shut down by an opposing defense, then your wide receiver from that quarterback’s team probably can’t help you.

Save Your Risky Picks For the Middle and Late Rounds

You might be tempted to roll the dice early on, maybe choosing an oft-injured player, a player that’s dealing with a major injury or a player that is dealing with a suspension. But remember that the first 13 weeks of the season reward the top-half of your teams by giving them a playoffs spot. You want a playoff spot, so you have to do everything you can to avoid potholes and pitfalls, like having an early round pick miss several games due to injury or suspension.

Target High-Upside Players With Your Late Picks

Just because ADP tells you that Allen Hurns or Mike Wallace are the best picks available in the late rounds, think about getting a player that can really outperform his position if things work out just right. Sleepers come from second-year, post-hype players that have talent but struggled in Year 1 due to injuries or whatever else. Blow a late pick on a hot rookie like Zay Jones or Marlon Mack. Even if they don’t work out immediately, you can cut them for the hot pick off the waiver wire anyway. Those late picks are meant to be gambled.

Wait Until the Final Two Rounds To Draft Your Defense and Kicker

This one is over-used, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not a very important rule to follow. These two positions are the most volatile, so don’t waste a pick you could use on a great sleep on a freaking kicker or defense! Just take the best available in the final two rounds.

Draft the Best Available Defense With the Easiest Early Schedule

The Colts, Cowboys and Bills are among the defenses with the best Fantasy strength of schedule in the first five weeks of the season. Use them for the great matchup – then dump ‘em like a cheatin’ woman!

Don’t Draft a Great Kicker With an Early Bye Week

For instance, Matt Bryant and Will Lutz, two of the highest ranked kickers entering the season, both have bye weeks in Week 5, the first bye-week of the season. But when that week rolls around, you’re going to have to put that kicker on your bench – so you can pick up a kicker to play that week. You’ll have TWO kickers on your roster? No. You’ll try to drop him and get him back on waivers the next week. No deal. Just draft a stud like Cairo Santos or Sebastian Janikowski, both of whom have Week 10 byes.

Marlon Mack Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

David Gonos

David Gonos has been writing about sports online since 2001, including CBSSports.com, FoxSports.com, NFL.com, MLB.com and SportsIllustrated.com.