Tip #1 Know Your League’s Rules
Is your league PPR (points-per-reception)? Half PPR? Standard scoring? Bonuses for long touchdowns or going over 100 yards? You need to know these things going into your draft. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
For example, even the most casual football fans know who Patrick Mahomes is. He’s undoubtedly the best QB in the NFL right now. But in most fantasy football leagues, he shouldn’t get picked until at least the 3rd round if not later. Why? Because in standard PPR fantasy football RB’s and WR’s get 6 points for scoring a TD. QB’s get 4 points for throwing for one. RB’s and WR’s get 1 point for every catch. QB’s need 25 passing yards to get 1 point. You are not going to lose your league drafting a top QB like Mahomes or Bills QB Josh Allen, but unless your league has a special scoring system, you’re better off waiting for someone like Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, or Tom Brady later in your draft.
The QB situation is just one example. League rules vary. Know yours, and draft accordingly.
Tip #2 Mock Draft
Almost every major fantasy football platform (ESPN, Yahoo, etc.) has a mock draft lobby. Find it, and do some mock drafts! You usually can pick your starting draft position so play around with different spots. How does your team turn out with the #1 overall pick? What if you pick 10th? Be prepared so that when your real draft happens you know what players are likely to be available for you.
Bonus Tip: Try mock drafting on different platforms so you can see how the ADP (average-draft-position) varies from site to site and use that to your advantage.
Bonus/Bonus Tip: Use a cheat sheet different than everyone else in the draft, or even better make your own, so that your ADP is different from your league-mates.
Tip #3 Stream Your Kicker and Defense
This also means, pick your kicker and defense last in the draft. That’s assuming you need to pick any at all. If you don’t, then don’t. Why? You have a much better shot at fantasy success picking your defense and kickers each week based on matchups, injuries, weather, etc. Yes, sometimes there are seasons where one or two teams have amazing fantasy defenses. But, it’s not worth gambling with an early round pick to try and guess what team that will be. That goes double for kickers. Unless you end up with a kicker who consistently is scoring more than some of your RBs and WRs, don’t have one on your roster until the last minute.
Bonus Tip: If you have to draft a kicker, drop them immediately after the draft and add a handcuff RB (a starting running back’s back-up). Injuries happen all the time. When the next stud RB goes down, let everyone else scramble to the waiver wire just to realize the player they are looking for is already on your team.
Bonus/Bonus Tip: If you must draft a defense, research Week 1 matchups and pick a defense that has a good one.
Tip #4 You Win After the Draft, But You Can Lose During It
You will win your fantasy league based on the pickups, trades, and decisions you make during the season. Sure drafting well helps, but fantasy football is a season long event, not a one day game. However, drafting poorly can certainly ruin any shot you have at doing well that season. Not knowing your league rules, not mock-drafting, not being prepared – all those little decisions can easily add up to a losing fantasy season.
Tip #5 Have fun!
Even if you put some money into your fantasy league it’s not that serious. It is an amazing way to connect with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and people halfway across the world from you. Have fun!