1. Drafting a defense or kicker in the middle rounds
This is fantasy football 101. Wait until the last two rounds to pick a kicker and a defense. It’s nearly impossible to determine from year to year which defenses will finish in the top 10. Heck, many top 10 defenses aren’t even drafted, yet many owners will become enamored with certain teams that were good last season only to find out that they underperform this year. The same principle applies to kickers. Really, there’s not much difference between the top kicker and the 12th best kicker. Many solid kickers can be acquired during the season very easily. For these reasons, it’s best to wait until the very end of your draft to pick a kicker and defense.
2. Drafting a player that has been cut by an NFL team
One of the most embarrassing scenarios in a fantasy football draft is the owner who picks a running back or wide receiver that was just cut by the NFL team a few days before the draft. This is an absolute wasted pick. Now if it occurs with a kicker during the last round of the draft, the pain may be minimal. Kicker cuts are as highly publicized, but with any other position, this lack of preparation is inexcusable. Do plenty of homework and don’t make this mistake.
3. Drafting a player that is injured (out for season)
There’s an old poker saying that if you don’t know who the sucker is at the table, it must be you. If you want to know where the easy money is at the fantasy football draft, it’s the guy that picks a running back in round 5 who tore an ACL in a preseason game the week prior. The room will burst out with laughter. Don’t be this guy. Do the homework. If time is limited before the draft, at least check the latest news and injury report before heading off to your draft. It could save you great humiliation.
4. Waiting until round 3 to pick a RB
I’ve talked about it in my draft strategy articles on Fantasy Football Aid, fantasy owners need to identify the scarce positions in their league and pick those players early. In most leagues, the RB position is scarce. Let’s say each team starts 2 RBs, but the NFL only has 32 starting running backs. In a 12 team fantasy football league, 24 of the 32 running backs (75%) are required. When one considers that many teams employ a running back by committee (rbbc) approach, the actual % of RBs required rises even more. Conversely, only 12 of the 32 quarterbacks (37.5%) are required. What this means is that RBs will be harder to find later in the draft and during the season. QBs will be abundantly available. It’s wise to take a RB with one or both of your first two picks.
5. Having a smaller list of players than will be drafted
This will drive experienced players nuts at the draft. It’s the guy who scrambles during the last three rounds of the draft because they brought a list of 48 running backs, but 60 were drafted. It’s the guy that is asking for his neighbor’s list because he doesn’t know who is available. If there are 12 teams in the fantasy league and each one can draft 5 running backs on the roster, you’ll need to bring a pre-draft ranking list of 60 running backs, for example. It’s a simple pre-draft planning task.
6. Lack of strategy
Every owner needs to enter the draft with a plan. Whether it’s using value based drafting techniques, tiering or a simple printed listed from a reputable expert, a strategy is essential to success. Know what position you’d like to target in the first three to four rounds, for example, RB WR RB QB or RB RB WR QB. Highlight a list of sleepers that you’d like to grab in the middle rounds. Do you prefer to stockpile running backs based on the scoring system and scarcity of the position? Do you want to fill the starting lineup requirements first and then draft backups? These are questions that need to be considered before the draft.
When I enter a draft, I write down my ideal starting lineup based on where I select in each round and the players’ ADP (average draft position) value. It’s OK to reach a few spots ahead of the projected ADP, but don’t reach more than one round or you won’t be getting good value.
I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful. You don’t have to know everything about how to play fantasy football to incorporate these rookie tips. Experienced owners will find them obvious, but for newbies, avoiding these basic mistakes will save you from an awkward moment.