There are some days that are just different than others. Christmas, Thanksgiving, your birthday, and Fantasy Draft Day. These are days of the year that bring a level of excitement unlike the rest. The most avid fantasy players have put in many hours researching to prepare for the fantasy season. Whatever your level of dedication, draft day is a day that all fantasy players look forward to. We all hope that through our research we will be able to select the best team possible that will lead to fantasy football glory. For those of you looking for that extra bit of knowledge, that thing that will set you apart from your league mates on draft day, this is the article for you.

It was 2011, if memory serves I had the 5th pick in our draft that year. Jamaal Charles was still available at pick number five for me. I was so excited. Jamaal Charles had just come off of a monster 2010 season with over 1,900 combined yards and eight total touchdowns. He was poised for a monster 2011 season. We all know what happened next. Charles struggled in week 1, then tore his ACL running off the field on a non contact injury in week 2. Just like that my first round player was done for the season and my fantasy team never recovered. I barely missed the playoffs that year, and I was left wondering what if...

What if Charles had not torn his ACL? 

What if I had my number one pick? 

Would it have been enough to propel me into the playoffs? Would it have lead to a fantasy championship? I will never know.

The one thing I do know that I learned from that year, is that nothing in fantasy is certain and you should draft accordingly. 

By that I mean, there is no one draft strategy that is guaranteed to net you fantasy gold.  However, there are things that you can do to set yourself up for fantasy football success and consistency.  Consistency will eventually lead to fantasy championships, which along with having fun, should be our main goal. 

Here's some advice that will help bring you fantasy football success.

Know your leagues scoring system

This is crucial. If you are playing standard or PPR, one quarterback or two, these things matter and adjust the value of players and when you should draft them. If a quarterback gets six points instead of four in your league then quarterbacks have more value and should be drafted a little bit earlier. In two-quarterback leagues, or leagues where you can start a second QB as a flex (essentially 2-QB leagues), the value of the position skyrockets, and getting two competent starting ones is almost essential and something on which it's worth spending early picks. I'm not saying take a QB in the first round necessarily but depending on your league you may just have to if you want Cam Newton. This leads me to my next point.

Know your league

This is hard if you join a random league, but most of us are in leagues where we know our opponents. If you know the people in your league personally and have been in a league with them for many years, recognize the tendencies of you league mates, who they favor, and where they might draft certain players. If you know that a certain someone in your league drafts Peyton Manning every year in the first round, then you know that you better take him before him if you want him. You also know that players that might not usually make it to you may fall to you when he drafts Peyton Manning at number 3 overall.

Take what the draft gives you

People often ask whether they should go RB/RB at Pick 9 in a 12-team standard league, or if it would be better to go RB/WR. The answer is it depends. Typically in a standard format, you should go with the best RB or WR available in the first two rounds, and any combination thereof is permissible. Even so, different choices here will have consequences which you must address later in your draft. This year more than in any other year people are taking wide receivers in the first round. There are four wide receivers that I would definitely take in the first round this year: Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins. Still, with the number of people implementing this strategy it may end up being a better idea to take a running back in the first round if five or six wide receivers are already off the board. If Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley or even David Johnson fall to you in the mid to late first round you can't pass up on that value. Nothing is certain. People will reach for players and players may fall to you in later rounds than you expected. You have to adapt, so be open minded when you draft.


Don't be controlled by the positional runs

Everyone knows those moments in the later rounds when the runs on quarterback, tight end, or defense start. Don't fall prey to those runs. Just because everybody is taking a tight end in round 8 or 9 doesn't mean you have to. Most of the people at the end of those runs end up reaching for a tight end or defense just because they freak out and think that all of the good players will be gone. They assume since everyone is taking a tight end now that they should too. News flash, you can wait a few rounds and probably still get the same guy you would have taken if you reached in rounds 8 or 9. Ideally you would rather be the guy to start a run on quarterback or tight end. The value is better, but that's not always possible. Don't be that guy with defenses though, I don't take a defense until very late in the double digit rounds. Defenses are hard to predict and very easy to stream. Again, let the draft come to you, take what it gives you and adapt.
The easy way to do this is to take and expert's rankings that you trust, or a sites rankings (NFL.com, ESPN, Yahoo) that you prefer, and customize them to fit your own opinion. Eventually you can work your way up to creating your own custom spread sheet as you gain more knowledge if you want to the same way the experts do. Creating your own rankings will help you draft players at the appropriate ADP value and help you avoid reaching for players that you really don't want.

Take the best player available

Don't worry about strength of schedule, team, bye week, or drafting multiple players on the same team. More than likely your team will look very different by the time bye weeks roll around due to injury, trades, and waiver acquisitions. If not, there's no better time to make a trade or waiver move than right before you have a lot of players on bye. Focus on value, you can sort out the rest after the draft. I prefer to focus on strength of schedule later in the season when making trades. This will give teams enough time to show which defenses are really difficult to face and which teams are performing well in that season offensively. This will give you a more accurate representation of strength of schedule.

If you do follow these tips you should have more success and come away content after more of your fantasy drafts. Nailing your draft is the first step on the road to a fantasy championship. A great draft doesn't guarantee you a championship, but a terrible draft can easily take you out of contention before the season even starts. Your team could struggle to be competitive and nobody wants that.

What's your fantasy football draft strategy?

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Fantasy Football Draft Day

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