Fantasy Football Draft Guide: Easy & Helpful Tools, Tips & Advice
The Definitive Fantasy Football Draft GuideBy Emil Kadlec
Your fantasy football draft is one of the most important parts of the fantasy season. Not only is it important because it creates the initial formation of your roster, it's also one of the high points of the season in terms of entertainment. Whether you're together with friends locally or drafting online, the excitement and memories are fantastic. Being prepared for your draft gives you an even better experience.
The following steps and recommendations come from our staff with over 60 years of drafting experience and many awards. Our staff has won tens of thousands of dollars playing in high stake leagues and local leagues. Preparing for your fantasy draft takes time and patience. So, make sure to create a preparation plan for your draft that gives you several weeks of time for studying. The draft guide is an essential tool for doing this.
Flashupdate - AugustupdateOur August update is the central location for all of our draft guide information. It's the go-to place to find minute by minute updates from NFL preseason OTAs, practices, and games. The following steps and items comprised our August update draft guide.
Draft Guide Tools
Mock Drafts and Real Drafts
One of the more popular draft preparation tools is reviewing mock drafts and real drafts that are occurring daily. We organize several reviews of drafts giving you up-to-the-minute changes in what round and order players are being drafted. As the preseason progresses, player values can change drastically. As information is gleaned from NFL practices and preseason games, players can move up and down the rankings causing a major shift in your draft strategies. Hence, reviewing current mock drafts and real drafts gives you a great advantage over your competitors in recognizing these changes and how it will affect your drafts, helping you get the players you want more frequently.
Mock Draft SimulatorNot to be forgotten is the mock draft simulator. One of the most popular tools, it allows you to practice drafting versus a computer. As you refine your draft guide and draft strategies, using a mock draft simulator gives you a great amount of insight into your strategy's potential for success.
Fantasy Football Draft ToolsYes! Tools are important in all facets of fantasy football. Draft tools such as mock draft simulator, second-half trends, and in-draft helpers all give fantasy football managers a big advantage over their competition. Even after your draft is over, a tool such as the Draft Evaluator can tell you how well you drafted and also quickly point out areas of weakness. Our My Fantasy GM Tool includes a Draft Evaluator and also reviews the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents' rosters. This can give you ideas on trading before the season starts. Tools like these can inform you of players that were not drafted and that you should consider picking up in the waiver wire/free agent process.
The statistical tools like the second half factor help in evaluating players who may have not ranked well the previous year but were performing at a higher level in the second half of last season. The tool allows you to see where they would've ranked if they had played a full season at second-half levels. You can also see if players who did perform well had a weak second half hence may not be as valuable as you think they are.
Average Draft Positions (ADP)The average draft position has become an essential metric in draft preparation. It gives the manager a relative ranking of players within a position and an overall ranking. This allows you to target a player in your draft and have a good feel for when that player is going to be taken by other managers. Thus, you can time your selection of that player to minimize the cost to you. I.e. what round you select that player - the later the better.
Depth ChartsAs you prepare your draft strategy, it is important to consider who are the backups to players you're targeting to draft. Many managers target handcuff players in the later rounds of their drafts. You can use ADP and the Depth Charts to help you determine what round you want to target these players.
The depth chart also helps you with late-round suggestions. When you hit that part of the draft where you're scrambling for deep sleepers or longshot players, depth charts can give you direction as to which players you should take late in your draft.
Our depth charts are color-coded to give you an additional perspective as to whether players are rookies, new to this team, or have an injury concern.
RankingsFantasy football rankings are the staple of your draft day material. This is the list, in order of the importance, of players that you are considering drafting. At Football Diehards, we have five experts with their own rankings. It is important to study each set of rankings to look for differences. The majority of rankings from expert to expert are similar. It's the differences you want to focus on and study.
Cheat SheetsCheat sheets are created from the fantasy football rankings and put in a format that is printable. Our cheats sheets are configurable so you end up getting a set of rankings tailored to your league's settings such as PPR, half PPR, or non PPR. You can also set the scoring system to ESPN, Yahoo, NFL Fantasy, CBS Sports, or any other platform that you're using. Again, this will give you a ranking/cheat sheet which is more accurate for your league. Another important thing is to get an up-to-date set of rankings and cheat sheets. Information can move quickly, and rankings can change within minutes each day of the NFL preseason so be sure to print your cheat sheet shortly before your draft.
Draft Guide Advice ArticlesAn important part of a draft guide is excellent articles and posts. These articles can give you the perspective you need on why players are rising or falling in the draft guide rankings. Another important part of the draft guide is our videos that take on discussions and arguments about draft guide rankings and strategies to help you with the detail of why one player is ranked over another. Our STOMP draft strategy article is an excellent part of our draft guide. It talks not only about drafting guide strategies but also about the psychology of drafting.
Best Ball DraftsBest Ball fantasy football has grown leaps and bounds since it was started in 1998. Fantasy Best Ball sets your weekly lineup for you after the games are over to give you the perfect configuration of your team each week. This provides managers the ability to be in several drafts and not have to worry about managing the teams during the season. Thus, they can enjoy the results of their Best Ball leagues during the regular season without having to spend any of their time working the league.
There is a second advantage of Best Ball fantasy - draft practice and preparation. There are many fantasy football managers who play in low-cost Best Ball leagues just for practice. That is right! They use them to practice drafting in the same way you use a mock draft. In addition, Best Ball leagues are usually deep rosters - so this practicing method also aids in your deeper leagues. Hence, you can get a good feel of where handcuffs or longshot players are going and you may even learn a few new names along the way. The advantage of this practice method over mock drafts is Best Ball drafts are real. People are spending money to draft and they are not just playing around. They're going to take it seriously so you can acquire more accurate information from these leagues to help you prepare for your important leagues.
Sleepers/Busts/Longshots/Breakout PlayersAs we mentioned before, most rankings and cheat sheets are very similar from expert to expert. The main differences are their sleepers, busts, longshots, and breakout players. The draft guide helps you parse their rankings and then draw your own conclusion.
When you go through the STOMP article, there are a lot of details about this process and how you can formulate your strategy. It's very important to understand the concept of groupthink and the psychology of believing in yourself. You may see a player you like slide and begin to question your conviction. Fantasy football, the NFL, and all sports are not an exact science. It is important to understand that some of your picks can and will not pan out. If someone at your draft says something negative about one of your sleepers - don't act on this. Be confident in the research from your draft preparation.
Player Injury StatusUnderstanding player injuries is a tricky yet important part of a draft strategy. It may be one of the hardest things to predict. You have a guy like Odell Beckham who suffered a hamstring injury during the preseason of his rookie campaign. He didn't play or practice during the preseason and missed the first three games of the regular season. He ended up being a top-three fantasy wide receiver that year. All logic told you not to draft him very high. He was a free agent in the first three regular-season weeks of many leagues - all logic said don't pick this guy up. What am I trying to tell you? Sometimes all the data evaluation in the world may not give you the correct answer. Perhaps Beckham was an exception to the rule. It is very important to keep an eye on injured players during the preseason before your drafts. One of the typical ways to value a player who is out for several weeks and may miss the first game or two of the regular season is to reduce his average draft position in your draft guide. There is always a time in the draft where a player's cost is low-enough enough to select him despite the risk.
Fantasy Football Draft Guide Frequently Asked Questions
What is a fantasy football draft guide?
A fantasy football draft guide is a collection of information that's designed to assist and get you up to speed in advance of your fantasy football draft.
Why should I use a fantasy football draft guide?
Especially coming off the offseason and heading into fantasy draft season, there is a considerable amount of information that will be helpful in your preparation for the selection meeting. But because there is so much information to sort through, having a curated collection designed to get you up to speed quickly and efficiently is of great importance.
How do I prepare for my fantasy football draft?
First understand all the areas that you need to focus on to prepare for your drafts. Our draft guide has 15 steps. You need to refresh your mind on all these steps and create an expanded list of tasks to execute your preparation. Give yourself two weeks before your draft to execute your tasks.
What kind of information can I expect to find in a fantasy football draft guide?
You will find an array of news, notes, articles and statistics to help you understand what has and hasn't changed since the previous NFL season. In addition, you can expect additional analysis by our fantasy professionals that will assist in those efforts, including predictions of sleepers (lesser known players who might be available later in your draft that might outperform expectations) and potential busts (players who might struggle to meet expectations for a variety of reasons). That includes cheat sheets with players ranked in the order we recommend selecting them and tools to help you understand how those rankings are compiled, where players are being selected using average draft position (ADP) and other tools to help you sort players based on your scoring system, the league platform you play on (whether it's ESPN.com, Yahoo.com, NFL.com or other platforms), and your preferred style of play -- regular redraft, best ball, dynasty or keeper, or IDP (Individual Defensive Player) leagues.
How can I use a fantasy football draft guide to leverage my success in fantasy football?
Being better informed than the other managers in your league is a key component to sustained fantasy success. Starting off with a strong baseline collection of information will go far in helping you stay a step ahead of your competition in the information battle.
What are the possible drawbacks to using a fantasy football draft guide as part of my plan for success in my league this year?
While it's hard to say there is a possible drawback to being better informed than your competitors, the list of things to watch for that might be less helpful than the fantasy football draft guide materials found her on FootballDiehards.com, make sure the information included comes from reputable sources, that you have some experience with the "expects" and analysts that contribute to the project, that cheat sheets and rankings are compatible with (or customizable to meet) the specific needs that go with your platform, playing style and scoring system of choice.