Everyone has different strategies when it comes to draft day. I mean some people do not research at all until they are on the clock. But, trust me you don’t want to be that person. After hours of dissecting strategies that I have used the past eight years, I’ve narrowed it down to 11 easy draft tips. I’m a PPR person, so most of these tips revolve around that style. But these tips will work in any type of league.
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Draft Tips of Champions
Draft Tip #1: Don’t Be Afraid To Reach!
I have this listed number one because if you want a player that round you draft that player right then. The ADP may say they’ll go in the next round, but trust me, if you’re playing with a bunch of other veteran fantasy owners, your player will be gone.
I’ve put together countless lineups that I love and that is because I reach a round or two higher on certain players. Take last season, for instance, I took Darren Waller in the fourth, even though he would maybe go in the fifth or sixth. I knew I wanted a top tight end but didn’t want to risk it by not taking him. Waller finished second in tight ends.
Even this year I love Austin Ekeler or Najee Harris as a first-round pick. Even though Antonio Gibson or Davante Adams may be ranked higher than Harris, I know I want Harris on my team. I always fill out multiple dream rosters that are manageable before I draft. So, by doing so I don’t mind reaching on players if I can match that roster.
I always go by players I want and if they’re going at a certain ADP, I’m always going to take them a round or two early to ensure I have them on my team. No need to be greedy and draft a player that you necessarily don’t trust as much just because you think your pick will be there next round.
Draft Tip #2: List your players per round
I mentioned a little bit about this in the last tip, but before you go into a draft list two or three players you want per round. Chances are someone is going to steal your primary target, hence why going back to the first tip, reach.
But, this draft tip is key in the planning process. For the first three rounds, it is good to list a few players you would like to take in each round. Also, make sure to vary your players. For example for your second-round pick don’t just list running backs you want, put a wide receiver in there or maybe a tight end.
You want to make your team diverse at every position so listing the player you want, will help when someone takes your pick. It’s always great to have a third or fourth option. Because if you don’t, then you have to make a last-second decision on someone that may not fit your team. Trust me if you don’t have backups, the draft clock starts to wind down faster and faster.
Draft Tip #3: Mock it up
This is a simple draft tip but will set you up for a great draft. If you don’t know where you are drafting out then I suggest doing multiple drafts a day at different draft positions. But, if you do know what position you are at, then you have an advantage and can plan your draft at that position.
Most people don’t take advantage of doing mock drafts, but it shouldn’t be a hassle. Just think to yourself how much downtime you have in a day. All you need to do is set aside 20 to 30 mins in your day to do a mock draft on your phone.
I suggest doing multiple mock drafts a day because you are going to get into those rooms where someone takes Nick Chubb first overall. So this isn’t going to be a mock draft that helps you, because there is no way someone in your league takes Chubb first overall unless you’re playing with a die-hard Browns fan. I have only met one die-hard fan in my life and I don’t even see him taking Chubb first.
Also, keep in mind when you draft with your league, there is no telling how the draft will play out. But, by doing multiple mock drafts a day, you can see how others are drafting and get a general outlook on how a draft will go.
Draft Tip #4: Back to back running backs aren’t necessary
I think one of the biggest mistakes in fantasy is when owners or writers claim that you have to take two running backs with your first two picks. For me, it depends on where you are picking and how the draft plays out.
If I’m drafting toward the end of the first round I personally like going running back wide receiver or vice versa. For example, if I’m drafting in a 10- or 12-team league, I’m probably going Adams with my first pick then either Harris or Gibson as my second pick. But if Travis Kelce is still on the board I’d take him at pick 10 then grab one of the running backs for my second pick.
The key is to have a balanced team. For me I look at rounds one through four, I should have either two running backs and two receivers at that point or I should have two running backs, one receiver, and one tight end.
I do believe you should have two running backs in your first four rounds. How do you take them? That is up to you. There are a ton of great running backs going in the third round or fourth such as Miles Gaskin, Miles Sanders, Javonte Williams, and Chris Carson.
So, you could even go RB/WR/WR/RB with your first four picks and have your starting lineup set. This goes back to draft tip number two in listing your players. Depending on how your draft plays out will determine what positions you take in each round.
Some people even go with a zero running back strategy, but personally, I think that is a terrible way to draft. I am all about keeping a team balance over going all running backs or all wide receivers with your first four or five picks.
Draft Tip #5: Take your quarterback toward the end of your draft
Don’t build into the hype of taking Patrick Mahomes with your third-round pick. Even taking Lamar Jackson in the fifth is way too early for me. Unless you are playing in a super flex league or your league settings favor quarterbacks, then don’t draft one till the eighth round.
From the eighth round on, you can grab Justin Herbert, Ryan Tannehill, or Matthew Stafford. All these quarterbacks will land in the top-10 in fantasy points for their position. Last season Tannehill finished seventh in fantasy points for quarterbacks and Herbert finished ninth.
You can even take a quarterback like Derek Carr late in the draft and he will still average you around 18 fantasy points a game. Last season Carr averaged a little over 17 fantasy points per game. If you can average close to 20 fantasy points per game or a little under at the position and get them at the end of the draft? You’re going to be a league winner.
Yeah, Mahomes may drop some 30 bombs here and there but last season he averaged 25 fantasy points per game. Tannehill averaged 21 fantasy points per game. Also, the Titans added Julio Jones to the team, so Tannehill’s production will go up this season.
Draft Tip #6: Use ADP rankings to an extent
This goes back up to draft tip number one about not being afraid to reach. However, I use multiple ADP rankings from many sources to average out my rankings.
The main thing is don’t fall in love with an ADP ranking, some players are ranked way too high and others are ranked way too low. From there you can average out what round you like a player to go in.
This shouldn’t be a problem in live drafts, but when you draft online it is easy to take a player based on how the site has their ADP. My best advice is to take ADP with a grain of salt and go with your gut feeling.
Because if you follow ADP heavily then you might as well just auto-draft.
Draft Tip #7: It’s a receiver’s league
This draft tip is not to downplay drafting running backs but to up-play the number of wide receiver sleepers in the draft. They’re multiple WR2 options or high-end flex options late in the draft such as Laviska Shenault Jr., Jerry Jeudy, Tee Higgins, or Michael Pittman Jr.
With the number of solid receivers in the draft, I suggest getting your top three running backs in the first few rounds. Then you can snag someone like Mike Davis, Javonte Williams, or Damien Harris later on to solidify your running backs.
From there you can still grab high-end receivers late in the draft and still have a solid running back trio. This is how you balance out your team and set yourself up for victory.
Yeah, maybe you can take Diontae Johnson, Tyler Lockett, or Odell Beckham Jr. in the mid-rounds. But, you can get the same production out of Brandin Cooks, Robby Anderson, or Corey Davis at the bottom half of the draft.
Last season Cooks finished WR17 in PPR and Anderson finished WR19. Johnson finished WR21, so if you look at it they are all finishing around the same production but you can grab Anderson or Cooks way later.
Also, Cooks doesn’t have to compete with Will Fuller anymore. While Anderson is reuniting with his old quarterback, so the chemistry is already there.
Draft Tip #8: Draft handcuffs
This is key to sabotaging your opponent’s teams but will come in handy toward the middle of the season. Especially if you draft early in the season you could end up with a starting running back.
Just this year we’ve seen Cam Akers, Travis Etienne and J.K. Dobbins all go down with season-ending injuries. So if you drafted James Robinson or Gus Edwards then you just lucked out.
But even then, if you look at last season Tony Pollard showed signs of being a solid back last season. I see him stealing snaps from Ezekiel Elliott this season. Same with AJ Dillon taking over the Jamaal Williams role in the Packers offense.
The beauty of this is you can draft all these handcuffs with your last few picks. Then if an injury does happen you have all the leverage over your opponent.
Some of my other top handcuffs right now are James Connor, Nyheim Hines, Kenyan Drake, and JD McKissic.
Draft Tip #9: Pay attention to training camps
Training camps and the preseason will be your greatest weapon over your opponents. Mainly following training camps. Every team posts daily on what went on in training camps and if you want an extra edge another writer and myself write weekly AFC and NFC training camp updates.
By following along you will see who is taking over starting roles and find all your sleepers for the draft. Also, you can see who has been favoring who in training camp. Such as Trevor Lawrence has favored Shenault all training camp and Bryan Edwards taking over a top role in the Raiders offense.
This is what will separate you from the winners and the losers in your league.
Draft Tip #10: When do you take a defense?
I won’t take a defense till around the 10th round. I notice in most drafts players will take defenses as soon as their team is filled, but I disagree with that.
I’m all about streaming a defense if anything. I would rather build depth on my bench than taking a defense early. But, anytime after the 10th, you will still get a solid defense in either the Colts, Patriots or even Chargers.
But, I see defenses as expendable, people will drop defenses throughout the season. I wouldn’t stress trying to draft a top defense early.
Draft Tip #11: Schedule your draft days before the season opener
This is up to your league, but I always save our daft date till right before the Thursday opener. Mainly because of the multiple reasons listed above. Players will get hurt during preseason or even sometimes players will retire as we’ve seen with Andrew Luck.
I hope all these 11 draft tips will come in handy when it comes to drafting. These have all helped me go to multiple championships and consistent playoff appearances.
Best of luck.
For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
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