This post is about fantasy football. If you don’t play fantasy football or don’t understand it, read this post on how fantasy football works.
If you’re new to fantasy football, you may feel unprepared during your fantasy football draft. The people you’re drafting with and against probably seem like they know a lot more than you do. They are familiar with the players names and nick-names; their reputations and their past performances. There’s likely to be some good-natured trash-talking while the draft is going on. People may disparage a choice you or someone else makes or show congratulatory agreement for what they perceive as a good pick. Towards the end of the draft, some people may start congratulating themselves on how great of a team they’ve put together. Put together, this exhibition of knowledge may be intimidating and could even spoil some of the enjoyment of choosing your own fantasy football team. I’m here to tell you it shouldn’t. There are lots of easy ways to make sure you enjoy a fantasy football draft.
The first thing to remember about fantasy sports is that they work as a form of enjoyment only because people cannot predict the future. No one actually knows which football players are going to produce the best stats this year. Lots of people think they know but they’re really only gambling on which players seem the most likely to produce the best stats. You can feel completely confident in your choices, knowing that they can only be proven to be wrong in hind-sight and by the time that hind is in sight, every other fantasy owner in your league will have at least one decision they are kicking themselves for having made. You won’t be alone. Football, of all the sports, is the least predictable and the most subject to chance. With only 16 games in a season, the margin between a great player and a good player can easily come down to luck.
I think fantasy drafts should be collegial and relaxed. I don’t really think that psyching another owner out, even if you could do it, is worth the effort. Not everyone feels the same way though. Every time someone groans or nods knowingly after a pick, think to yourself — this person may be faking this emotion for their own purposes. If they can make you second guess yourself by making fun of your pick in the fourth round, they might be able to get you to pick badly in the seventh round and because of that get to draft their favorite player who you otherwise might have taken. This type of psychological warfare is silly but it happens all the time. My recommendation is to ignore it but if you want to take part in it, steal a page from my childhood chess-teacher: bring a delicious looking sandwich and break it out half-way through the draft. Don’t share it but make sure everyone knows just how delicious and satisfying it is. A hungry mind is a distracted mind.
The other thing you can do to avoid feeling like you’re drafting from a position of weakness is to have a plan. This was one of my key suggestions in a post last year on tips for your first fantasy draft. I even suggested a few simple plans to follow. This year I came across another very simple way to create a plan. The Fantasy Fix offers this three-part flow chart (say that ten times fast) that you can follow. It tells you which position to take in each round given what you choose to do in the first round. For example, if you start out by taking a running back in the first round, you should then take two wide receivers and then either another wide receiver followed by three running backs, a quarterback, and a tight end, or two running backs, a wide receiver, another running back, and then a quarterback and a tight end. I think these are quite reasonable paths to follow and narrowing your choices by position in each round formulaically will lend you a ton of confidence in your choices.
Hope you enjoy your fantasy drafts. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me how they go, what they feel like, and what questions you have.