Which one gets you more excited? Cheering on your favorite football team, or cheering on your fantasy football team? Be honest, when you realized that there was only a few weeks until the opening kickoff of the NFL regular season, the first thing you did was check with your buddies to see when your fantasy draft was happening. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you’re not a real football fan or an immature child (or anything else that your non-fantasy-football-playing friends are calling you). It’s simply something that millions of Americans are playing.
You get to create your own team and go head to head against others; what’s not to love? Besides, if the actual team you support decides to do a belly-flop on their season before week 8 like the Falcons or Texans, or if you just happen to live in Raider Country, then you need something to feel good about—right? Well, if you’ve been casually playing or finally have decided that this is the year that you’re going to dive head first in the world of fantasy football, then you absolutely have to make sure that you make the most of your fantasy draft.
Now there is plenty of research and experts out there to familiarize yourself with before your “draft day.” While you don’t always have to listen to them, it’s always great to have a different perspective. Any platform you use, whether it’s Yahoo, ESPN, NFL.com or CBS, has a ton of material for the draft rookie and seasoned vet alike. However, the most important thing to remember about the draft is that even if you feel like you’ve nailed it, what you do immediately afterwards can turn your potential league champions into front runners for your league’s “toilet bowl.”
Keep the following in mind after you have your draft:
Trading Players Immediately
Probably the most fun aspect of fantasy football (besides winning) is having the ability to negotiate trades with other teams in your league. But there is such a thing as being a bit too overzealous. You don’t want to risk the stock of the player you want to skyrocket—I get it. It’s hard to hold back sometimes, especially if another team drafted that player just before you had the chance. However, the stock of a player is skewed the most before any games are played. It’s almost impossible to convince someone that the player that they just drafted isn’t worth one of your best players. Bottom line: the safest way to go is to hold on to your guys until after the first game is played. You’ll have a whole season to practice wheelin’ and dealin’, plus you won’t end up regretting a preseason trade that blew up in your face.
There is a reason that they say “only fools rush in,” and it’s because in fantasy, it tends to be true. People tend to draft before or during the NFL Preseason, so it’s easy to get carried away after your player has a mediocre or horrible outing. But remember, it’s preseason. Coaches aren’t calling the same plays and players tend to not want to get hurt. So you spent a first round pick on Adrian Peterson and in two preseason games, he accumulated 12 yards, a fumble and no touchdowns. Does that mean you wasted your pick? Not necessarily. It simply means that you need to keep an eye on him. Maybe he isn’t fully healthy or maybe it’s just he is not used to holding a football over a switch. Either way, you don’t need to push the panic button before week one.
Conversely, if you drafted a player after he had a great preseason outing, don’t automatically assume that you’ve hit the jackpot. Investing a lot of stock in an unproven rookie can be hit or miss. But if you manage your expectations and watch them over the first few weeks, you’ll have a better gauge of their true value.
Forgetting Your Foundation
I’ve heard a lot of guys say that no player they draft is un-tradeable. Well, that’s only slightly true. If you happen to “master” your draft and are sitting with a pretty good team, then you’ve probably already picked one or two players that you want to build around (usually the first or second person you chose in the draft). These players should be your foundation and while they can be traded, you probably only want to as a last resort. Unless they go down injured in week one, most of your additions should come from the waiver wire.
Believing That Trades Are the Way to Win
I love trading and you should too, but if you absolutely don’t need to trade a player that you drafted to better your team, then don’t. Some people get trade happy and barter every chance they get. But if you drafted well, and have really taken the time to assess the value of your players, you may find that all you need are a few waiver pick-ups here and there. Trading is great, but if you do it too much then you will lose. You simply won’t know what to expect from the players that you’re cycling in, and that could really hurt you in the season, or playoffs.
Ignoring the News
This is probably the most important thing for new fantasy players to remember. The rosters during an NFL season are fluid, and guys fall in and out of favor with coaches all the time. No player is guaranteed to play all 16 games and if you take into account the constant impact the players are taking, you’ll be lucky to go through a whole season without missing a few from time to time. There is nothing more detrimental to your team than not paying attention, especially after your draft.
One minute, you could be thinking that you have the real deal, the next, your guy is warming the bench throughout the whole regular season (or playing as a decoy and collecting goose eggs in your starting lineup in week one—Roddy White – oh how I remember that one from 2013). Keep tabs on players, coaches comments and nagging injuries. It’ll save you a ton of ridicule from the other teams in your league (not to mention a lot of frustration on gamedays).
Finally, remember that every team and every league is different and there is always a special case that proves the exception to the rule. However, using these tips as a general guide should help you fully appreciate the draft process, and hopefully will help you make some noise in your fantasy league.