Drafts are like sex. No wait, hear me out. There's all the time we put into thinking about it, preparing for it, in some cases begging the wife to allow it. We keep imagining possible outcomes, who will do what first, will it be awkward or gracefully smooth. It's an unknown quantity every time. The anticipation. The build-up. And then there you are, that glorious moment of fumbling through that blissful experience, and boom, it's over, just like that. Then it's months of care and maintenance hoping you've created a child you can be proud of rather than a feeble wimp the rest of the teams will bully all season. But hey, no matter the outcome, you'll always have that draft. So make it a good one.
Rule 1: Show up early and make sure all your technology is functioning properly. Nothing sucks worse than logging in at the last minute and the Java-script won't work or something is freezing up, etc.
Rule 2: Have a realistic back-up plan in place. Who's computer can you hijack for 3 hours if the world comes crashing down? Buy them a six-pack in advance, just in case.
Rule 3: Boy scouts and girl scouts alike; be prepared. Bring flowers and a condom. I mean, have all your cheat-sheets and notes handy and well placed. I make it a habit to spend my time prior to the start of the draft pulling up any other website resources I may use. In the heat of the moment, finding that one guy you were thinking of (or not thinking of) is much easier if info is a quick click or two away. Know your team's scoring and settings criteria and include that in your draft strategy beforehand.
Rule 4: Have your munchies close at hand, and any liquid refreshment of your choice that won't hamper your ability to think quickly. No one wants to wake up to a coyote ugly team the next morning. Keep your head clear.
Rule 5: Go to the bathroom beforehand. Getting up between during that seemingly long wait between picks could get you into trouble. If all the guys you had in mind get snatched up, you may get flustered and grab the wrong guy.
Rule 6: Take the right guy FOR YOU, as my friend Mike Sholty advised in a previous article (read it here). Take the guy YOU want if there is a realistic chance he may not make it back to you. Don't settle on someone else's idea of the best player at your particular pick. Follow your draft plan. All the advice in the world is great, but this baby is yours to create, nurture and raise.
Rule 7: Use your draft queue and have your choices ready to go at least one or two picks ahead, in case you have to reboot and the system moves to draft for you. This also gives you a less muddled view of options as your pick gets closer.
Rule 8: Keep an eye on team Bye weeks. I drafted Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers the other night, and guess what? Same bye week. Guess who got up from the computer to grab a soda? See Rule 5 above. Don't be afraid to take someone because of a bye week. Just be aware, and keep it in mind.
Rule 9: Don't get to caught up in strength of schedule, but if you're wavering between two players and one has a light schedule and the other's is grueling, that could be a deciding factor.
Rule 10: Don't talk football during the draft. Not because it's rude, but because it can be used against you. You might let a sleeper slip, or your fondness for a certain team or player. Keep those cards in your vest, and lock that vest in a closet somewhere. Don't assume small talk is just that. You're not the only shrewd owner in your league.
Rule 11: Don't feel like you have to rush. We wait for what seems like forever for that pick to come back around to us, and we can't wait to hit draft. Or the managers in the league are hounding you to speed it up, because they can't wait for their next pick. If you have 90 seconds for that pick, take your time and be sure it's who you want. Again, drafting is like sex. Slow down and do it right. At least early on. As you get down to the end feel free to do some of that porn-star drafting. It's all about upside and a kicker at the end anyway.
Rule 12: New for 2009, don't take a QB in the first round and make sure you get at least one elite WR in the first two rounds (especially in PPR leagues). NOTE: Rule 6 supersedes Rule 12 if they conflict. QB's are lasting longer this season and WRs are going faster.
Rule 13: Have fun. Don't take it too seriously once you get started. You'll do your best work when you're relaxed, and you'll get better results if you approach it that way.
Rule 14: Don't just turn the computer off and go to sleep afterward. Look at your team and bask in the afterglow of your draft. Was it good for you?
You don't want to be the guy looking back to wonder, what was I thinking...