Think I'm crazy for planning my fantasy football draft strategies and it's not even April? We are at the tail end of free agency and still several weeks from the NFL Draft, but it's never EVER too early to make suggestions regarding your fantasy football draft. The big-named free agents like Vincent Jackson and Peyton Manning have found new homes. Some fantasy football sleeper prospects like Robert Meachem have possibly upped their fantasy value on new teams, so now is the best time to start evaluating these guys and many more. Even if there are several months before your own fantasy drafts, here are my top five suggestions that I want to share with you on what NOT to do before and during that time period. (On the flip side, here are Five Fantasy Football Draft Tips everyone should follow).
1. Don't Over-Think Your Initial Draft Strategy
So it's a few weeks before your draft and you have a strategy of going after the top player at each position in the first four rounds. Great. Not only will this strengthen your quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end position, but will also help you flesh out the rest of your roster with solid second-tier players right behind them. But.........while you're waiting for your wife to decide which kind of hair products to get at the grocery store, you peruse through a fantasy football magazine that tells you your strategy is all wrong and you should do "this" instead. So now you are in a pickle. Not only are you questioning your initial strategy, but scrambling with your cheat sheets to fit this certain author's way of thinking. Don't. We all have our own strategies when it comes to drafting. Mine may not be the same as yours. Just like yours may not be the same as the eleven-or-so other owners in your league. If you come up with a strategy that YOU like, stick with it. Even if everyone else thinks it's wrong, it doesn't mean it actually is. If you like liver and no one else in the world does, does that mean you're going to stop eating something you like?
2. Don't Tip Your Hand At The Pre-Draft Festivities
When we roll with the draft at my dad's house, we have a good 2-3 hours before the ACTUAL draft starts. Food, beer, smack talk, beer, etc. This is the time where owners start asking other owners what their first pick is going to be. If I have the first-overall pick, then it's all good. I don't mind letting the cat out of the bag. But if I am in the middle of the pack, or worse, drafting at the end of the first, I either clam up or throw the other owners off my trail by throwing out names I won't even consider with my SECOND pick. Time after time I've seen owners give away who they are going to take, only to see an owner with a pick before them take that guy. It happens. Especially when owners who haven't prepared want YOU to help THEM. Look, if you're at a poker game, you don't show everyone at the table that you have a "straight" or "two pairs" do you? Same goes for pre-draft chatter. Even online drafts have that little chat window where you can bullshit with other people. Don't ever tip your hand at what your plans are. Keep a tight lip, or make the other participants raise an eyebrow with ridiculous answers.
3. Don't Get Drunk
This might sound like a dumb reason, but it's not. I am sure many of you owners either don't drink at all, or drink every once and awhile. I've known owners who showed up to the draft with a buzz and were crocked by the time pick 1.5 was off the board. I know this might not sound like something that's really all that important. But in this day and age, football and booze go hand in hand. Many times, the person who is hosting will go out of their way to get the other owners wasted just to get an edge. I've read and heard stories. How true they actually are, I don't know. But if you have a lot of money riding on winning a championship, some will do anything to get one over on the ones who won't turn down a can of good ole American ale. So enjoy and have a couple drinks, but don't be the one who winds up taking Colt McCoy instead of LeSean McCoy in round one. Chances are, everyone else won't let you change your pick.
4. Don't Panic "During" The Draft
What you think is going to happen in your draft usually isn't what actually happens. And one of the biggest mistakes owners can make is panicking at the wrong time. Once you get those nervous sweats, you could ruin what could be a great draft. The biggest rule to remember is to "Take what the draft gives you." Sticking to a pre-draft strategy (Rule One) is great. But if you force yourself to stick with that plan, you could wind up in trouble. The best owners know how to restrategize and make tweaks when needed. If a running back has more value than a wide receiver, but you don't have a wide receiver on your roster yet, you have to go with the best value and take your second back. Yes going away from your initial plan is going to be hard because it's something you have been mulling over for the months. But being stubborn and keeping that plan, no matter what, could give you a lousy draft that will be too hard to recover from.
5. Don't Follow Runs
You're in the 7th round and, all of a sudden, four tight ends go off the board. Then a fifth one is taken. Your gut tells you to be the sixth owner in a row to take a tight end. Tell your gut to take a hike. When there is a run on a certain position, it means that owners are avoiding and ignoring talent somewhere else by letting their fear of missing out on a top tight end, or another position, take control of their drafting. Don't let that be you. Break the run and go after another position if the value is there. Chances are, you will have landed a strong running back or receiver and still have gotten a quality tight end later in the draft.