Avoid the Oh $h*t Moments of Draft Day

It’s finally draft time! You settle in with your laptop and personal cheat sheets, and you’re ready to lay the smacketh down on your league mates. You've got the best takes paired with the best take-downs. The draft clock counts down, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, What the F*#@$! Your Wi-Fi ghosts you. The baby starts crying. A thunderstorm blows in. The lights go out, the dog runs for cover, pulling your cable out of the wall and your spouse starts screaming “What the hell are you doing in there??!!”

When the dust settles and the lights are back on, it’s round 6 when you finally get back online and you auto-drafted a kicker, defense, and somehow Adrian Peterson in the past three rounds. You look up, your kid starts laughing, the dog starts begging for food, and your spouse is snoring away on the couch. 

“Hey, at least Trevor Lawrence is still available!” Then Lois from accounting snipes Lawrence right out of your queue and you’re back on the clock as the thunder rolls again. “My son just got his jersey!” she proudly types in the chat to your chagrin. You’re frantically trying to figure out who to add and the clock ticks zero and you end up with C.J. Bethard because you somehow pulled both Jags QBs in the queue. 

Let’s put together a solid draft preparation plan together. 

Print/have screenshots of the ADP list for your platform

Repeat after me: Expert rankings don't mean a thing. That's right, all of the morsels of football news you've ingested all summer are not going to be appetizing regurgitated into your favorite league's line-up.  If you play on ESPN, ADP will differ from Yahoo or CBS.  I don’t mean Justin Jefferson is second overall vs first overall, either. Check out this visual below for various ADP differences between platforms:


Travis Etienne is going much earlier on Yahoo, and Davante Adams goes a full round PLUS later on CBS. Not only are these ADP lists crucial to the tiers you've built, bought, or borrowed, they will dictate where players will go in your league. Remember the power outage? Auto-picks likely are going to take the next available player vs. an open position on a roster. The only time it won't is if there are players in a drafter's queue (more on that later). 

Pre-Draft Prep - Product and Process

Know your magic numbers. Look at how each of the playoff teams did in scoring in your league.  Are there any patterns?  Verify your scoring settings and look at this season's projections and last season's scores.  Return yards, first-down bonuses, and more can factor into how you rank players and give you a tie-breaking option better than a coin flip. If you're stuck, change the projected scoring on the player list to apply your league settings.  If the board doesn't do it, print season projections and highlight the anomalies. Find your edge before the clock even starts, because that's your key out of Tilt City.

Develop your plan for building the best team possible based on where you’re drafting in the snake.  If you won't know until ten minutes before the draft, so what? In the top third of a 12-team league, you’ll grab an elite running back first. The middle might give you a shot at a top wide receiver and on the back third, RB/WR, RB/RB, or even TE if you think that's the edge.  Once you have it figured out, line up your tiers. Then align who you feel is best at each position, and pencil them into a notebook. Then reference their ADP. Pro tip: Divide the ADP number by the number of teams to get the expected round of the player.  Example: 36 divided by 12 equals an early third.  66/12=5.5, so middle of the fifth. If you like a player in the middle and you’re at the end, you may have to reach, and vice-versa. Do this for the first 8-9 rounds of your draft. Then, go into your platform and create your preferred player list based on tiers versus platform ADP.  It should even out to alternating positions reasonably well for 8-9 rounds regardless of snake position.

Rounds 9-10, add the upside players you really like.  Auto drafters or folks who can’t stand seeing empty starting positions will start reaching for kickers and defenses.  DON’T DO IT!  Count your bench slots and make sure you have enough upside players set to fill your bench plus 2-3 extra players in case your guys get sniped. Use this quick-hitting average ADP list to resist the urge to draft Justin Tucker in Round Nine. Believe it or not, championship teams either set and forget Kickers and Defense/SpecialTeams until a bye week.  Get these players in your queue as soon as possible when the draft starts, or on your pre-draft list.

Draft these players instead of kickers and defenses early (Fantasy Pros PPR ADP As of 8/20/2023:

Khalil Herbert RB Bears  105
Skyy Moore WR Chiefs 109
Tyler Higbee TE Rams 129
Jeff Wilson, Jr RB Dolphins 137
Jaylen Warren RB Steelers 141
Alec Pierce WR Colts 155
Brock Purdy QB 49Ers 163
Joshua Palmer WR Chargers 196
Trey McBride TE Cardinals 208
Tyjae Spears RB Titans 280

Late Kickers and Defense/Special Teams to grab at current average ADP (Fantasy Pros PPR ADP As of 8/20/2023:

I use league platform projections for Kickers and Defenses for the next 4 weeks. At the very least, you can look at Week 1 projections to find an undrafted player with potential.  Make sure to set 2-3 of each of those at the bottom of your draft queue and your list is set.

Daniel Carlson K Raiders 155   Green Bay D/ST 242
Riley Patterson K Lions 287   Miami D/ST 226
Chris Boswell K Steelers 282   Seattle D/ST 285
Graham Gano K Giants 251   NY Giants D/ST 290
Michael Badgley K Bears 323   Carolina D/ST 278

Other items to address before you draft:

Mock draft on both versions of your platform, at least once.  I can’t stress this enough. Mock at least once on the desktop browser so you know what changes were made since last year, and to confirm that your PC will run smoothly during your live draft.  Also do a mobile mock draft on your phone or tablet, again, just in case.  Scout motto: Be Prepared.

In-draft issues

The biggest issue is losing connection to your draft room.  If your internet is as questionable as Kadarius Toney on game day, find a place with some solid Wi-Fi. Talk to your partner about keeping draft time distractions to a minimum.  Make sure your PC and phone are good to go, charged up, and all non-essential apps are closed.  If the weather looks iffy, make sure your pre-draft list is set and flawless in case you lose power, internet, or both. Pro tip: Cell services run on backup generators, so it may be slower, but you can still get the job done. Don't get drunk. You might be good in Round One, but alcohol is a sneaky thing, and we all know what it's capable of. 

Getting your guys/ Getting sniped

There are two schools operating here, but at the core of Fantasy Football is that you're supposed to be having fun. "Oh, No $h*t, Sherlock," you tell me. Well, then TAKE YOUR GUYS if you feel that way.  If you want Patrick Mahomes, burn that first pick. Does it go against everything you're being told? Yes, but if that's who you want, take your guy, understanding the future roster construction cost for it. The next biggest issue is getting sniped. It sucks. It can really get you upset if you let it.  If you've done everything so far in this guide, you shouldn't be phased at all. Remember, you can toggle between your preset list and ADP list in the draft on these platforms. Keep an eye open for value, runs on positions, etc.  Use a little reverse psychology if needed in the chat.  “I wouldn’t have taken him THERE.” “Oh man, that’s who I wanted (Narrator: It wasn’t)” Man, I didn’t know you were a (insert buddy’s most hated team) Fan!”  Above all, if you have tiers, you have replacements built in if you don't get your guy. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!

Post-draft platform grades

They’re piles of steamy giraffe dung. Anyone who is claiming a title before the Week 1 kickoff because some Yahoo at Yahoo said you had the best draft grade is just asking for it.  In my one home league, the person who “won the draft” last year finished 11th with a 5-9 record. Don’t fall for it. 

Last call!

Set your roster ready for Week 1 ASAP after the draft. Double-check your waivers for anyone that others might have missed that could be a solid bench stash.  No one is going to fight your pre-kickoff waiver move if you have open waivers. If you have FAAB, many times you can acquire players for free or as little as $1.00. Make sure you’re live scoring apps are good to go on your phone and let the games begin!

 Please follow me at @DirtyAirFC on Twitter and be sure to drink your Ovaltine!

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