Strategy Season: Building a Succesful Fantasy Team in the Draft 101

Jason BraineContributor IJune 6, 2009

This article is not as much for all of you veterans out there. This is more for all of the rookies, and those who have very little experience with fantasy football.  Whom are looking for some advice before draft day.

There are three keys to fantasy success. First is the draft. The draft is the building block for the entire season. Second is the waiver wire. The third key is luck. Luck goes both ways, good and bad. You can score the second highest points in you league, but, due to bad luck, you lose since you played the team with the highest. Good luck is when you score the second lowest score in the league, but win since you played the team with the lowest.

This article I just want to focus on a good draft strategy. 

Now the most important part is to be prepared.  Read as much as you can and study players before the draft. The more you know, the better off you will be. Now most first year players will not be as prepared as the veterans. Just because you are new does not mean that you cant be knowledgeable.

To every draft, you need to bring cheat sheets.  These can be found on all major web sites and in magazines. I print off all of the cheat sheets I can find, and buy a couple of magazines, not that I need all of  them. But at a live draft, I look around to see what the others are using, and since all of them vary to some degree, it helps me know more of what the others are thinking. This helps me better plan what players I think will still be there in the next round.

Before the draft, find out and become familiar with the rules of the league.  They can all vary, so pay attention.  Look to see if there are any positions that the point system favors or does not favor. For example, if QBs get one point for every 25 yards, six points for a TD, negative two points for an interception, QBs will be very valuable in this league. On the other hand, if the point system gives quarterbacks one point for every 50 yards, four points for a TD, negative two points for an interception and negative one point for a sack. they will be of less value in this league.

Also be familiar with how the rosters are to be set up. If a league starts two RBs, and three WRs, it would be wise to take more WRs early. If the league starts two RBs, two WRs, and a flex. I recommend taking more RBs early.

The first five rounds of the draft are what I call "drafting the core." Theses are the rounds that you will be drafting starters in key positions. Knowing the rules of the league can help in determining your strategy. 

Your strategy of course starts in the first round. The three positions you should be looking at taking are RB, WR or QB.  Personally, I like to take a RB, but I am not opposed to either taking a WR or a QB. 

If you decide to take a QB, you will more than likely be weak at either RB or WR depending on what positions you key in on in the next couple of rounds. Also, taking either a RB or WR means you will more than likely not end up with at least the top one or two QBs on your roster. 

Now, in building the core of my team, my favorite strategy is to take a RB in the first, then a WR in the second. For the third round, I will either take another RB or WR depending on what position the next best player is.  Now a valuable piece of advice is let the draft fall to you. In other words, don't overdraft.  If it is the second round, don't draft a player that is going to go in the third just because you like him. 

In the fourth round, I will go opposite what I went in the third. So if I take a RB in the third, I will take a WR in the fourth.  The fifth round I will target either a QB, or an elite TE.  If the QBs that are left on the board, I think I can get in a later round, and there are no elite TEs left. I will draft another RB or WR, depending on who is the best player on the board. 

After your core is drafted, you will want to start filling in any holes and drafting depth. The most important depth is at the RB and WR position. Now, I am sure that even you rookies have heard tht you don't take a defense to early and wait until the last round to take a kicker.  I will not take a defense until at least round nine. I will want at least my starting QB, four RBs, three WRs, and one TE before I will consider taking a defense. 

That does not mean I will take a defense in round nine.  If there is a good backup QB that I think will be better than the top defense on the board I will go that route. If do go that route, then I will take a DST no later than round eleven. 

Now, taking a kicker in the last round is a very good rule to live by. However, if everyone lives by this rule, then don't feel bad for taking one in the second to last round.  Depending on where you draft in the last round, it could mean a big difference on the kicker that you get. I have won games by a kicker before.

During the draft, one of my psychological tricks I like to do is baiting. Now this only works in a live draft.  Here is what bating is. If  I am targeting a player, I will not say a word about him. Instead, I will bring up casual conversation about a player that I don't want.  This trick starts to work around rounds three or four. In the later rounds, this trick starts to work better. 

 I hope for all you that are new to fantasy this year. If you have read this article, I hope that you have found it helpful in the planning of your fantasy draft strategy.