10 Things Not To Repeat From Last Year’s Draft
10 things not to repeat from last year’s draft. Well, shoot. That’s not the easiest task for me.
No no, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I can’t think of 10 mistakes I made during last year’s draft. It’s the narrowing it down part that makes it tough.
Failing to watch “Rocky IV” before the draft? I guess that one won’t make the cut (but that’s a big one; it’s really egregious). Not checking to make sure my power cord isn’t frayed before the draft?
Hmm, yeah, that’s good, but whatever. Drafting defenses before the second to last round? Oooh, we’re close.
Look, I’ve been doing fantasy football drafts for almost 15 years at this point. But man, I never get through draft season without making a handful of mistakes, every year. And lucky for us, last year was chock full of them (including the three I mentioned above. Seriously not “Rocky III” and “Rocky IV”). So, let’s jump right in. Here are 10 things not to repeat from last year’s draft.
1) Not putting your own rankings in the draft room
Have you ever gone into a draft room and around three rounds in you’re thinking, “Where are all the good players?” I’m not judging (well, I am judging, but I’m not naming), but I seriously don’t get how some sites come up with their rankings for the draft room.
Last year, one of my leagues switched to a different hosting website and, like a dummy, I didn’t check the rankings before Draft Day. By the fourth round, I was totally lost. Everyone left in the rankings seemed terrible!
That is, of course, until the seventh or eighth round came around, and all the players I would have liked to draft four rounds earlier showed up and were drafted before my spot!
No matter how well you know fantasy football, it’s nearly impossible to be thinking about players who you should be drafting in the middle rounds unless you actually see their names. And you don’t have time to go scrolling down to player 200 to remember that Allen Robinson still exists.
So, do yourself a favor and put in your own rankings before the draft. They don’t have to be your own personal rankings, but if you’re comfortable with a site or an expert, just put its or his rankings in as yours. That will at least make you feel confident that you’ll have a general sense of who should be going where, instead of the draft rankings suggesting you take your kicker in the ninth round.
2) Getting sucked in by preseason performances
I’m a huge Jets fan, and I was watching the first game of the season when Ameer Abdullah made our vaunted defense look like it was standing still. The spin moves, the quick cuts, the 67 yards on seven carries. There was no way that Joique Bell or Theo Riddick was going to prevent this kid from putting up huge numbers in what should have been a high-octane offense.
So, when the fourth round came along, and knowing my league and the owners’ affection for young players, I decided to jump on Abdullah. We all know how that turned out. If you don’t, I’ll tell you. Not good. Not good at all.
Preseason is important for position battles. You might learn a new name or two that could be useful. Mostly, you want players you like to avoid. It is not important for breakout performances from exciting new toys, especially in the FIRST preseason game. Don’t get sucked in. Or, if you do, don’t do it until the seventh round or so.
3) Failing to check for news the day of the draft
This one is a little embarrassing, but, in my defense . . . no, there is no defense. I just blew it. One of my drafts is way too early, and we drafted right after the first preseason games. I didn’t watch them, and was tied up for most of the day of my draft, and didn’t check the news. So, I missed Julius Thomas‘ fractured hand in the Jaguars’ preseason opener and drafted him too high. I didn’t even want him!
Blech. Just follow @NFLInjuryNws (that’s not a typo) on Twitter or check a sports or fantasy website 10 minutes before the draft. It will save you some embarrassment.
4) Trust your gut
You know who I really loved last year? Antonio Brown. You know who I liked just a little more than that? Eddie Lacy. You know who I drafted in the fourth spot in one of my leagues? Well, Jamaal Charles. But do you know who I drafted in the fourth spot in my OTHER league?
Right, you guessed it. Lacy. Brown went with the next pick. I just couldn’t bring myself to draft Brown over Lacy despite preferring Brown. Most of the rankings I trust had Lacy ahead. My buddies all had Lacy ahead. So, when push came to shove, I just couldn’t go with my preference.
Still, after all these years, some dopey fear of having my leaguemates question my pick or feeling like I’ll kick myself if I go against the rankings caused me to take Lacy. Expert rankings are an incredibly helpful guide, especially when you’re stuck, but just remember: This is your team. Trust your gut.
5) Not having enough players in your queue
I’m usually really good about this. I pride myself on taking almost no time between picks because I’m always ready with whomever I want to draft. But last year, the guys drafting on either side of me were just in my head. It was uncanny. With four picks to go before my turn, I’d have four guys in my queue. They’d all go, and I’d be stuck taking my full 90 seconds trying to figure out what I was supposed to do.
Have some alternate picks ready. A bunch. Or, figure out a way to draft around people who like bad players. Maybe failing to do that should have been one of my 10 things . . . .
6) Losing focus
This one is NOT MY FAULT! I’m the commissioner of one of my leagues. Although it’s been going for roughly 10 years with the same owners, the league consists of friends I’ve made through various walks of life. In other words, each of the other 11 owners is probably closer to me than he is to any other owner in the league.
It’s wonderful to feel loved. Except when guys are calling/texting/using the chat box in the draft room to talk to you about the draft. We legitimately have MONTHS to talk about the draft, so there’s probably a better time to do it than in the few minutes you have between picks. It’s not happening this year. I’m focusing entirely on my draft. Will I lose some friends? Several. Is it worth it? Darn right.
7) Getting caught up in a position run
Even now, when I’m old, gray and decrepit, I somehow still make this mistake sometimes. A position run comes, and even though I’m not ready to take my second RB and prefer several wide receivers, I jump because I feel like I’ll miss on everyone.
Drafting a good fantasy football team is largely about value. Yes, it can be unsettling to see a lot of good players at one position go off the board. But that just means that there will be plenty of good players at other positions waiting for you. Stick to your board.
Note: I had my wife proofread this section. She’d like to change the above description of me to “sort of old, starting to go gray and adequate looking.” So, make that adjustment, please. Thanks.
8) Avoiding players based on personal grudges
Every person reading this article knows what I’m talking about. You invested a high draft pick in a player the previous year, and he completely let you down, leading to a less than stellar eighth place finish. Forget it, that guy’s on your do not draft list, right? Never again!
Sigh, we’ve all got to let it go. Bad seasons happen sometimes, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you refuse to draft a player based on something that happened last year.
So, Larry Fitzgerald, because I know you’re reading this, please accept my apology for not drafting you last year despite seeing you last way too long. I realize that my refusal to draft you gave you great motivation for your fantastic rebound season. So, I’d say we’re even now, yes?
9) Refusing to draft a QB early
I’m not saying I’m going to draft a QB in the first or second round this year. I’m just saying that I’m not going to definitely avoid it. I’m very much of the school that in a one-QB league, as my draft leagues are, I want to be one of the last guys to take a QB. Because when you can get Tony Romo or Philip Rivers eight or nine rounds later than Andrew Luck or Aaron Rodgers, it seems like a wise strategy.
The only problem is that gone are the old RB-RB days, where you had 12 to 15 safe running backs who you needed to make sure you got and on whom you could count for 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. These days, you get about midway through the first round before question marks start popping up. You need talent, and it really doesn’t matter what position. And, oddly enough, my best teams always seem to be the ones when I randomly drafted a QB early, even though I usually hate those teams out of the draft.
So, this year, I’m going to be open to drafting a QB early, if it makes sense for my team. And yes, I realize that Luck had a terrible year. I’m not saying the strategy is going to work! I’m just going to be open to it!
10) Overthinking bye weeks
Really? Did I pass on Jarvis Landry just because I had Brandon Marshall and Jonathan Stewart and didn’t want to cripple my team with all those guys having a Week 5 bye? I won’t tell you who I drafted instead, but let’s just say his name rhymes with Melson Magholor. It did not end well.
Just don’t worry about it. Yeah, ok, if you have like six guys on the same bye week, you might be in some trouble. But you’ve got at least a few weeks before you need to worry about it. Just go with your guys, and forget the bye weeks. Besides, losing 120 – 45 in that week with all your byes would be kind of funny.
So, there you go. There are 10 mistakes I won’t be repeating this year. But, if you take away only one thing from this article, remember. “Rocky IV.” I mean, the guy climbs an actual mountain in a classic training montage in his effort to avenge his best friend’s death. You will not have a bad draft after watching it. Literally impossible.