10 Mistakes To Avoid In Redraft Leagues (Fantasy Football)
There are three things certain in life: death, taxes, and looking back on the previous year’s fantasy football draft lamenting over how you’re an idiot for not seeing Alvin Kamara coming. Okay maybe I made the last one up, but you did that (unless you drafted Kamara, in which case, well done!).
But seriously, we all make mistakes in life, and we all make mistakes during our fantasy football drafts. Things like missing out on a player no one saw coming, at least not to the extent that he arrived, is not something you should beat yourself up over. It’s just not the type of mistake you can avoid.
I wouldn’t even call it a mistake. Today, you’re going to read all about 10 relatively common errors that fantasy owners make in preparing and conducting their drafts that are all avoidable.
In the immediate wake of the NFL Draft, this is one of the most important things to remember. Most rookies will fail. Even more of the rookies will fail to make an impact their first year.
This year’s draft class has a ton of talent, but it is foolish to assume that all of the rookies are going to come in and immediately overtake all of the starters. It’s not going to happen. Sure, every season will have a Kareem Hunt and an Alvin Kamara.
But every season will also have a John Ross and a Corey Davis. I am not suggesting that you should ignore rookies completely, just merely to exercise caution. Treat rookies like the unknowns that they are.
During your draft, there will be a time to draft for ceiling and a time to draft for floor. Balancing the two is essential. Rookies are mostly ceiling plays. Obviously, Sony Michel has RB1 upside on the Patriots, but he also has a floor of unstartable. Keep that in mind when deciding if you want to take a shot on a rookie.
Consuming Too Little Information
No one has time to review every game. We can’t watch film on every player. We can’t study the impact of every metric on future success.
As a result, we have to trust the work of others. However, far too often I see fantasy owners pointing to a handful of stats or a couple of plays to support their opinion on a player. It is imperative to understand that no single stat or metric is indicative of future success. Stats and metrics are meant to be used in conjunction with each other to help you form your opinion.
On a similar plane, do not blindly trust any single source. There are tons of analysts out there, all of whom are eager to give you their opinion on players. When someone says, “draft this guy,” your reaction should always be: “why?”
The “why” is infinitely more important than the “who.” Learn the why and then take all the information you’ve consumed and form your own opinions.
Consuming Too Much Information
Some might say there is no such thing as too much information. But there is. If you spend enough time looking, you will find conflicting opinions on every player. This is why the “why” I mentioned in the previous section is so important. If you blindly follow the views of others without understanding the process that led to those opinions, you are bound to find yourself in a situation where your trusted sources contradict either other.
For example, I am mostly an analytics guy. I don’t readily dismiss the utility of film, but knowing that film is subjective, I will ultimately resolve a conflict between film and metrics in favor of the numbers. If someone tells me that a specific wide receiver is continually getting open, but his target separation metric is weak, my conclusion is that the person sees what they want to see.
But obviously there are things film can show that aren’t reflected in the numbers. When possible, I use the two in tandem with each other to formulate my opinions. If you’re following analysts on both sides of the fence, you are going to run into discrepancies. Decide which sources you trust and stick to those sources.
Mock Drafting Too Early
For the majority of my fantasy football career, I didn’t even mock draft. I just kind of did some research and winged it. 10 years ago, that was enough. In the modern era, with the wealth of information available, it is much more difficult to gain an edge over your competitors. Mock drafting is essential to your draft preparation. Just don’t do it in May.
Once the NFL Draft is over, rosters are mostly set. I started doing mock drafts in preparation for my leagues in 2013. I love drafting. Who doesn’t love drafting? So, naturally, in 2014, I wanted to mock draft as much as possible to the point where I was doing a bunch of them as early as June. Not only is it not worth the time, but it’s also detrimental to do them that early.
For starters, mock drafting without knowing your draft position is a waste of time. How does it help you to practice drafting from the three spot only to find out later on that you have the 11th pick? It doesn’t.
But even if you know your draft position early on, ADPs will change enough throughout July and August to mess up your plans. For example, when I was mock drafting last July, I was constantly getting Cameron Meredith and Tyrell Williams, two of my prime later round targets, in Rounds 9 and 10. By the time draft season came around (and obviously before Meredith’s knee injury), there was no chance I would get either later than round 8.
By mock drafting in July, I had prepared my early round strategy as if I had those two guys in my back pocket in those particular rounds. Once that was no longer possible, I had to rethink everything.
When you mock draft too early, you will also find that your brain establishes a baseline of player valuation that is hard to break. You consistently get your guy in Round 8, but then his ADP jumps to Round 6, and you feel like that’s too expensive.
Or, you have a specific target with your late third round pick, and suddenly that guy has a huge preseason and jumps into the early third round. Now, you can’t get him, the guy you’ve been snagging in the third round in every mock draft, and you don’t really like anyone else, thus making you reconsider your entire draft plan. Mock drafting is tempting because you have the itch to get the season rolling, but it’s just not helpful to seriously plan until at least late July.
Dismissing Unspectacular Players in Favorable Situations (The Melvin Gordon Corollary)
I call this the Melvin Gordon Corollary because he is the poster child for this error, an error that I’ve made far too often in years past and refuse to make again. In it’s simplest form, this comes down to Situation + Opportunity > Talent. Time and time again, we’ve seen incompetent NFL head coaches push lesser talented players over clearly superior bench players. It’s happened before, and it will happen again.
In 2016, it was blatantly obvious that Adrian Peterson was done. Cooked. Washed. Yet, for reasons no one could understand, to start the 2017 season, AP was stealing snaps from Alvin Kamara. Eventually, the situation was rectified, but even though Kamara was clearly more talented, he didn’t have fantasy value early on because a lesser player was getting more opportunity.
Jarvis Landry is not a more talented player than T.Y. Hilton. But, in 2017, Landry’s situation and opportunity share were far greater than Hilton’s. Mark Ingram has never been all that talented, but he’s always had a great situation with the Saints and plenty of opportunity.
I do not think Melvin Gordon is all that good at football. He’s been incredibly inefficient throughout his entire career. He’s not a great pass catcher. He doesn’t create yards for himself.
However, he has a fantastic situation in a prolific offense, and he dominates the market share of RB snaps for his team. I have always shied away from Gordon in the late first round because “he’s not that good.” My pledge for the future is not to let that reality supersede the more important fact that Gordon is going to be the feature back with a 300+ touch workload.
Gordon isn’t Paul Perkins (meaning that he’s not so horrendous at football that he would fail in any situation). Gordon is good enough to take advantage of a great opportunity. He has done it and will continue to do it. If you know a player is going to see significant volume in a good situation, that’s a player you want, regardless of talent (unless he’s Paul Perkins bad).
Paying for Static Content
This has become less of an issue in more recent times due to the wide variety of fantasy football content available on the internet, but I still hear about the occasional person who wants to know what magazine to buy. The answer, 100% of the time, is “none.” Sites like us here at FantasyPros offer dynamic content that is continuously updated throughout the offseason.
This is not a shameless plug for the site I write for – there are dozens of other quality sites out there that offer premium content. I do think it is worth it to pay for premium content as long as that content is updated throughout the offseason. There is nothing more useless than rankings and information published in late July when you’re drafting the first week of September.
Failing to Adequately Plan for Your Draft
Every year, by the time draft season rolls around, I have a preferred strategy. Whether it’s RB heavy, balanced, Zero RB, etc., there is a specific approach to my draft that I would like to take. But that doesn’t mean I don’t plan for multiple different strategies. Far too often, fantasy owners dial in on one specific approach and are completely caught off guard if the draft room does not allow for it.
Preliminary studies indicate that Zero RB could make a return this year, especially for those picking at the back end. However, if you plan to go WR-WR with your first two picks, but suddenly you look down at pick 8 and Ezekiel Elliott is still there, what do you do? Maybe you were planning on grabbing two running backs in Rounds 3 and 4, but in this particular draft, RBs are flying off the board, and the WR value is a lot better than you expected. Always be prepared to adjust your draft strategy on the fly in order to maximize value.
Worrying About What Others Think
Human beings naturally seek the approval of others. It’s hardwired into our DNA. When it comes to fantasy football, no one wants to make a selection that spurs a “horrible pick” response from a fellow owner. You need to override that notion and make the best pick for your team. No one knows how the season will play out.
If you’re confident that the WR you are about to select in the fifth round is the best player on your board, even though he has a seventh-round ADP, and you’re not certain you can get him with your next pick, take him. Ignore the criticism of others. They’re probably just annoyed you beat them to the punch anyway.
Being a Slave to ADP
Continuing where the previous one left off, ADP is both a gift and a curse when planning your draft. You know where a player is supposed to go and, therefore, you want to get him around that pick or even later, if possible. But sometimes, you need to get your guy. ADP is an average draft position for a reason. The term inherently implies that sometimes the player goes higher and sometimes the player goes lower. My general rule of thumb on a particular player you really want is if you are not sure you can get him with your next pick, take him now.
Sometimes, there will be players that you just aren’t in a great position to draft. This is more of an issue in the earlier rounds. When you pick towards the back end, the players that typically go late second and early third round aren’t realistically attainable. The later you get into the draft, the more liberal you can be with where you can justify taking a player. But even if in the earlier rounds, if you think that early third round player is going to out-perform everyone available at your early second round pick, do not be afraid to pull the trigger. Don’t pass up on your guy just because some average of millions of other fantasy owners says you shouldn’t.
Taking it too Seriously
I saved the most important one for last. Remember people; it’s a game. It’s designed to be fun. Don’t take it too seriously.
We’ve all read or heard of stories where friendships were ruined over fantasy football. If you’re playing in a million dollar league and someone colluded to beat you, then it’s probably justified. If you’re playing in your $100 home league with people you’ve known for years, play the game with integrity.
These are your friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. Even if they’re people you met on the internet, treat the game with respect and have fun. Everyone wants to win, but if you’re not having fun while trying, you’re doing it wrong.
I hope you had fun reading this. We’re still quite early in the fantasy offseason, but it will be time to ramp up the preparation before you know it. As you continue through your offseason process, try and remember the things you just read. But most importantly, remember the last one. Have fun!