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How to Hold the Perfect Draft Party (Fantasy Football)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
May 28, 2019

Whether your draft is online or not, using draft software is strongly encouraged for all draft parties

How does one hold the perfect draft party? While giving you a step-by-step guide may be a tad too subjective, there are indeed some things you want to consider when setting up your own draft party or parties. It is true that some prefer to draft in solitude so they can focus, but there are many others who welcome the idea of drafting with other league members.

It is not always possible to get all league members in one place for the draft, but it is a good idea to at least present the option to them. Draft parties do not have to be elaborate or expensive. In fact, you can run them on a ‘bring your own’ or potluck theme. If your league does decide that meeting up to draft sounds intriguing, consider the following when planning.

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Draft Software
The first thing you have to decide is whether or not you want to use any draft software. This includes drafting from traditional providers or doing it completely offline. Draft software is your friend and should be strongly considered. In the digital age, it is likely that much of your draft room will be relying on digital cheat sheets regardless of whether your draft is online or not.

Draft software makes life a lot easier, but there are a lot of competing options to sort through. Yahoo is great for redraft leagues, but consider options like MFL, Fleaflicker, or Sleeper for your dynasty leagues. Of course, draft software is a must if all league members can’t attend the draft party.

Live Draft Board
Even if you decide to do a completely offline draft, there are still live draft board services you can utilize. This will allow you and others in your draft room to visually see which players have been taken rather than being forced to keep track by yourselves. Live draft boards are an exciting way to spruce up your draft and make things feel more 21st century rather than doing things by hand.

Refreshments and Food
Refreshments and food are a must at any draft party. The choice of what refreshments or food will be dictated by your draft room. If you play in a league full of heavy drinkers then alcohol is a must. Some leagues have hired a bartender, model, or other form of entertainer to serve the alcohol.

When it comes to food, knowledge of dietary restrictions is required, so consider polling your league before deciding on an option. You can use an online delivery service to ensure your food arrives at a specified time. You can also fire up the grill and have your leaguemates bring their favorite meats. However, if you are in a league with dominated by members who frequent the gym and enjoy eating healthy, perhaps some protein shakes, flavored BCAAs, protein cookies, and grilled chicken are more in order.

If your league is a money league, consider holding a small raffle for your draft party participants. A small $5 or $10 entry can result in an exciting prize for the raffle winner, or perhaps even cover their entry.

Crowning of Previous Year’s Champ
If you are holding a draft party for a returning league in its second year or further, crowning the previous year’s champion is a must. It can be a small ceremony type of affair, or can simply be awarding the championship belt or trophy, and allowing the champion to say a few words. You should also take this time to single out, and perhaps take some light jabs at the owner who finished in last the previous season.

Ambiance is key for any party, and a draft party is no different. Consider setting up a playlist or two and bringing a Bluetooth speaker that others can connect to. A Bluetooth speaker can allow everyone to have some speaker time. Keeping the music low is recommended in most settings as your draft room will want to stay relatively focused on the task at hand. If you have televisions available consider playing a live sporting event or highlights from the previous season. Best runs or best catches are keywords you can start with if you are searching for YouTube.

Location, location, location. This is an adage in real estate, but is also important as it pertains to your draft party. Finding the perfect location is not an easy task, and ultimately comes down to the budget of your draft room. There are many options to choose from, so we will discuss some of them.

Party Room
One popular location for those who live in bigger cities is to rent out the party room in the condo of one of the league members. They have a kitchen, and often have televisions and stereos for use. They will run you a small fee plus a deposit, but are completely private.

Lounges are a popular place to hold drafts, especially if they are not on the weekends. Most of these lounges will welcome you with open arms provided you will be buying food and drinks. They are a good option for those on a tighter budget who do not want to deal with the hassle of hosting their own draft party. Lounges help avoid the responsibility of post-draft cleanup.

Pub and bars are another excellent option. As long as they have Wi-Fi and will allow you and your party to bring and plug in your laptops, drafting at a bar can be a very exciting affair. Similar to a lounge, most establishments will not turn away paying customers, but be cognizant that a pub or bar may be a little louder than your typical lounge.

Draft Party Bars
There are now some pubs/bars that offer draft party packages. Some larger chains have even gotten in on the action, so be sure to search what is available in your area. Some even offer some free swag for your league. Fantasy football has exploded in popularity, and as such, local businesses are eager to tap into the market.

Out of Town
This option, of course, depends on the budgets of those in your league. Perhaps an all-inclusive to the Caribbean or a trip to Las Vegas is too pricey for your league, but what about a location just outside of your city or town? Chalets and cottages have become popular options over recent years, but can require a significant budget if one of your league members does not have access to one. Consider the options within an hour or two driving distance as well as the ones out of the state or country and poll your league.

Contests to Determine First Pick
Consider holding some sort of contest to determine who gets first pick in the draft. You can use contests to establish the entire draft order, but this requires devising a fair contest that everyone has a chance to win. Luck based contests are best, as skill-based contests can favor one or more drafters more than others. Be creative.

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his profile and follow him @FantasyContext.

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