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Fantasy Hockey Draft Dos & Don’ts

by Mat Vilcek
Sep 4, 2019

Even an elite player like Patrick Kane can lose value based your league’s specific scoring settings

There’s one month until the season opens up. Anyone else excited? I sure am. Fall is around the corner and NHL fans have been preparing for this time. It’s fantasy draft time.

Every year we build on research, stockpile notes, and try to figure out how to outsmart our opponents. Who can we draft that may give us the edge during the long NHL fantasy season? Every expert cheat sheet and ranking leads up to draft day, and with that, it’s time to go over some simple, yet necessary guidelines when beginning your draft. Some of these may seem like common sense and could pertain to all types of fantasy sports drafting, others may seem more in-depth, but all should serve as a guide for your impending draft day. I myself have broken many draft guidelines being shared, but learning is a process so let’s jump in.

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Don’t Arrive Late to a Live Draft
The simplest rule to follow. Nothing is worse than being the last one to arrive at 6:15 PM when a draft is at 6:00 PM. I have done it before and hated being “that guy.”

You start with saying hello to everyone, grab that last seat, set up your gear, gain internet access, and then an hour later start drafting. Life happens, and that is understandable, but if it can be accomplished, arrive early and be ready before draft time. This will surely make your draft more comfortable, fun, and you will not feel rushed when making draft decisions. Most of all you will not be the one everyone is waiting on.

Do Research Before and During the Season
Research before and during the season. This one is the most beneficial when we get to the later rounds. In any fantasy sport, the first few rounds are quite simple even for the novice with no preparation. In fantasy hockey, it is imperative to have that grasp on late-round knowledge with respect to how close several players may be in points, goals, assists, or any other category. Knowing what player or position you want to attack can make decisions easier and speed up the drafting process, which makes any fantasy owner happy.

Don’t Autopick
If it’s a live draft, and for some reason you can’t make the time and date, you have options, such as finding someone to take your place in the league, having a rankings list for another owner to draft from, or finding a person you trust to attend the draft for you.

An online draft member has zero excuse. The time and date is set, agreed on, and is now here. Barring unforeseen circumstances, there is no reason to be on auto-draft, and please don’t be the person that picks the first five rounds and then goes on auto-draft.

An online draft has the benefit of all the information being in front of your eyes. There is no reason to leave the draft completely. The money is already paid so you might as well enjoy the best part of the season and get the players you want.

Do Makes Trades
Everyone is usually happy with the team they draft. However, just like the actual sport itself, there is always room for improvement. Trading happens to be one of my favorite parts of any fantasy sport. Evaluate your roster and find someone that needs what you have a surplus of and vice versa.

Don’t Abuse the Commissioner Title
On draft day take time to thank everyone for showing up and being a part of the league. Listen to questions and concerns about the league before drafting and, if possible, make changes and adjustments to satisfy everyone participating. This guideline needs to be expanded into the season.

If you’re the one running the league, make sure you have time to do so. All other fantasy owners are looking to you for league guidance through the season and to make it fun for everyone, from first place to worst place. Review trades, and write down notes about the league. An example is keeping track of changes that your members may want to vote on for next season, such as add/drop limits, or roster expansion. NHL fantasy is an everyday event and you may need to find a co-commissioner to help with the long season.

Do Know the Scoring
Know the scoring, point system, and format. Rotisserie and head-to-head category leagues are two very different formats and thus can affect your drafting style and a player you may take.

Also make sure you note the categories that score points in your league, such as hits or power play points. These two, along with many other category options, may change how you want your draft to unfold. An example would be having an elite player such as Patrick Kane. Kane is a lock to gain your fantasy roster power play points, goals, and assists. However, if hits is a scoring category, an owner will now be on the short end of that stat when drafting a player like Kane and will need to seek options later in the draft for a more balanced team.

Don’t Ruin the Waiver Wire
I understand this is more of an in-season guideline, but it needs to be revisited. Hopefully, the commissioner of your league already has a rule or payment setup to avoid this behavior. If not, set those rules up on draft day or beforehand.

In an effort to offset players that do not have a game on a certain day, many owners will seek out league settings immediately to see if wavier rules exist for the sole purpose of picking up and dropping players every day. This action ensures the maximum starters possible. Simple rules to combat this practice are implementing maximum add/drops per week, a delay in waiver clearance, and my personal favorite, charging a dollar amount per transaction. FAAB, which stands for free-agent acquisition budget, is always a great option for fantasy hockey leagues as well.

Do Have Fun
Every one of us deals with trials and tribulations throughout our personal lives. Treat yourself to the excitement of fantasy hockey or any fantasy sport. You might be in a league with your closest friends, strangers, or a combination.

Get to know your leaguemates and plan an outing or two, have a watch party during Hockey Day in America or the Winter Classic. I have seen way too many arguments that stem into personal attacks for no reason. Simply put, this is a fun activity, so let’s keep it that way. Happy drafting.

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Mat Vilcek is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Mat, check out his archive and follow him @Mat1Thockey.

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