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Avoid These 10 Draft Mistakes (Fantasy Football)

Aug 4, 2020

Clyde Edwards-Helaire has plenty of upside, but it would be unwise to draft him at his ceiling

The fantasy football draft season is officially upon us! Draft day for many of us is arguably the most important date on the calendar. We love the trash talk, the memories we create with our loved ones, the optimism we have regarding our teams, the adrenaline rush that comes with making quick, difficult decisions on the fly, and the thought of reigning supreme over our leaguemates at the end of the year.

When you’re up to pick and you’ve got 90 seconds to make a choice you’ll have to live with for the next few months, are you ready and fully prepared to make the best picks? It’s too easy for even seasoned fantasy managers to fall into the pitfalls of the draft. Maximize the quality of your selections and avoid a season rife with misery and disappointment by checking out which draft mistakes our featured pundits think you should avoid.

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Q. What specific draft mistake do you most commonly see, even among advanced fantasy managers?

“I will never understand why drafters marry themselves to a predetermined draft strategy through an entire draft without any room for compromise. It’s fine to begin with a plan for a certain structure like Zero RB, Robust RB, etc., but every draft is a unique and unpredictable experience. You must be willing to deviate from your plan if the draft breaks in such a way that your structure becomes unstable. Being structurally flexible and player agnostic is the best way to find value when drafting.”
– Greg Smith (TwoQBs)

Going in with some set strategy on what they want to do. You must remain fluid, as all drafts are different. Don’t ever say you’re going to start RB/RB/WR or some variation of that. Instead, take value as it’s presented.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Not accounting for position scarcity during fantasy drafts is one of the biggest mistakes owners make when building their team. Often owners will get too caught up on their team or wanting to get their guy that they won’t account for what other owners in the league still need when making their decision on which player to draft. This becomes increasingly obvious on the swing of each round where fewer picks and fewer other teams stand in the way of an owner’s two selections. For example, a savvy owner will hold off on grabbing that tight end if they realize the three teams in between their picks have already addressed the position. If there are still a couple players who are available that you are comfortable with at a position, then pivoting to another position becomes a better option. Understanding how many players are left at a particular position in a certain tier helps you focus on an area where the options are fewer.”
– Dan Clasgens (Get Sports Info)

Being too reliant on ADP. ADP can be very useful, but it can also affect us and compel us to make mistakes. Relying too much on ADP is a common mistake, don’t be stubborn and rigid. When we know that a player normally is selected in a certain round, we always want him to be available in that round or, even better, a round later. However, it’s better to take the risk and leave the ADP aside, even if it feels like a reach. As a general rule, if you have doubts about whether a player will be available a round later, then it is time to select him. ADP is nothing more than an average in which a player is being selected. The key is to understand that it is an average and not a guide to determine when a player must be chosen. Don’t base your whole draft strategy on this.”
– Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

“In single-quarterback 12-team snake drafts, I’ve never liked adding a second quarterback if you have one of the top 10. Granted, you can call that more as a preference than error. In acquiring a second quarterback, most are careful not to make the schoolboy error of matching the bye week. However, the choice of taking a second quarterback might overlook something else just as important. If your main QB1 has a bye week in the second half of the season, say in Week 10, do you really need to hold a second quarterback for all those weeks using up a valuable bench spot for waiver prospects?”
– Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)

“The biggest mistake I see a lot of people make is letting site-specific pre-draft rankings skew the way they draft. What I mean by this is the order in which the site you’re drafting on ranks the players in the draft room. None will match your personal rankings or the ones you prefer to use. If you use your rankings then you are more likely to draft a team that you prefer. You can also find a few steals in the draft since there are often a few players who are buried in the site’s pre-draft rankings. Why this happens I can’t tell you, but it does.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

“As we’re seeing with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, it’s buying all of the risk … and that’s coming from someone who had CEH as an RB1 before the Damien Williams news. Edwards-Helaire always had top-five upside, but taking him there saddles your pick with needing to hit peak value just to have an even ROI. The industry often causes much of this, as we’re seeing Terry McLaurin rapidly climbing at wide receiver too. It’s fun to grab the next superstar or breakout, but don’t pay such a premium to grab said player that there is only potential downside.”
– Jake Ciely (The Athletic)

Drafting for ‘safety’ is a big mistake. First of all, there’s really no such thing as a ‘safe pick’ in fantasy football. Secondly, fantasy leagues are won by a select few players who crush ADP every year (See: Lamar Jackson in 2019). You should be trying to land those guys with every pick — especially outside the first few rounds. When you inevitably whiff on guys, the waiver wire is there to bail you out.”
– Jared Smola (Draft Sharks)

Starting roster priority. There’s something psychologically that happens when you see your roster filling up. You feel compelled or pulled to get your starting lineup set before you ‘move on to your bench.’ I see it happen all of the time in drafts, and it’s a mistake. You can’t force yourself to draft players to simply get your starting lineup ready to go. Pick the best player for your team, regardless.”
– Andy Holloway (The Fantasy Footballers)

“The most common draft mistake is jumping onboard at the very end of a position run. If four quarterbacks were taken in a row, you do not need to be the fifth, as that player you’re drafting will likely still be there next time around with everyone already recently selecting that position. Instead, zig when others zag and start a new position run.”
– Zach Brunner (FlurrySports)

Thank you to the experts for sharing which draft mistakes should be avoided. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

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