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How To Prepare for Your Rookie Draft: March Edition (2022 Fantasy Football)

How To Prepare for Your Rookie Draft: March Edition (2022 Fantasy Football)

One of the best aspects of playing dynasty fantasy football is the offseason. Between the moves of free agency and the NFL draft, your fantasy team’s outlook could change overnight. While free agency plays a critical role, the rookie draft could make or break your fantasy team. Because of that, many get stressed out when doing their rookie draft.

However, I have a few tips you can follow to make that process less stressful while also improving your team.

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Know the Rules

First things first, you need to know how your rookie draft works. If you don’t know the rules, you will ruin your draft and potentially your team. It seems somewhat obvious, but you won’t believe the number of times I’ve seen other managers say, “I didn’t know that!” So let’s look at some obvious yet essential things to understand about your rookie drafts before you begin.

Is it a slow or fast draft? Most leagues have a slow draft with at least an eight-hour clock for each pick. Doing so allows teams to work trades during the draft. Not only does that make the draft more fun, but it also makes it more realistic.

But whatever you do, don’t assume you have an eight-hour clock. Some leagues will have a quick draft with as little as 30 seconds for each selection. Also, make sure you can perform trades during the draft. While that seems obvious, it’s always better to double-check with the commissioner than assume you can.

How many rounds are in the draft? Depending on your league size and roster construction, you likely have three to five rounds in your rookie draft. However, if you play in a deeper or IDP league, you could potentially have 10 rounds in your draft. Knowing how many picks you will make is critical when preparing for the draft. Once you know the general rules of the draft, you can better prepare for it.

Do Your Homework

You would be foolish to take the most important test of your life without studying first. That also applies to your fantasy drafts. Whether you have the time to watch tape on the draft class or not, you need to do your homework. Ideally, you could spend months watching hundreds of hours of tape on these players like NFL scouts do. However, no one is likely paying you to watch tape.

If you do have time to watch some tape, that is ideal. Your own opinion is the one you should trust the most. But please don’t just watch two minutes highlight reels on YouTube. It is best to see the good and bad moments with these players. If you only see the highlight plays, you won’t have a reasonable opinion of the prospect.

If you can’t watch the tape yourself, find a group of experts you trust. However, don’t only pick fantasy football experts. You want a blend of NFL draft and fantasy football experts’ opinions on the prospects. No one is perfect, especially when it comes to evaluating football talent. Even the best of the best will be wrong roughly 50 percent of the time.

If you find four-six experts you trust, you likely will have success in your rookie drafts. Find their opinions before and after the NFL drafts as landing spots are a significant factor in the outlook for rookies. Someone’s WR3 before the draft might be their new WR1 after the draft, depending on which team drafted them.

Evaluate Your Team

Are you a contender or a rebuilding project? The first thing you need to do is determine your team’s future. If you are a contender with early picks in the round, you want to consider trade offers for those selections. Instead of drafting a rookie who might take a year or two to make an impact or bust altogether, you could net yourself proven players who can help you win now. If you are a rebuilding team without an early pick but have an aging veteran, now might be the time to trade them for early draft capital.

Once you’ve determined whether your team is a contender or a rebuilding project, you need to look at your current stock of draft picks. Even contending teams should have some draft picks every year. While you want to trade picks away to help you win now, having middle or later-round selections to take dart throws on players is critical to winning.

Had you spent a fourth-round pick on Elijah Mitchell last season, that could have been the difference between winning the championship or coming in third.

Prepare for the Draft

Doing mock drafts is an excellent way to prepare for your rookie draft. Using a simulator is a helpful tool but not necessary. You can use a pen and paper just as easily as a mock draft simulator. Look at the teams picking ahead of you in the draft and determine the weaknesses of their roster. Consider who they might take depending on what the teams picking before them do.

You also want to have conversations with the other teams in the league. While they won’t tell you who they will take, you can get an idea of what positions they are targeting. Furthermore, you can get preliminary trade talks going.

You also want to look at where your picks are at this year. Don’t evaluate picks by only the round. For example, in a 12 team league, the 1.10 is not nearly as valuable as the 1.03. But, the 2.01 pick has a similar value as the 1.10 pick.

When previewing your draft board, understand it’s not a hard and fast rule. So the player currently projected to go with the 1.10 pick could be available with the 2.01 or could go with the 1.07. Additionally, don’t think you have to make every one of your picks in the draft. Keep an open mind and be willing to trade, not only for other picks but also for veteran players.

The best time to acquire future picks or veterans is during the rookie draft. It is human nature to get excited about the here and now. For example, if you offer your 2.01 pick to a team for their 2023 first-round pick today, it will likely be rejected.

However, that offer might get accepted when you are on the clock during the rookie draft. Other teams will find the rookie draft more appealing while it’s happening. At the same time, they will discount some of their older veterans and future picks on their roster. Your rookie draft should be about adding youth to your roster. Don’t be shortsighted, and consider all options before you pick.

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If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

Mike Fanelli is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive follow him @Mike_NFL2.

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