- Practice makes perfect: The more opportunities fantasy football managers have to run drafts similar to their actual draft, the more prepared they will be.
- Pay attention during the draft: While it’s great to have a plan when the draft begins, don’t be afraid to change that plan depending on what’s going on.
- The end of the draft matters: Some people might be ready to get the draft over it during the later rounds, but there are edges to be had during the last few rounds.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
These 10 tips are intended for anyone playing fantasy football. It is primarily designed for someone who is new to fantasy football or has one or two drafts each year. Those who play fantasy football more consistently will know several of these tips, but there will hopefully be a helpful hint for those players too.
Player Profiles | Depth Charts
Rankings: PPR | Half-PPR | Standard | Superflex | Best Ball
Dynasty Rankings: PPR | Rookie | Superflex | Superflex Rookie
Position Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE
Sleepers: Top-10 | QB | RB | WR | TE
League Winners: Top-5 | QB | RB | WR | TE
Breakouts: QB | RB | WR | TE
Position Draft Strategy: QB | RB | TE
14-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy
12-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy | Picks 1-3 | Picks 4-6 | Picks 7-9 | Picks 10-12
10-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy | Picks 1-3 | Picks 4-7 | Picks 8-10
1. Know your league settings
The first step to prepare for your draft is knowing your league settings.
- This includes how many players you’re starting at each position in addition to how many flex spots and superflex roster spots.
- Most leagues are pretty standard, but a superflex league causes quarterbacks get picked much earlier.
- Commissioners may want to make changes to make their leagues unique, such as only starting one running back or two tight ends.
- It’s also important to see how many points you get for each stat.
- The statistic that will vary most from one league to another is how many points players receive for receptions. Traditionally, players would not receive any points for receptions (Standard leagues), but now, the majority of leagues either give a full (PPR leagues) or a half point (Half-PPR leagues).
- The number of people in your league will also impact your strategy.
- Our fantasy draft kit gives you plenty of areas you can research. Some of them apply to all leagues, but some of our content is written specifically for certain leagues.
2. Practice, practice, practice
The more practice you have before the draft, the more prepared you will be when the actual draft happens.
- This is true for basically everything in life, and it also applies to fantasy football.
- Luckily, we have a mock draft simulator that can help you get the practice you need before the draft.
- You can sync your league if you are playing from Sleeper or Yahoo Fantasy to get your league settings, or you can manually enter them in.
- This includes the number of teams in your league, scoring settings and the number of players starting at each position.
- You can also set strategies for yourself and for the people you’re drafting with. For example, if you know that someone in your league is a fan of a particular team, you can set it so they draft more players from that team.
- This allows you to draft a running back in the first round, see how the draft goes and then do another draft with a wide receiver in the first round. Whichever team turns out better might help you decide which position you should be targeting in the first round.
- The mock draft simulator also gives suggestions on who you should be considered at each pick depending on my rankings, PFF's projections and average draft positions.
3. Have a plan, but be prepared to abandon it
After enough drafts, you should have a general plan of what you’ll want to do heading into the draft.
- Mock drafts and our fantasy draft kit should go a long way in helping you come up with a plan heading into the draft, which includes the positions and players you want to be targeting in each round.
- While it’s great to have that plan, it’s also important to be ready to abandon it.
- There will always be drafters who make surprising picks, so some players might not be available even though they thought they would be.
- You should be able to abandon your plan if someone is surprisingly available, and all of the mocks in addition to the draft kit should help you prepare how you can adjust those plans on the fly.
4. Pay attention to runs
There could be points in a draft where multiple players at the same position are picked in a row.
- This could happen if two teams pick a quarterback earlier than expected, which causes more teams to start picking quarterbacks in fear of missing out.
- This is another reason why you would want to be able to adjust your strategy on the fly.
- This is why it’s important to pay attention to tiered rankings. Tiers group similar players together so you can see where the gaps are between one group of players within a position and another.
- If a run at a position is going on and only one or two players within a tier are still available, then it could be good to pick one of those players. If all of the players in a tier were just taken, then it might be a good time to focus on a different position.
5. Pay attention to who other people close to your pick are drafting
If you are picking near the start or end of the draft, it would be good to take note of what the people picking after you might need.
- For example, if you’re in a 12-team league and pick 11th and it’s your pick, you will have one pick, the person picking 12th has back-to-back picks and then you have another pick.
- If you know you want to pick a quarterback and running back with your next two picks, it’s worth seeing the roster of the team picking 12th to see what they need.
- If they have a quarterback already, then you should probably pick a running back first knowing they are unlikely to pick a quarterback. Similarly, if they haven’t picked a quarterback, then it could be good to pick one first so the person picking 12th doesn’t take the player you want.
- This strategy doesn’t work for anyone picking at the end of the draft and is less helpful for someone picking in the middle, but it should help for anyone picking early or late.
6. Draft a top-eight quarterback
There is a big advantage in having one of the top quarterbacks.
- In prior seasons, there were enough good quarterbacks that every fantasy manager could pick one late and be happy.
- Tom Brady retired, removing one consistent fantasy starter
- Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill and Matthew Stafford were all among the top-14 quarterbacks in fantasy points per game in 2021, but they took a step back last season and have an average age above 35 years old.
- Kyler Murray was also a consistent top-12 fantasy quarterback, but his ACL injury from December makes it unlikely he plays Week 1, and whenever he is healthy, he might not have the same rushing upside.
- Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins are on the wrong side of 30 years old, and while they haven’t declined yet, they are still likely past their peak.
- This only leaves eight quarterbacks to be confident in this season.
- Those eight are Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence.
7. Draft a top-seven tight end
In general, it’s essential to draft one of the top seven fantasy tight ends because the consistency at the position is stronger than the other positions from one season to another.
- Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, Rob Gronkowski, Kyle Pitts and T.J. Hockenson have been the top-eight tight ends in terms of PFF receiving grade over the last three seasons
- There have been 16 times over the last three seasons where a tight end averaged 11.8 fantasy points per game or more. Fifteen of those 16 seasons have come from the top-eight graded tight ends. The only exception is Dalton Schultz in 2021.
- If you want a top-five season out of your tight end, you need to draft one of those eight players. Rob Gronkowski is retired, so there are only seven options.
- While it’s also helpful to have one of the top few running backs and wide receivers, those will all be gone by the end of the second round. It’s at least possible to find someone who ends up being a third-round value at running back or wide receiver in a later round, but that’s not as true at quarterback or tight end.
8. Draft for upside late
It’s better to pay attention to rankings rather than projections near the end of the draft.
- The goal with these picks is to add someone that could end up being really good but might not, rather than someone that we know is just good and is unlikely to change.
- That’s because it doesn’t help you to have someone on your bench that you will never start. It’s better to have someone who, if things go well, would be a fantasy starter, and if not, then you can cut them from your team and add someone else.
- For example, the Houston Texans‘ Robert Woods is expected to be a starter on the team. He’s projected to score the 60th-most points for a wide receiver, but he’s ranked much lower.
- He’s graded between 66.0-72.1 as a receiver over the last three seasons and has finished between 51st-59th in PPR points over the last two seasons. At 31 years old, he’s unlikely to see much improvement.
- If things go well, he could finish around WR40, but that’s still not a player you would start on your fantasy team.
- Someone like his teammate Tank Dell, who is a rookie, isn’t expected to be a starter at the beginning of the year, but there is a chance he can earn a starting job and be one of the better rookies in the year.
- He’s a much less safe player, but the odds of him finishing among the top-36 wide receivers is better. This could make Dell the better choice despite the worse projection, and that’s something rankings can account for.
9. Only draft a kicker or team defense if you have to
If your league uses kickers and defense, it’s best to pick them up right before Week 1 rather than drafting one if given the option.
- There isn’t much advantage to drafting a kicker or defense compared to picking one up right before the season, so not drafting one won’t be a problem as long as you remember to pick one up before Week 1.
- It could be better to instead draft someone like Tank Dell in the last round. If he’s named a starter before Week 1, then he might be a better pick than someone you picked in the round before. If he’s not, then you can cut Dell right before Week 1 and it won’t make much of a difference.
- Backup running backs can also be a good option due to the off chance the starting running back gets injured between your draft and the start of the season.
- This strategy doesn’t matter much if your draft is only a few days before the season.
10. Have fun
While you may or may not be playing for money, it’s worth remembering that this is a game, and you should be having fun.
- It probably doesn’t make sense to draft your favorite player several rounds before his average draft position, but when deciding between two players, it’s perfectly fine to pick your favorite player.
- Similarly, it can be fine to avoid players on a team you don’t like. If everyone in your league is doing it, then someone will get some steals in the draft eventually, but if two players are close in ADP, it’s fine to avoid players on teams you don’t like.
- Decisions like this might cost your team slight percentage points if you’re deciding between two players close together, but even at the top of the draft, there isn’t always agreement on who should be the top player at a position.