The NFL season is just around the corner and fantasy football drafts are happening in droves. There's nothing quite like being a part of a draft-day with your friends, eating some good food, and enjoying a few drinks to get you through what can be an intense process.
But there's always that one person at the table who makes all the wrong moves- or in this case, draft day mistakes.
Here are ten deadly mistakes league managers make on draft day:
Table of Contents
Mistake #01: Overvaluing Quarterbacks
Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL. They are also arguably one of the hardest positions to play because they have more responsibility than any other player on offense, whether it's making throws or knowing where everyone should be running routes for them.
However, this value does not necessarily translate to fantasy football. Many fantasy football managers can ruin their draft by reaching too soon for a QB. Even if you're in a two QB league, it's not worth reaching for them early.
In fact, there is always a lot of value late in your draft at the quarterback position.
Take a look at this summary of the 2020 season:
As you can see, roughly half of the QB1s from 2020 had an average draft position outside the first 7 rounds. Do yourself a favor and take two flyers on QB late in your draft. Odds are one of them will hit and you will have secured an additional high-profile player.
Mistake #02: Not Knowing Your League Rules
There are many different types of leagues that fantasy managers can join - from totally traditional to more complex variations like PPR or IDP leagues. It is important to know the rules specific to your league.
Allocate some time before the start of your draft to go through your league settings page to find if your commissioner is using any unique settings.
Mistake #03: Don't Take a Defense Early
In the draft process, we're all looking for a positional advantage, but there are just too many variables when it comes to drafting a defense early.
Defense scoring is the most volatile position in fantasy football and based on the last eight years, the number one DST from the previous season is more likely to finish outside the top 10 than inside it.
Snag a defense in the last two rounds of your draft and be ready to hawk the waiver wire if they don't get off to a hot start.
Mistake #04: Not Grabbing an Elite Tight End
I used to be a fan of waiting for a tight end till late in your draft, but you have to shift quickly to what the data is telling you.
The current fantasy football landscape is dominated by 3 elite tight ends with a serious drop-off afterward (Kelce, Kittle, and Waller). When looking for a positional advantage the amount of elite tight ends is so thin that's it worth making sure you feel confident in the positional sooner rather than later in your draft.
If these three studs get snatched up quickly in your draft then I'd advise trying to pick a remaining tight end on a team without a strong number two receiving option. History shows that tight ends see a major boost in targets in this situation which is what you are looking for in this position.
Mistake #05: Drafting a Kicker Too Early
One common draft mistake that fantasy football managers make is wanting to fill out their starting roster. For many, this means grabbing a kicker in the 10th round.
For the most part, kickers are interchangeable in fantasy football and do not provide a positional advantage. This is why many managers draft a kicker in the last round of their draft.
Picking up a high-end starting quarterback or running back will likely provide more points per week than taking an average one with upside that does not pan out at #12 overall, so it's best to wait on drafting your first kicker until you need him.
Pro Tip: I personally like the strategy of not drafting a kicker at all. Use the last spot on your roster to grab a high-value handcuff. We know that at least one high-profile player will get injured during the preseason. Why not grab a lottery ticket for free and drop your last pick right before the first game of the season if injuries do not change the situation.
Mistake #06 Not Utilizing Mock Drafts
A mock draft is a great way to get an idea of where your league-mates will be drafting players. I recommend the following:
If you know your draft position ahead of time, use the ADP Rank of players to determine where they might be drafted. Have a list of your 'my guys' before the draft and don't be afraid pull the trigger I little early to get your players. At the end of the day, fantasy football is about having fun. Don't be afraid to slightly reach for your breakout candidate so you can brag the rest of the season to your league.
This is important because, in a typical 12-team league, you'll have 11 other managers selecting before your turn every round. If there are not many alternatives available at that point, make sure to take an average player and don't try for too much upside!
Mistake #07 Drafting Players Based on Popularity
While it's good to use history as a predictor of future success, it's important to know how to differentiate between a player's value and their popularity.
Every year we have some high-profile players who are suiting up for a new team. Big contracts do not necessarily colorate into fantasy points so be cautious on players in new situations (I'm talking to you, Kenny Golladay).
Mistake #08 Reaching Too Far for Players at Positions of Strength
It can be tempting to pick up players in positions where they are scarce, but this is usually the wrong move. It's much smarter to draft more depth than you need rather than reach for a player that doesn't have a high enough ceiling.
Having depth always pays off and will give you trade leverage as the season progresses.
Mistake #09 Focusing Too Much on Bye Weeks and Schedule Matchups
This is an area where people can get lost in the weeds and, not surprisingly, make mistakes. It's easy to get a plan in your head of what your roster will look like in Week 10 and beyond, but the one thing I know about fantasy football is things change quickly.
Studs get injured and the defenses we thought were an easy matchup from the prior year suddenly got a whole lot better. Focus on getting great value and the right matchups to get off to a hot start and worry about assembling the perfect playoff roster once you get that playoff spot locked up.
Mistake #10 Not Drafting Players with High Upside
Your draft is won or lost in the later rounds of the draft. All too often I see fantasy managers spend valuable draft capital on players with a defined role in an offense with a very low ceiling.
In the latter half of the year, you are looking for those unproven players that can potentially break out this year. The great thing about taking a shot on these types of players is it allows you to free up roster spots quickly if your narrative doesn't pan out.
Save yourself the headache of having a known WR5 on your bench all season that never gets close to your flex position and take a shot on those players that could move the needle under the right circumstances.
We’ve done the hard work of identifying 10 common mistakes that people make on draft day. Avoid these pitfalls and you'll have a much better shot at assembling an unbeatable roster.
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