f you have been following my weekly Fantasy Football Impact article, you already know that I think this is the greatest time of the year. Sure holidays and birthdays and such are great, but as a fantasy football junkie, my favorite time of year is when it’s time to draft my fantasy teams.
This year I will be in at least five different leagues (if I don’t add anymore). Two money leagues with some of my friends here in the Detroit area, two expert leagues and one co-ed league with my wife, that is just for fun. All the leagues that I am involved in are a little different, which makes preparing for each of them all the more challenging.
Last weekend was a fantasy football draft dream weekend for me. I had my two live local money league drafts on back-to-back days (one Saturday and one Sunday), followed by one of my expert league drafts on Monday night.
Now, as I stated above each of these leagues were slightly different which posed some challenges in my draft preparation, but nothing I couldn’t overcome, especially since I am a staff member of the Bruno Boys Fantasy Football web site and I have wealth of information right at my fingertips.
Heading into these drafts I made sure I familiarized myself with the rules and scoring for each of the leagues and I noted any differences in each league. I can’t stress the importance of knowing your league rules and scoring system. It amazes me when I go to a draft and someone does not know the league rules and scoring system.
How can you prepare for a draft if you are not familiar with the rules and scoring?
Once I was familiar with each of the different league settings, it was time for me to prepare my rankings and tiers. I do have an advantage that many of you don’t; my cheat sheets for each position are published in the Bruno Boys Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets webazine.
Since I already have each position ranked, it was time for me to compile my overall top 200 and set my tiers. Next to knowing your league rules and scoring system, the most important thing you can do when preparing for a draft is to compile your rankings and tiers. You do not want to go to a draft and just wing it. This is another mistake I have seen many fantasy football owners make.
It is also important to have a draft strategy, just remember that your strategy may change based on what picks other owners may make throughout the draft, so you need to be prepared to alter your strategy.
With my rankings, tiers and basic draft strategy complete I am ready to draft.
Draft Day One
My first draft was Saturday, Aug. 22 at 1:00 PM, so I made sure to get a good night sleep, which is very important for me. This is a live draft in which we all get together and draft in person. I have been playing with these guys for six years now and I know going in that this is going to be a three or four hour affair.
Since I was up early and I was prepared ahead of time I decided to go for a two-mile run, to clear my head and not over focus on the draft. Running is something that I took up a while ago and it works for me, if you aren’t a runner I suggest doing something that works for you.
This is a pretty standard 12-team yearly re-draft league. The scoring is standard, but we do get six points for passing touchdowns and we get one point for every 20 yards passing. This adds a little more value to quarterbacks, but not enough to change my strategy.
In this draft I knew ahead of time that I would be picking in the 10th spot, which is an area in the draft I like to pick from. Picking No. 10 I know that I am going to get two of my top-14 rated players. This is a pretty veteran group of owners and there weren’t really any surprises early.
In the nine picks leading up to mine seven running backs and two quarterbacks went off the board and I was thrilled to land Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, who was the fifth rated player on my board. He had a breakout year in 2008, totaling over 1,600 yards with 20 total touchdowns and even if he has a 20 percent decrease in production in 2009, In my opinion I have just landed a great value pick.
With my second pick I landed Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson, who is ranked No. 8 on my list and a no-brainer pick for me. I just landed two stud running backs to build my team around and I couldn’t be happier. This is a great building block for me, since I place great value on the running back position.
The rest of the draft I kept with my strategy of taking the top-rated player on my board, while filling positions of need. I feel I was successful building a well balanced team. I have some weakness, especially at quarterback. I have Buffalo’s Trent Edwards and Carolina’s Jake Delhomme, but overall I feel I will be very competitive in this league.
I will not bore you with a pick-by-pick rundown of this draft, but I do feel my draft prep has paid off. My starting line-up is as follows: QB- T. Edwards / J. Delhomme, RB1- D. Williams, RB2- C. Johnson, WR1- M. Colston, WR2- W. Welker, Flex- V. Jackson / E. Royal, TE- D. Keller, K- N. Kaeding, D/ST- Philadelphia Eagles.
In every draft I look to land a sleeper or two and in this draft I was happy to land two rookie running backs. I added Denver’s Knowshon Moreno and Indianapolis’s Donald Brown in the middle rounds, hoping I found this years version Chris Johnson or Matt Forte.
Draft Day Two
Once again I made sure I got good nights sleep. Instead of going for a run today, I decided to hang out with my two sons and play some video games to keep my mind clear heading into the draft.
This draft has very few differences from the previous draft. Once again we all get together and draft in person, with very similar rules and scoring. It is also a 12-team league, but I do not know my draft position heading into the draft; we will draw our draft position at the draft.
Being that I have done a good job preparing for the draft I don’t mind not knowing my draft position ahead of time.
I am confident in my draft prep and I feel comfortable drafting from any position. The biggest handicap I have heading into this draft is that this is my first year in this league and I have only drafted with a couple of these guys in the past, but I am confident in my ability to improvise based on what the draft board brings to me and excited to get going.
I end up drawing the No. 6 pick and I am happy to land Houston running back Steve Slaton with my first pick. He is on one of the best young offenses in the NFL. In his rookie season in 2008 he had over 300 touches for more then 1,500 total yards with nine total touchdowns. I firmly believe that Slaton will improve on his overall totals in 2009.
Because of a run on wide receivers over the next two rounds I ended up drafting three straight running backs. This will leave me a little weak at wide receiver, but we start two running backs and a flex, so I am able to play all three running backs. Overall I am happy with this team.
I once again was able to draft taking the top-rated player off my list at each pick and I believe I have landed a very competitive team.
My starting line-up is as follows: QB- M. Schaub, RB1- S. Slaton, RB2- K. Smith, WR1- V. Jackson, WR2- B. Marshall, Flex- R. Grant, TE- G. Olsen, K- N. Rackers, D/ST- Indianapolis Colts.
Once again, I am pretty happy with the balance on this team, but as I stated I am pretty weak at wide receiver. The pick of Brandon Marshall scares me a lot, but I landed him in the fifth round which is good value for a guy who has topped 100 catches in back-to-back seasons.
There is a lot of risk with this pick though considering he is currently suspended by the Broncos. I did land Hines Ward in the seventh round and can fill him in at WR2 or Flex if needed.
Draft Day Three
This draft has the potential to be my toughest draft to date. This is a live on-line draft in which I will represent the Bruno Boys in the Fantasy Football Search Expert league. This should be a very competitive league.
It has 11 other well respected fantasy football writers and Blog Talk Radio hosts, including another Bruno Boys contributor, Ryan Hallam of Fighting Chance Fantasy. Not only will the landscape of this draft change because it is a PPR (point per reception) league, it will also have a strict one-minute time limit for picks.
With this draft falling on a Monday night, I just treated this like any other day. I worked at my day job from 9:30-6:00, came home and had dinner with my family, tucked my kids into bed and then sat down in front of my computer ready to draft.
Unfortunately, there were some problems out of our control and the draft that was slated to start at 9:00 didn’t get going until about 10:15. It was a little frustrating, but since I had myself well prepared I didn’t sweat it and I was ready to go once it started.
I had the 11th pick in a 12 team league and compared to the previous two drafts the pace of this draft was extremely quick. Like I said, there was a one-minute time limit between picks and after keeping a group of experts waiting for over an hour to start drafting rarely did anyone use their entire minute. Also, with this being a PPR league a high value was put on wide receivers.
The first round saw eight running backs and four wide receivers come of the board, with me landing the Rams’ running back Steven Jackson. I was very happy to land a top-ten running back that had 40 receptions in 12 games played last season.
With my second pick I felt a need to change my previous strategy of taking consecutive running backs and took my highest rated wide receiver, Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. In a PPR league I did not want to be left without an elite wide receiver.
Like I thought this draft was the toughest of the three, but I am happy with the final outcome. My starting line-up is as follows: QB- J. Cutler, RB1- S. Jackson, RB2- P. Thomas, WR1- C. Johnson, WR2- T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Flex- V. Jackson / C. Benson, TE- D. Clark, K- M. Crosby, D/ST- Tennessee Titans.
Drafting three fantasy football teams in three days was like heaven for me. It was like having Christmas three days in a row. Each day I was able to wake up with the excitement and anticipation of what players I will land on my teams. I firmly believe that I drafted three playoff contenders and as we all know anything can happen once you get into the playoffs.
Using the Bruno Boys Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets webazine along with the Bruno Boys Top-150 Cheat Sheets, I was able to put together very good rankings and tiers. I found these tools much more reliable then buying a magazine from a store that was published back in April or May. I am also very fortunate to have a very cool wife, who does not give me a hard time for all the hours I spend preparing for fantasy football. Good Luck on draft day!
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