Last-Minute Fantasy Football Draft-Day Advice You Can't Afford To Miss

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IAugust 29, 2010

Being cool under pressure has brought Peyton Manning plenty of success. It will do the same for you on fantasy football draft day.
Being cool under pressure has brought Peyton Manning plenty of success. It will do the same for you on fantasy football draft day.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Like a hyperactive ballerina attempting to kill an airborne hornet with a flyswatter, my five-year-old daughter swung the Wii remote and her on-screen golf ball landed dead center of the fairway, just a short chip from the green.

I take the remote and stand in perfect form. Feet squared, head steady, swing fluid, follow-through perfect. Tiger Woods would have been impressed. Except my ball landed knee-high in weeds, out of bounds.

I suddenly realized why they put a wrist strap on the remote. I could have thrown it through the TV screen. I stomped, shook my head, and couldn’t believe that despite my best efforts, once again, I was losing Wii Sports golf to a recent preschool graduate.

My daughter looked up with a big grin and asked, “Are you having fun?”

She was right. I wasn’t enjoying the moment. I should have been. Just a few more weeks until she starts kindergarten. Any time spent with her is a win-win proposition.

And I realized, while preparing for a fantasy football draft later that day, that we can find ourselves in a similar trap on draft day.

So worried about the strategies, sleepers, smack talk, and overall nuts of bolts of drafting that we lose sight of what is really important on draft day.


Catching up with friends.

Having fun.

In fact, I would argue that the key to successful fantasy drafting is just that. Having fun on draft day. The rest comes naturally.

Like Billy Chapel in the movie “For Love of the Game.” A pitcher working his way through a perfect game. Every pitch, he “cleared the mechanism.”  He blocks out the extra fluff and distractions and does what comes naturally, living in the moment and achieving greatness in the process.

How can you clear the mechanism on draft day? Here are a few suggestions …

Admit up front that you will not have a perfect draft.

You will make mistakes and will likely have regrets. Not trying to be a pessimist, but if you go into the draft allowing yourself to mess up, there is a better chance you’ll be able to bounce back after making a less-than-excellent selection.

This suggestion comes from my Tiger Woods strategy to drafting a fantasy baseball team …a post I wrote this past spring.

The concept is simple. Tiger Woods didn’t dominate golf because he could drive the ball further than all his opponents or putt or chip better than everyone else on the PGA Tour.

He was an elite talent because he could bounce back from his mistakes better than other players. He’d make a bad shot and then go right back to work as if the mistake didn’t bother him.

In other words, Tiger gave himself permission to make mistakes. They were expected at times. You’ll benefit from the same frame of mind.

Do your homework, but don’t become overly obsessed by it.

Ever hang out with a good contractor? If you have, you’ll notice that when he goes out on a call, he doesn’t just take the tools he thinks he’ll need for a specific job. He takes a little of everything.

Same goes for your fantasy draft. You could check out just one set of rankings or one person’s opinions on strategy or sleepers or draft prep. But you’d be selling yourself short.

The more prepared you feel going into draft day, the less you’ll be rattled when your plans go a little awry.

At, we have more than 100 pages of exclusive fantasy football advice, strategies, rankings, sleepers, etc. All for free.

We help you from being a fantasy football beginner to drafting strategies for each position on your roster (QB, RB, WR, TE, K, D). You’ll learn to zig when other league owners zag. You can analyze our writers’ mock draft. We have nearly 50 rankings lists covering all sorts of league settings, scoring systems, etc.

However, balance is important here.

One can only use one set of cheat sheets on draft day. You can only draft so many sleepers or value players on a given team. Going overboard will take away from your overall experience if you become overly obsessed with cramming to the point of exhaustion.

So, read enough content to make you feel confident on draft day, but don’t oversaturate yourself. Remember that the key is having fun on draft day. The rest will fall into place moving forward.

There’s plenty of ways to fix your team during the season.

Many people look at fantasy draft day as the one and only way to create a championship team. In reality, a fantasy team needs to be able to handle the ebbs and flows of a season-long minefield full of injuries, benchings and underperformances.

That is why, just like the real NFL, most fantasy leagues have waiver wires, free agency and trades.

Making smart waiver wire moves happen as soon as your draft is over…honing in on talented players that may have fallen between the cracks.

Changes in playing status throughout the season usually leads to some hidden gems that are ripe for picking off free agency at the cost of an unused player on the tail end of your bench.

Trading takes practice. It requires watching the stocks-like up-and-down value of each player. The best way to stay ahead of such news is to find a few reliable sources and stick with them.

At, we will be updating our site every time we can to help find value options worth targeting in a trade.

I’d also encourage you to communicate with us directly. Leave a comment tacked onto one of our posts or you can e-mail me directly.

The bottom line is that every team can be tweaked over the course of the season. A bad draft doesn’t mean your season is over … in fact, in those cases, the fun is just beginning.


Practice nearly perfect.

I’ve been teaching my daughter to ride her bike without training wheels. Of course, the first experience was a scary one for both her and myself. The second and third were a little hairy, too.

However, over time, riding a bike, as we all know, becomes comfortable. Totally natural.

Same with fantasy football. Mock drafts are great ways to test your drafting mettle against others with fantasy know-how. At, there are some very easy-to-use mock draft modules for both serpentine drafts and auction-based styles.

Just remember this little catch-phrase … the more you mock, the more you’ll rock on draft day.


Don’t forget to set the atmosphere.

It is hard to be relaxed if you are drafting in an uncomfortable setting.

So, unless there’s a dress code at your in-person draft, wear something comfortable. Be sure there are beverages and snacks. Some leagues order pizza, others hold their drafts at restaurants.

If you are drafting online from your home, dorm or apartment, treat yourself to a nice meal or snack during the draft. Again, wear comfy clothes and relax as much as possible.

After your draft, take time to get advice from unbiased sources about your squad’s strengths and weaknesses. Again, we’d love to help you at … simply drop us a line in one of the posts, or e-mail me directly.

In the meantime, enjoy some mocks, check out some reliable fantasy content and take it easy…literally…on draft day.


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