Today's the day, the day you've been preparing for all offseason. You wake up, you feel great and you're ready to go pick a championship squad.
But wait a second, you've never done this before. Now your nerves are kicking in. Am I going to mess up my first draft up? What happens when the guy I want isn't there? I've broken down how to prepare and how your day will go leading up to draft time.
The amount of preparation you've done will directly impact how your draft day is going to go. Your day is either going to go really slowly because you've done all your research and can't wait for the draft or it's going to go extremely quickly leaving you no time to do last minute research.
On draft day luck doesn't tend to fall on those who need it most, it tends to go to those who are mostly prepared. I guess you could argue that's not luck, but whatever it is, it is something you should want.
Draft Day Timeline
I've broken draft day down into 6 main categories as that's how I approach the day. Parts of this may not apply to you but overall it should give you an idea of how your nerves and emotions will fluctuate during the day.
Like I keep harping on, being prepared will help you out in more ways than you can imagine.
The Preparation Period (Before Draft Day)
Take advantage of the offseason. I'm not saying that you need to be reading rankings in April and listening to podcasts in May. All I'm requesting is that when July rolls around you start reading some blogs, looking at rankings and trying to figure out what transpired in the NFL offseason. This isn't the best approach possible but it'll provide you with plenty of information and time to get ready for the season.
If you happen to join a league last minute, there's nothing you can do. Just print off some cheat sheets and hope that your NFL knowledge will be enough to get you through the draft. You'll likely have to be one of the most active on the wavier wire and find a steal or two, but there's no reason you still can't succeed.
For those of you that are looking to put in more effort than most in you league you need need to realize that the fantasy football season never ends. Following your championship game there's NFL free agency, the NFL draft, trades and many offseason moves. All of these changes impact the values of players and how you should view them. Read some of the most popular fantasy blogs, check out the fantasy rankings of experts and just enjoy the NFL offseason.
The Morning of the Draft
Version 1 (You didn't prepare before the draft): Your alarm didn't go off and now you're late for work. You're scrambling around the house and the thought of the fantasy draft hasn't even crossed your mind. You brushed your teeth, skipped breakfast and raced to the office. You walk in and you already know your boss isn't happy.
Sounds like your day is off to a great start. You're getting slammed with paperwork and meetings and you haven't even had a chance to check anything fantasy related. You keep telling yourself you'll make some time this afternoon to prepare but you know things never go according to plan.
Version 2 (You've prepared at least a bit): Honestly your day might be going just as poorly as the guy who didn't prepare. However in the grand scheme of things being prepared for the draft later in the day is going to make you feel a million bucks better about your chances (at least it should).
Your day may also be going perfectly smoothly. In that case just enjoy the day and the freedom you have. Don't overdo any fantasy things on the day of. If you've prepared you know your shit. IF you're still convinced you need to cram, you're not as prepared as you keep telling yourself.
My disclaimer: Of course theres no factual proof behind either of these scenarios. Your day might just go fine. I'm just trying to paint a worst case scenario especially if you haven't prepared.
The Afternoon Before the Draft
At this stage of the game it doesn't matter how your day has gone. By now you know that the draft is only hours away. You've likely already heard smack talk from fellow league members or hopefully you just knew that today was the day.
Based on my experience you're going to want to spend your lunch (especially in the working world) looking over your fantasy rankings and analyzing last minute trends. I suggest you resist the urge. You're going to over analyze and psych yourself out. Go out to lunch or go grab a drink. Distract yourself from thinking too much fantasy football. Unless you haven't prepared at all. In that case it's time to panic and start reading about what fantasy football experts think online.
The Last Supper
The time has almost come. Draft time is right on the horizon and you're getting excited (at least you should be).
Don't underestimate how important eating a good meal is. This isn't a groundbreaking idea here. You're always going to feel better on a full stomach and of course if you're drinking you probably don't want to do it on an empty stomach. Pick a meal you're going to enjoy. You're going to need all the energy you can get.
Everything has finally fallen into place. You've rolled out of bed, gone about your day and had your last meal. All of your league mates have gathered around and are already talking trash. The alcohol is flowing and the misleading statements have begun. Everyone has a target they want to fall into their laps and some people are going to get lucky. Listening to the pre-draft chatter is always interesting and keeps your opponents guessing.
The time is official here. The commissioner has stood up, spoken to the league and the draft has officially begun. The first memeber of your league rises and puts his pick on the board. It's officially open season. Boom. Just like that the dominoes start falling and then comes the shocker, Tom Brady in round 2!? There's always someone good for a curveball or two.
As the draft continues so does the alcohol. The trash talk is escalating and the questionable picks are growing by the round. This means you have the chance to strike. Find the diamond in the rough or stop the slide of the guy who has fallen too far. This is where you win championships.
It all starts on draft day.
All of your months of research has now culminated in your newest fantasy team. As you stare at the draft board you're hopefully in love with the guys you have.
It's normal for everyone to love their team. No one ever thinks they had a bad draft and your personal opinion is all that matters for that night. Despite how great you feel there are always going to be some people who don't like your team. News flash: the team everyone loves the most at the draft usually doesn't end up as the best overall as the season progresses. It's possible but not a lock like you'll think that night.
In the days following the fantasy draft you'll look at your team and believe you have so much talent and that nothing can go wrong. I advise you to start looking at the waiver wire immediately to see your options. You don't have to make a move but be conscious of who's out there and who holds the most value. It may pay off when you least expect it.
The Keys to Draft Day
Over the past 8 years of playing fantasy football I've found that there are several tips that help me get through draft day feeling great. Some of these include:
- Prepare beforehand -You never know how the day of your draft will go. Don't get stuck needing to do your research on draft day. Preparation enhances the experience.
- Don't stress yourself out - You've prepared for draft day. Don't overanalyze the research you've already done.
- Enjoy the moment - Draft day only comes once a year. Enjoy the people you're with, the process and everything about the day. One day you'll look back and realize it was even better than you imagined.
- Don't panic - Guys you want to draft are going to get taken, sometimes right before your pick. Don't panic, this is why you've prepared. Trust your gut and your rankings.
- Enjoy the fruits of your labor - After you finish drafting take some time to appreciate your team. You worked hard for it. Enjoy the beauty in front of you because your roster is going to change quickly.
Obviously these are my personal keys to enjoying draft day, however I think they can be applied to most fantasy football players. Just enjoy what's going on around you. You never know when things may change or when you won't be able to do drafts in person with everyone in your league. Don't take it for granted.
Being Prepared for What's to Come
I'm clearly a huge advocate of preparing early on in the season. I think it's too easy to not do. The bigger picture though is that you can succeed without doing all of the prep work. You'll just have to get incredibly lucky (like really lucky) and play the waiver wire like a champ.
The hard work will come one way or another if you want to win in a serious league. Just making moves to make moves and going through the motions won't get you what you truly desire, a championship.
If you've been playing fantasy for quite some time with the same league members you've likely learned many of their habits and how they think. Use it to your advantage when making picks and reaching for certain players. The players in your league will always fit some classic molds of fantasy football players, so keep those traits in mind.
Overall you need to enjoy the moment. Don't stress yourself out all day leading up to draft day. Just take advantage of the resources you have before you and you'll be just fine.
What Draft Day Tips Would You Recommend?
Do you have other draft day tips you believe help you survive the day and help you become a better player? Share them below. We'd love to see what you've got in store.
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
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