2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Fantasy Football Draft Mistakes: Don’t Ruin Your Draft


The fantasy season is rapidly approaching and before you know it, it will be draft season. The fantasy draft is the time to flex your knowledge and demonstrate that you’ve been paying attention all offseason. However, all that knowledge is useless if you don’t go into the draft with a solid draft strategy; and I don’t necessarily mean zero-RB or RB-RB.

While these different draft “mantras” have their advantages and disadvantages, it is very important to consider some taboo acts — things you definitely should not do during a draft.

Committing one of these blunders might not tank your draft, but stack them high enough and you’ll be sure to start a step behind your peers. For some tips on what you SHOULD be doing, check out Richard Savill’s Fantasy Football Draft Tips article.

Fantasy Football Draft Mistakes

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Don’t Take Anything as Gospel

No one person or one website gets it right 100% of the time. If they did, there’d be no point in playing fantasy football. Read advice columns, analysis, scouting reports, and pre-draft rankings to your heart’s content, but know that the world of fantasy football is constantly changing and always unpredictable. Don’t be afraid to disagree with “expert” opinions.

Don’t Be Unprepared

Alright, let’s imagine this scenario. It’s draft day, and you and your group of friends are circled around a table, laptops out, talking about what they’ve done to prepare for the day. You’ve all participated in dozens of mock drafts, browsed r/fantasyfootball 24/7, and David even quit his day job to watch 2020 film. Then, Justin strolls in five minutes before the draft and says: “Nah man, I didn’t do much research or anything. I’m just gonna wing it.”

Don’t be a Justin. Justin finishes last every year.

Be prepared! You’ve got a ton of time before the draft so there’s ample time to research the simple things.

Understanding the Scoring

There’s a huge difference between standard and PPR scoring as well as four points for passing touchdowns vs six. Some leagues play with return yardage while others might deviate from the standard DST scoring rules. A new popular wrinkle is “points for first down” which rewards steady players over big-play dependent boom-bust players. Different scoring rules require different draft strategies.

Learn the Ins and Outs of Your Draft Platform

Different websites use different draft applications unique to their websites. So if you’re used to playing on NFL.com and your new league plays on ESPN, there’s going to be some major differences.

The statistics might show up differently, the queue will be set up differently, and you might have more or less time to draft. Familiarize yourself with the application that your league will be using by doing mock drafts. Being able to use them efficiently can leave you more time to decide between players.

Most importantly, different websites set up their pre-draft rankings differently and this can drastically affect your draft strategy. Most players draft by making their way down the pre-draft rankings list so you can use this to your advantage. For example, if ESPN has Mike Davis listed as their 79th ranked player, but you like him around 60, you can grab him before most of your draftmates are even thinking about him.

Don’t Take a Quarterback Early

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While you should always keep an open mind and consider taking a quarterback early, your best bet is to wait. The consistency and explosiveness of the top quarterbacks in the league are certainly worth it. But there are so many good quarterbacks in this pass-heavy league we have now that you can get a talented passer in the later rounds and be just fine.

Josh Allen, Tom Brady and Justin Herbert all finished the season as top-10 fantasy quarterbacks and they were all drafted after the eighth round. Not only that but since a standard league can only start 10 or 12 quarterbacks, it will be much easier to find value on the waivers during the season than at skill positions.

Again, this is not an iron-clad rule so use your best judgment. If Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes falls to you in the fifth round, they become great values at that draft position.

Don’t Be Stubborn

Sometimes it pays to be stubborn. My father asked my mother out four times before she finally said yes and now here I am.

However, in Fantasy Football, stubbornness doesn’t always pay off. Don’t go into the draft firmly set on drafting three running backs in a row or a quarterback in the seventh round. A huge part of draft success is being flexible to the changes around you.

If you planned on taking running backs with your first two picks but if Tyreek Hill falls to you in the second round, be ready to change course.

Another important thing to keep an eye on during your draft are “runs” at a certain position. There may come a point in the draft where seven tight ends are taken within two rounds and you might be stuck with Eric Ebron if you don’t take one soon. Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger even if you had not planned on taking a tight end early.

Don’t Take a Defense Early

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Many times you’ll see people get enamored with the idea of having the “best” defense or completely filling out their starting lineup and reach for a defense in the middle rounds. While on the surface this seems to make sense, the truth is that the opportunity cost of taking an “elite” defense isn’t worth missing out on potentially grabbing a sleeper running back or wide receiver who could win you your league.

On top of that, DST scoring is the most volatile position in fantasy football (which is why it may not be a bad idea to rid your league of it). Over the past seven years, 28 teams different teams have finished within the top 10 season-long scorers.

Even if you think you have a sure thing like the Steelers or Rams defense, since 2012, only the Steelers in 2019 and 2020 have repeated as #1 defenses. Based on the last eight years, the number one fantasy DST is more likely to finish outside of the top 10 than inside of it.

With most leagues only needing one defense to start, you can likely find one good defense out of 20 or so on the waiver wire that will be more than competent. And if you really want to do your homework, look into streaming defenses: picking up and dropping defenses weekly based on their matchup.

Don’t Take a Kicker Before the Last Round

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While I agree with Rich Eisen that kickers are people too, their importance is devalued in the fantasy football world. Kickers’ scoring is volatile from season to season and it’s insanely hard to predict who will excel (besides the top guys like Justin Tucker or Harrison Butker).

In fact, I’ve been in leagues that don’t play with kickers because it’s so random week to week.

However, if your league has a kicker slot, treat it like a defense – use the opportunities you have in the earlier rounds to pick up some sleepers then try to pick the best kicker available in the last round. Chances are you’ll probably end up dropping him for some kicker you’ve never heard of before the season anyways.

Don’t Be a Homer

A huge part of Fantasy Football is fandom. Being a fan of a player or a team and consequently the league drives most people to participate in Fantasy Football.

However, there is a time when that needs to be put aside and that time is during the draft. For example, as a Ravens fan I detest the Steelers. But that doesn’t mean when push comes to shove I won’t draft Najee Harris or JuJu Smith-Schuster. I’d take them and I’ll just pray they get their numbers in a loss when they play Baltimore.

Properly gauge the outlook of your team and draft or don’t draft your favorite players accordingly.

Don’t Panic

Drafting can be stressful. Between the ticking clock, a dozen people talking at once, players flying off the board, managing your needs and looking at other teams’ needs, trying to grab a slice of pizza, figuring out who you need to handcuff, and then all of a sudden BOOM it’s your pick with 30 seconds left and your queue is empty. Don’t panic. Trust your gut and trust the time that you spent researching.

Another time panic sets in is after the draft. While some people look at their teams and see an undefeated season, others might look at their team with disdain. Even if your team looks somewhat weak after the draft, you never know how things will turn out. Focus on the lesser parts and try to boost them through the waiver wire or trades the first couple weeks. The draft is the start of the season but it’s not necessarily the tell-all litmus test.

Don’t Take Things Too Seriously

At the end of the day, a Fantasy Football draft and league is all for fun. It’s a hobby that keeps us interested in the league, keeps us in touch with some friends, and gives us that competitive juice.

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Fantasy Football drafts, especially live drafts (and ESPECIALLY live drafts with adult beverages), can get rowdy at times with all the trash talk and the sniping of picks, but it’s important to be able to see the big picture and see what Fantasy Football is all about: whooping your friends’ asses and shoving it in their face afterward. So make sure you’re as prepared as possible for your draft because the draft is the first step towards accomplishing that.

Get prepared for the 2021 Fantasy Football season by checking out the rest of our Fantasy Football content.

About Kevin Huo

Kevin is a fantasy football writer for Fantasy Six Pack. He considers every angle - whether statistical or theoretical - when weighing his options and isn't afraid to be a contrarian. You can follow him on Twitter: @KevinMHuo

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