So, while all of the rankings are being made, it's wise to take a little time out of your day to learn about draft strategy. After all, what is the point of doing all the research if you're just going to misuse it.
Read on to learn the Top Ten Fantasy Football Draft Mistakes:
10) Obsession with the best at each position
It's really unbelievable sometimes to see fantasy football players wasting their mid-rounds picks to make big reaches rather than drafting valuable depth. Sure, Nate Kaeding and the Pittsburgh Defense are on the top of the Kicker and Defense rankings, but passing up on a solid WR3 or backup running back to get them is ludicrous.
You don't want to be the owner who has an unfortunate injury in Week 4 and end up kicking yourself for drafting the Bears' D instead of Jahvid Best and end up having to take Michael Bush off waivers.
9) The Unforgivable Sin of Drafting Useless Players
You'll find a common theme for Fantasy Football Draft Day Mistakes -- completely wasting your picks. A simple test when you get to late rounds is asking "Is there any way that I'm going to use this player?" The answer is overwhelmingly "No."
If you have a tight end already drafted, you do not need a second. Even a backup QB is arguable in smaller leagues. So rather than drafting useless backups that will take up valuable space, take some sleeper risks in the late rounds. It is better to have gambled and have a chance of hitting it big than choosing a mediocre, older player who will get you nothing better than 2 points a week.
8) The Need for Speed aka "Al Davis Syndrome"
Do you know why the Raiders suck year after year? Because they can't draft. Don't be the fantasy player that falls into the same hole. In the early-mid rounds, do your research. You get fantasy points from statistics, not from combine results.
Devin Hester has blazing speed. Darren Sproles and Heyward-Bey are up there as well. But don't get stuck on that. (Unless you are in one of those God-forsaken points for return yards leagues, in which case I hate you.) This is fantasy football. If you are going to be blinded, make it by touchdown totals or yards per game, not 40 time or bench press reps.
7) Drafting Players Based on Personal Preference
I'll admit, that I fall into this category. We're all football fans, so we naturally have certain players we love, and likely even more players that we despise.
I think that done in moderation, you can get around this one. But if you take it to the extreme, you are in trouble. It's no secret that I'm a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. But that doesn't mean that I won't draft DeSean Jackson or Hakeem Nicks if they fall into my lap. Have a grudge against Chad Ochocinco, Michael Vick or Vincent Jackson? Grow a pair and look past it. This is a fantasy football draft, not speed dating.
The same holds true for players you like. If you are a huge Seattle Seahawks fan (someone has to be), that doesn't make it a good decision to have Tavares Jackson as your 5th round pick and starter. Marshawn Lynch had a couple nice games, but he's still not even in the top 30. It'll be OK. If you don't draft your favorite player, I promise they won't find out about it. And if so, they won't hurt you. Unless it's Plaxico Burress.
I mentioned that I'm a Cowboys fan, and that there is a way around this. I have a personal rule to not play anyone who is going up against the Dallas Cowboys. I will still draft them, and use them every week. But not against the Cowboys. If you are OK with leaving some point on your bench, then this is doable. And if you are as fantastic at fantasy football as me, your bench will make up for it.
6) Not Understanding the Scoring System of Your League
Understanding the league you are in is crucial. If you are in a points per reception (PPR) league, you are going to draft differently than if you are not. The entire player ranking draft board shifts when this simple stat is added. Running backs will jump and fall out of the top ten based solely on this .5-point statistic.
Many leagues break free of the general scoring rules to amend quarterback statistics for yardage, greatly increasing or decreasing certain players. If you are in a league that has points taken off for missed field goals, you are going to have a much better league drafting Matt Bryant over Dan Carpenter, though the opposite is likely in leagues that don't deduct points for misses.
So before your draft, before you even make your draft sheet, take a look at your league scoring rules. It will pay off more than you think. And then on draft day you can sit back in your PPR league and laugh at the sap drafting LeGarrette Blount over Felix Jones.
5) Not Planning Past the First Four Rounds
Any moron with a fantasy football magazine and internet access can successfully draft for the first four rounds. Get your running backs, get a receiver, get a quarterback. Its not rocket science. If you have heard of football, you can likely name the best fantasy players.
So, don't go into your draft without having a plan and the necessary documents to last through every single round. The drafting of backups requires intelligence and skill. Don't laugh. You need creativity and foresight to compete in your league. And without a strategy going in, you are putting yourself at a major disadvantage.
4) Not Paying Attention to the NFL Preseason
We live in an age of running back committees and rotating wide receivers. Which makes watching the preseason important. Especially in this post-lockout season where there has been no training to get positions set. No team in the NFL is without inter-team competition at numerous positions.
In the 2011 season, many starting players will be figured out in the preseason. Meaning that as a fantasy football owner, staying abreast of the preseason happenings is necessary. Missing out on some of these all-important games might have you drafting a backup ahead of his starter. That's no good. By watching the games, you will know which players to draft in the midrounds because they will likely share time, and which players get bumped a little higher because they are the only starting back in their system.
Just look at Arian Foster from last season. Chances are that he was drafted later than round 10 last year, if at all. And you know who drafted him? Someone who watched a Houston preseason game and saw him getting all the work, and making big plays. You could literally watch him leaving Steve Slaton in the dust. Yet, in many leagues, he was picked off waivers in Week 2. So pay attention. You might just find the best fantasy football player in the league that way.
3) Drafting Your Defense or Kicker Before the Last 2 Rounds
This is perhaps the biggest rookie fantasy football drafting mistake there is. In no league is it better to draft Bironas or Crosby in Round 8 than drafting a solid backup receiver or running back. No excuses. Wait til the end.
When the season finally rolls around, you will find that the Pittsburgh Steelers or Green Bay Packers defense that was likely drafted by some imbecile in round 7 is scoring the same amount of points as the Tampa Bay or Oakland Raider defense that was picked up in round 15, or even left on the board.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the best kicker in the league last year (not counting misses) ended with 150 points. The 15th ranked kicker had 115. 15 draft picks down at kicker, and its only a 35 point difference, two points per week. So save the kicker for last, it might cost you one point per week, but the five points you gained by drafting a wide receiver instead will make up for it.
2) Reaching for Name Value
There are unquestionably going to be owners in your fantasy league that will draft players from round four to the very end based solely on their name. "Eli Manning won a Super Bowl just a few years back, I'm totally stealing him in round 4!" False. Don't be that guy.
Sure, there are a lot of players that were fantasy heroes in years past: Steven Jackson, Donovan McNabb, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, etc. But it's time to let go of the past. There are plenty of lesser known names in positions far ahead of these guys. Draft smart, take a risk in the middle rounds. Again, it is better to have gambled on a sleeper than have Thomas Jones rotting on your bench every week.
1) Not Preranking Your Players
The most important part of your pre-draft strategy. It is unlikely that this step will be overlooked by a fantasy football owner, but I guarantee that half the people in your league are doing it wrong. There are draft lists all over the internet (though God Hates Losers is by far the best), books and magazine dedicated to ranking players, and hundreds of mock drafts to look at. So do it.
Take the time out of your day a couple of times before draft day to enter a mock draft. Instead of taking in another rerun of That 70s Show, log in to ESPN or Yahoo! and mock up 16 rounds, you'll learn a thing or two.
Once you have a general idea of where players are going, make a list. You'll find that the best fantasy owners will look at a handful of already compiled lists and then CREATE THEIR OWN. This is important. Have your own personal style. Go with your gut in the mid to late rounds. It might just pay off. And more importantly, you'll thank me.