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Don’t Shirk Draft Strategy

If you want to win your fantasy football league, you better have a good draft strategy.

Anyone can draft a fantasy football team. On the surface, it looks incredibly simple. So why doesn’t everyone draft a good team? That’s the hard part. But even a little draft strategy goes a long way.

It’s imperative to have some a strategy heading into your fantasy football draft, even if it’s at a high level. You’ve probably heard of Zero RB and a half-dozen other popular strategies for drafting, and wondered if you should try one. When done right those types of strategies can yield positive results. However, I don’t like being locked into a strategy: the best draft moves come on the fly and that’s how savvy owners yield competitive teams year after year.

So how do you prepare to be one of those owners? Strategize.

Mock draft, mock draft, mock draft

Allen Iverson may not agree, but take practice seriously. If you haven’t run a mock draft yet, what the heck are you waiting for? Your draft will be here before you know it, so familiarizing your

self with what players are being picked in what rounds will help you determine who to target when it’s go time. At a minimum, draft from the Nos. 1, 5 and 10 spots if you don’t know the order of your draft. That will give you great scenarios no matter where you end up on draft day. Whatever app you’re using for fantasy, it has a mock draft option (if it doesn’t find a new one). Or head over to FantasyPros and use their free tool.

Pay attention

Stick to your strategy and don’t get too concerned with what other owners are doing, but make sure you’re following every move on the board. Take a cheat sheet and cross draft picks off as you go. Most importantly: don’t listen to the chatter, as your competition will surely try to psyche you out. If they’re smart, that is.

Load up on running backs and wide receivers

Your strategy for the first six rounds, generally speaking, should involve drafting RBs and WRs. These are the players who will provide the best return on investment. I’m not saying you can’t draft a quarterback or tight end during these rounds, but if you do make sure it’s strategic and not reactionary. Many drafts follow trends, and if your league mates start drafting QBs early it’s hard to resist the temptation. But practice patience and wait for the right opportunity: remember you want value based on average draft position.

Wait on a QB

QB is a deep position this season, so don’t reach for Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Instead target one of these guys accordingly: Jimmy Garoppolo (ADP 90), Matthew Stafford (ADP 96) or Phillip Rivers (ADP 108). In a recent 10-team PPR mock, I picked up Ben Roethlisberger with the 118th overall pick in the 12th round. Garoppolo was also still available. Don’t reach!

Get the best of the rest

Stay sober. Seriously. While your buddies are downing beers in the later rounds it’s time to focus on your strategy. This is where you find value. This is where you find the next Alvin Kamara. This is where mock drafting comes in super handy. Jot down a list of players who your feel could be the best sleeper or breakout candidates and pick up those available.

Sleeper special

One guy I’m high on: Redskins third-year wide receiver Josh Doctson, whose ADP of 151 is primed to give you some serious value. Doctson flashed at times toward the end of last season, and Jay Gruden has said he’s the top dog among a receiving corps that includes Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson (acquired from the Seahawks). Doctson figures to see a heavy target share and could easily become new QB Alex Smith’s favorite red zone target.

Kickers and Defense/Special Teams

I watched in bemused horror last season as one of my league mates drafted Stephen Gostkowski in the third round. Do I need to tell you he finished last? Get a good defense before you pick a kicker in the last round.

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