With NFL regular season just one week away, many fantasy team owners — myself included — are preparing for their upcoming fantasy football drafts. Some fans spend months preparing for their drafts, coming up with all sorts of analytics and putting in hours of research. Others simply wing it. I fall more so into the latter category, but with that said, I don’t go into a draft without any sort of game plan.
Every year, I put forth the same strategy to build my roster. While it is not based on statistics or analytical research, it seems to yield teams for me that compete for a title every season. If you’re looking for in-depth advice, check out ESPN, but if you just want to have fun playing fantasy, not put too much work into it and be able to compete, here is my fantasy football advice for the casual fantasy player.
First, angle for late first round pick positioning: In most online leagues, the draft order is randomized, but if you are in a league that has drawings or allows players to choose their preferred positioning, choose the latest pick possible. Although you will miss out on several of the top prospects, mainly the best of the running backs, under the typical snake draft format, it will yield you the first pick of the second round. You will be able to get two very good players, as opposed to one of the best players.
Next, use the “no running back” strategy: Assess the minimum number of required running backs in your league and don’t take more than that number early on in the draft. Focus on drafting many running backs late in the draft. If you take chances on several underrated players late in the draft, one or two are bound to work out. Also, watch the waiver wire early in the season. After an injury to a starting running back, be the first to submit a claim for their backup. The exception to this strategy is if you are in a league with two required running backs and you have a top-five pick. If Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara or others are available, take them, and then implement the depth running back strategy later in the draft.
Stock up on wide receivers early: Use at least three of your first four picks at the wide receiver position. As previously stated, only take a running back in the first round if you can get one of the top available running backs at the top of the round. Otherwise, aim for a value running back pick in the third, fourth or fifth rounds. Plan to fill all of your week-one flex positions with receivers.
Plan out your first four picks: As soon as you find out your draft position, decide who you want to pick in each of the first four rounds. Whether it be specific players or a specific type of players, have an expectation for what the top positions in your lineup will look like after the first few rounds, and include contingencies in your plan.
Perhaps as important as anything one can do at the draft, watch the waiver wire like a hawk. Be sure to pick up any player who has a breakout start to their season. Even if they don’t have a clear role in your lineup immediately, injuries happen, and they can always be used as trade bait. Don’t be afraid to make a lot of moves, and make sure to follow up a casual draft performance with constant attention throughout the season.