Prepare Your Fantasy Football Roster for the Draft
When you research your fantasy football league and find out how many roster spots you have, you can turn your attention to preparing for your draft based on those requirements.
The roster for your fantasy football team will be quite specific, depending on your league. The following list presents the default roster for a Yahoo! public league. This team has 9 starting slots and 8 bench slots, for a total of 17 fantasy players. In this league, the draft would last for 17 rounds:
Wide receiver 1 (WR1)
Wide receiver 2 (WR2)
Wide receiver 3 (WR3)
Running back 2 (RB2)
Eight bench playersCredit: ©iStockphoto.com/George Peters 2008
The major positions on your fantasy roster are the same as the major positions on offense in football.
RBs take center stage in fantasy football as they are the offensive position with the most guaranteed touches, and they generally have the most opportunity to score a touchdown. RBs offer the most consistent scoring on a fantasy roster.
When drafting RBs select the ones from teams that rely on a sole back to get the most value out of that draft pick.
QBs should be your next priority as they also offer consistent fantasy value. In a 10-team fantasy league that only starts one QB, there will be plenty to go around as there are 32 possible starting QBs from which to choose.
Your QB is probably going to be your highest scoring player every week. Target a QB in the third to fifth rounds. There are a lot of owners that like to draft the best of the best QBs in the first round. This is a perfectly viable strategy, but watch out because the RB pool can become very shallow very quickly.
WRs are the boom or bust players of the fantasy world. They generally don’t get as many touches as a running back, but they can turn a bad day into a good one or a good day into a great day with one long play. A few WRs touch the ball as consistently as running backs, and high draft picks, even first or second round picks, should be spent on those players.
When choosing WRs, try to get a mix of receivers that catch a lot of balls but don’t often have the big plays and receivers that have a lot of big play potential. This will give you both constancy from the position and the possibility for big scores.
Only a few TEs are major parts of their teams’ offensive game plans; thus, a TE’s impact on your fantasy team is often limited. If you choose to draft one of those TEs who plays a significant role in the offense, it could reap great potential for fantasy scoring.
If you decline to spend the draft pick on one of those TE, or they are taken before you get a chance to select one, focus on other positions and wait until the mid rounds to roster a TE.
Most Ks get the job done, so you only need to draft one. Most experts will agree that you should not draft a kicker until the last few rounds of a draft. A kicker’s point potential is near impossible to determine on a weekly basis, and you will just need to monitor that player's production and make changes if necessary.
The last position in your starting lineup isn’t based on individual stats but on the stats of everyone on an NFL team’s DEF. You select an NFL’s defense to start each week, and you score fantasy points based on everything from TDs to sacks.
Sometimes, special teams’ plays (return TDs and yardage) also count for your defensive unit; in these leagues, the DEF will be called D/ST. More advanced leagues use individual defensive player (IDP) positions; in these types of leagues, you draft individual defensive players rather than the team DEF.
A league often will have a W/R/T position or Flex position. This is a starting roster spot that can be filled with a WR, RB, or a TE. This is a versatile position that you start your next best player after all other roster spots are filled. If you have three good running backs, then start two in the RB positions and one in the Flex position.
Some leagues even allow a QB to fill the flex spot. If this is the case, draft your second QB in the mid rounds and count on playing a second QB always.
If you’re a fantasy football novice, focus on the offensive players and a team DEF for now and consider joining an IDP league in the future.
If your league is a PPR (point per reception) league, your pre-draft player evaluations will need to be modified. A PPR league will offer points for every reception a player grabs. This makes receivers that catch a lot of balls but don’t get many yds/touchdowns more valuable. And it makes the few pass-catching RBs VERY valuable.
In addition to the starting lineup, each team also has backup players sitting on the bench. The size of your bench depends on the type of league you’re in and on how many starters you have.
Most benches range from five to ten players. Every NFL team has one week of the season off (the bye week), all players face some tough matchups, and injuries are sure to rear their ugly heads, so your bench will play a huge role in deciding your fantasy fate.
During the draft most online draft utilities will show what week the individual players have their bye week. Whether or not you take that in consideration is up to you.
You can draft in a way that spreads out the byes or potentially get one or two weeks where you have a lot of bye-week players. It will be rough for those one or two weeks, but the rest of the weeks you will be at full strength.
A common tactic when drafting bench players is drafting a starter’s handcuff. A handcuff is a real-life position player’s backup. This is a more prevalent tactic with running backs than any other position due to the position’s injury potential. If you spend a high draft pick on a running back, it may be wise to draft his backup in the later rounds as insurance should your starter go down with an injury.
Learn your league’s scoring settings before the draft. Standard leagues award just 4 points for a QB’s passing touchdown, and some commissioners like to change that number to 6 to keep it in line with all other touchdowns. Should you be in a league where a passing touchdown is 6, the QB position becomes far more valuable and a higher draft priority.
Most leagues have roster rules that teams must follow during the draft. For example, you can’t draft only RBs and leave your roster without a TE. The common requirements state that each team must have a complete starting lineup based on league settings, but your bench players can play any position. Some leagues also set bench requirements.
Usually, you can carry as many position players as you choose, but some leagues have restrictions to prevent collusion and unfair play. For example, some leagues may limit you to two QBs, two TEs, and two DEFs, with no limit on WRs and RBs.
Be careful with your fantasy football services pre-rankings. Most of the time the pre-rankings are based on a player's potential to score fantasy points but often overlook outside factors that may affect that player. Pre-rankings are a good starting point but your own research and knowledge should supplement them.
Depending on the league settings you may have between 1-1/2 and 2 minutes to make your draft selection. If this is your first time drafting, using the auto draft option may be a good idea. Auto draft typically gives you a good team and will allow you to get your feet wet and learn how it all works.
After your first year, you should have a good idea of how you value each position and where you like to draft certain players, and the live draft will be a bit less stressful.
Try not to get emotional about your home town team. Yes, it is great to have the players you love from your real team on your fantasy team, but there are a lot of risks involved with that. Fantasy football is about statistical play; if your players are not scoring well, it may be tough to drop a player to which you have an emotional attachment.
Also look out for drafting too many players from a single team. Like a stock portfolio it is good to diversify. Too many players on one team can lead to disaster if that team is having an off night.