Good preparation for your live fantasy football draft could be the difference between a championship run, and a season to forget. You don't want to select a player who's recently retired, injured in the preseason, or traded to a bad situation. Getting the latest information the day of your draft can be paramount to your success. After all of your preparation, make sure that you are equipped to execute on draft day — whether the draft is online or in-person.
Online draft versus in-person draft
Your fantasy draft can be a slightly different experience, depending on whether it is done online or in-person. Online drafts will happen at a certain time and date, determined shortly after the league was created.
Every participant will either need to submit an updated list of their player rankings or be signed in on the league's host website during this time to make picks of their own. An automatic timer will count down, giving each participant roughly 1–2 minutes to make a selection. If they have not made a selection within this time, they will pick a player predetermined by their personalized list of player rankings.
If you cannot participate in the online draft, you want to be sure to update your list of player rankings before the draft takes place.
Live drafts can take place whenever the participants agree to meet and have the draft. The commissioner of the league then will need to manually enter the results of the draft sometime before the NFL regular season begins. An in-person draft will usually include a group of people that already know each other, either co-workers or friends.
It's common for people to pool their resources, comparing and evaluating each other's notes and rankings. Other times, people may want to be more discreet with their draft intentions to keep some of their sleeper picks a secret.
There's also always the possibility of having an absentee fantasy owner. Usually this situation is dealt with by having the fantasy owner submit a list of player rankings before the draft or to maintain contact over the phone or Internet to make selections.
What you need for a live FF draft
To have an in-person draft, one of the participants will either need to bring a draft board or use online software to track all of the player selections. A wide array of draft boards can be purchased on the Internet, though a do-it-yourself method with a blank white poster and a felt-tipped pen works just as well.
All participants will want to bring a pencil or pen and a list of player rankings. You can do this by ranking all players in the same group, or separate them by position. As players are selected, you can strike their names out, indicating they are no longer available. This will help prevent fantasy owners from selecting players that have already been taken.
You can also keep a tally of which players and positions you have selected to see how your starting line-up might look.
Essentials for hosting a live fantasy football draft party
If you are in charge of hosting a live fantasy football draft party this year, there are certain must-haves to ensure all of the participants enjoy the experience. Remember these four things:
Fantasy football draft kit – These kits typically include a draft board and player labels. This allows league members to select a player, grab the player's sticker, and place the sticker on the draft board under the team name.
Online draft software – It’s important to have a computer nearby where the commissioner (or a friend of the league) can enter picks into the system as the draft progresses. This makes for easy transition of your live picks to the online platform that will host your league (NFL, ESPN, Yahoo, and so on).
Helpful printouts – While it's each member’s responsibility to bring his or her own preparation and research materials, it’s great to provide everyone with a blank roster list. This will help participants keep track of their own picks and make you look like a good host that cares about the league!
Refreshments and entertainment – Providing snacks, refreshments, or entertainment after the draft is a good way for everyone to enjoy themselves!
Benefits of an in-person draft
An in-person draft is much more of a social experience than an online draft. You will likely get a better feel on how some of your competitors will approach the draft and perhaps even certain players they favor.
It's easier to monitor and track how other fantasy owners are making selections and how depth at certain positions is holding up throughout the draft. In-person drafts are generally more casual and at a more relaxed pace than online drafts, allowing you to make more informed and thought-out decisions.
While online drafts can be exciting, in-person drafts offer much more in terms of satisfaction. Getting to know your opponents and have bragging rights among them is what this game is all about.