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Getting Your Mind Right For Draft Day


Hey guys, I wrote this with the intent of submitting my first article as a writer for the Fantasy Footballers, but didn’t make the cut from the 400+ writers who applied. So, I thought I would post it to the forum. Hope it helps someone!..

Getting Your Mind Right For Draft Day

Draft day will be here before you know it for redraft leagues. Some of us were obsessing about our leagues and dreaming about our fantasy draft while the NFL draft was going months ago. It’s a sickness, this fantasy football stuff, but God help me, I never want the cure! Smart redraft leagues have draft day set about a month out yet. In these leagues, you still have time to make some good preparations to dominate the draft. Some of the best preparations you can make will happen in your psyche.

Your Motivation Molds Your Preparation

Why are you playing fantasy football? Be honest with yourself. If you’re reading this article and you listen to every episode that Andy, Mike and Jason put out, chances are that you really love it and are reasonably passionate about it. But on the off-chance that you’re reading this and some guy like me who loves fantasy football has badgered you into joining a league and is doing their best to brainwash you into loving it as much as they do, then consider the following motivational tips and how they should affect your prep for Draft Day.

Playing For Fun?

Initially, this may sound like a silly question but, do you really care about winning? If you’re a committed owner in a long time league, of course you do! But if you’re just playing in a work league because everyone else is, then let’s be real: the people who are passionate about winning have a much higher chance of actually winning the league. If that’s the case, then getting your mind right for draft day should be about how you can have the most fun while appeasing the avid fantasy players in your company.

If you don’t care about football- you don’t watch football and you have no clue who to draft, then this is what you do: grab the Ultimate Draft Kit to get the cheat sheets, listen to the podcast to bone up on the lingo so you can talk a good game and I promise you, you’ll have a blast. You’ll enjoy the podcast because the guys are hilarious on so many non-football levels, and you’ll draft well with minimal stress.

Listen to the podcast throughout the year if you can and you may surprise yourself and your opponents. The insights that the Fantasy Footballers give you during the mid-season can help you win your league. They can also guide you in stress-free management of your team so that you understand what’s happening in the NFL and what roster moves you should try to make. Over the course of the year, you may find that your motivation has shifted from purely playing for fun to now playing to win!

Playing to Win?

If you’re playing to win- you’re out for blood and you already are dreaming of lording the title over the competition, remember that this is a game. Remember to have fun! Having said that: you are the type of person that I want in my league. Let’s live and breath NFL all year long together and truly believe that everyone else is missing out!

If you’re playing to win, don’t skimp on the prep. Let other owners in your league who are less committed scoff all they want that you’re tuning in to every offseason report whether it’s pure hype or not. Be a sponge. You will be more capable of making the right calls when you’re on the clock.

Mock draft as much as you can. Use multiple services and draft using multiple rankings. The more mock drafts you do, the more comfortable you’ll be at the draft.

Your less-practiced opponents will make big mistakes that, especially if you’ve got the tiered rankings from the UDK, you can capitalize upon. Late round QB alone could be enough to annihilate the other teams in your league, but combine that strategy with tier-based drafting and you’ll come away from the draft with a team that you’ll be over-the-moon happy with.

Get Into It

If you’re playing to win, you’re already into fantasy football, but step things up a notch or ten. Take it to an ELEVEN. Develop the character of your team. Think of the NFL owners and coaches who have a recognizable style. You have a style. Get into that character and embrace it. Mike Wright has his walk-up music and his hate-blocker sunglasses. What is your draft day costume going to be?

Much of this could depend on the identity of your team. You have your team name picked out already, right? No? You’re killin’ me, Smalls! If you happen to be in a dynasty league, find a team name that you’ll be proud of for years and even if you’re in a complete redraft league with no keepers, consider starting your own redraft team’s dynasty. It should have a storied history of epic victories and losses, all under the banner (perhaps a literal banner) of your team name and logo or avatar.

My main redraft league team name has been El Juano’s Hombres for multiple seasons. I have a team logo and bought a custom hoody with the logo on it that I love to wear. I want my opponents to look at the league team list and see El Juano’s Hombres alongside the “Mike Vick in a Box” and “You Ain’t Shaheen Nothin’ Yet” teams and say through gritted team, “Man, I want to beat the Hombres this year!” Not, who’s team is that? I suppose this is all personal preference and you may not be able to come up with a team name that you absolutely love, but if you can, I promise you, that enthusiasm and personal drive from really owning your team’s identity can help you become even more invested in the destiny of your fantasy team.

Know Your League

Obviously, if you know that you are the most serious player in your league, you have an advantage, but you can find other advantages on draft day by looking deeper. Here are some variables that can give you some inside information to use at the draft:

  • Know your league’s scoring system. Did it change at all from last year? Are there any nuances such as .1 points per carry or return yards/TDs that could affect the value of certain positions or players?
  • Where do your opponents get their cheat sheets/rankings? Mock draft against those if you can. Most will draft from the rankings that come from your fantasy app/website such as ESPN or NFL, but others will look elsewhere.
  • Who are the owners’ favorite players? Who are the die-hard homers? They are more likely to go “off-script” from their ranking list and draft a player from their favorite team rather than the best player available.
  • Even in a full redraft, what players were on your opponents’ rosters at the end of last year? If your opponents aren’t keeping track of off-season changes, their recency bias will be last year’s results. This may help you to know when a particular player may make it back around to you and who are likely to go ahead of where you might expect them to go.
  • Last year’s draft board results. This can give you insight into drafting strategies and tendencies that you can benefit from.

The above items can give you a tactical advantage but I include them here not necessarily as tactical advice individually (although I think they can all help you) but because when you study these items, that knowledge can give you more confidence when you pull up a chair at your draft. There’s less unknown for you while your opponents will be caught in a whirlwind of choices; more likely to become overwhelmed and start drafting “on tilt”.

Cut Frustration by Eliminating Distractions

In the off-season, you may have filled the fantasy football-shaped void in your life with other things. If you have a significant other who is anything like my wife, they have been happier with you during this time. Well, unless you’re just in it for fun, with football coming back, you’ll have to make some tough calls about what stays and what goes. This may sound a little more serious than fantasy football warrants, but hear me out.

We are creatures of habit. If you’ve been spending your spare moments on your phone playing games or deep-diving into the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts of your friends, family members and even acquaintances, you’ll tend to want to keep doing those things. Then, when you start getting more serious about draft prep, you’ll also feel compelled to look into more NFL news about training camp, NFL team roster changes (ex. Michael Floyd’s fate or if Marty McBry ends up relapsing), and hopefully mock drafting like crazy. Even if it’s just a matter of what you do on your phone while you’re doing your business, you’ll find yourself feeling stressed. You can only spend so long on the toilet before your legs go numb! And if you start doing more draft prep outside of the bathroom, then your time that was once devoted to other things will vanish or become compressed. This can cause some strain on other commitments and relationships. So rather than letting this take a toll on you, be intentional about what you’re going to cut out. If you’re in a committed relationship and have people who depend upon you, consider how these choices will affect your loved ones. If you make these choices well in advance of draft time, you’ll have more peace in your life which will translate to a cooler head on draft day.

So, consider a hiatus from Clash of Clans, Call of Duty or whatever you’re playing, or cut back on golf outings. Whatever it is, make room for fantasy football by eliminating things that can wait until the next off season. Something’s gotta give. Just make sure that it’s not your sanity leading up to the draft.

Cooler Heads Prevail

You’ll have more fun on draft day if you’re cool, calm and collected and you’ll be more likely to come out on top. Do your due diligence to improve your emotional headspace as well your knowledge-base. You won’t regret it. Your opponents will wish you stayed asleep, but you’ll be more wide awake than Katie Perry and Christine Michael Jr. combined.