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Going into your first draft and wondering where to start with your draft prep?


Hey Footclan, I wrote down this quick list of things I think would have helped me prepare for my first draft. Let me know what you think and what you’d add in the comments to help our new fantasy community members out!

  1. First things first, KNOW YOUR RULES & KNOW YOUR SCORING SETTINGS. If your league starts 2 QBs and 4 WRs, is PPR, or 1.5 PPR for TEs only, you want to know those things before you do your research and make your rankings. While some rules will have more of an effect on how you should rate players than others, you can’t even consider that if you don’t know what they are.
  2. You’re already at the Ballers community forum so that means you are doing research. Good. Listening to podcasts is a great way to stay current, learn new strategies, and to get a sense of the fantasy landscape through listener questions etc. Look at other analysts’ rankings too, read about why they like certain players that the Ballers may not like too much (and vice versa), and develop your own opinions. If you can, watch players you are interested in. NFL Gamepass is an excellent resource, but highlight film and cut ups available on Youtube will give you some information too: if a guy doesn’t pop out to you when you watch their best plays, then maybe all the hype around him isn’t worth listening to. I have heard, and taken to heart, this recommendation: when nature calls and you have a few minutes to yourself, watch a highlight reel of a player you are interested in or have heard good things about.
  3. Once you know your league settings and you’ve begun your research repeat this phrase, now, and throughout your draft prep: “I will keep an open mind throughout the draft; I will look for value at every pick and I will not be convinced that any one strategy is the only strategy I should use.” Flexibility is key, and it comes from;
  4. Practice. Do mock drafts early and often. It helps for many reasons; you’ll see how other people value players, you’ll see what happens to your team when you try different strategies, you’ll be forced to make decisions that will reveal how you truly value players, and you’ll become more comfortable with the pressure of making timed picks.
    a. You should do some mock drafts live, and certainly should do some on the site you will be using so you are familiar with the workings of your platform, but in the interest of time Fantasypros Draft Wizard is a great product for mock drafting: http://draftwizard.fantasypros.com/ (the Ballers use this when they mock on the show).
  5. Choose rankings you like (consensus or one of the baller’s individual are all great options; or snag the UDK :wink:) and put them into a spreadsheet (google drive is free if you don’t have excel)
    a. When you do mock drafts and you realize you can’t/won’t take Player X over Player Y, who is currently ranked behind X; move the players accordingly.
    b. Keep a notes column next to the names so you can record updates about injuries, or thoughts from watching film/listening to pods/reading. You’ll forget something that seemed important right after that 2nd mock draft you did hungover and groggy on Sunday morning.
    c. Make sure you update your rankings periodically; with the Ballers UDK they’ll do this for you, and you can just copy and paste player notes that you’ve created.
  6. Learn about tier based drafting. Essentially, finding tiers of players that you value at roughly the same point. If you spend time doing mock drafts, you will develop a sense of tiers based on the decisions you make during those mocks. If you create clearly defined tiers for your ranks going into your real draft, it will be much easier to find value picks throughout the draft. The Ballers UDK offers tier based rankings to help you out here and you can make your personal preference adjustments in your spreadsheet.
  7. Okay, if you’ve been listening to the Ballers, hopefully you’ve got this handled already but I feel obligated to bring it up. Unless you have a special circumstance in your rules (and even then, I’d advise against overreacting to premiums too much) don’t rush into grabbing a QB or TE. On the same note; don’t draft to fill your starting lineup first, then fill your bench. Draft for value. This sometimes means drafting a QB or TE, but don’t be the one in your draft who overpays at these positions – you’ll be much happier in the middle of the season when you have stronger depth at WR and RB than that person.
  8. Keep a level head – all your practice with mocks will help you get accustomed to barely missing a guy you wanted, and your tiers will give you back-up so you aren’t scrambling like Manziel without a plan. Like at a wedding reception; never drink enough to bring attention to yourself in a bad way.
  9. Finally, remember that the draft, and fantasy football in general, is all about having fun. If you don’t want to cheer for a player and you aren’t doing this professionally; don’t draft him just because you’ve been told he is a value in round 6. DRAFT PLAYERS YOU WANT TO ROOT FOR. Sure, this isn’t a failsafe strategy for victory, but if you win with a team of guys you don’t like, I guarantee it won’t feel as good as if “your guys” get the job done for you.

Thanks for reading and best of luck with your draft!


Edits have been made to correct grammatical errors I noticed.


This is a great list. Thanks. This isn’t my first draft, but I feel like I should be starting fresh :wink:

My biggest issue is the sheer volume of information. My research process has no real rhyme or reason. But as I’m listening to the FFballers podcast, I’m having fun, I’m learning, but am I taking advantage of the information? What do you do? Take notes? Update a spreadsheet? If I have a list of my current picks, along with hopeful pickups, how do you apply your learnings? If you’re watching a game and see something that gives you pause, or makes you wonder, what do you do? Make a note? Where? Spreadsheet? Notebook?

I’m a process oriented guy, and as I watch videos, listen to podcasts, watch games and pay attention to my fellow ffballers, I’d love to figure out a process to figure out how to deal with all the data!

Thoughts? Advice? Insight?


I try to take notes as I listen to the podcast. I take the train, so it’s easy, but if you drive, I would consider jotting down a few key summaries when you can- I generally write down the rising stars and why the ballers consider them as such; I also will write trends for guys and a reason. Or if they say something I hadn’t thought of, I like to have it too.

Again I’m commuting while listening so my hands are generally free. But taking notes, ESPECIALLY mid season, is huge for me.