Fantasy football draft season is upon us! There are many components to successful fantasy football team, but the draft is priority number one. It is the foundation upon which you will build and strengthen your team. Because of that truth, you need to be prepared for your draft, so you can acquire the best team possible for your league. I’ve come up with a checklist of things you MUST do before your draft.

CHECK POINT SETTINGS: One of the most crucial things you can do before your season starts is to check the point settings for your league. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a live draft with people who don’t even know how much a TD pass is worth in the league. How can anyone expect to draft a well-rounded team if they don’t know the scoring format? Knowing how many points everything is worth will help you form a draft strategy to get the best possible team for those settings.

CHECK PLAYOFF SETTINGS: Here’s one of the most overlooked tasks of draft preparation. You reallllllllly need to check your league’s playoff settings for several reasons. First, it will tell you how many teams from your league actually make the playoffs. Second, you can see which weeks your league’s playoffs are. This differs between leagues. Some have two weeks of playoffs in week 15 & 16. Some do week 16 & 17 (I would advise against that). Some have 3 weeks of playoffs, where the top seeds get byes. It’s all important to look at. It can also help you choose between comparable players on draft day. If a QB you are thinking of drafting faces the two toughest defenses in the NFL in your playoff weeks, you may decide to go with someone who has an easier schedule in those weeks.

STARTING LINEUP SPOTS: This one is fairly simple. Look at how many starters make up a team in your league. How many starting RB spots? How many WRs? How many FLEX spots, where you can start RBs, WRs, or TEs. Can you start 2 QBs in your league? Do you have IDPs (individual defensive players) or a team defense? Make sure to know this before your draft and not just adapt once the draft is here.

ROSTER SIZE: Besides the starting lineup, do a quick check to see how many total roster spots your team has. This will help you to decide how many backup players you want to aim for at each position or how many risks you might want to take. If you have a lot of bench spots, it might make sense to take a backup QB sooner than you normally would.

MAKE TIERS: Years ago, fantasy football was all about finding “top 200 lists” before the draft. These were lists prepared by experts that ranked the top players for fantasy. In recent years, the tiered approach has become more popular. Basically, you take every position and rank them by player, but then you divide the players up into tiers. Having tiers will help you decide who to draft when the picks are quickly coming off the board. For example, there may be a WR and RB available, and you want them both. If the RB is one of many left in your tier 3, but the WR is the only one remaining from your tier-2, you would be more inclined to choose the WR (of course, it all depends on how your overall roster and starting lineup look).

DO NOT DRAFT LIST: This is a handy list to make prior to the draft. You may think you know in your mind the players that you want to avoid, but I’m telling you… draft day can get hectic! It’s easy to forget if someone was recently injured, suspended, traded, etc. You can’t be too careful. Make a list of the players that you don’t want to end up on your team.

TARGETS: Make a list of players that you want to target in the draft. This will consist of already proven players that you are very high on, sleepers that you don’t want to forget about later in the draft, and rookies that you think could make an instant impact or grow into a starting role, eventually. Doing your research before the draft can increase your desire to draft certain players, so you don’t want the work that you put in to be forgotten about on draft day. Write them down, so you can remind yourself of your projections.

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