NFL Fantasy Football Draft Tips and Strategy

As the countdown towards Week 1 continues, NFL Fantasy Football Draft season is in full swing. We drafted on Wednesday and offer some insight on our strategy to build a winning team.

NFL fantasy football draft top QB Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes is atop the NFL fantasy football draft board for quarterbacks in nearly every league

Auction or Snake: The First Question

When prepping for your NFL fantasy football draft, the first thing to figure out is if your league is running an auction or a snake draft. I’ve participated in dozens of leagues using each style and prefer the auction. There’s just a little more intensity because technically you be involved with every pick.

Here are some tips on conquering the auction of your NFL fantasy football draft.

1. Cap the Limit for Your Top 3 Players Around 60%

On a $200 budget, that’s $120 for your top three players and truthfully, I think it’s a little optimistic. Either way, 60% is a good target.

A top RB is going to cost $60 or more.

A top WR is going to cost $50 or more.

That only leaves $10 left and you’re not going to get a solid RB 2 or WR 2 for that cost.

What I think you have to do is circle your top 3-5 WRs and RBs. The ones you are willing to go to bat for. Ideally, you will get a starter at each key position for around $50. That frees up $20-$25 that can be spent on your 3rd pick.

Example from my 2019 auction:

I spent $49 on ATL WR 1 Julio Jones and $50 on LAR RB 1 Todd Gurley ($99 total). For my third pick I was able to sign BLT RB 2 Mark Ingram for $25. It brought my top three to $124, which is very close to the $120 target.

Note: For my next WR and RB I paid $24 and $23, and that may have been a little aggressive based on what I saw quality guys going for later. Trimming my cap on players 4/5 to around $21 each (or even $44 total) would have saved me a couple valuable dollars down the road.

2. Pre-Rank NFL Fantasy Football Draft Values

In 2019, I spent a good deal of time researching my top players at each position and building spreadsheets with notes, but it wasn’t until draft day that I ducked into Yahoo and started adjusting my dollar values.

These dollar value assessments aren’t set in stone but in the heat of the battle, it really would have helped if I had put more time to ranking each player at each position. Then it’s easier to decide on the spot if you want to exceed the limit or cut the bidding short.

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3. Plan the Fades to Push Out There

There is no sense in wasting time during the draft figuring out who to post as ‘bait’. The solution is to write down 5 QBs, 10 RBs, 10 WRs and 5 TEs that you have zero interest in owning. Chances are good that someone will bid at least $2 for them and if not, you will gain a bench player early in the draft for $1 (win-win).

4. NFL Fantasy Football Draft Essential: Target Cheat Sheet

Having a spreadsheet to reference throughout your NFL fantasy football draft is great but realistically, you also want to have a cheat sheet written for each position. One that clearly highlights the players you are targeting. If not, you end up having players slip through the cracks. You also lose valuable time mid-draft scratching down the “live” list of your next 5-6 targets for each position.

It comes down to preparation. And the more of it you do, the smoother things will go.

Do it for each starting position and separate it by RB 1 / RB 2, WR 1 / WR 2, etc. There are different calibers of players (tiers) with dramatically different ranges through the first 10 rounds or so. And if you have your tier 1 WR targets, etc, it’s a lot easier to keep track of the pattern things are going in.

Don’t forget K, D/ST, LB, DB and DL, too! And don’t forget to make a separate sheet for top rookies. They won’t always show up on people’s radar until late and can often be had for a song.

5. Positional Strategy Round by Round

This one is kind of obvious but every season, it pays to map out your route based on the talent pool of that given year.

In 2019, my plan was to spend big on two of the following: WR 1 / RB 1 / TE 1

Then, once I ended up with WR/RB, I knew that getting one of the top 2 TEs was not a reality so I crossed that position off my radar until later on. I ended up paying like $3 for two TEs.

My second priority was to build depth at RB and WR from my target list. Having 3-4 of each by the end of the 10th round is a good goal.

Eventually, once I got to 3 RBs and 2 WRs, I started looking out for QB 1 and TE, but actually ended up grabbing my LB 1 for $5. Fair price for Leighton Vander Esch!

By being prepared with my top 10 for each IDP position, I ended up with three starters who were each ranked inside my top 2 for each position.

Pre-Draft Goals

I had pre-draft goals of 5-6 RBs and 6 WRs so two-thirds of the way through, I refocused towards those goals. I also made RB handcuffs a priority and was able to get one for each starter. Handcuffs to top RBs can be part of the depth building process around Round 10-11.

Then I went after a backup QB for $1 and started building my watch list. In retrospect, there are still plenty of options on the waiver wire for mid-tier D, IDP and WR. K and D/ST can always be rotated through based on matchups, too.

I may have paid a little more than I would have liked for my QB 1 (Cam) and the savings there, along with the few bucks I could have saved from the RB 2 / WR 2 (see above), would have been great but thankfully in this pool, we have deep benches.

My overall positional plan for the 2019 NFL fantasy football draft was as follows:

21 player roster

First number(s) was target and second number in ( ) is actual outcome.

QB 1-2 (2)
WR 6 (7)
RB 5-6 (5)
TE 2 (2)
K 1 (1)
D 1-2 (1)

IDP 3 with no backups (3)

Total from above with maximums at each position equalled 22 and with three different positions having ranges (QB, RB and D), I was easily able to trim it to 21 based on the flow.

6. QB Disclaimer

Patrick Mahomes went for $35 in this year’s draft and the next nine QBs in my top 10 went for $2 to $12. What does that tell you about the importance of waiting on this position?

Also, consider the value of selecting a QB with a late bye week. It helps not having to juggle this roster spot through the first two months as long as your starter is healthy.

Pick Sixty Sports is gearing up towards the NFL season and we will have exclusive content available here, Killer Cappers and EveryEdge. We are 54% in our NFL picks since 2011 and looking forward to another strong season. Check out our SDQL systems “live” at the Trend Mart and good luck this year!