How to start a fantasy football draft? Best picks, strategies, more

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If you are getting into fantasy football for the first time, you may be wondering how a fantasy draft works or what you should do. Here are some tips to make sure that you don’t fumble your draft.

Fantasy football can be intimidating to newer players. Even casual football fans who know most of the big-time players and teams can feel lost as their first season approaches.

A critical piece of constructing your fantasy football team is the draft, where you will select the players that will make up your team. While you will be able to make changes to your roster via trade and waivers, the draft where you will find most of the core players on your team.

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Here’s everything you need to know about how your fantasy football draft works and how to win your draft.

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How do you start a fantasy football draft?

Each fantasy football league’s commissioner will set a date for the draft, which will start automatically on the designated date. Your commissioner should communicate with all members of the league to find a date and time that works for everyone.

The draft will start automatically at the designated time and in most instances the application or site hosting the league (Yahoo, ESPN) will create a random draft order to determine who will pick at a given slot.

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How does a fantasy football draft work?

Most fantasy football drafts follow a snake format, where the order begins sequentially and then follows the reverse order in the following round. This means that the person selecting first in the order would pick last in the following round, while the person selecting last in that round will pick first in the next round.

The other common draft format is an auction, where players will have a certain amount of money (either real money being wagered for the league pool or a fictional allocation given to each player) that they can use to bid on players. In this format, each player can place bids on one given NFL player until no other player is willing to outbid them. The player with the highest bid then adds that NFLer to their team.

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In either format, the draft will continue until each player has filled out their entire roster.

How many NFL players are on a fantasy football roster?

Each fantasy football draft must result in every player having a viable roster of 18 players in the following positions:

  • One quarterback
  • Two running backs
  • Two wide receivers
  • One tight end
  • One team’s defense and special teams unit
  • One kicker
  • One flex player (this can be a running back, wide receiver, or tight end)
  • Seven bench players

Different leagues may have different roster sizes, usually including more running backs or wide receivers.

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What’s the best strategy for a fantasy football draft?

In general, the best strategy when it comes to having a successful fantasy football draft is to target the two most important positions – wide receiver and running back – as early as possible.

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This is because of the flex position, where players can put an extra skill position player in their lineup each week. It’s also due to the fact that the top-end wide receivers and running backs are perceived to be of much higher value compared to their contemporaries.

Put another way, there is a much bigger difference between a top-end and mid running back than there is between a top-end and mid quarterback when it comes to fantasy production.

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Most fantasy football drafts recommend that players recommend that players do not draft their quarterback or wide receiver until at least the fourth round, to ensure that they get several strong foundational pieces at the skill position.

The sole exception would be for extremely productive players at the QB or TE position like Patrick Mahomes or Travis Kelce. For these players, it might be advisable to pick them in an earlier round, but you should then spend most of the following rounds drafting only skill position players.

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Finally, it’s common practice to save your picks for kicker and defense until the last two rounds. This is because these positions often produce the fewest fantasy points and there are often many who are available each week to pick on the waiver wire. As a result, there isn’t much upside to drafting an elite kicker or defense.

Be sure to check out our Fantasy Football content including our 5 sleeper running back and 5 sleeper wide receiver picks.

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