week The Locker Room is bringing you the third
installment of a four-part series on Fantasy Sports . . .
III: Preparing for a Draft
your players is a sacred task for most Fantasy owners. Most cloak
their system of ranking players and even what Fantasy magazines they
use in the utmost secrecy. This is all showmanship and not skill.
Here are some Fantasy Draft prep secrets:
the Fantasy magazine trap.
from others' experiences that most Fantasy owners make their biggest
mistake at the newsstand. Of course, the Fan magazines are not going
to tell you that, but it's the truth. It is a little-known Fan secret
passed on for generations. Most magazines are complete crap,
especially their Mock Draft. News travels too fast for magazines to
be effective. It takes AT LEAST several weeks from when the content
is written for the magazine to hit newsstands. By then it is stale
news. Their so-called experts are usually way off. I have checked
some of their projections after the respective seasons are finished.
Most of the projections are as accurate as a St. Paddy's Day piss.
have specialized hour-long shows for each sport (i.e., Baseball
Tonight, NFL Countdown, NHL2Night, etc.). They usually begin airing
them a month to several weeks before the actual season begins. Their
people follow each team and are physically watching EVERY pre-season
practice, workout, exhibition game, etc. They know every time a
player is hurt, is in trouble on the depth chart, is out of favor
with the coach, or even the last time they farted. You can watch Fox
or CNN/SI for some news, but the excellent coverage is on ESPN. Focus
on what players are expected to start, forget about the sleepers (see
wanted the magazine to know all the good players. You can get that
all on the web . . . and it's fresh news, not the out-of-date crap in
the magazines. You can get lists of players, lists of injuries,
up-to-date depth charts, and a whole lot more.
(better for football)
the sleepers and the "hot" rookies.
rookies don't pan out in their first year in any league. The notable
exception is the NBA (where ONLY the rookies shine). Stick with the
proven, veteran players. Sure you might pass on the next Kerry Wood,
but there are a hell of lot more Tom Martins than there are Kerry
Woods. Sleepers are sleepers for a reason--they are asleep! Most
sleepers are guys on the proverbial bubble. They have to produce or
they are going to be bagging groceries next month. It is safe to
assume that if they were going to be that good, they would have shown
their true ability already. Superstars are rarely sleepers. Again,
you might pass up Kurt Warner, there are a whole lot more Tony
that scarcity drives the supply and demand equation. It works in the
draft, too. Find out what positions have the fewest superstars or
have the biggest drop off in production as the draft wears on. This
past football season it was running backs. After the top 6 or 7 RBs
were gone, you could forget getting anyone worth drafting, so I knew
I had to get one early in the draft.
a draft game plan.
have probably heard of the famous Bill Walsh method of scripting the
opening 10 or 15 offensive plays in football. Most NFL and college
teams now use this method. The same thing works in the draft. Script
out what players you want to draft--by round--and take this game plan
with you to the draft. Customize this, if you would like, by
scripting that you want either a top 5 pitcher or a top 3 hitter (of
course, you need to have your players ranked by whatever method you
feel is best). While the "other" guy is scrambling around
trying to find out how many starting pitchers he has, you are looking
at what good players are still available to draft.
attention at the draft and notice draft day trends.
is the wild card that can throw a monkey wrench into even the best
draft game plan. Not to say you should be a follower, but if there is
a "run" on running backs, make adjustments to compensate.
Have a list of players you can cross off as individuals are taken.
Also, make notes for yourself if certain owners at your draft pick
certain types of players. This can really work to your advantage. For
example, "Joe" (not his real name) ALWAYS drafts Atlanta
Braves. He tells stories at the draft about how he knows every guy in
the organization personally and he only watches TBS. For God's sake,
he's wearing a Braves T-shirt! In any case, his first pick is Maddux,
his second is Glavine, etc. If you really want Chipper Jones, you've
got to adjust your draft game plan accordingly.
is the area where even the best draft magazine can't help you. Draft
mags all have these mock drafts with their experts. Guys rely on
these mock drafts like the Bible. They are nearly useless because
they are not how a real draft works. The experts know which players
are good--they follow sports for their livelihood--unlike
"Joe" from my example above or "Jeff," who has
had several beers before he got to the draft. These are the guys that
ask if Pedro Martinez is still available in round #20 because they
are not paying attention.
brings me to help.
you want to split the prize with "Joe" or "Jeff,"
don't help them out during the draft because they didn't prepare.
"Is Mo Vaughn out for the season?" Jeff asks. My answer is
always, "I dunno" or "I didn't hear anything."
Fan veterans HATE people giving help to the folks that aren't paying
attention at the draft. So when Joe asks, "Is David Cone gonna
be a starter or a reliever now that he's with the Sox?" Your
answer better be "I didn't hear anything" unless you're
feeling particularly generous.
Fan owners psyche themselves right out of the draft--BEFORE IT EVEN
STARTS. You can only do so much to prepare for the draft. I have
known several owners that printed out a list of players immediately
before that draft and they have WON THE LEAGUE. While I don't
recommend this strategy, it illustrates that you don't have to spend
three weeks nonstop preparing for a draft.
ESPN the few weeks prior to the season, which you probably do
anyhow. Don't buy a Fantasy magazine unless you've got $4 burning a
hole in your pocket or you're going on a five-hour flight. Check out
several web sites to get some lists of players. Make a draft game
plan. Watch to see which positions have less talent (supply) or have
a significant drop off in talent after the few stars are taken. Skip
the sleepers and the hot rookies everyone is talking about and focus
on the proven stars. Be mindful of draft day trends and make
adjustments to your draft game plan if required. And for Pete's sake,
DON'T OVER ANALYZE. Lastly, don't get shit-faced at the draft. Have a
FEW beers, but paying attention at the draft is almost more important
than preparing for it.
Room is written by Michael Skordeles