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Fantasy Football Draft Strategies And Tips (Part I)

Don't get sacked in your fantasy football league before the season even begins. SB Nation has some draft strategies and tips for the newcomer or the seasoned vet.

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Fantasy Football Draft Strategies and Tips: Part I

Between now and the start of the NFL regular season, thousands of fantasy football leagues will hold their fantasy drafts. From seasoned contenders to wide-eyed newbies, everyone will be looking to gain an edge on the competition.  And while dreams of fantasy hardware, real or imagined, are being dreamed, the fact is that that for all but one GM, the season will end in disappointment.

How then to avoid the winter of our discontent?  The key to fantasy success starts with preparation.  Make sure you have a plan for your draft.  In this first installment of Draft Strategies and Tips, we focus in on what you should be doing in the weeks/days leading up to your draft.  These pre-season pointers will go a long way towards making your post-season dreams more than mere fantasy.

Know The Rules - Does your league award 6 points for a passing touchdown?  Or is it 4?  Do wide receivers get a point per reception?  Knowing how statistics are scored is important, especially when deciding between players.  Go over your league charter, and identify the rules that may present an opportunity for you to create a competitive advantage come draft day.

What Goes Up? - The statistics of last season are a potential indicator of future output.  They are not, however, a promise of future success.  The capricious nature of the NFL lends itself to the idea that previous triumph just might lead to letdown.  No quarterback has lead the league in passing in back-to-back seasons since 1991, and only one running back (Ladanian Tomlinson) and one wide receiver (Andre Johnson) have been able to snag consecutive yardage titles since 2000.

Attachment Disorder - Emotional attachment isn't helpful when trying to reason out a successful draft strategy.  Instead of locking in on one (or several) players, try to remember that fantasy drafts, like Brett Favre retirements, are fluid.  Over the course of a draft, good value will present itself a few times, and shrewd fantasy GM's will be ready to pounce when opportunity presents itself.  While it is prudent to target players, remember that a coveted player may or may not be the best available when it's time to pick.

Mock Out! -  Knowing player value is easy as A-D-P (average draft position).  But nothing can prepare you for a live serpentine draft like...well, a live serpentine draft.  There are plenty of mock draft sites available, each with their own player projections and rankings.  Mock drafts are the best way to prepare for a multitude of draft scenarios.  "If I select two wide receivers in the first two rounds, will there be enough serviceable running backs in the middle rounds to fill my roster?  Will quarterback "x" be available in the fifth round?"  Questions like these are strictly rhetorical until you run a few mock drafts.  

When Possible, Know Your Competition - There always seems to be a GM that covets young RB's or who isn't afraid to take two QB's early in the hopes of making an in-season trade? If you're a first year player, or new to a particular league, try to amass information on drafting styles from a more established member among your mates.  Understanding tendencies of the competition is just as important as working knowledge of the players you will be drafting and will give you greater control over your own selections.  

Remember, a fantasy draft is a dynamic, ever-changing landscape.  I wish you good luck, but more importantly, good prep!