Monday, August 24, 2009

Fantasy Football Live Online Draft: Five Do's and Don'ts

Draft day is a sacred time in any fantasy football aficionado's life, a time when every member of a fantasy league has a shot at drafting the greatest team in the history of Rotisserie. We all have our pre-draft rituals as well as our idiosyncrasies as far as where we draft and with whom we draft. As we are all different with unique work habits, it is important to be in an environment where you are comfortable and can focus on only the draft at hand:


1. Make sure you have a reliable broadband connection - If you're still stuck in 1996 and have a dial-up Internet connection, either find a public or school library and use one of their machines equipped with broadband to avoid possible interruption of your Internet connection, or go to a friend/family member's house who is not in your league. An empty office at work on Saturday is an ideal environment for Draft Day. Since live drafts are conducted in real time, you want to make sure the machine you're working on is keeping pace with your draft. Business center stores (e.g. Kinko's) also have available computers, but check the prices before you hop on a Kinko's computer for three hours, as you may end up forfeiting all your future winnings on workstation usage fees before the season even starts!

2. Eliminate potential distractions - You may want to catch some baseball on TV between your draft picks or call your girlfriend back. Or, you may want to download a song while you're waiting for your pick to come around. Solution: baseball boxscores are available after the game, so turn off the TV. If your girlfriend can't wait two hours for you to call her back, send her a text message or email before the draft saying you'll talk to her in a couple hours. Itunes isn't going anywhere, so feel free to hold off on your impulsive need to shop for music until after the last round. In fact, close all websites that don't pertain to your draft, and keep no more than 2-3 browser windows open at once (including your draft room). If your computer's reliability is questionable, reboot your computer before your draft so the chance of it freezing / crashing during the draft is minimized. You don't want any problems or distractions during one of the most important three-hour stretches of the year.

3. Mind the Queue - Unfortunately, computer crashes during a live draft are more common than any of us would like to admit. To prevent Murphy's Law from taking effect, make sure you have at least two players you would consider taking at that stage in the draft queued up, and ready to select. If, by some chance, you lose track of time and your clock expires or, worse yet, your computer crashes before you make your pick, at least you have some say as far as who gets selected as opposed to the pre-installed rankings dictating whom you pick. Sometimes, these website-generated pre-rankings fail to take the latest season-ending injuries to a starter into account. Back in 2003, Chad Pennington broke his hand in a pre-season game, and the draft website's pre-draft rankings still had Pennington ranked as if he were healthy. After nine rounds with plenty of healthy QBs to choose from, Pennington was inadvertently selected when someone got accidentally kicked off the online draft room. This occurrence upset the victim so much, that he lost focus and made a slew of questionable picks the rest of the draft due to his lingering rage. Don't be that guy.

4. Pre-ranking your players is overkill - As motivated as we all are in preparing for draft day, it is optimistic to think that we will spend countless hours shuffling players up and down your pre-rankings of 300-400 players. By the time your draft is completed, it won't matter that you moved DeAngelo Williams ahead of Brandon Jacobs because they'll both be gone within the first two rounds, anyway. Instead, find the players you DON'T want under any circumstances, and move whoever is injured, benched, or suspended for the year ALL THE WAY DOWN to the end of your pre-rankings beneath Keary Colbert and Bruce Gradkowski. This way, if your computer freezes or crashes during the live draft, there will be virtually no chance you'll get stuck with a fantasy stiff for a draft pick.

5. Make sure your laptop battery is fully charged
- You should have a power supply plugged into an electrical outlet during your draft. However, if you discover you absolutely must be mobile during your draft, don't run out of battery power. Trust me, you will experience no sympathy from your league mates if this happens.


1. Don't drink near your computer -
Keep your beverages on a separate table from your computer. I'm sure you're the least clumsiest person in the world, but you don't want anything like spilled milk or beer ruining the most important stretch of your football season.

2. Don't just fill out a starting lineup first - This means, don't take your starting kicker before your third RB. As you probably know, kickers should be saved for your last round. If you want a RB3 that will shine on your roster, he should be selected by the sixth or seventh round (sometimes before your WR2 or TE1). If you want a QB3 that's more than just an injury stopgap, you should pick that signal caller by the 12th round. Bye weeks and injuries will test the depth of your entire fantasy football squad, so, in many cases, your backups can be almost as important as your starters.

3. Don't get too chatty online - Yes, there is a chat feature in your draft room, but unless you're posting singular jabs about how someone just used their third-round pick on an imprisoned wideout that shot himself, don't get engaged in extensive conversations during your online draft. First, you'll get distracted by your opponents, which is typically their objective in stirring the pot. Second, you may accidentally reveal some of your strategy. If you're in a league with your friends, they may know you well enough to read between the lines of your chat, and then may upstage you with a pick you had queued. If you haven't spoken to various league mates since last January, wait until after the draft to catch up on old times.

4. Don't bother crossing out players on your personal cheat sheet - Your computer's online draftboard will keep track of which talent has been taken. By the middle rounds, you'll be spending more time cross-referencing who's gone from the board vs who is still available on your manual cheat sheet than deciding who your next pick will be.

5. Don't overwork your computer -
This is in conjunction with #2 on the list of "Do's." Close the Facebook and the Twitter, close your email, even close your online radio/Itunes and turn a boombox or clock/radio on instead if you must have music on during your draft. Any bandwidth taken away from your draft room could cause potential problems for your computer's memory, causing you to get accidentally kicked out of your draft room and autodraft you Tarvaris Jackson, causing four months of spiteful bitterness.

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