The Draft Day Checklist

Make sure you come to your draft prepared and ready to dominate!

It’s that wonderful time of year again. If you open up a window and stick your head outside, you can almost smell September. “Hard Knocks" is airing out the Bengals’ dirty laundry on national TV and depth charts are finally starting to take shape as preseason games shake out each team’s roster detritus. It’s football time and that means your fantasy draft should be imminent.

Whether you're a fantasy football newcomer or a grizzled veteran, draft day preparation can sometimes be a little overwhelming. There’s so much information out there to digest and you can’t memorize it all or review it between every pick, so you’ll need to prepare and come to the draft with your optimized draft day kit. You will need to find the balance between really overdoing it by bringing stacks of notes and coming totally unprepared and clueless. To help you out, here are the essential things that you will need on draft day to reign supreme over all who dare challenge your dominance.

Knowledge of Your League’s Rules and Scoring

"Wait, is this league 4 points or 6 points per passing touchdown? 1 point per reception? Wait, let me reevaluate my rankings…just give me a minute."

Don’t be that guy. Thou shalt not bring the draft to a screeching halt because you didn’t know the league rules. It will only take a minute or two, so there’s really no excuse for ignorance. Your league’s rules regarding scoring and roster composition will have a huge impact on your draft strategy, so don’t walk in blind.

Your Rankings

This is the most important thing to bring with you on draft day. With the knowledge of your league’s rules and scoring, you will need to make your rankings. Of course, numberFire has a great cheat sheet that adjusts to your league’s scoring, so I would strongly advise using this as a starting point.

Another consideration you will have to make is what site your commish is using to run the league. Unless you are in a league with only dedicated owners, the draft order is likely going to be heavily influenced by the default rankings posted on that site. Compare your customized rankings to these generic rankings as a way to anticipate potential value picks ahead of time and maybe put a star next to the name of these players.

The bottom line is to make your rankings as simple as possible and easy to read by one quick glance. An overly detailed or complicated list or, even worse, multiple lists, will only slow you down and confuse things. Trust your research. One list to rule them all.

A Chart to Track Each Team’s Positional Needs

This is a competition. You need to know the positional needs of the other teams so that you can better predict when a certain player may be coming off of the board. For example, in a snake draft where you pick in the 11th spot, you need to be aware of the fact that the team in the 12th spot has filled up on running backs and is in need of receivers. With this knowledge, you know to jump on a receiver that you want since the running back you want will likely be coming back to you on your next pick. The type of chart that I use for a 12-team league, where you would just put a check mark next to the position after each team’s pick, is below:

Team 1Team 2Team 3Team 4Team 5Team 6
Team 7Team 8Team 9Team 10Team 11Team 12

You should be able to fit this little guy into the corner of your rankings sheet, or on a separate sheet of paper if need be.

A Writing Utensil and Clipboard

Derp. If you’re using good old paper sheets and not messing with the chance of your laptop battery wearing down mid-draft, you’re gonna need something to write with and a surface upon which to write. Blood is less than ideal for ink, and your knees are not as flat a surface as you think.

Sleepers to Draft in Later Rounds

In the heat of the draft, it is easy to lose track of a lot of the more useful research that you’ve done. Everyone pretty much has the same list of players through the first half of the draft, but what really differentiates one team from another are the later rounds. Highlight your late round targets or circle them with your pen so that you remember that they’re there.

If you dig into our free draft kit, you'll know that we're real high on quite a few sleepers: Lance Moore, Rod Streater, Ryan Mathews, amongst others.

A Rubber Band Around Your Wrist

This very technical device is to be used liberally in the event that you are tempted to draft a D/ST or kicker before the last two rounds. Nobody is arguing that these positions are not important, but the vast consensus is that preseason predictability is pretty much zero for either. Make a list of your top 12 D/STs and top 12 kickers and just take whichever D/ST is left in the penultimate round and whichever kicker is left in the last round.

A Full Stomach

There will be libations, but do not fall asleep at the wheel. Moderation or abstinence is key, however unpopular an option. By all means, encourage your league mates to do shots before the draft or shotgun some beers, but do your best to avoid the pre-draft overindulgences yourself since a sharp mind is a dangerous weapon and a clear advantage. Anyway, there will be plenty of time after the draft to join in if you should so choose. If your willpower begins to wane and the peer pressure begins to build to unbearable levels, just think to yourself: "What would Tebow do?"

Your Cojones

Are you drafting to win or just not to lose? Championships are won by those who take chances in mid to late rounds. If you have a solid starting lineup, shoot for upside with your bench instead of high floor, low ceiling picks. Boring players are a dime a dozen on the waiver wire; collect a few lottery tickets and see where they go. Kenny Britt? Josh Gordon? Come on down!

Well-Rested Vocal Cords

Smack talk is needed, all is fair in love and drafting. No need to be overly obnoxious, but you should be drafting with friends so things should be pretty loose. Throw them off their game with little jabs and reap the rewards of panic picks:

“Oh, I see you only have one wide receiver so far…interesting strategy."

“Wow, you must really like Peyton Manning this year. I’m sure his neck will be fine."

Your league fees

Don’t make the commish chase you down for league fees. Come ready to draft and ready to pay up. Draft day is maybe the one day during the season that all team owners are in one place at the same time, making it the best time to get things settled monetarily. Show your appreciation to your commish for his hard work in running your league by not making his work any harder than it has to be.

Loose, breathable pants

You’ve done the research, you came prepared, and you seriously crushed it. There’s only one thing left to do: adjust your loose-fitting and comfortable pants so that you may dance the good time dance. Game on!