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Steve Schwarz | Archive | Email |  
Staff Writer

Draft Day Do's and Don'ts

With the NFL preseason underway, it's time to think about your fantasy draft and how you will prepare for the big day. Here are some recommended do's and don'ts.

Do have fun. Draft Day is the best day of the year ... well except for the day you clinch the title. It's even more fun if you and your fellow owners can make a full day of it. In one of my leagues we have a golf outing before we sit down to draft and the golf (and beer) bring out the trash talk early and often.

Do gather as much information as you need, whether it's through the Internet, magazines or video.

Don't, however, bring too much information to the draft. It's ok to read and listen as much as you can, but make it simple on Draft Day. Have a list of all eligible players and put your notes there. This shouldn't be more than a couple of pages at most. Too much info and you spend more time trying to find a name than paying attention to the flow of the draft.

Don't pay too much attention to preseason. Except for injuries, there is nothing you will learn when a starting quarterback plays against a guy who will end up on the practice squad or cut. Here were the leaders from the 2014 preseason - QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, and WR Allen Hurns.

Do get involved in a mock draft prior to your most important draft. It helps you get a grasp of what other fantasy owners are thinking.

Do try an auction. There are many advantages, particularly if you have a favorite player. He might already be drafted ahead of your pick in a "snake" draft, but in an auction he can be yours with just a little patience and solid financial planning.

Don't be afraid to trade a draft choice.
Now is not the time to sit back when you see an opening. If an owner has made a tactical mistake, don't let the "other" guy profit.

Do take a chance at least once in the draft
, either by picking a relative unknown or drafting a player you really believe will blossom, a round too early. Nothing is worse than knowing a player will have a breakout year and waiting too long to pull the trigger, then watching all season as someone else reaps the rewards. Le'Veon Bell was a third-round selection, the 14th running back off the board, in 2014 (ADP 28.7), but finished as the best fantasy back in the league. How much better would your team have been if you had chosen Bell in the second round?

On the other hand, don't overestimate rookies. Randy Moss (69 - 1,313 yards - 17 TDs), Odell Beckham (91 - 1,305 - 12) and Eric Dickerson (390 rushes, 1,808 yards - 18) are the exceptions, not the rule. Most times a rookie will be slowly worked into the lineup as the head coach gains confidence in the first- year player's abilities. The best rookie running back from 2014, Jeremy Hill, produced just 242 yards through the first seven games of the season, before finishing the final nine games with 929 yards and six scores. In keeper leagues - ignore this paragraph.

Do make sure your league commissioner is strong and fair. Nothing can destroy a league faster than a "questionable" trade being allowed or an owner bypassing a gray area in the rules. On the other hand, if lineups are due at 12 p.m. and a lineup arrives by e-mail at 12:03 with no advantage being gained in the slight delay, sometimes the intent is more important than ruling with an "iron fist." We're all here to have fun.

Don't get drunk. Yes, we're here to have fun, but being the blubbering idiot who tries to draft Aaron Rodgers in the 18th round is annoying to the other fantasy owners.

Do set your lineup every week, even if your team has suffered massive injuries and isn't competitive anymore. It's tough, but your fellow owners will appreciate your dedication and some day down the road the good karma created here may help you win a title when an "out-of-contention" team knocks off your competition in the "Upset of the Century."

If you don't get the player you wanted in the first round, don't panic. First- round picks aren't guaranteed to have a big year. Evaluating 2014, nine of the top-10 ADP selections weren't in the top-10 at season's end. That included No. 1 overall LeSean McCoy, who finished 45th in my Yahoo league, No. 2 Adrian Peterson and his off-the-field issues and total failure Montee Ball. Half of the top-10 from 2014 finished 45th or worse in the final standings. Your draft is rarely won in the first few rounds; it's more about finding diamonds-in- the-rough in the mid-to-late rounds.

Don't forget to read about the latest news and winning strategies from the folks at Fantasy Football Today (shameless plug).

Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.

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