Is there anything more devastating to your fantasy football hopes and dreams than to watch one of your top draft picks suffer an injury early in the regular season?

Well, yes, actually. It’s to watch one of your star players get hurt in a preseason game, before the real action even begins.

This is why you should hold your league’s draft as close to the regular season as possible. At the very least, it should be after the third preseason game.

The third NFL preseason game is referred to as a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season because it’s the only preseason game where the starters play into the third quarter. The other three games on the schedule are used by coaches to analyze their reserve players in order to fill out the bottom of the roster.

Most NFL starters won’t even suit up in the final preseason game, which means it’s pretty safe to draft before that one.