Best way to draft a fantasy football team [2019 update]

Are you looking for the best way to draft a fantasy football team? I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Your fantasy football draft is the most important (and fun!) day of your season.

But if you leave your draft with a poor team, it can be awfully difficult (near impossible) to climb out of the hole that you dug for yourself.

But fear not!

It is totally possible (even likely) to leave your draft with a competitive team every season.

I’m going to show you how to draft a winning fantasy football team. Only a devastating injury can derail this plan!

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Always draft the best available player

If you walk away from this post learning nothing else, at least remember this.

Always draft the best available player no matter what. Do not be the owner who passes up a better player while trying to fill a need.

It is much easier to fill a need using the waiver wire than it is acquiring talent midseason.

Draft day is used for talent acquisition. The waiver wire is good for plugging holes.

Don’t be the first to draft a quarterback

The allure of selecting Patrick Mahomes or some other stud quarterback is sometimes too good for owners to pass up.

But you have to resist. And here’s why:

There is so much depth at quarterback in fantasy football. You can easily find one or two serviceable quarterbacks late in the draft.

And by spending late-round picks on them, they become high-value picks.

You are much more likely to struggle finding strong backs and receivers late in the draft, so take them early!

Never draft a defense before filling out running backs and wide receivers

There isn’t a whole lot of difference between the top-scoring defense and the ones in the middle of the pack. And, in fact, defensive scoring is volatile from year to year.

So, not only is drafting the top defense difficult to do, but you can get a good one late in the draft.

Always select your starting backs and receivers — and even a few backups — before taking a defense.

Resist selecting a tight end early, unless he plays like a receiver

There are a few tight ends that are worthy of selecting early. Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle are three that come to mind. They are worthy of high selections because they produce like wide receivers.

However, there isn’t good value outside the top crop of tight ends. Let other owners in the league select one too early in order to fill a need.

Remember:

We’re not trying to fill needs. We’re trying to get good players at great value.

Wait until the final round to take a kicker

Any owner who selects a kicker before the final round* should hang his head in shame.

And if an owner selects him in the middle rounds, he should booed and mocked incessantly.

Kickers are one of the most inconsistent and deep positions in fantasy football. And, they’re one of the lowest scoring positions. Like defenses, they fluctuate from year to year. And also like defenses, quarterbacks and tight ends, serviceable kickers can be had late in the draft.

* The one exception to drafting a kicker before the final round is if you hold one of the last picks in that round. In order to beat out the other teams before the run of kickers commences, go ahead and take one in the second-to-last round.

Never select more than one kicker or defense

Why would you ever waste a draft pick on a position that you can easily stream during the season?

Never, never, never, never, never take two kickers or defenses.

“But what about the bye week?”

Simple: just go pick one up off the waiver wire. You might even find a better one that week.

But if you take two kickers or defenses, you will have passed up on a better player — and not even to fill a need! A double whammy!

This is the best way to draft a fantasy football team

I hope you have learned something from this post. I have used this fantasy football draft strategy and these tips in my 25 years of playing fantasy football and have always fielded a competitive team.

That is, unless I didn’t follow my own strategy and elected to deviate from it.

(I’ve done that a few times in order to tinker and test different philosophies. Trust me, this one is best.)

But when I have followed these principles, my team has been competitive, and I’ve even won my fair share of championships.

I’ve had seasoned veterans say to me: “this is common sense stuff!” To which, I’ve replied: if that is true, why are there kickers with ADPs above Round 15? Hell, why are there kickers with ADPs even above Round 10? (Gasp!)

No, this might be common sense to some fantasy owners. And if you knew this stuff already, hopefully this just reinforced your beliefs.

But there are far too many owners making the mistakes I’ve warned against in this post. And it is those owners I hope I’ve reached today.