Tips for Hosting a Live Fantasy Football Draft

Jul 08, 2024
Tips for Hosting a Live Draft

It's hard to believe, but your league's draft is not that far away.

Draft Day is the best day of the fantasy football season. A live draft makes the day all that much better, and if you’ve never taken part in one, it should be on your fantasy bucket list. It’s a whole different experience versus sitting in front of your computer or phone.

But if you’re hosting a live draft, it can come with some extra stresses. Maybe you came in last this past season, and as a result, you have to host. Or, maybe you’ve been hosting for years. I’ve been attending live drafts since the late 1990s, and hosting my own league’s draft since 2003.

Just like my Drafting Under the Influence article, I feel like I have a lot to offer to help make hosting your draft go smooth this year.

Why Host a Live Draft?

Getting together with other fantasy owners to draft in person is just much more fun than sitting behind your computer or being on your phone. In my league, it means I get to see friends I made in college as far back as the middle 1990s. I even met some friends of friends, who have come and gone through my league over the years.

Times have changed, my friends and I all have wives and kids and sports and school functions, and that makes it harder to get together like we did back in the day when it was almost every weekend. But for Draft Day, everyone makes the effort to get out for a night to socialize, draft some guys, form some teams, and a league. In a day and age when everyone is glued to their phones or tablets, keeping up social skills isn’t a bad thing. And besides, it’s much better to make fun of someone’s picks to their face rather than over a screen.

Sometimes draft day is the only day I see some of the guys in my league.

When Should You Hold Your Draft?

I like to have my draft the Friday before Labor Day. I’ve held my draft this day for as long as I can remember so it’s pretty much etched in everyone’s minds, which ideally should help for planning year to year. Labor Day Weekend isn’t always the best time as there is a lot going on this time of year, but I’m fortunate this day works and it’s become a staple. This is something you should shoot for if you’re hosting the draft every year. I’ve got to the point now where if you can’t make, shame on you, you knew about it for a year.

I also prefer to have my drafts in the evening. I used to start my drafts in the afternoon, which led to more drinking and more partying both before and after. The house was left a mess and cleanup the next day was rough. Moving it to the evening has made things easier for everyone, a little less partying, and things have stayed calmer the older we get.

But the most important thing is to pick a day and time that works best for the most members of your league, because things go smoothest when everyone is there.

Obviously the earlier you draft the more injuries could be an issue. The later you draft, the tougher it can be to get together because school has likely started and it's kind of back to the grind.

If your spouse is open to it, invite the families of your leaguemates to the draft. It could be a lot of extra work but it may be the only way some can make it.

Keep Your Distance

Fortunately, the days of keeping six feet apart are over, but that doesn't mean you want to have a crammed space where 10 or 12 or even more people have to fit in order to draft.

Obviously, a spacious area is the best. Sometimes, I host my drafts outside where there is plenty of room on the patio. By the end it's a bit dark outside but there's enough light it's not a big deal. I reacently had my basement re-finished, added a bar and gave it a sports theme so that's a perfect place to hold a draft. I've done live drafts where I sat around a dining room table with no arm room with nine othe people. Just try to be aware of spacing.

Lots of owners will bring a laptop as well, so you want to make sure everyone has access to electric and outlets whether your draft is inside or outside.

Also, make sure everyone at least has a decent chair or seat. The older we get, the more our backs are going to hurt sitting for a few hours. And while you want to give everyone their space, it's also important everyone can hear the picks.

Get People There On Time

There always seems to be one person who complains about everything, but especially the draft taking too long. I usually don’t have a problem with the length of a draft. I mean, we all expect this to take time, so it can be annoying when someone is really pushing things along because they expected 16 rounds of drafting to be done in 30 minutes.

Just to be polite, try to at least pick a draft start time and stick to it. I always invite people to come over early, hang out, have a beer or two or three, with it known that we’re going to start the draft at 7 p.m., for example. Now, if everyone is there live and the beers are flowing and everyone is having a good time catching up, it doesn’t matter if you start late. But if you have one or two guys who are mobile or offline, and they are ready to go at 7 while the rest of the league is drinking it up, that’s not very courteous. Always try to start on time.

Don’t Do Everything Yourself

If only half the league shows up to your draft, this can make things difficult. As the person hosting the draft, and the league commissioner, I have plenty of things to do during the draft. Obviously, the most important thing is keeping track of the teams, and that’s something that needs specific attention the entire time.

Having to collect picks from those who are mobile can only complicate things, whether you’re texting or chatting or emailing or talking on the phone. So, maybe it’s a good idea to spread around responsibilities. In one league, we assign a Draft Buddy to each person who isn’t in attendance. The Draft Buddy, who is in attendance, is responsible for getting the picks from an owner who is not there, and then announcing the pick to the rest of us. Just assign these before the draft starts so everyone is on the same page.

There are some great programs out there, like ClikcyDraft, which allows everyone to log into the same site to pick. This is an option if you don't want to use your league's host site because of the timer. You can turn the timer off on ClickyDraft, or keep it on, so it's a live draft where everyone isn't in the same room. I've used this for a few years now and it works pretty well. But there is a fee to use it, however you can then use it for multiple drafts if that applies to you.

Be A Generous Host

I used to be way more into hosting my draft day. That was before kids. I used to grill out for anyone interested in showing up a little early and pretty much turn it into a pregame party. I had some yard games like quoits and horseshoes and it was always a blast. These days, no one can really devote the time, but I still make sure to have plenty of snacks on hand. This is another reason for a later start time—after dinner, you don’t have to provide full meals for everyone. I always supply beer, water and soda as well, which usually keeps everyone happy. Just be prepared—fantasy owners are slobs, so you’re going to have some cleaning to do the next day.

You can also ask everyone to bring a small snack so you don't have to provide everything yourself.

Trust me, just the fact that you're having the draft at your house, people will really appreciate it. You don't have to break your bank account to feed 10 or 12 people and supply them with beer. People are usually willing to help out.

Add Some Excitement

This is something I really don’t do anymore. It’s mostly because of time restraints and even a lack of having everyone at the draft, but I always thought a draft board was a great way to make the whole draft experience way better. This is also a great way for everyone to see who is picked and when, and to avoid repeat picks – although, at a live draft are repeat picks EVER avoided?

I always like the idea of announcing your first pick at a podium and having to give a little speech about the reason for the selection as well as expectations for said player. This is always a good time after a few beers.

Before the draft is also a good time to present any awards from last season if that’s something you do. There are tons of things to do to make the live draft more exciting.

Since my draft is a redraft league, I wait until right before the start to pick my draft order. I use a deck of cards with the ace being the first pick, followed by cards 2-10 for the rest of the order.

Play Some Music

This is where things can get out of hand at my drafts. I’ve been to live drafts in the past where everyone sits in silence and all you can hear is the sound of typing on the keyboard, crunching on chips or beer cans opening - until someone announces a pick. Too quiet.

I’ve also hosted drafts where you can’t hear when picks are announced because a friend of mine has the music way too loud due to beer consumption. This is pretty much every year.

Obviously, there is a fine line. I could just remove my speaker but in the end, I’d rather have some kind of background music versus silence. It just makes for a better atmosphere. Or turn on the TV and have a preseason football game playing. Either way, when everyone is concentrating, I've never enjoyed the pure silence of a draft.

Draft At A Nice Pace

One thing about live drafts I like a lot versus on a website is the picks aren’t timed. Now if I’m sitting alone at my computer doing an online draft, I don’t mind the timed picks because it’s hard to sit there for hours and I like when things keep moving. But at a live draft, I don’t mind if people take a little extra time to make their pick. I’m never in a hurry and just enjoy the concept Draft Day.

But, you should still try to control the pace.

Now, I’m the first to laugh at someone when the whole room knows whose turn it is, but that person has no idea. The immature giggles that eventually emerge usually give that person the hint it’s their turn to pick. However, I know that can get old after a while and at my drafts, it seems like it can go on all night. We all have places to be, so if the draft is at your house, take charge. Let people know when it’s their turn to pick, even tell them when they’re on deck. It keeps things moving, and eventually everyone should get the hang of who they draft after. But one thing I’ve learned is not everyone cares to take the time to figure out the draft order.

Take A Break

Another thing that I don’t do at my drafts, but can be a good idea, is to take a break. A lot drafts will go about halfway, then pause to eat or have a beer or use the bathroom—or all three. Taking a break isn’t a bad idea if you’re drafting all day. It can get old going 16 rounds all in one stretch especially if people take their time. I usually don’t break because some guys are always in a hurry to get things done, but if no one needs to be anywhere, take a pause and let everyone refresh and stretch and even refocus. This is especially a good idea if you're making a picnic out of the day and everyone's families are there.

Have Fun

As I’ve said all along, Draft Day with live drafts with friends or family or both are one of the best days of the year. In the end, you're supposed to enjoy it. But keep in mind you can't make everyone happy so try to follow some of these tips and hopefully your hosted draft will go smoothly.

Latest Articles
Most Popular