John Paulsen's Draft Day Strategery

John Paulsen's Draft Day Strategery

By John Paulsen (Director of Forecasting), last update Jul 24, 2014

John Paulsen's picture

John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, and has finished in the Top 6 in seven of the last eight years. Cumulatively, John has been the most accurate expert from 2010-17 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John Paulsen on Twitter: @4for4_John.

(Unfortunately, that's not me in the picture.)

As I've been participating in mock draft after mock draft (or in the case of the highly recommended MFL10s, real draft after real draft), I've learned quite a bit about how the 2013 fantasy season is shaping up, and how that's going to relate to your draft day in August or early September. While we still have a long way to go until draft season really gets going, the framework has been built. So we can start to develop a skeleton of a plan, and as training camp battles and injuries occur, adjust as we go.

I used to play basketball for current University of Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan while he was at UW-Platteville. We won a National Championship in my junior year (one of four that he won in his career there), and I would credit a large part of his success to one of his favorite sayings: Perfect practice makes perfect.

See, it wasn't enough for Bo to go with the ol' adage, practice makes perfect, because simply showing up for practice wasn't enough. You have to bring the same intensity and focus as you would to a real game. (This is impossible, of course, since the adrenalin produced by a real game in front of a few thousand fans -- and a dozen cheerleaders -- is difficult to reproduce in a mostly empty gymnasium on a Thursday afternoon, but he did his best to make the consequences of less-than-energetic play irritating enough that most of my teammates would "bring it" in practice. If we didn't, he would make us run and run and run some more, all the while questioning our manhood.) He deserves credit for his consistency. I always knew he was going to show up ready to coach, and that meant I had to show up and be ready to play be coached.

It's the same approach that fantasy owners need to take when preparing for their fantasy drafts. Going to do a free mock at ESPN? Approach it with the same intensity you would your real draft. Try out different strategies (TE-early, WR-early, etc.) and see which one gives you the type of team you want heading into Week 1. While it's important to have a plan in mind, it's just as important to be flexible and open-minded when formulating that plan.

Here are a few key takeaways from all the drafting I've been doing…


I'm not the first (nor will I be the last) to say this, but the fact remains: QB is extremely deep this year. As in, I-can't-ever-remember-it-being-this-deep deep. The strong return of Peyton Manning, along with the emergence of four young, bona fide QB1s -- Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck -- has pushed a once-elite fantasy QB like Tony Romo down to the 12-spot in ADP (and our QB rankings). To put this in perspective, Romo has finished in the top 11 in five of the last six seasons. The only exception was 2010, when he broke his clavicle in Week 7. In that same span he finished in the top 7 three times. And you can get him in the 7th/8th round. If he doesn't slip, someone else -- Luck, RG3, Kaepernick, Wilson or Matthew Stafford -- probably will. Ideally, I'd like to be the owner to take the 12th QB off the board, but this doesn't always work out. More on this later.

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