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Fantasy 201: Getting Organized on Draft Day

Let's talk about drafts. Not the chilly breezes that whip through a poorly insulated house or the bitter double IPA on tap at your local watering hole. I'm talking about the all-important process of picking your fantasy team.

It's not likely that you're going to win your league through the draft, but you can certainly lose it. So it's important to try not to screw it up. Besides, Draft Day is probably the most fun part of being in a fantasy league. So let's dive into how we can make this both fun and productive.

Adam Rank already hipped you to a lot of the basics of drafting a fantasy football team, so we'll skip a lot of things. If you haven't caught up, I suggest you check it out.

The Queue

It might be the most obnoxiously spelled word you've ever encountered. How many words have four silent letters in them? But it's probably one of the most helpful when it comes to getting your fantasy draft right.

You already have a list of players you'd like to draft. Now you just need to keep track of them. Sure, you could write them down with a pen. On a piece of paper. Like it was the 1900s. But that also means you have to keep track of who's getting drafted and scratch off any name that gets taken. It seems like a good idea, but you're a multi-tasker. Who can do all of that while simultaneously checking NFL headlines, making dinner and wrangling children?

That's what the queue is for. Just click on the flag next to each player's head shot and it places them into one super handy list. Now you're ready for the next time you're on the clock. Are they not in your preferred order? No problem! Just drag the player you'd like to move into the appropriate spot on the list.

The best part is that the queue keeps everything organized for you. If one of those players get drafted by someone ahead of you (*shakes fist at the sky*), he's automatically removed from the list. And if the draft clock runs out on you -- because, of course, the pasta is starting to boil over at the worst moment -- the app will just select the first player in your queue. Simple as that.

The Roster

The average NFL.com draft is 15 rounds -- which includes nine spots in your starting lineup. When you make your picks, the app will automatically slot the first players you select into starting spots. Makes sense, right? Those are going to be your best players and you'll probably start them every week.

But just because you've filled a few starting spots with your opening-round picks doesn't mean you have to fill all of the starting spots right away. In fact, it's probably smarter if you don't! The idea of drafting is to put together the best possible team. That means getting the best possible players, not just filling spots.

We'll get into more advanced draft strategies a little bit later on, but suffice to say, but here are the basics:

  1. Stock up on running backs and wide receivers early. Running backs are particularly important, because there are so few who are guaranteed to get the ball a lot.
  2. Wait on a quarterback. If you're feeling saucy, maybe you take a shot at super studs like Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes early. But there are 32 starters in the NFL and only 10-12 teams in your fantasy league. Generally, you can find a good one in the ninth round or later.
  3. Wait until the last two rounds to draft your kicker and defense. Don't miss out on talented players at higher-scoring positions for players that might only make minimal week-to-week contributions to your squad.
  4. Someone in your league is probably going to get all crazy and draft a defense in the ninth round. Don't be that person.

The Autodraft

Consider this the option of last resort. It's generally frowned upon in many leagues to let your draft go on autopilot. Besides, the emotional roller coaster that comes from drafting a fantasy football team is a large part of the fun. I know that doesn't sound right, but, trust me, it is.

Alas, sometimes it's unavoidable. You don't need your aunt shooting you dirty looks when you shout obscenities at your cousin's baby shower because someone snaked Robert Woods from you in the fourth round. In those instances, you may have to leave your fate in the hands of the algorithm.

Autodraft will select the best player available, determined by NFL.com's preset player rankings. In some cases, you might end up with some better options than you had originally planned on. The downside is that the algorithm tends to fill in all of your starting slots first, so you may draft a defense and kicker earlier than you'd like (scroll back up to see why this is bad).

The good news is that choosing the autodraft option isn't a forever choice. If you're able to join the draft before it's over, you can turn it off and take control. Similarly, if you have to step away before it's over, you can turn it on in the midst of your draft and let the computer do its thing. That also gives you a convenient scapegoat if your season goes sideways.

There you have it, a few tips to help your draft day go smoother. Or at the very least, some guidelines to help you feel a quietly smug sense of satisfaction when you see someone else in your league make these mistakes. I mean, what is this ... amateur hour? Happy drafting!

Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who is curious about the tensile strength of bubbles. Send him your high school science queries or fantasy football questions on Twitter@MarcasGor Instagram atMarcasG.

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