Fantasy football season begins the day that the NFL draft ends. That is when the real fanatics begin thinking about which rookies are most likely to break out based on the teams they landed on.
Your fantasy draft day is the single most important day of your fantasy season. This is when you build the foundation of your team. More importantly, this is when you can justify throwing a party with 10 or more of your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and the random person that joins the league last minute to fill a spot because he or she is willing to pay the entry fee.
When it comes to the draft party, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. You want the draft to be organized, fun, and accommodating. Let’s go over some draft day non-negotiables to make sure your league members have a blast and leave the draft excited about the upcoming season.
1. Establish rules, consequences, and payouts before the first pick. Commissioners, this is your time to shine. If there are any rules in your league that are not considered standard league rules, you should do a quick review to make sure everyone is familiar. Make sure all members are briefed on any draft rules. This is when you want to make sure everyone understands the consequences for breaking any rules. If it is a money league, be sure that everyone is aware of how the payouts will work. Remember, you do not want to make up rules once the draft or the season has started. This is one way to lose confidence in your league members. Keeping everyone engaged all season is important for the integrity of your league.
2. Be accommodating. Many fantasy managers have moved on from the magazines and printed lists and have gone digital. There are many apps and websites available to give you in-draft recommendations while allowing you to track who has been selected and who is still available. You can even receive real-time updates for players. Many drafts take place while NFL pre-season games are happening so injury updates are important. In order to utilize these resources, your league members must have the proper accommodations. WI-FI. Yes, WI-FI. Make sure you have a reliable WI-FI connection for your league. Everyone should have a place to sit, preferably with a table to set a laptop, tablet, and even the timeless notebook.
3. Have a plan for food and refreshments. The best live drafts are not rushed. And as with any party, there must be food and drinks. Get recommendations from league members and make a plan for providing food. Drafting on an empty stomach is dangerous. It can lead to reaching for a defense in the 6th round. I’ve seen it happen. I always show up with a cooler filled with my own beverages, but in that cooler is a king-sized candy bar known to cure hunger. Take no chances.
4. Provide entertainment. The draft will be the centerpiece of the day. There is no doubt about that. However, it’s good to take breaks throughout the draft. If it is an outdoor draft, you can have yard games available like cornhole or a table set up with a deck of cards. Have a Bluetooth speaker available so someone can connect to it and play music. If you have a TV in sight, playing a past Super Bowl of the league’s local team usually goes over well, if your team won. If there is a pre-season game playing live, you want to have that showing, if possible. Giving your league members a way to step away from the draft and re-charge can add fun to a potentially stressful day.
5. Geaux have some fun! Do not lose sight of the fact that this is FANTASY football. Once your rules are established and the food table is set, just have fun. Make wagers, smack talk, yell out “WORST PICK OF THE DRAFT” at least once every round. Tell everyone how good your team is on paper. Make it memorable. A draft well done will have a balance of organization and entertainment. You want structure, but not too many rules.