We've all been there. Well, maybe David Dodds hasn't but the rest of us have. No shame in it...it happens to us all. And if it hasn't happened to you yet, it will eventually...
Your draft is over. And your team looks TERRIBLE.
Things happen on draft day. The sleeper you were targeting goes a pick ahead of you. Your computer dies. You didn't cross off a player and missed out on him. You wait too long on a backup quarterback and now you are stuck with Kevin Kolb or Joe Webb taking up a roster spot. So you reach, you grab the wrong guy, you swing for the fences too early trying to make up for past mistakes in one pick. That only makes the problem worse. Much worse.
I drafted once in a league where one owner forgot to draft a quarterback. He missed early on the player he wanted (Kurt Warner) and waited and waited and waited for value that never appeared. Suddenly the draft was over and he didn't have a quarterback at all. I drafted in a twelve team league once where one owner (the Commissioner!) was so flustered by an early run on receivers that he ended up with 11 running backs on a 16 player roster. He kept stock-piling rushers for a future trade, only to find himself with too many to unload as the season wore on. In a Footballguys Best Ball league two years ago I selected Drew Brees and Tom Brady at the turn of rounds one and two, setting off a run on quarterbacks that resulted in Jason Campbell being a 5th round pick. Funny things happen on draft day and while you have likely spent much of the summer researching players and strategies, things can get turned upside down in a hurry when you're finally on the clock. The two best pieces of advice I can give for drafting are (1) be prepared and (2) keep your composure. Here's what to do in the event that doesn't happen and something goes awry.
If you are the owner who had a terrible draft:
Don't Panic – Take a deep breath. Your league won't be won on draft day. Making impulsive, reactionary trades in an effort to look better on paper often leads to bad deals and only amplifies your problem. The season is long, don't trade away your stud running back for a mish-mash of receivers just because you feel like you have to do something.
Analyze – Look over your roster and your league rules carefully. Ask friends to look at your roster. Use the Footballguys.com "Analyze My Team" feature. It's possible the damage isn't so bad. Maybe you ended up a little too deep at tight end and not deep enough at running back, but quarterback and receiver look fine. Maybe you didn't factor in that rushing touchdowns for quarterbacks score higher then passing touchdowns, so having Robert Griffin as your starter isn't the absolute end of the world. Get opinions on how to improve your team; maybe someone else will see something that you are missing.
Learn – Stop worrying about this season long enough to go back over your notes and figure out how you ended up in this position. What would you do differently in the same situation next time? How would you prepare differently? How would you react to the picks ahead of you differently? What can you learn from the experience to make sure you not only never find yourself in this position again, but that you have improved your ability for future draft days? I've long said my main draft strategy is to anticipate the wrinkles and waves that happen and then ignore them. Looking back on a "bad" draft can be very instructive on how to implement good discipline the next time.
Save the Day – Once you've taken a careful look at your team and figured out what lessons can be learned, make a plan on how to salvage the situation. Look for trade partners that are weak at a position where you are strong. My advice is to consolidate your depth by moving a number of mid-tier players for a single, higher level performer. There are a handful of players in fantasy football that can seemingly win games for you on their own. Target these players by offering lopsided deals. Having a roster full of WR3s and QB2s is nowhere near as strong as a roster with Arian Foster, Jimmy Graham, and a bunch of guys off the waiver wire. Try and package your mediocrity together for a single piece of stardom.
If one of your leaguemates had a terrible draft:
Make sure you haven't missed anything – Before you celebrate too loudly, make sure that you have your facts straight. Double-check the scoring rules and starting requirements in your league. Take a few minutes to see if there is something you were missing. It only takes a few moments and you want to move to the next step from a position of strength. Make sure you know exactly where you stand.
Find their team on your schedule – There are rarely easy wins in fantasy football so find the aggrieved owner on your schedule. Make sure that your team's bye-weeks line up nicely for a win. The last thing you want to do is ignore the "low-hanging-fruit" and make roster moves that jeopardize (rather then strengthen) your chances of winning your game against the worst on-paper team in the league.
Move quickly – The chances are good that the owner who had a bad draft will panic and be quick to make moves in an effort to make himself feel better. Take full advantage of his dilemma. This is truly the only time before Halloween where star players can likely be had for a discount. Don't be shy in making big moves; if you can deal your 7th round receiver and 10th round tight end to steal his 2nd round running back, don't hesitate! The regular season is won with consistency, the trophy is won with star-power. It's never too early to start loading up on the top-tier players in the league.
Watching an owner fall apart and go on tilt can be painful to watch. And if you are that owner, it can feel absolutely horrible. Hopefully the ideas above will give you a blueprint on how to react to this situation, regardless of what side you are on.
As always, thanks for reading. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.