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The Gut Check No. 417: When Your Draft Goes Wrong

Matt Waldman shares five symptoms of a draft day gone wrong and five tips for how to turn it around.

We've all had bad drafts. Sometimes the toughest part about a bad draft is recognizing early on that you had one. The earlier you do, the better your chances of fixing your mess and fielding a contender. 

Unfortunately, we are easily filled with optimism in August. Take Alvin Kamara and Bruce Ellington as examples.

Go to NFL.com or Twitter and watch their highlights if you haven't seen their performances during the preseason and you'll see big plays—big plays that they routinely made in the SEC. These plays get fantasy players excited and occasionally, I'm asked if I'm now more bullish about a player like Kamara after a 5-attempt, 61-yard performance (with the game still in progress). When I answer "no," I'm sure some people are incredulous. 

It's not the big plays that matter as much as the little ones: ball security, pass protection, smart decisions to take minimal gains rather than going for the big play that has a higher risk of setting up a third and long with suboptimal field position. Kamara didn't do a good job with these details at Tennessee.

Players like Kamara and Ellington may develop fast enough in these areas (or, in Ellington's case, fulfill a desperate need for a new team) to have a larger impact this year but until he demonstrates this development, big plays that were also made in the college game don't move the needle as much for me as others. However, big plays and athletic ability will always seduce fans. When it pays off, it ingrains a bias towards these things when there's a likelihood that the call was correct for all the wrong reasons.

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