Live Drafts For Dummies
August 20, 2014 | Jeff
What is your favorite day of the year?
Your birthday? A favorite holiday? The anniversary of the time you finished “The Old ’96er,” including the gristle?
Unfortunately, my answer doesn’t involve candles, reindeer, or 96 ounces of beef. The answer for me is very easy: The annual live draft of my home town fantasy football league. Each year in early September, 13 of my pals and I gather together to begin our traditional pursuit towards a fake football championship fueled by perhaps a few too many beverages of choice. The anticipation of a fantasy football draft is enough to get even the most casual of fantasy footballers’ blood moving, but a live draft kicks the excitement level into overdrive. In case you are new to live drafts, let’s take a few minutes to highlight the best ways to make your draft a success. After all, it’s your big day!
Live Drafts vs. Online Drafts
Much like NASCAR, the fake football world begins its season with the biggest event: The draft. Months of research, depth charts, injury reports, and good old fashioned hard work get poured into preparation for this event so the anticipation can build to extreme levels. When setting up your league’s draft, take some time to weigh the benefits of a live draft vs. an online draft. Online drafts are the default setting for all fantasy leagues and most commissioners have never been introduced to the live draft possibility, even if it makes logistical sense for their league. Online drafts do have some benefits: Your draft can include owners that live in remote locations of the rainforest (as long as they have an internet connection), you can relax and draft in only your undergarments, and the magical draft application records and times each owner’s picks. Yes, this sounds like a decent idea, but if if all your league’s owners are within a reasonable drive, aren’t afraid to write down the names of players, and don’t mind wearing pants, then you MUST give a live draft a shot. Here is why:
This aspect of live drafts is the most obvious. Drafting with a room full of people is far more exciting than drafting with only the warm glow of a computer monitor. Occasionally, in between yard work, little league and the old nine-to-five, it’s nice to have a social gathering in which the topic is something you care about. Fantasy leagues last a grueling 16 weeks (again, please don’t use week 17 for your title game), so take some time to pal around with your league mates.
Draft day at a live draft is never short on laughs. Any assortment of topics can induce a room full of roaring laughter, whether a person has a hilarious team name, is wearing a customized fantasy football team jersey, or forgets their entire stash of draft research at home. In this environment of fun and competition, season-long jokes will also undoubtedly be spawned, as one of your league mates will either:
a) spill a dark colored beverage on the host’s carpet
b) have waaaay too many adult beverages and make awkward/weird comments (my favorite)
c) draft an injured player
d) draft a kicker and/or defense far too early
e) all of the above
After all, FANTASY FOOTBALL IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN! Please don’t forget that between injuries and trade deadlines, this game is designed to provide a boat load of entertainment. Always keep that in mind.
Draft Pick Pressure
This is my favorite aspect of live drafts and you may not fully understand it until time is dwindling on your pick and you need to blurt out a selection. In a nutshell, like many things (keep your mind out of the gutter), fantasy drafts are more convenient online, but are better in real life. Gone are the safety nets of auto-picks and generic draft application rankings. At a live draft, a certain air of confidence is required to make a draft selection as people generally fear the ridicule of their peers as they draft. Simply clicking your mouse on Blaine Gabbert’s name and reading the draft room “chat” section is far easier than announcing his name to a room full of people. That would be bad news for your fantasy team either way, but it’s much more fun in a live draft atmosphere.
Now that you have decided to go the “live draft” route, just how do you go about setting up this shindig?
Live Draft Set-Up
This section is quite simple. After all, besides a smorgasbord of food with the highest possible caloric value and a cooler full of ice-cold refreshments, there isn’t much to a live draft once an entire league piles into one room. Where you can, however, make your live draft stand apart from others is with your draft board.
There are many ways to craft a functional draft board, including multiple sources that sell ready-made draft boards complete with stickers of every NFL player’s name to apply as picks are announced. Personally, I have gone every direction imaginable, from constructing a 12′ x 4′ billboard sized snake draft board, to dealing out positional color-coded note cards to be pinned up on a living room wall covered in so much colored paper it would make a kindergarten teacher jealous. Yes, this all sounds work intensive and extremely, extremely nerdy but as I stated in the intro to this piece, I don’t mess around on my favorite day of the year and neither should you!
Now, of the multitude of ways advancements in technology have benefited society, improving fantasy football draft boards may not top the list, but it sure is fun once draft season comes around. Instead of hosting a live draft at your pad, donning your finest evening gown and playing Vanna White with a Sharpie, we can now input draft picks into a draft board display via laptop. No more illegible handwriting or debates about the spelling of player names. Here is how:
The location of your live draft will most likely have a television, and a large one at that. This is a good thing. Next, you will need to connect a laptop computer to the television. This is far easier than it sounds and you can purchase the correct connector cord to fit any television or laptop at your local Best Buy. If you’re lost, find a guy in a blue polo shirt and he will guide you toward the correct aisle.
Now that your laptop is connected to the television, you will need a draft board to display. If you are using a snake draft format, simply crack into Excel, and make yourself a grid of rectangle boxes in which to type in draft picks as your fantasy football draft board has now transformed into a convenient display on a 50″ plasma. This should take you about 4.6 minutes, but if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below and I will personally send you a template. Now, if you dabble in the fine art of auction drafts, download my auction draft template HERE, and enjoy. This template calculates team salaries, remaining salary cap space, maximum bids, and looks a little something like this:
There you have it! Live draft success in six easy steps:
1. Ditch the online draft
2. Pick a location for your live draft
3. Bring a laptop
4. Plug laptop into television
5. Display a draft board template via Microsoft Excel or Google Docs on the television
6. Draft, eat, drink, be merry, and don’t spend anything but a last round pick (or $1) on a kicker!