There is no event on the fantasy calendar like the live fantasy draft. If you’re lucky, this is an annual event that takes up an entire weekend and brings in friends with which you’ve competed for a decade or more. Familiarity brings a certain measure of contempt, so you not only want to win, you want to obliterate the competition. Preparing for your draft is one thing. Winning on draft day takes a certain willingness to go the extra mile. Here are five ways to win the psychological battle in a live draft.
1. Have a plan and be flexible: You can do seven billion mock drafts but when the real thing happens, crazy picks are bound to happen. You may go in with an RB-RB plan, but if 20 RBs are off the board by your late second-round pick, you’re going to get a bargain if you play contrarian.
2. Confidence is key: No matter what happens, come to the board and slap on your pick like every pick you make is the top guy on your board. In fact, say loudly “that was the top pick on my board” every time. It’s a poker game and you want to steal as many hands as possible.
3. Get your walkup music groove on: I picked up this idea from baseball players getting personalized music for when they came to bat. I know, it’s painful to admit that I once went to a baseball game. Do the same thing for your league, in fact tell your league mates that you will provide unique music for each drafter. If you’re looking for the baseball closer vibe, go with “Enter Sandman”. When your opponents come up to draft, it’s a good time to play some Yakety Sax. Nobody’s feeling cool or confident with that song playing.
4. Draft list confusion: While it’s ideal to have your draft list all but memorized, you’re going to need a visual cue. Bring a laminated card and put it in your wallet for safe-keeping. As for your league-mates, I recall bringing a list of players in alphabetical order and leaving it on the table. Better yet, bring a magazine, and make sure it’s from 2012. When someone gets desperate, they’re going to pick it up and get highly confused.
5. The vodka bottle gambit: I overplayed this hand in my local league. We have a tradition known as the “penalty shot” in which an owner has to do a shot of vodka during the league. These shots were handed out with such alarming frequency that to do them all would spell certain doom. Me and a friend devised a simple plan. Bring our own vodka bottle, fill it with water, and as John Madden would say, boom. The only downside of this plan is when another owner wants a sip from your bottle. Sometimes sharing is not caring.
Other, more simple ways of distraction include not showering for a few days prior to your draft and standing too close to league mates when it’s their time to pick, Cher-esque costume changes for maximum distraction purposes, and laughing hysterically when other people make a pick. It’s not a live fantasy draft until you yell out “Nice pick, is it the fifth round already?” when your top rival makes their first-round selection. The mental game is important, and as always, have fun.