Scott Engel is beginning his 10th season as the official Fantasy writer and analyst for Seahawks.com. Scott is a 25-year veteran of the Fantasy industry and an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. He is a four-time FSWA award winner and 10-time nominee, including being named a finalist for the 2020 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award. You can also find more of his Fantasy analysis on RotoBaller.com, SportsLine.com, the Athletic and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Scott won two Fantasy Football dynasty league titles in 2020, including one in the prestigious Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) and he previously pulled off a three-peat in a highly competitive New York City league.
Before you start embarking on your quest to execute the ideal Fantasy Football draft in 2021, it is important to settle into a comfortable mindset. You do not want to enter the draft room, whether you participate in one or several leagues, feeling anxious or uncertain about how to proceed. You will have to be well-informed and ready to adjust on the fly as the draft progresses. Once again, we are here to get you prepared on how to approach the upcoming season. In the upcoming weeks, we will supply positional primers, strategy articles, and essential lists of sleepers and breakout players. To get started, you should review our 2021 Fantasy Football Primer (link to season article two here), and then absorb the following recommendations to ensure you arrive at draft day feeling confident and ready to construct the ideal roster.
1) Fantasy Football training camp is now open
The Seahawks open 2021 training camp on July 27, yet your Fantasy Football training camp starts now. We will help you with player outlooks and updated information at Seahawks Fantasy Insider, but you need to start getting those drafting "reps" now. Jump into mock drafts over at NFL.com, and we strongly suggest you participate in Best Ball drafts, which are available on many Fantasy Football league management and gaming platforms. You will really get to exercise your competitive draft skills in that format, because the drafts truly count. In Best Ball leagues, you draft your team, and then make no roster moves at all during the season. Your starters are determined by the highest scoring players from your drafted roster every week, and whichever team scores the most points from their drafted rosters wins the league. Whether you are doing mocks or participating in Best Ball drafts, though, you are properly preparing mentally for the intensity and twists and turns of your main drafts.
2) Get ready to go with the flow
Do not try to predict what is going to happen in your draft ahead of time, or try to stick to a rigid pre-set plan. No Fantasy Football drafts are the same, because you will have 10 to 14 distinct approaches and thought processes in every draft room. As you do mock drafts, you will find that you never end up with the same roster twice. As you are participating in mocks, you are conditioning yourself to be ready to make split-second decisions and frequent and instant pivots from certain targeted players to others. There is no true recommended order to draft players in, and you should not target singular specific players, but rather groups of players for every pick and round.
3) Don't be a homer
This is an old rule, and certainly one you may have heard of before, but sometimes you may fail to abide by it. You cannot bleed Blue and Green during your Fantasy Football draft. You have to make the picks that are most sensible at every turn. If you are in the fourth round and Chris Carson is still available, but you have already drafted two running backs and a top tight end such as Darren Waller and need a No. 1 wide receiver, you should take the wideout. Always take what you need, not what you want to root for. Of course, if Carson is available and you have drafted one running back and two wide receivers already, then you are getting one of your favorite players at a good value, and that is a double bonus. It's always fun to draft the guys you like the best as a fan, yet it should never be more than a nifty coincidence.
4) Be Ready to Run with RBs
Every year, running backs are in heavy demand in Fantasy Football. In NFL.com drafts so far, the first eight picks according to the Average Draft Position Reports are running backs. You may see as many as 14 to 15 running backs go off the board in the first two rounds of a 12-team league draft. Do be ready for the RB race early on, but if you are confident in your knowledge of the player pool, there are elite WRs and superstar TEs to be taken while others are going all in on RBs, Remain aware of the heavy early trend, yet you can also be flexible. Again, we use Chris Carson as an example. If you draft one RB in the first round, then take two top-shelf WRs, and land Carson in the fourth, you have fared well in the first four rounds. You should strive to get two top RBs in the first four rounds if you can.
5) Draft Day is very important, but it's only the beginning
The draft is the most important event of the season in terms of roster construction, but your team will change a lot throughout the year. There will be trades, waiver adds and drops, injuries and other happenings that will make your roster look different just a few weeks into the season. So don't sweat bye week planning or Fantasy playoff scheduling too much on draft day. You should not be looking at Weeks 15 to 17 scheduling when so much on your team and in the NFL in terms of trends and outlooks will change between now and then.
6) Know when to take a QB
In leagues where you start just one QB, moving early to get Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen in the third round, for example, is not always the best approach when the position is quite deep. You need to stay in the mix of the running back rush and don't want to miss out on the top wide receivers when you must start at least two and sometimes three every week. You can wait until rounds six through nine to still land very good starters such as Justin Herbert, Matthew Stafford and of course, Russell Wilson. The Seahawks QB could push to be among the very best Fantasy players at his position this season with tight end Gerald Everett and exciting rookie D'Wayne Eskridge joining DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to further flesh out the passing game under the watch of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. In leagues that require two starting QBs or feature a "superflex" option, Wilson is a first round pick and you should aim to take your first starting QB in the first two rounds.
7) Be Ready to Draft from anywhere
Your draft slot does not make a major difference in how well your draft turns out. If you are picking first, you get the best overall player, but then you have to wait a long time for your second pick. If you have the last pick in a 12-team league, you are also the first person to draft a second player. If you are in the sixth slot, you are in the middle and your waits between picks don't seem quite as long as some others. Every draft slot has its advantages and disadvantages. Once you know your slot, just be ready to do your best from anywhere, and focus on executing a strong draft start to finish, while not spending way too much time thinking about the first pick or two over all others.
8) DK Metcalf now ranks among the elite
The Seahawks star wide receiver finished as the No. 7 WR in Fantasy Football last year, and is ranked in the Top 5 at his position by many Fantasy analysts this season. Metcalf does have the upside to finish among the very best WRs in Fantasy Football this season, as he continues to improve and develop. If you want to land top-shelf WRs such a Metcalf, Calvin Ridley and Justin Jefferson, you make have to take them as early as the second round. But the position does run deep, so you can also land potential No. 1 Fantasy wideouts such as Keenan Allen and Terry McLaurin a round or two later. If you have to start three WRs, players such as Tyler Lockett and Odell Beckham Jr. can fill out your starting core ideally after you draft your No. 1 at the position.
A look back at some of the best photos of Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf from the 2020 season.
9) Don't be afraid to be bold
If you really want a certain player on your team for the "right" Fantasy reasons, don't hesitate to take him above where norms or Average Draft Positions may dictate. You are not drafting to impress others, you just want to build the optimal roster. Once again, we go to Carson as an example. If you need a RB at the end of the third round and strongly believe he is a better pick at that spot than what the ADPs dictate, draft him there. Carson often plays at a Fantasy RB1 level. Also, if you believe Everett is potentially headed for his best Fantasy season yet, draft him as a mid-range TE2. In more competitive or high-stakes leagues, aggressive moves could turn out to be big ones that propel your team to greater heights.
10) Don't second-guess and speculate
Before the draft, many Fantasy players will try to guess how the first round will shake out. Such efforts are often wasted. Even if you have played with the same people for years, your opponents may surprise you or not be forthcoming or truthful when you try to ask who they may be targeting. You cannot get stuck on a certain player or two ahead of the draft, or constantly struggle with who to take before the draft even starts. Simply make confident decisions on how to rank guys and have a full queue of players ready at the start of the draft. For example, if you pick seventh, queue up your top seven players and simply take the best available player remaining when it's your pick.
11) Keep it Moving
After you make every pick in your draft, you should be readying for the next round. Start queueing up groups of players as you did when you readied for the first round as we suggested. Be ready to pick any one of a few players so you never feel "sniped". Make sure you have studied well for the later rounds. You do not want to rely on just who you see listed as default players in the draft room lists, but rather have specific value and sleeper targets to pick off from your own rankings and cheat sheets. If you like to rely on the advice of specific Fantasy experts, have their sleeper and value targets on hand for the later portions of the draft.
12) Know your layout
Make sure you have comprehensively studied your scoring system and league rules before Draft Day. Certain players will perform better for you in different scoring systems. If your league awards six points rather than four for a TD pass, then you have to bump Wilson and other QBs slightly higher on your draft boards. In leagues that award a full point for a reception rather than half a point, you should lean more to a receiving back like Austin Ekeler in a tight decision at running back. If your league requires two flex positions, you may want to wait longer on a quarterback. Find a league that you can be comfortable in, and then mock and prepare in accordance with the setup.
Check out more of Scott Engel's 2021 Fantasy Football analysis and rankings at RotoBaller.com. Enter promo code "seahawks" at checkout for an additional discount on the RotoBaller Fantasy Football season pass. Also check out the new Mock Draft Assistant, where you can practice quick drafting against computer.