Live drafts are one of the best parts of fantasy football. Bringing people together in a room to draft their fantasy teams is a tradition like no other. But what makes a good live draft? Here are some things I’ve found in my 20+ years as a fantasy manager:
Drawing boards are essential
If you’re going to do a live draft, you need to have a live draft board. Back then, that was the only option, but with the advent of mobile phones and Wi-Fi, they have become something of a relic of a bygone era. People can still type on their devices, but it’s a lot more fun with the in-person touch. Trust me: get a draft board and get one with stickers.
If you have the time or money, you can also hire someone to place the stickers and announce the choices as well. This is a fun twist on a live draft that I’ve seen a few times, but never made it myself. It’s even more fun in auction drafts where you can ask someone to act as the auctioneer. Think of them as the emcee of the event, announcing every pick in the room and making the whole draft that much grander.
If you choose not to let someone run things, you can still have fun. I like the pomp and the added circumstance of walking in and placing the sticker on the player board you’re drafting. He just feels good. It’s a way to add a bit of drama to every choice. Some like to make it simple and fast while others like to play in it. Either way, it makes things so much more fun than just clicking a button on your laptop or phone.
Assign a draft order at the last minute
In most of my live drafts, we selected our draft slot long before the draft itself. I don’t mind this at all as it allows you to plan things out and do a lot of mock drafts from your draft slot, but it also gives your opponents time to prepare. We don’t need that.
Assigning a draft order just before the draft allows the best players to gain an advantage. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already in the top 25% of all fantasy managers. It will benefit you. Trust me. It also allows you to make the preliminary ordering process much more fun by adding a game to it or picking numbers from a hat with everyone present. It’s chaos, but it’s worth it.
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Make sure there are enough sockets or none at all
This one is a bit underrated, but you definitely want to make sure everyone in attendance has the ability to plug in their mobile devices if needed. Most live drafts take a few hours and with all the information available, people will want to have their computer to help them out. As long as your league allows it, this is something you want to check before planning your spot.
Alternatively, one thing I’ve heard of as a twist to this is to NOT allow draft mobile devices at all. It puts everyone on a level playing field and takes some of the luck out of things. I even heard of a live draft where the commissioner handed everyone the same draft ranking list and you couldn’t bring your own. It felt extreme but also felt like a lot of fun like something different.
You don’t really need to “add” profanity to have a good live draft; it will most likely come naturally, and that’s what makes it great. Bringing everyone together in a room tends to bring trash talk out organically. People will comment on other people’s choices and make sarcastic remarks when they get shot. It’s so much more fun than reading messages via chat, trust me.
Presentation of trophies and punishment of losers
In my local goalkeeping league, we have a trophy that is engraved with the winner each year. This trophy is presented to last year’s winner at the draft and that manager holds the trophy all year, probably on his coat for the world to see. With the new draft year, it’s a good idea to have a small ceremony to present this trophy to the new owner. This allows them to gloat and everyone else to get jealous.
Right after that, we tend to make our loser punishment kick in as well. In our league, the worst team from the previous year must wear a custom Colin Kaepernick t-shirt for the entire draft that is never washed. It’s a small thing but a fun way to call the loser without being too rude. Not every league has a rule like this, but we like it as a way to make last place as uninviting as possible. That, and it’s just hilarious how bad that shirt smells with every passing year.
Pre- and post-draft activities
Another thing our local league does is we have a full day of activities planned around the draft. We almost always write on a Friday and many of us take the whole day off. It’s pretty much a vacation for me, and my boss knows it. Whoever can do it gets out to lunch, and maybe to the casino before the draft. After everything is done, some of us stay up late playing cards. If you’re going to get together with your friends once a year, you might as well make a day out of it. I highly recommend making plans around your live draft as well.
Food, friends and fun
The #1 thing you need for a good live draft is three of the four Fs (the last F being family). Anytime you can get friends together for a fun activity with good food, you’ll have a great time. Many drafts will involve drinking alcohol, but be careful. Drinking too much (or not drinking at all) can really ruin your season. Know your limits and take care of yourself.
That being said, getting your friends together once a year to draft is one of the best parts of fantasy football. If you’re writing in a bar or restaurant, choose one with a good menu. You are going to want options. If you’re drafting at someone’s house, plan to order a pizza or make it a potluck. Whatever you do, make sure you have tons of great food and some of your closest friends, and you’re sure to have a blast.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning list of fantasy football tools while you navigate your season. Of our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal range based on accurate consensus projections – to our Trade Analyzer – which lets you know instantly whether a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – we’ve got you covered this season of fantasy football.
Andrew Hall is a featured writer for FantasyPros. To learn more about Andrew, check out his profile and follow him @AndrewHallFF.