Back-to-school chaos. End-of-summer BBQs. Business travel.
Try as we might, life sometimes gets in the way of our favorite pastime.
Truthfully, that's exactly what inspired this article. I was scheduled to take part in the fantasy football group's weekly mock draft while flying back to Los Angeles after having been in the studio for the 2022 Fantasy Marathon. Rather than me relying on the Wi-Fi at 30,000 feet, one of our editors -- Joe Kaiser -- suggested testing out some autodraft strategies.
It was, by no means, a perfect draft. If I'm being completely honest, I made a minimal number of tweaks in order to discover what kind of squad I could end up with while relinquishing the majority of the control to the autodraft feature.
The only adjustments I made were the following:
* FLEX players (RB/WR/TE) for Rounds 1-6
* QB in Round 7 (pretty happy with how that turned out)
* D/ST in Round 15
* Kicker in Round 16
* One (1) maximum player drafted at TE, K and D/ST
What I learned is that a few draft-day tweaks could produce a solid squad. Here is the team I ended up with:
QB1 Kyler Murray, Ari (Pick: 7.2 | Bye: 13)
QB2 Aaron Rodgers, GB (Pick: 11.2 | Bye: 14)
RB1 Christian McCaffrey, Car (Pick: 1.2 | Bye: 14)
RB2 James Conner, Ari (Pick: 3.2 | Bye: 13)
RB3 Josh Jacobs, LV (Pick: 4.11 | Bye: 7)
RB4 Antonio Gibson, Wsh (Pick: 5.2 | Bye: 14)
RB5 Marlon Mack, Hou (Pick: 14.11 | Bye: 6)
WR1 Amari Cooper, Cle (Pick: 6.11 | Bye: 9)
WR2 Chase Claypool, Pit (Pick: 8.11 | Bye: 9)
WR3 Robert Woods, Ten (Pick: 9.2 | Bye: 6)
WR4 Jarvis Landry, NO (Pick: 10.11 | Bye: 14)
WR5 Marquez Valdes-Scantling, KC (Pick: 12.11 | Bye: 8)
WR6 DJ Chark, Det (Pick: 13.2 | Bye: 6)
TE1 Mark Andrews, Bal (Pick: 2.11 | Bye: 10)
K1 Graham Gano, NYG (Pick: 16.11 | Bye: 9)
D/ST1 Buccaneers D/ST, TB (Pick: 15.2 | Bye: 11)
Obviously, crafting a roster in real time remains the most recommended (and fulfilling) option, but ESPN Fantasy has made the autodraft feature effortlessly customizable. Doubling down during the season and working the waiver wire is still a must, but formulating your fake football team on the spot doesn't have to be ... autodraft can save the day.
To adjust your draft settings, go to My Team tab, then click on Edit Draft Strategy. Once you note the Pre-Draft Rankings tab, adjust the rankings by dragging and dropping.
It's a one-stop shop for personal preference ... and convenience.
Autodraft tips I learned along the way
1. Draft the position you want in the rounds you want 'em
Are you passionate about a Robust RB strategy? Or does the Zero RB approach intrigue you? Maybe you're all about scooping Josh Allen early. Or, perhaps, you're comfortable waiting on the QB position. Regardless, utilizing the autodraft feature allows you to set it and forget while implementing your preferred game plan.
Simply, adjust each round -- specifying RB, WR, TE or FLEX -- to reflect which position you want to prioritize and when. The tool will take over and select the best available option when and where you've specified. This year I'm targeting the second tier of QBs so I chose the seventh round to select a QB in the hopes of acquiring either Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts or Dak Prescott (as you can see, it worked when Murray landed in my lap). If, however, you're betting big on a Lamar Jackson bounce-back, then adjust for a fifth-round QB acquisition.
Knowing your draft position ahead of time is a massive strategic hack. For example, had I known I had the No. 2 pick, I would have adjusted the rankings so that Austin Ekeler was ahead of Christian McCaffrey. I also would have specified RB instead of FLEX as I am apt to follow a robust RB strategy if I have one of the first four picks of the first round.
2. Auto-fade players you're passing on
If you have zero interest in a player, then simply keep him off your squad regardless of potential value. (Frankly, I wish I had made this modification for Amari Cooper before the Deshaun Watson news broke. Or moved Antonio Gibson down in my rankings so I wouldn't draft him in Round 5).
To do so, go to the My Team tab, then click on Edit Draft Strategy. Once you see the Pre-Draft Rankings tab just adjust the rankings by dragging and dropping and exclude any player(s) you don't want by clicking on the box next to their name.
I understood that there was a chance a player like Gibson would fall to me in Round 5, but if could do it all over, I would have specified a WR in that round to get Courtland Sutton, Mike Williams or Jerry Jeudy. Had I drafted Sutton as my WR1, for example, it would have made Cooper as my WR2 so much more palatable.
You can also use this feature to prioritize your passion picks and improve their chances of joining your crew. (For example, the George Pickens hype has me cooling on Chase Claypool, who I definitely should have moved down before clicking save and submit.)
3. Limit the number players at certain positions
You don't need two defenses. Or two kickers. Or even two TEs. To super-stock your bench with depth picks, load up on FLEX gets while setting positional limits.
This can be accomplished by filling out the min/max of each position for every round under the AutoPick Strategy tab.
Kickoff is coming soon! Sign up for ESPN Fantasy Football today. Play for free
I normally don't take two QBs, but I was interested in highlighting the depth at signal-caller with this particular exercise. As has been a trend in these mocks, Aaron Rodgers fell ... and landed on my team in Round 11. I would have preferred a player with more upside like Nico Collins (well done, Eric Moody) or Isaiah Spiller (on-brand Secret Squirrel move), but knowing one can nab last year's MVP in the double-digit rounds certainly illuminates a variety of strategic possibilities.
Ultimately, there is no substitute for clicking and queuing while on the clock. When time isn't on your side, however, ESPN's autodraft feature delivers sizable control in creating your squad.
Follow Liz on social @LizLoza_FF.