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The best day on the fantasy football calendar is draft day, especially if your annual draft is in-person.
My hometown fantasy football league has been operating for nearly two decades. As league commissioner, I’m proud to say that we’ve done an in-person draft for most of the last decade. And every year, it serves as a reunion of sorts and an opportunity to reconnect with friends. Plus, it’s an absolute blast.
Trust me; I know firsthand how hard it is to get 10-to-12 people to all commit to a day and a time to draft. But it’s well worth the effort. Whether you’re going in-person for the first time or have been getting together to draft for years, here are some ideas to help make it the best day of the season.
Make a day of it
This relates to what I was saying above. Between work, family and other obligations, getting everyone in the same room is an accomplishment in itself. So, why reduce your draft party to just a couple of hours?
Go all out. Turn your draft into an event. If people know they’ll be doing more than just taking players and chit-chatting for two hours, they’ll be more likely to make a concerted effort to attend each year. Plus, making a day of it ensures you won’t have to rush. Nobody enjoys having to draft under pressure.
In my league, everyone typically comes by a couple of hours beforehand. We often try to host the draft somewhere with a pool, so we’ll swim beforehand and enjoy appetizers, pizza and some drinks. Heck, our draft doesn’t even get started until later in the evening.
Grab the golf clubs
Golf is a great activity to get everyone together and have some fun outside before things get serious.
For leagues with golf enthusiasts, turn your league’s outing into a tournament to determine draft order. For the golf novices, Top Golf is a great option to get some casual swings in and enjoy some food and drinks while doing so.
Turn your draft into a food or beverage fest
I love attending food, wine, bourbon, cigar and beer festivals. They serve as great opportunities to try new things. Your draft is a perfect setting to do something similar.
Encourage your league mates to bring an appetizer or drink for the rest of the league to try. For instance, have everyone bring their favorite football snack and set up a tasting area. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover your new go-to Sunday option for the 2022 season. And you can do something similar with beer. You can’t go wrong with an option like Miller Lite, the perfect beer for any draft party.
Create a duplicate draft pick punishment
Every league has a person who struggles to keep up with the draft. The person who in round five says, “I’ll take Josh Allen,” then is flabbergasted when they hear he was drafted three rounds ago.
Punish these people! OK, be respectful. But come up with a fun, harmless punishment that’ll ensure everyone pays attention without dissuading conversation and banter.
As I mentioned, we tend to draft at locations with a pool. Well, in 2020, our host’s pool rusted out and had to be drained. But this was in 2020 when parts were impossible to get. So the pool remained an empty hole. Out of this tragedy came a great idea. Anyone who double-picked a player had to spend the remainder of the round in the hole (the pool is only 4 feet deep, and there was still a ladder to get you in and out). It was harmless but hilarious as several people goofed up and quickly retreated to the hole.
Small ideas like that can go a long way in adding excitement and humor to the draft. The pool was eventually replaced, by the way.
Take your draft on the road
Finding the right space for a big group of drafters can be difficult. But there’s nothing wrong with taking the show on the road. Plenty of bars and restaurants offer draft packages because they know it’s an event money maker. And even if they don’t, it shouldn’t be too hard to reserve a few tables for you and your buddies.
For those who prefer to go big or go home, there’s always the option of a destination draft. You could find far worse places than Las Vegas to conduct a fantasy draft from. Whether you go as large as cities like Vegas or Nashville or as small as a quiet lakehouse, a change of scenery is a great option.
My hometown league has found that drafting divisions prior to the start of your draft is an excellent wrinkle to get the competitive juices flowing. How we do it is the winners of the divisions from the year prior alternate on who they want in their division. It leads to some interesting strategies and can prompt fun rivalries.
Whatever you do, remember that draft day is one of the rare times to get together with people. And after the last couple of years, those experiences and memories should never be taken for granted, no matter how bad your picks wind up!
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