Some of you are the proud owners of a shiny new roster. Untested (and therefore undefeated), you probably have visions of the starters living up to their potential, the backups providing great depth and value, and your late-round fliers panning out. And maybe all that will happen.
Unless you drafted Derrius Guice, of course. That was a wasted pick. Fortunately, Saquon Barkley's injury doesn't look serious. Jerick McKinnon is probably okay, too.
But here's the problem: That was from just the first week of the preseason and some practices. What's going to happen over the next couple of weeks to derail your roster before you even play the first game? What's the point of drafting so early if you can't even play week 1 with the guys you wanted?
If you haven't drafted yet, but it's coming up in a couple days, I suggest you try to push it back even later. The more time you have to see how things shake out (injuries, suspensions, depth chart changes) the better off you'll be when the season starts. And if you're going over a few options for the date of your draft (I have some leagues still discussing this), always pick the latest date possible. Whatever is closest to the regular season gets my vote every time.
I know it's not always feasible, but the Sunday before the first games is my preferred draft day. It normally falls on a holiday, so many people aren't working the next day. All the preseason games have been played so your team is unlikely to suffer a new injury. And most significant final cuts have been announced, so there shouldn't be many late surprises. You can head into week 1 with few question marks and plenty of knowledge.
You won't leave week 1 like that, of course. You could lose your top player in the first quarter of the first game. And someone could get suspended for failing a drug test before week 2. In week 3 another starter might get hurt, and the backup you were counting on to cover bye weeks might get demoted. No matter how late you draft, all of those things are possible. They might even happen to the same unlucky fantasy team.
Some people think those are reasons to just draft whenever you want and not worry about it, since you can't control anything that happens when the season starts. But I think that's actually an argument in favor of making the draft later. If you already know those variables will exist once the first whistle blows, why would you want to add extra ones by drafting too early? Having a clear picture of where the league stands right before the first game will help you weather the regular-season storms that we all know are brewing.
Yes, all owners will have the same risks no matter when you draft. Giving everyone the same disadvantage is still fair; it just isn't smart. Besides, everyone deserves to have a little optimism before the season starts. Nobody wants to head into the regular season down a couple starters, and with plenty of question marks on the bench. A bad season isn't a lot of fun, but you don't want to start everything out on a down note. Everyone should have a little hope and happiness before ACLs tear, coaches panic and concussion tests are administered. A 4-10 season is in someone's future, but it doesn't have to mess up their present.
I have no idea who will get hurt early in the year, and I don't know who will lose their job to a younger, better player. But I do know that 100 percent of Guice owners in redraft leagues wish they had that pick back. It doesn't derail their overall strategy, but it was an unnecessary loss, and the next couple weeks could bring much more. Their lineups are sitting ducks to Fate and Lady Luck, and they won't earn a single point while it's happening. You'll have plenty of opponents this year. The calendar shouldn't be your first one.
I understand that schedules are busy, and it's hard to get everyone to agree to the same date and time. If you have no choice, you have no choice. But I think it's worth your trouble to ask about drafting as late as possible. Every owner has incentive to draft with more knowledge rather than less. It could save someone's season, and the team you rescue just might be your own.
When does your league draft? Do you care if it's in late July or early September? Ever get burned before the season even started? Share your thoughts below.