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# : 6  2019 10:06:47

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard enjoys these final days before the NFL draft.He pores through the tapes , meets with coaches and scouts, and constantly debates where each college prospect belongs on the Colts board. Some see this annual ritual as a tedious, emotional grind. Ballard savors every precious moment as he prepares to step into the biggest ring of the offseason.Its tense when were arguing about where people need to be, Ballard said last weekend. Youre arguing about who to take and where to take them, but its fun.Perhaps that explains why Ballard has produced big-time results in each of his first two drafts in Indy.When playmaking safety Malik Hooker slid to the Colts at No. 15 in 2017, he wasted no time in making the call. He also added starting running back, Marlon Mack in Round 4 and starting middle linebacker Anthony Walker in the fifth round. Not bad.But last year, he delivered a knockout performance.First, Ballard added three draft picks in a trade with the New York Jets. Then, he landed All-Pros left guard at No. 6 and linebacker Darius Leonard at No. 36 with his first two selections and found a starting right tackle, Braden Smith, at No. 37.How does he do it?By following a logical plan: He wants players who love football, want to be coached, fit the locker room and his positional prototypes. So far, its worked.The best players Ive been around are guys like Quenton who never think they are good enough, second-year coach Frank Reich said. You ask Quenton he is not good enough. You ask Andrew (Luck) he is not good enough. You just listen to those guys talk, thats what they all say, Ive got to get a lot better. That is contagious.And it could be the key to mining more talent with this years nine overall selections.I like them picks, Ballard said. I think on draft day you figure out when you formulate a plan of who you have targeted, where can we get them, do we have to move up or can we move back? Ive always been under the premise that the more picks you have the more darts you have at the dart board the better chance you have to hit on players.TOP TARGETSDespite adding receiver Devin Funchess and linebacker Justin Houston in free agency, Ballard could be seeking another young receiver to help Luck and another pass rusher to pressure opponents.Some names being bandied about include Mississippi receiver A.J. Brown and three Clemson defensive linemen: Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence.All seem to fit Ballards traits. But one thing is clear: Ballard will rely on the draft board.DOWN ON THE CORNERThe Colts also could be in the market for a cornerback, especially if some of the top prospects start sliding.One potential candidate is former LSU star Greedy Williams, who was widely considered the top cornerback and a likely top-10 pick less than two months ago. But as scouts started questioning his instincts and whether he looks as quick on the field as he does running in shorts, his stock slipped far enough Ballard could now be in position to stop that slide.Another option could be Byron Murphy of Washington, who some believe is the best ball hawk at cornerback.TRADE MARKETThe only thing Ballard likes more than having extra chips on draft weekend is adding more. It could happen again this year if another quarterback-needy team believes it needs to move up to No. 26 to get its man.The price could give Ballard one or two extra Day 2 picks this year, or perhaps something even more valuable: future draft assets.POST-DRAFT PARTYWhile the focus over the past few months has been on mock drafts, Ballard has been scouring the country for undrafted help Tyquan Lewis Jersey , too.Last weekend, the Colts brought more than three dozen players to their team complex for workouts. Most played high school or college football in Indiana and got a firsthand chance to work with Colts coaches. It was at this pro day that former Colts center Deyshawn Bond and current receiver Krishawn Hogan made their first impression on the team.Id say three-fourths of them we have something on, weve scouted them, we know something about them, Ballard said. Weve got some guys here who I think will get drafted. Stop drafting the hard way. Work smarter, not harder, right?" Fantasy FootballFantasy Football 101New,9commentsStop drafting the hard way. Work smarter, not harder, right?EDTShare this storyShare this on FacebookShare this on TwitterShareAll sharing optionsShareAll sharing options for:Fantasy Football 101TwitterFacebookRedditPocketFlipboardEmailPhoto by Justin Casterline/Getty ImagesI need to apologize to my readers up front. I was supposed to start this project last season and frankly, I was far too mentally stressed in other areas of my life to do what I feel like I was put here to do, to help other people do things I find relatively easy to do. This article, series of articles or whatever it becomes is aimed at all of us. If this is your first time drafting or youve been doing it as long as I have (or longer), my goal is have something here for everyone. I will not claim to be a master of this craft. I intend to have a dialogue with my audience so long as youre not too tied to your opinions. Be malleable. Be coach-able. I will try to keep an open mind as well.First timers, I want you to know that a fantasy football league isnt nearly as daunting as it looks. There are a handful of important things you need to know going into a league. I am going to provide you with the exact tools you need to make sure you kick butt in your first draft. There is no right way to run your team. There is certainly a wrong way. We dont talk about the wrong way here. As long as you take what I write seriously, I have the highest of expectations for your immediate success. It all starts with your draft. There are a handful of things you need to know up front before you go searching for a draft sheet, and well get to those in just a few minutes.- It would be ideal if you know the people you are drafting with, as knowing their tendencies and being able to manipulate those tendencies is a big key to winning on draft day. Bear in mind that most of the people that play fantasy football are doing it just for fun, have no idea what theyre doing and will lose interest well before mid-season. I dont know about you, but I dont do anything just for fun. I play to win the game. That said, the data tells us that most of the time, we are drafting against complete strangers, so this advice only applies when you know Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton are going in the top 5 picks in your draft. Gotta love Colts fans and their high hopes, right?- Once you know your enemy, its time to find out the details of the draft itself. Let me be very clear when I say that I can not remember a time when someone auto-drafted and also won that league, so it would be an honor if you would join us. Feel free to correct me if Im wrong, Dan, but just missing your first couple of picks does not count as auto-drafting. What this means is that you forgot about your draft or were unable to participate in your live draft and let a computer do it for you. Make sure that the draft you schedule doesnt coincide with other obligations. Pretty easy, right? Make sure the kids are in bed Ryan Grant Color Rush Jersey , that your spouse isnt going to make you get up in the middle of the draft to help fold laundry and that when the time comes, youre ready for it. I suggest having your drafts after Week 3 of the preseason and probably after dinner, all things considered. There are going to be exceptions, but if you want to win, youve got to be all the way in it.- Now that youve nailed down your draft day/time, you need to make sure you know what scoring model your league will use so the draft sheet you seek out matches said model. Keep this in mind, ESPNs default draft order does not change regardless of the scoring model your league chooses, so once you know the scoring model, then you can start looking at cheat sheets. It didnt used to be that difficult. When I started playing fantasy football however many years ago, there was only one scoring model. Standard scoring means there are no points given per receptions. Touchdowns are king/queen here. Now, there are point-per-reception, half-point-per-reception, and occasionally some high-minded commissioner will even tinker further with your leagues scoring rules (I see you, Chris). Personally, I am an advocate of half-point PPR and this might be the only time I say this, but I will die on that hill. Frankly, standard scoring is too boom-bust and Ive had PPR leagues with far too many ties for comfort. I do not recommend touching any other settings and unless you really care about that league, I would recommend vacating a league that changes multiple settings. Sure, you can play IDP, keeper, auction, etc. leagues, but come on already. Keep it simple, stupid.- Now we know when our draft is and what the scoring model is. Heres where it gets fun. First, you have absolutely zero, and I mean zero need to watch any fantasy football specials (I love you, Matthew Berry) until about a week before you draft unless youre just dying to watch some football talk that will largely be rendered irrelevant due to injuries, holdouts, trades and general chaos. Dont stress yourself out with article after article and 4-hour long fantasy football specials and expert drafts. Bleh. Take care of yourself. This is not a game that can be beat by reciting Love/Hate data points. No one cares , Jared (this one is aimed at myself. I watch those shows, listen to those podcasts, read those articles and forget most of that stuff come draft day. Haha.)- I will start looking at cheat sheets and maybe knock out a couple mock drafts prior to draft day about a week out nowadays. Most of you should be drafting in the next 2-3 weeks, hence the timing of my article. Mostly, I would pay attention to injury reports prior to draft day. Nothing is more disheartening that thinking you hit the jackpot only to find out such-and-such broke his leg getting out of his DeLorean. Cheat sheets are everywhere. A Google search for fantasy football cheat sheets will probably be the most searched topic over the next month. I strongly recommend that you shop around and dont pay for anything. Heres the beautiful thing about the Internet. There isnt a person or website that knows anything we all dont have at our fingertips. Most of this is presupposition. None of us know what we are doing and all of us are just winging it.- I strongly recommend avoiding drafting based on what your draft client is telling you (or ESPNs default draft order). If you really have some time to kill, go ahead and find your draft sheet and change the default draft order to fit it (dont do this right before you draft, though), that way you can draft with your cellphone from the toilet if thats the only quiet place away from the triplets. No one wants to see you drag a laptop and a binder full of paperwork to a draft, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?- In terms of what I do every year (older/wiser etc. etc.), basically I just go to this website that produces a live draft sheet (seriously, you just click a player when theyre chosen and BAM!). Youre probably wondering where that data comes from and I have that for you as well. This website takes its data from notable fantasy football contributors such as:It also gets data from Fantasy Pros, which is probably second to ESPN in terms of number of drafts completed by actual people. In terms of reliability, the reason I use these two sources is because an aggregate is better than a single source, right? Think about just watching Fox News. Youre probably not the most well-informed person, as opposed to a news aggregate like Yahoo! frontpage, right? The articles posted there come from reliable sources all over the Internet. I dont even use Yahoo!, but you get what Im saying. An aggregate is a compilation of data from several sources. I have no clue what Im doing, but I know some people, right?So thats it. Know when your draft day is, know the scoring format, and then stop buying stupid magazines in July that will be irrelevant in a month. Stop paying for information. I just gave you the entire game. If you want me to tout my experience, last year I commissioned 20 leagues between paid leagues with colleagues and the free leagues I ran with Stampede Blue fans. I won 9 leagues and made the playoffs in 14 of those leagues. 70% to make the playoffs and 45% to win the entire league is not too shabby, kids. We can always get better, though. The first thing we can do is relax and let the Internet help us out.My next article will cover how to actually draft on draft day. I intend to have that article out on Friday of this week. If any of you have drafts between now and then, find me on Twitter and Ill fill in the unfamiliar.


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. , , NFS :)