25 Brilliant Ways to Determine Your Fantasy Draft Order

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by David Gonos, Special Contributor

Published, 7/23/14


Fantasy Football Draft Day – yeah, it’s cool. But the lottery to determine your Fantasy draft order has a chance to be even cooler. Okay, maybe not, but it should be much more fun than your current system of pulling names out of a ratty old baseball cap.


Before we get into the new ideas you should pass on the rest of your league, let’s discuss the old system you’ve used for years – and how you can even improve that.


Pulling Numbers Out of Hat

First, make sure you’re doing it right. If you have all of the owners together for the lottery, then might I suggest NOT pulling out numbers. Instead, have the commissioner pull out team names/logos – one by one, with the 12th pick being chosen first, all the way down to the first pick. The suspense builds as it gets down to just five teams with the chance at the top pick, then four, three, and two.

My suggestion would be to do print out the team logos and team names, put them in envelopes, and just have each owner come up and give the envelopes a shuffle. Then, one by one, reveal each logo – again, going backwards, from 12 down to 1.


If you are a keeper league, consider giving the team that came in dead last THREE logos in envelopes, giving them a 1-in-4 chance of getting the top pick. The third time their logo shows up is where they will pick (which means they can pick no worse than 10th. If they get picked for the 12th spot, they can have the option of keeping that pick over where their pick eventually ends up. This helps keep owners of bad keeper teams interested year after year. 


If you don’t have everyone together at the same time, then consider doing the lottery system above, videoing it – and throw it up on YouTube! These guys did a great job of making a whole production out of it, from the awesome toupee to the national anthem. The fact they did this back in 2007 makes it even more impressive. You can buy a little lottery machine like they have for $14 on Amazon.


Three More Boring Ways to Determine Your Fantasy Draft Order

Look, not everyone is up for excitement. I get it. There’s a reason vanilla ice cream exists and NPR has listeners. So here are some of the more boring options to consider.


Commissioner Service: Use the league’s commissioner service to randomize the draft order. sends out an email when that option is checked. One league I’m in does the random draft order generator three times, so everyone gets three emails – and then he uses the order determined by the third email. You can also do it with the average of all three lotteries.


Two Emails from Two Owners: The commissioner can ask one trusted owner to send him a random order of the team names in his league, while also asking another trusted owner to send him a random order of numbers, 1 through 12. The commissioner pairs the two emails up, assigning a team name to the number in the same order, and then sends the order out – with BOTH emails attached – to the entire league.


Random Number Generator: There are random number generators online you can use to pick a number between 1 and 1,000, with the highest number getting the first pick and the lowest getting the last pick. There’s at least one service that emails the number to the commish to make it official, but I haven’t been able to track this site down.


25 Cool Ways to Determine Your Fantasy Draft Order

Many of the following were extracted from message boards, forums, Twitter and Reddit – specifically, these posts here. Feel free to check these posts out for more detailed instructions – and ideas I didn’t think were good enough for this post.


Before we get too far into these, I’d like to ask that everyone use caution and stay safe … or better yet, VIDEO EVERYTHING and tweet it at me @davidgonos!


Video Games: A lot of people use games to help determine the draft order. But unless the game is relatively random, or none of the 12 owners have ever played it before, then it favors those owners who have played a lot or mastered it. You could choose a random old school game like Pac Man, Super Mario or Sonic.


Madden Tournament: You could play each other online for the chance to get the #1 pick, but that’s awfully time consuming! Plus, the random unemployed guy in your group will just dominate everyone since he plays 14 hours a day already.


Game Tickets: Go to a local arcade (does one exist anymore?), like a Dave & Buster’s, and each person gets $20 to see who can get the most game tickets by the time they run out of money. They can play video games or Skee Ball or Deal or No Deal, etc. Most tickets wins! Then, pool everyone’s tickets together to buy a kazoo!


Wrestling Royal Rumble: Kniles on Reddit mentioned using a wrestling video game, where the lottery is determined by a Royal Rumble by CPU-controlled wrestlers. Each time someone gets the boot, that’s where they pick – last one standing is king!


48-Hour Weight-Loss Competition: That does not sound fun at all.


48-Hour Weight-Gain Competition: That sounds incredibly fun/dangerous! (Make sure you use percentages, not just pounds.)


Reality Show: Each team owner chooses a person in an upcoming reality show, and each time someone gets booted, that’s the draft order. You could use Big Brother, Survivor, The Bachelor, The Amazing Race, and dozens of others.


Horse Race: Each team draws a number for a horse, and wherever it finishes in that race is where he will draft. You can do a big race, or just go down to the local track for some fun times!


NASCAR Race: Everyone draws a random car number, and wherever that car finishes in relation to the other drawn car numbers is where they’ll draft.


Home Run Derby: Each team gets a player randomly assigned to them.


100-Yard Dash – Backwards: This eliminates any of the athletes from just dominating right out of the gate. It takes a little bit of coordination to get moving backwards quickly. Got fat owners? Make it a 40-yard dash … with pie at the end.


Online Wonderlic Exam: Take the full quiz at this site, with highest scores getting the highest picks. You gots to be smart to win!


Beer Pong: You can make it a tournament where the last man standing wins, or you can make it a quicker, more random event. Write numbers 1-12 on the bottom of 12 red solo cups (not blue, my god, man, not blue), pour some beer into them, then have a couple of guys shuffle them around. One by one, people toss a ping pong ball to see which cup/pick is theirs. (Believe it or not, the odds of getting the top pick are still the same whether you shoot first or 12th.)


Beer Olympics: When regular ol’ beer pong just ain’t enough, you can also add in games like Corn Hole, Quarters, etc.


Punt, Pass and Kick: Each owner gets one attempt at each event – the longest total distance gets the top pick. If you want to make it less athletically influenced, make everyone do it with their opposite hand. (Like, if they’re right-handed they have to punt, pass, and kick with their left hand and foot.)


RISK: Get two games of RISK going, with the draft order determined by the order of which each person gets eliminated. Once it gets down to two guys on each board, whoever wins the world first gets the #1 pick, with the loser getting the fourth pick. The other two players continue playing for second and third place.


Breathalyzer: Everyone gets a one-hour headstart – highest BAC wins/gets alcohol poisoning. Just use beer. Please. And don’t drive!


Hot Dog Eating Contest: If you’d rather overeat than overdrink, then this one is for you! Credit goes to @1dafulgemini for that one.


Race Small Children: Getting 12 kids together at the same age is the easy part. Finding the right saddles is what’s really difficult.


Poker Tournament: Get a couple of tables of Texas Hold’em going, then mash the final six contestants together for the final table. Elimination determines where you pick.


Draftcathalon: Pick a series of events that everyone has to play (could be an assortment of the events listed here, or even simpler things like paper football distance flick, beer guzzling speed, etc.).


Preseason NFL: Everyone picks a team defense, and the one that gives up the least points wins the first pick, and so on. As @wingnprayer says, it’s the only reason to watch preseason.


NCAA Bracket: Best finish wins first place! Now the chick in your office can win TWO things!


Draft of Draft Picks: Based on last year’s order of finish, the worst team gets the first pick of determining where he would like to draft. The second-worst team would get his choice, and so on. It’s always interesting to see where the 12th pick jumps ahead of the first picks – usually right after Pick #5 or #6.


Most Points Scored Against From Previous Season: Look at last year’s standings and see which team had the worst luck, playing the teams that scored the most all season. They get the first pick, and continue doing it until the team that had the best luck, with teams scoring the fewest points against them, getting the 12th pick.


I’d also like to point out that the guys over at the NFFC do what they call a “Third Round Reversal,” which means after the lottery, the first round is reversed for the second round, as usual. But in the third round, it gets reversed, as do all of the rounds after it. So that the team with the 12th pick in the first round, gets the first pick in the second round, the first pick in the third round, the 12th in the fourth, the first pick in the fifth, the 12th pick in the sixth, and so forth. The player with the first overall pick would get the 12th in the second, the 12th pick in the third, the first pick in the fourth, the 12th pick in the fifth, the first pick in the sixth, and so on. This makes sure the teams with the first and second picks don’t have too much of an advantage by getting the best overall player, and three of the top 25 players.


Again, let me know if there are some good ideas for determining Fantasy draft order in your league! Tweet me @DavidGonos!


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