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5 essentials for hosting your fantasy football draft party

Football season kicks off soon, and with it comes the fantasy draft. As you plan your league’s draft party, we’ve got a few tips to make sure you start the season right.

1. Home or Away?

Most leagues have 10-12 people, so you’ll want to choose a spot that can comfortably host everyone. If you host the party in someone’s living room, you’ll have to provide your own food and drink. A potluck style gathering, where everyone brings something to share, works pretty well and keeps it from being too much work for any one person.

Rather not deal with the hassle of hosting at home? Hold the party at a restaurant or bar instead — just be sure make reservations plenty of time in advance. A local favorite spot for hosting fantasy football draft parties is Buffalo Wild Wings; there are locations in Goshen, Mishawaka, South Bend and Warsaw.

If you really want to go all-out with your fantasy draft party, some leagues make it part of a group getaway. Take the opportunity to go camping or on a road trip.

One thing to keep in mind is that people are going to need internet access to research players and check stats during the draft — so make sure the location you choose has Wi-Fi.

You may also consider scheduling the party during an NFL preseason game, in a place with lots of TVs, for a little extra entertainment.

2. Fuel the party

Wings are an obvious choice for any football-centric party — they’re easily sharable, and suiting everyone’s tastes is just a matter of having a variety of sauces. Food Network has lots of suggestions if you’re making your own.

Burgers and dips are other no-brainers when it comes to draft party food, but don’t be lazy about it. For the dip, try this buffalo chicken beer cheese dip from The Beeroness.

For burgers, set out platters of buns, patties and lots of toppings and condiments for your guests to mix and match as they build their own burgers. This can be as elaborate or simple as you have the energy to pull off, but here is some burger bar inspiration to get you started.

3. Stay hydrated

Nothing pairs with football like ice-cold beer. And while you certainly could go the route of picking up a 24-pack of the light beer of your choosing, we recommend going local instead. It’ll bring good karma to your fantasy lineup.

Pick up a few growlers from your favorite Michiana craft brewery, like Iechyd Da, Evil Czech or Bare Hands. If you must do bottles, at least make it a point to pick up a variety pack from regional breweries like Bell’s, Three Floyds, Greenbush or Burn ’Em Brewing.

If you’re hosting your party at a bar, choose one with lots of regional beers on tap. Brewers of Indiana Guild has a great tool for studying up on which labels to look for when drinking local.

4. Organization is key

The draft board is the focus of the event. You can either have individual sheets for each player to fill out, or — the more fun option — track everyone’s picks on one big board.

Buffalo Wild Wings offers a draft party kit for parties hosted there, which includes a nice, big draft board with color-coded player labels, plus swag like t-shirts and koozies, and food discount coupons. You can also order draft board kits and other tools online from networks like ESPN, NFL and CBS.

If you’re making your own board, just make a grid with each drafter’s team name along the top, then rows numbered by round. Player stickers can be color-coded by position or written in with markers by the group’s elected “commissioner.”

5. Play for something

Every fantasy football league has its own traditions for the draft to make things interesting.

Perhaps the most common is a traveling trophy for the league winner. At the end of the season, whoever holds the trophy from the previous year relinquishes it to the new champion. For posterity, have each winner sign the trophy with their team name or some choice trash-talk.

Some leagues have a loser’s trophy as well, which the last place finisher has to carry in shame. Other options: the loser has to wear a jersey for the winner’s favorite team, or do a dare.

Because playing for bragging rights alone is lame, it doesn’t hurt to get some money involved. Have everyone contribute a certain amount to the pool at the beginning of the season, then at the end of the season divvy it up among the top finishers. For instance, the first place winner gets 60 percent of the pool, second place gets 30 percent and third gets the rest.

Another idea is that the winner gets to choose the location for the group to go out for dinner, and he/she eats and drinks free.

What traditions does your fantasy league have for the draft party?

This article is brought to you by Buffalo Wild Wings. Call today to reserve your Fantasy Kit: Goshen, 574-875-9299; Mishawaka, 574-272-9464; South Bend, 574-232-2293; Warsaw, 574-267-7707.

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