Fantasy Football Draft Strategies

Written by :
Published on : August 1, 2016

 

 

Thank God, football is coming back. And with it, comes the evil step brother known simply as fantasy. Many drafts are still weeks away but some crazy leagues do them at the start of training camp. So it’s not too early to start talking about it, even though my girlfriend would disagree. But for once, this isn’t about her. This is all about the fantasy football draft and how you should decide to pick players. I’m talking Winston Churchill war room level. The draft is one of the biggest determining factors to who wins the championship. Waiver wire is hugely important but if you select a top trio of QB, RB, WR and they all stay healthy and productive then your path to a trophy is much easier. The big question is, who do you take? And when?

 

If the draft scares you or you think this sounds like too much work then just set your team to auto-draft and sleep easy. We call these people “draft dodgers.” To be fair, I’ve had some pretty decent squads the few times I let the computer pick. My first team back in 2003 was auto drafted and I made the playoffs. Another year, I was hungover and a slept through the draft. Still made the playoffs. Damn, maybe the robots know more than me? Fuck that. I reject that theory. Let’s get to business.

 

1st pick

 

The old fantasy football draft rule was go running back, running back with your first two picks. This is still a viable route because the value of a solid RB is unmatched. Then we saw freak wide receivers and quarterbacks going in the top ten. Players like Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson changed the game. These guys are fantasy studs. No question. But is it smart to use your first pick on a WR or a QB? I say no, because of the the drop off between the production of ball-carriers versus other positions is way out of balance.

 

That means a top QB may get 30 points in a week while a waiver QB may score 20. But when it comes to RB’s it will be a difference of 30 to 3. If you play in a 10+ team league then there just aren’t quality and consistent players available to add. You can find a serviceable QB while there will be zero starting RB’s. For example, last year, I used a combo of Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick (both claimed off the waiver wire) in the final weeks and playoffs. They equaled or out performed my highly drafted competition. I also won the championship. There will always be these type of finds.

 

So, your first pick should be a running back. You can never guess who will get hurt but try and draft someone with a decent o-line and hopefully, a short injury history.

 

2nd pick

 

With your second pick, go either a top pass-catcher (WR/TE) or another clear starting RB. If the back is in a timeshare situation then I go with the receiver who is most likely to either see higher volume and or lots of red zone targets.

 

Note: tight end is another role that has little middle class. Getting an every week starter is a blessing. One less slot to stress over. Just leave Gronk in the lineup until the bye.

 

3rd pick

So we have an elite running back, a big WR and we are back on the clock. I’d still go after a RB. There are lots of attractive QB’s and number two wideouts but they will mostly be there next round. Get that other bell cow now and then you can move to deep threats while everyone else is scrambling and buying high on guys who only see 10 carries a game.

 

4th round and beyond

So far we picked RB, WR, RB. Now get that TE. The top three names will be gone but there’s plenty talent left. If for some reason, all good the tight ends are drafted then grab another WR or your favorite of the remaining QB’s. These are the suggestions for next round anyways. After rounds 4 or 5, it’s hard to recommend position picks, mainly because we don’t know what the board will look like. The draft is all about finding value.

 

The one stat that would best explain this concept is the baseball metric WAR (Wins Above Replacement). WAR relates to a players performance against the average athlete. Keep that idea in mind when you are picking. Where are you finding the best values? And don’t fall into trends. If WR’s are going like hot cakes, don’t sell out your plan just to not be left out. Because after all those teams have receivers, they are going to start taking the other things you need. Stick to your guns.

 

The double down and handcuffing

 

No, I’m not talking about a wild weekend in Las Vegas, I mean the double down aka the double dip, which is drafting players on the same team. Like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. So when Ben tosses a TD to Antonio, you get points from both players for one touchdown. It’s nice when it can happen but I try and not count on it. Don’t move up/change your draft plan just for a double down. The NFL season is crazy. Tons will get hurt, traded, arrested. Who knows. Diversity is key to a deep squad. Don’t bet the farm on Tony Romo playing all year with Dez Bryant.

 

Handcuffing is when you draft the backup to a popular player. Just in case they get injured. I like this for one skill player per roster. Find that guy you would be screwed without and invest in their nightmare. Look, if your first round pick goes down and someone else scoops the backup then your team lost a huge asset and you handed it to your jerk friend. At least this way, no other franchise gains because of your loss.

 

Wrap up

Take backs early and often, then top pass catchers and more backs. Wait on the QB and stock up on depth. Standard formats see lineups with two RB and two WR with one TE and a FLEX (can be any RB, WR, TE) so it makes sense to address the biggest need. Yes to hand cuffing but no to the double down. And always beware of the celebrity trap. It tricks us, makes us take Russell Wilson too early or draft a defense in the 6th round. Stay strong and you can get through this.

 

Champs

 

 


No Fantasy, No Problems

Written by :
Published on : November 16, 2015

 

As I mentioned, I recently got married. The weeks leading up to my October wedding were some of the greatest and most stressful weeks of my life. It was an interesting way to spend early fall. See, usually I would spend the week studying fantasy stats, reviewing the spread, then get drunk on Sunday and watch it all play out. However, wedding bells change everything.

 

I’ll be honest, week one and two I got to participate in my yearly football ritual. I watched all the games, played two strong weeks in all three of my fantasy leagues, covered the spread in my Cover 5 league – it was a great start to the season. Then, just about one month before my big day, everything changed. My wife and I didn’t have a wedding planner to help with the wedding day prep, so we were completely on our own. As week three came around, I cashed in the Bud Lights and Steel City sandwiches for stuffing hotel bags and packaging favors. It wasn’t a choice, it was more a way of life. We lived and breathed wedding and with only four weeks left, we were in full on wedding stealth mode.

 

Stock photo

 

So what happens when you are in full on wedding stealth mode? Well – all three of your fantasy teams go to shit. And I mean complete shit. There’s no such thing as drafting a fantasy football team and letting it manage itself. It just doesn’t work that way. So, as you can imagine, after two strong weeks, everything tanked. I had Roethlisberger taking snaps while he was coaching from the sidelines. Le’Von Bell was on the bench! And the most embarrassing of it all – I ignored bye weeks. I was a disgrace. Here I was, a die-hard football fan that couldn’t even keep track of his favorite players. I let myself down and tarnished my fantasy reputation.

 

Big Ben. Hurt again.

 

So, three weeks ago, with my head held high and my wedding behind me, I officially returned to fantasy football. However, the curse of fantasy neglect continued to haunt me. Now, as we approach week 10, I sit in last place in all three leagues with no playoff hopes in sight. It’s sad. But on a bright note, all of our wedding thank you cards have been sent.

 

I guess it’s the little things. And a happy wife is a happy life. 170 days until the 2016 draft.

 

 


I’m just no good at Fantasy Football.

Written by :
Published on : September 29, 2015

 

As a Blogger, Security Guard, and Restaurant Server, I’m somewhat of a triple threat. Last week, I was serving a couple at the restaurant. They were very pleasant from the moment they sat at my table; full of glee and clearly enjoying each other’s company. Then, I heard a familiar chime from the boyfriend’s phone. It is the kind of chime that will put an end to any conversation or social interaction. It was the notification that his fantasy football draft was set to begin.

 

Now, outside of the fact he picked the absolute worse time to participate in a draft, he completely tuned out his rather sexy girlfriend for an entire hour. It was quite uncomfortable to resist her occasional glances at me and her menacing stare toward her lover. She ate her entire meal, and being in close vicinity to the table, I heard them speak only once the whole time. After he paid and they left, I really made up my mind about fantasy football. My draft was rescheduled and I had until that same evening to set up a draft board, coerce my boss to let me off early, dodge my family for a few hours, and plan to win the tournament against my friends.

 

 

I feel like I’m the Andre of my league.

 

Then it dawned on me, I suck at fantasy football.

 

Maybe it’s all in the name of your team. I am forewarning you to hold your laughter. I am the guy that thought it was cool to name his two teams “Passionate Puppies” and “KillaTomatoes”. The record of those two teams last year was 5-9 and 3-11 respectively. Everyone else had cool team names like “IllKillYou” and “ManningisLord”. How can a man compete with awesome team names like that?

 

 

Megatron had monster yards in 2012 but only 5 touchdowns.

 

Looking back, we can see why my teams sucked last year. When playing fantasy football you must take emotion and allegiances out of the equation. I learned this rule the hard way. Remember two years ago when Calvin Johnson was near the top of his game? I picked him first despite having several options at quarterback and running back with the second overall pick. I may go to jail again but I want to personally deliver a heartfelt letter to Johnson for his 5 touchdown season. Maybe last year was my breaking point. I didn’t play into my fandom but I picked Cam Newton when Peyton Manning was still on the board. My reward for such stupid decision making you may ask? Facing the guy that picked Manning and being embarrassed by his 7 touchdown passes. My season was over the first f#cking game.

 

By week 5 of my season, the vultures or friends as defined by Merrian-Webster dictionary, swarmed above my head picking me apart for every player (which wasn’t that many) that could be of use to them. I would get messages at work telling me how bad my team sucked and that they would continue to suck. However, there were players that they deemed good enough to take from me. From there I’d look at the waiver wire or stay up late watching the NFL Network looking for the next Jonas Gray or Allen Hurns.

 

Everyone wishes they could stumble on the next Jonas Gray.

 

I did learn some valuable lessons from the previous two seasons playing fantasy football. I’ll ask my 8 year old daughter for a clever team name next season. Despite the many requests to join leagues (so I can be the free agent pool liaison) I’ll only join one. I’ll devote all my free time to scouting players, looking at game tape, and for damn sure resist the temptation to draft two kickers.

 

This season I will do what I love to do most, just watch the damn games.

 

 


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