Fantasy Draft Strategy that Pays!

Most fantasy managers, even some of the good ones, seem to think the draft is all about just scooping up the biggest name players onto their team as quickly as they can. 

It seems to make sense right? Having the stars that we all recognize on our teams,  should translate to points, and wins on game day, right? No matter what order you choose them, or at what cost. In my opinion, this line of thinking simply leads to draft day chaos, and waters down the league’s talent pool, allowing relatively weak players to have a chance to win championships.

I’ve played against too many managers who  will reach drastically for their favorite players just so they don’t have to cheer against them. Occasionally they get lucky, and this strategy pays off, but most of the time they take these players way too early, and allow other managers to get the real stars.

I could list numerous “surprise” players who carried their teams to victory last season,  because they fell to the later rounds or even landed on waivers. That is the definition of  VALUE, and that is exactly where most leagues are won.

The tragedy of this, is that in the upcoming year those same players will be taken carelessly in the 1st or 2nd round, and even if they produce similar numbers, they won’t be as much help to their fantasy teams as they were the year before, because they were acquired at a much higher price, and that greatly decreases their VALUE.

I will admit, figuring VALUE can be a long and complicated practice, but will pay off nicely if you have the time and patience. Usually it starts with scouting the current situation of the team each player is on, examining the current state of the league, and creating a draft board in advance.

For example, after a few years of learning the PPR system, people started to figure out that while everyone else was drafting a RB in the first 2 rounds, you could get an advantage by drafting the 2 best receivers, or a WR/QB, before anyone else picked one. This left your team with two of the best players at their respective positions instead of a couple of mediocre ones. That’s VALUE!

However things have changed in that regard. Real teams have become flooded with multiple, big play receivers,and fantasy lineups, benches, and waiver wires alike, are loaded with talent at the WR position, while workhorse RB’s have all but disappeared. This leaves the league with a brand new dynamic. 
If you look closely at the stats from last year, you will probably notice that
there are nearly as many productive starters at WR , as there are at QB/TB/ TE combined. That throws of the VALUE balance of the talent pool in the league. Yet people will still draft that stud receiver with their first pick and/or second pick, because it is the trendy thing to do. What they fail to see, is that the more high scoring options there are at one position, the less VALUE those players carry.

Tight End is currently the position with the least viable starters, but is only the second most valuable position. This is drawn from the fact that in most leagues, each team only starts one. 

The Running Back position has a few more options, but carries the highest VALUE because each team can usually start two or three.

Quarterback is the Third most valuable position since you only need one in most leagues, and there are quite a few solid options. 

 Wide Receiver, because of its wealth of players, is a distant fourth in VALUE.

So for example, if 4 separate players drafted a QB/RB/WR/TE who would put up the same exact numbers, the manager who chose the RB, drafted a better VALUE, then the managers who choose TE, QB, and WR, respectively.  

As the league adds receivers, and turns more toward running back by committee, we find that  there are never enough running backs to go around, especially in bigger leagues. So if you can get two of them, you have taken a giant step towards putting yourself in the driver seat.

Next in VALUE is the Tight End. Last year there was less than a handful of great ones, and after that, there were few that could even be considered good. Even though the position had been undervalued since the inception of FF, many managers forget that their points count the same as every other position. If you don’t have one of the elite TE’s on your squad, you may struggle to make up for it elsewhere. If you do have one, your ride is sure to be a lot smoother. I’ve seen leagues that were dominated by players who deployed the two best TE’s every week.

Then come the Quarterbacks, and this is probably the trickiest position, because very few passers score consistently from week to week, and the key to VALUE is dependability. If one of the elite QB’s falls into my lap early, I’ll scoop him up, otherwise I wait for a decent one in the later rounds.  Unless I’m in a two QB league I never draft more than one, because there are 32 starters in real life, and only 10 in Fantasy. That means there are usually plenty to pick from for the bye week, or if my starter should suffer an unexpected injury.

Last are the receivers. Yes, it is the most visible and trendiest position, and because of this many will pick that flashy rookie who blew our mind the previous year, but I’ve learned over time that you can fill your wide receiver, and flex slots from the waiver wire, and still have plenty pass catchers  on your bench every week.

As far as defense and kickers go, all you need to know is that you shouldn’t draft one until the very last rounds, and you should never start one more than a couple weeks in a row. That reason for this is that their success is more dependent on their opponents futility than their own skill.

Of course there are exceptions to almost every rule based on league size, and style, and even the type of managers you are picking against. However, if your goal is to win consistently, VALUE  is the key. 

I would encourage you to look back at your final roster from last year, and examine the players that made up your team at the end of the season. If you are like most successful managers, you will probably find that the roster you ended with, was very different then the one you drafted. 

Imagine how potent your team would have been if you had done a little extra homework, and found those players in the first place. That is VALUE.

It’s never too early to get started. So put on your thinking cap, and find the team that will be equally impressive on Super Bowl Sunday, as it was on Draft Day!

Good Luck! And Happy Hunting!

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