In Part 1 of Becoming a Draft Master, we began our draft preparation and strategy series with re-drafter drafts. If you missed that article, here is the link. You will want to read it first before starting Part 2.
Allow me to take a moment here to apologize for the unavoidable gap between articles. I am the caregiver for my 70-year-old wife, Bonnie. She has been very ill the last couple of weeks and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital last week. She just came home and I can comfortably concentrate on writing once again. I hate it when reality dares to rear its ugly head and interferes with the people I love and things in life that mean so much to me. I am just so happy that Bonnie is home now, so I can care for her here.
And now, on with our regularly scheduled program. LOL
Before I draft, I take the time to study the prior year’s scoring statistics from the FanEx Experts’ League which has PPR scoring. In this analysis I concentrate on the numbers of players and their scoring results as a whole, not individually. By that, I mean that I look at things such as how many players at each position scored between X and Y points. I look at both gross scoring and PPG scoring. I add the top rookies and then I can get an overall picture from a player pool availability perspective.
Once again, I like to copy this information into an Excel spreadsheet. It would be good to average in 2-3 years of data, as opposed to only one, but I realize that time is limited for most of us. This way we can see things like the #30 WR should have about X points and Y PPG.
We simply blank out the names and concentrate on the intrinsic scoring information. Remember, we have already looked at the individual players when we compiled our player rankings. This exercise can help you designate tiers, as well as show you whom to draft as a priority in each round, based on those basic economic principles of supply and demand.
QB: There are absolutely NO QBs that I would take before the 5th, or maybe the 6th round. In fact, there is such parity that you could safely wait until the 7th or even 8th rounds. There are plenty of QB1s for a 12-player league if you wait.
Audible time—if TD passes count for six-points, go for a Top 5 QB early (3rd or 4th rounds). The point differential is greatly skewed in this situation with TD passes getting a much higher emphasis. With four-point TD passes, the field is much more even and deeper. With 35 passing TDs and six-points for TD passes, a QB gains an extra 70 points which amounts to over four FPPG for an already high-scoring player.
After I take my top QB, I like to come right back, maybe as early as the next round, and take my backup. That gives me insurance in case of an injury. Then just a few rounds later I want a QB3. Yes, you are spending a lot so to speak for QBs that way, but they give you the most points and are not easily replaced through waivers like players at other positions. Would you really want some 35th ranked QB stiff starting for you at the end of the season?
RB: Years ago, many NFL teams had a guy with 250-300 touches (combined rushes and pass receptions) and there were about 15-20 stud RBs. With the scarcity back then, almost everyone took RBs with their first couple of picks.
The decline of the Stud RB led to a fantasy fixation on WRs. Drafting WRs early has held up to be the hot trend for the last few seasons. Now, we see a growing emphasis on RBs once again. The prototypical RB is once again getting large numbers of touches. The difference between now and say 10 years ago, is that a greater emphasis is being placed on RBs as a pass receiver. As we found in an earlier article, the Stud RB is back. Getting a guy with speed and foot-skills into open space quicker than running off=tackle has been a huge success and has had a major influence on increasing RB values to the point of where they were in the past.
The ratio of credible RBs to WRs is about 2:3, thus increasing the value of RBs a tad in comparison to WRs. It is proportionate to the sizes of the respective availability pools.
A question always arises as to the limited playing life of RBs when compared to the other positions. That is certainly a factor for players about 28-years old and up. More often than not, the body of a 29-year old RB takes him out of the fantasy world with swift, surprising regularity. We must watch players to see who may be a casualty to old age in 2018. This year we have old-timers at RB like Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy (to say nothing of his possible suspension). Let someone else take the risks
WR: Since there are more WRs on the field at any given time than any other position, it is only reasonable that you find more scoring players here. You can count on a few dozen WRs scoring in double figures every year. There are a relatively low number that stand out as early draft picks and there are a few that are great to get if you can. Overall, everyone should get several decent WR prospects in their drafts.
This is a position where Bob Lung’s consistency theory is particularly helpful. Check out as much as you can about consistency on our website. It can be a difference-maker in your draft and is well worth the time and effort to check it out. Many WRs tend to have a big game, followed by a couple of duds until they strike gold again with a big week. These guys (Torrey Smith for example) can kill you.
TE: Assuming Gronk is healthy, he stands out way above all the other TEs. However, after the last couple of years, that assumption obviously carries some risks. If you can get him in Round 3, I would grab him. To me though, he is just too risky to become a 1st or 2nd round choice any more.
PK: Usually one of the last two picks in the draft. I would choose free agent PKs on weekly waivers based upon who is available and their weekly opponents. I would only draft one and get an extra skilled player. This year that is a bit outdated. This year, I would spend one earlier pick (about #14 in a 20-player draft) after my basic depth has been acquired and take a Zeurlein, Butker, Tucker or Gould. They were far ahead of the rest of the PK group in 2017 scoring.
DST: Like PK, usually one of last two picks in the draft. I would normally choose free agent DSTs on weekly waivers based upon who is available and their weekly opponents. I would only draft one and get an extra skilled player. If you can grab Jacksonville or the LA Rams this year in about the 15th round, do it. Otherwise DST of the week is a solid approach.
There is so much volatility in team scoring that beginning rankings of teams are seldom dependable enough to merit spending a high draft pick. Experience shows that the spread between DST points makes any team in the upper half of the rankings about as good of a choice as any other.
Now, we finally have gathered all our data and we are ready to prepare a round-by-round draft strategy. Admittedly, it is hard to overlook a top QB or WR to start off the 1st round, but in the long run, going with a top RB in the 1st Round is a must, unless you are in say the lower 10th-12th slots. I would take a WR (Brown, Beckham or Hopkins) with a low pick and then take a RB in the high 2nd round.
Many people will say to go WR-WR in the first two rounds. To me the incremental points you seem to gain at WR are not enough to justify that. I would say you really need to have at least one RB in the first two rounds.
Remember the supply and demand concept. We have about a 3:2 correlation between WRs and RBs after factoring in prior years’ scoring, retirements, rookies, free agency and other intangible variables. Bottom line—if we take RBs early, there will be plenty of WRs later. Those RBs who score 15+ FPPG will not last two long.
Ideally you should be able to emerge from the 3rd Round with a Top 5 RB, a Top 15 RB and a Top 10 WR. I like to sketch out a strategy based on what my opponents have done previously and are likely to do now. Here is where our analysis of prior year drafts comes in. Again, spending time analyzing your own league is more beneficial than mock drafting.
With a standard 10 player lineup—1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 PK and 1 DST see what the average weekly fantasy points were the last couple of years needed to become the champion in your league. Let’s say that magic number is 135 FPPG. We need to be able to build a team capable of doing that, including depth to cover us on the bye weeks.
If we reach on a QB or TE, that perilously impacts our depth at other positions. Remember you are building a team, not a one-man show. All the slots on your roster have a purpose. Every single point from each player in your lineup is part of your weekly score. 32 points for a QB when added to only 4 or 5 points from a couple of others is not going to be enough to win very often.
We would be well served to concentrate on RBs and WRs in the first six rounds or so. Every time an opponent grabs a QB or TE is a win for you because it leaves higher ranked RBs and WRs for you to take.
You need to have faith here in the size of the QB and TE draft pools. There are plenty available, so taking them early is not necessary at all. What I would do though is double up on QBs between the 7th and 9th rounds, with a TE in the 8th and a WR being taken in the 10th rounds.
After 10 picks that would give us a core group of:
Half-way through the draft we now have 2 QBs, 3 RBs, 4 WRs and one TE. From here on out it is almost like shooting ducks in a barrel. For Rounds 11-18 take the best player available. In Rounds 19-20 there are a PK and DST waiting patiently for you to take them home. These are the mutts of the draft, but necessary. Yes, it’s cool to have a stud TE or highly ranked QB, PK or DST, but is it better than adding a decent RB6 or a WR7, or having two good, pretty much even QBs? Pause and recall the plethora of injuries every year. Expecting different results this year is foolish! Please note the limited PK and DST exceptions this season.
Taking QBs in both the 7th and 9th rounds usually gives you two Top 12 QBs. That covers you for bye weeks as well as injuries. I like to even take a 3rd one a little later, just in case. Always expect the unexpected when you play fantasy football.
In the event you do not have weekly waiver moves, you absolutely must draft two PKs and two DSTs. I hate to do that, because in our hypothetical 20 player roster situation, that means 20% of the roster would be filled by low production players.
We now find ourselves starting the 11th Round. Try to stay 2-3 rounds ahead mentally and go with the flow. Not getting a particular player is not a disaster. In this half of the draft there are plenty of players available and you are filling lower depth positions. Just shake it off and keep on going. Fretting will do nothing but disrupt your concentration and throw your whole draft into jeopardy.
Picks 11, 12 and 13 are crucial strategically. What I would do next is go for a QB3 sooner than later. QB is usually the highest scoring position and I strongly advise picking up your last one about in Round 13, after picking up a RB4 and WR5 in Rounds 11 and 12. That gives you your strongest players with about 1/3 of the draft remaining
Some may argue that a single TE is optional, like it is for PKs and DSTs, but here I must disagree. A TE is a critical part of your scoring arsenal and having two solid ones is important. Look at it like chess with the TE being a knight and PKs and DSTs being pawns. Besides playing in bye weeks, or in case your starter gets hurt, a strong second TE could even fill the flex position in your lineup.
Speaking of your lineup, remember to keep track of your #1 drafting goal—building an overall team that will average enough points each week to win. This seems simplistic, too many people forget this aspect and leave themselves setup to fail every time they draft. The key point here is to set your potential scoring standard and meet or exceed it. If you build a team with a maximum probable potential of say 120 PPG, not averaging 135 PPG (or whatever your goal is to win it all), losing should come as no surprise to you. Keep the concept that only one out of twelve teams wins firmly in your mind. Only one!
Depth is a necessity to win championships. On a broad basis, we must cover bye weeks with our depth. Players get injured and many play below expectations each and every year. Having an extra player to slip into the lineup here and there is not a luxury. It is imperative to have that mobility.
There are other considerations we need to consider. When we have a re-drafter league we must put on blinders and focus strictly on this year. If you want continuity in fantasy football, then you want a keeper or dynasty league.
Some people I know pretty much ignore rookies because of their inherent uncertainty and the inconsistency they bring to the table. I particularly like having a couple rookie RBs on my teams at RB3 through RB5. I have had great success with young RBs
This year there are some RBs and WRs that deserve consideration in a re-drafter league. All I can say is that drafting rookies is an individual taste. I like to pick rookies at say the RB3 and RB4 positions if they are slated to start, perhaps as high as RB2 if one really stands out in training camp.
As far as rookie WRs go, there is a high-risk factor. Earlier this year, we analyzed that in some detail and found that the success rate was not too high. Rookies often seem like they are All Pros before they even get into some real games. Do not fall for all the rookie hype. Reality is a bitter pill to swallow when that WR you coveted all summer is super-fast but cannot catch a pass.
We all love grabbing the prize sleeper. We see someone in a situation where they show promise, but there is no playing time for them. Then this year they are on a new team, or the guy ahead of them is finally gone. I would consider sleepers in the RB5, RB6, WR6 and WR7 slots. Period! Don’t get carried away. Usually, the real sleepers are guys we never would have thought of drafting. They are guys who were free agents, or low on the depth charts that come out of nowhere. You are better off doing waivers and snaring them.
Speaking of waivers, when first come-first serve free agency rolls around every week, jump on your moves and get in there and pick up players the second that the waiver wire opens. The only trophy is for winning the championship, not drafting a guy that would have, could have and should have. Like rookies, carrying sleepers on a re-drafter roster is limited in comparison to a keeper, or dynasty situation.
Summarizing it All
A re-drafter draft is a matter of preparation and execution. You want to set your plan into action and be ready for the unexpected. Invariably a guy you want will be drafted just before your turn to pick. You will then get frustrated and consider taking another player you wanted but had projected to be available two rounds later.
Whoa! Relax! Sit back and take a deep breath. You knew it would happen. Why panic because it did? Never overreach and take someone too early. A 15th Round high value pick is a lemon in the 12th Round. Maximize the value of your players by taking them at the right time. Do not worry about getting “stuck” with this guy instead of that one.
The name of the game is maximizing rewards and minimizing risks. If you want to purge your body of the high risk, low reward energy you have built up before the draft, do something to take your mind off football until just before the draft begins.
Consider the draft to be like a test back in your school days. You know the materials inside and out. It is almost like you have had a copy of the test to study. What are you worried about? Go in there and take control. This is your draft! This is your year! You can see that trophy coming to your house.
What are you waiting for? Go get it done! Get out there and kick some butt!
Training camps are opening now, and we are more than ready for the actual season to begin. Buckle up for the journey. My colleagues and I at Big Guy Fantasy Sports are intent on helping you become the champion you want to be. With our poignant articles and being the home base for the consistency theory, a sound mathematically-based alternative to ADP, we will be with you for the 2018 season in its entirety. What happens then? That my friends, is easy. We start over and do it all again in 2019!
Good luck! Have fun!