Have you gotten your Fantasy Mags? Still suffering through the pointless pre-season games? Ready to get this draft going, and kick off the season? Here is an updated version of a piece I wrote for voodoobrown.com a couple of years ago. I removed some older references, but the core elements have remained in tact. Enjoy.
#1: The team you draft is not going to win you a championship. Ever.
OK, in rare cases, you might hit the lottery and stand pat all season. But chances are, you’re going to drop, add, trade, have injuries… you need to be nimble and adjust to the ebbs & flows of the season. You can LOSE any shot at a championship if you draft a bunch of crappy players and have no way of competing, trading, etc… but if you can escape the draft with at least 3 elite players from the 4 major positions (QB/RB/WR/TE), you have a shot.
#2: Know what your opponents needs are.
If you are doing a traditional serpentine draft, and you know the 3 guys picking after you have a QB, don’t waste a pick on a QB. Grab a player at another position and get your QB on the way back. This is such a simple concept, but so many people either overlook it, or they are too lazy to keep track. For years I have been using a chart I created that has every team in 12 columns, and every position running down the left – starting & bench. Once a player drafts their guy, I quickly fill in that position. Essentially, it’s a visual representation of everyone’s needs that should be used for the first 10 rounds. This is an essential tool, which REALLY helps if you are picks 2-5 or 8-11.
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#3: It’s OK to overload talent at one position.
Especially if you have a stud in that position. Let’s say you drafted Cam Newton – Andrew Luck happens to be available in round 5, and there is no proven ELITE talent available at WR or RB. Take him. Somebody is going to need a QB at some point in the season, and they will realize that they can’t ride Matt Ryan to glory. They might have a WR that you need, and it’s worth holding onto talent to ultimately capitalize on it. When in doubt, reference Tip #1, and know that you will not build the perfect team on draft day. The average turnover for a fantasy football roster is 45%, and yes, I pulled that stat right out of my ass. But it’s gotta be close to that, right?
#4: There’s strong run on ELITE WRs in round 1 this year… get yourself at least one of them.
Fantasy football keeps moving away from the traditional “You need RBs to win” model, since more NFL teams are passing, less NFL teams are featuring RB workhorses – and more & more fantasy leagues are going to PPR. The reason why you need one of the proven WR studs — ESPECIALLY THIS YEAR — is the dropoff in reliable production. Getting steady production from the WR slot as opposed to throwing in a hit-or-miss array of WR2s is a luxury that only a few teams will have — and these will be the teams that advance into the playoffs in 2016.
#5: QB/WR Hookups can be risky. BUUUUUT…..
QB/TE hookups can be LETHAL. I learned the hard way about stacking up on one team way early in my fantasy days (about 20 years ago) when I drafted 4 players from the Scott Mitchell/Herman Moore Detroit Lions offense (they set a record for points the year before). They sucked in the encore year, and so did my fantasy team. If you don’t have one of the top TEs in the league, you are not getting much production from that position – much like the rest of the league. So if you get TE production, it’s a bonus. Agreed? So what if your QB throws a TD to your TE? DOUBLE BONUS. Try to get a top tier TE. If you don’t land an elite TE, take a flier on the TE for the QB you drafted.
#6: Try starting a trend with TEs & QBs. (yes this actually can work)
One of the disadvantages to being on the 1-4 or 9-12 end is the gap in your picks. A ton of talent gets gobbled up during this long wait. A way to buy yourself a few picks is to start a trend. If there are sub-par WRs left in round 3, take an elite TE. I guarantee you a few TEs go between your picks, and now you just increased your chances of getting a better player than you otherwise would have. A QB surge usually starts in round 2 then ends, but you can put some pressure on other owners that plan on stealing a tier-2 QB in a middle round by drafting a good backup QB earlier than you intended. Thin out that talent pool. Apply this pressure, and you’ll have more choices once it swings back to you.
#7: If you are one of the top 8 picks, and you REALLY REALLY want a guy that you know won’t be around by the time it’s your turn to pick, take the guy you want.
Who cares what the room says. You got your guy! There is so much pressure to make the right pick in the first round, but you are basically looking to get someone who will put up numbers on a weekly basis, and has not been an injury-riddled player.
So, in summary…
• Listen to your brain, not the hecklers in the room.
• Make sure you fill your roster with talent first, and don’t worry too much about an even balance between the positions – it’ll lead to a diluted roster.
• Anticipate who your opponents would select AFTER you made your pick (especially if you’re on one of the bookends of the serpentine order, picks 2-4 or 9-11), and have their probable selections weigh in your decision.
… Stay on this course, and you’ll have a successful draft.