Who do I draft?

In the 29 years I have been participating and managing a league in fantasy football, I still haven’t seen everything. Sure I saw an owner (me) draft a kicker in round 1, even saw another owner draft a player because he liked his name (Louie Lipps). This year will bring another season of unknowns that fantasy owners must sort though and make decisions on. A common question I hear, “Who do I draft in round 1?” Not sure why there happens to be so much debate and question when it comes to the first pick or the first round in the fantasy football draft. What you should be more focused on are the players in the middle to late rounds.

Take a look at the fantasy football resources you use. Chances are pretty good the top 3-5 picks look exactly the same. We could probably diagram round 1 out with accurate results. Depending on your league setup, rules and starter requirements there could be some discrepancy. Take example the league I manage, we can start 2 QBs, so the last few years we have see 8-9 QBs drafted by the end of round 2. This goes against what many ADP charts have plotted. Right now we see 3 “elite” RBs going in the top 3, Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy. We also know there are 3 “elite” QBs, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

When you start your draft preparation, more time should be invested into players you draft later. Much of rounds 1 though 3 can be scripted but what’s your strategy when you get to round 10? What questions do you ask when you are looking for a bench player who might only get a few starters this season? There is a good chance your season won’t be lost on your draft #1 (unless you make my mistake and draft a kicker), but poor late round selections could hurt your chances at finishing in the money.

When I started preparing for my draft I read what information is available on the Internet about each team and their offensive players. Rarely do I watch much pre season football as it really only clouds my judgment on players I might be targeting. I do take some items into consideration, such as the NFL schedule for weeks 14 through 16. These usually correlate with fantasy football playoffs. You might also add the NFL strength of schedule ranking, but these numbers are a bit ambiguous as the season gets rolling, which is why I like Russ Bliss’s fantasy points per game of FP/PG. Unfortunately this method cannot be applied at the start of the season, but you can refer back to last season, but take it with a grain of salt for the upcoming season.

I don’t believe I am a majority voice when it comes to backing up all my players. This comes from the many years we played without having access to a waiver wire, but using supplemental draft picks every 4th week of the NFL season. You had to draft 18 players and run with them all year. Injuries? Hopefully you backed up your starting QB or TE because you didn’t have a chance to add one during the season. These days many people vigorously work the waiver wire to build their team AFTER the draft. I don’t subscribe to this method of team building. I believe you build a successful team in the draft and use the wire as necessary, when necessary to supplement your team. After all if you build a strong, competitive team you shouldn’t have to chase the hottest players of the week. Right?

One of the more common strategies when drafting is the handcuff. If you draft Arian Foster, then you should make plans for adding Ben Tate to your team. You might even need to jump on him earlier than anticipated, as another owner could take advantage and draft Tate before you. The handcuff usually applies to the running back position. More recently I have seen owners reject the idea of drafting a back up QB, opting for adding depth at RB or WR. For the bye week, they may drop a lesser used player and pick up a QB to cover a BYE week. I subscribe to drafting a back up QB. Chances are if you lose your #1 QB your season will be hosed anyway, especially if your QB was Rodgers, Brees or Brady. It’s very difficult to recover from losing a player of this caliber at ANY position. Make the sacrifice and plan to draft a back up. You might refer back to weeks 14-16 of the NFL and see if there are any QBs who have soft match ups.

Many players in the later rounds could fall under the label of “sleeper,” which is used quite often in fantasy football. These days with so much information available on TV, radio and the Internet, the true sleeper has gone to bed. Many will still put together a list of sleepers, but the names on that list might be well known come draft day. For example a WR like Michael Crabtree, while known could make a sleeper list. Based on the last few years he hasn’t put together great stats and has been injured. This year with the addition of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, Crabtree might develop into a solid #2 WR.

Bottom line, don’t get caught up in the hype at the top of the draft board. While the first few rounds are usually scripted, surprises can and will happen. Remember to be flexible when it comes to draft. Don’t get caught not knowing who was just drafted. Being prepared is a key to be successful in your draft. While there are other aspects that are out of your control, do what you can to learn the players and know how to implement your strategy when it comes to your draft picks. A bit of extra time now preparing will save you a draft day headache and answer the question of “Who do I draft?”

Fantasy Kudos

I know it may be redundant hearing about the experiences I am having using a new online resource this year as it relates to fantasy football. Let me preface what I say with this. I am in no way affiliated with Fantasy Football Staters, LLC or Ready-Set-Go Fantasy Sports, LLC, based out of Phoenix, Arizona.

I have been highly impressed with their services and information that contained and shared through out their community. In my 27 years of fantasy football this is the FIRST time I have participated in an online forum format to help in my weekly decisions. Not sure why it has taken so long, but I am pleased with my accomplishments though 4 weeks of the fantasy season.

I only play in two leagues and while I might not be considered a “fanatic” by some I do enjoy banter, interaction and competitiveness fantasy football offers. It’s been a real pleasure to interact with the people of RSGFS, as well as all the members who make this is great site.

I don’t feel my opinions are always right, nor does my crystal ball predict how any week in the NFL will play out. Hell, if that were the case I would be in Vegas betting on the NFL weekly. Fantasy football is no different. No matter how you handicap a match there are too many (800 by Michael’s account) variables that come into play. While 50% maybe the knowledge of the NFL, it’s players and the match ups but there is another 50% that is nothing more than luck.

In order to strengthen a case for a decision, as it relates to a potential starter I usually provide facts and figures. Anyone can spout off, “I would play <insert player name here>.” and move on to another thread to answer another similar question. I have no problems with that, but as a supporter of FFS, I am turning to the users for their reasons why I should play one player over another. I make it a point (most every time) to include my opinion as to why I think a particular player should be consider or not.

Another step to answering a post is to actually doing some research. Look at what this player did against that opponent last year. Look at their stats though the current week. What sort of match up do they face this week? Don’t rule out that “gut feel” when it comes to setting you line up or deciding on a starter.

In an interesting thread I just read from Russ Bliss titled “Fantasy Points Per Game: A Better Way To Determine Matchups,” has added a new tool I have never used or known of before today. Instead of basing a match up on defensive standing (vs. pass or vs. rush), Russ uses a simple formula (read his blog) to calculate FP/PG or “fantasy points allowed per game.”

I will be curious to use this new found formula and apply it to many upcoming threads over who to start. Yet another reason why I feel FFS is well worth the $24.95 (Championship Package) I paid to subscribe to the site. As I have already said, you have won w fantasy owner for life in me. Thanks for all the kudos and enjoyment so far through 4 weeks. I look forward to more wonderful discussion as the NFL season moves forward. Who knows maybe I can make a roadie to Santisi’s and their “Wide Wall of Sports” this season.