Fantasy Football: Perfect Draft Strategy cover

Fantasy Football: Perfect Draft Strategy

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Every year around the start of August fantasy football drafts begin to kick off. Along with the start of drafts comes the preparation and design of a strategy. Each manager is posed with the question of who to draft first, what rounds to get talented players for cheap, and which position is most important to go after.
For years the philosophy has been to acquire the top tier running backs in the first round. However, now the league has transformed into an aerial passing attack. Wide receivers and quarterbacks have become slightly favored by managers as their first round picks.





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Fantasy Football: Perfect Draft Strategy

Welcome To August

Every year around the start of August fantasy football drafts begin to kick off.

Along with the start of drafts comes the preparation and design of a strategy. Each manager is posed with the question of who to draft first, what rounds to get talented players for cheap, and which position is most important to go after.

For years the philosophy has been to acquire the top tier running backs in the first round. However, now the league has transformed into an aerial passing attack. Wide receivers and quarterbacks have become slightly favored by managers as their first round picks.

Still Tops?

Still Tops?

Sure, the running back is still the guy looking to get the most touches during the year, especially if they're talented in the pass game. But considering the direction of the NFL, leaning towards pass catchers is never a bad decision.

Later Options

The problem lies with where your first pick is in the draft as well as your leagues format.

Yes, if you're picking in the top five, a running back is a sure fire pick. This is where you will be able to acquire the best available running back, but if you're at the back end of a 12 man draft you won't be so lucky to get one of these guys. At this point a manager must either stick with the old fashioned "get your running backs first", or break the norm and grab a WR, QB, or even a tight end.

League Matters

The other big question to consider is what type of league are you drafting for?

If it is a PPR league, a running back who catches the ball a lot is always a solid bet. However, those players are far and few between, so again the WR or QB begins to catch your attention. In 2014, thirty receivers averaged eight or more targets a game. Whereas, only Matt Forte averaged more than eight targets a game.

Most of the receiving backs see limited touches running the ball. It becomes a juggling act of running contrasted with catching, unless we're speaking about the top 4-5 backs.

Golden Futures

Golden Futures

The other league format to consider is the dynasty league. If you're planning for the future, do you want to put all of your eggs in a basket that typically doesn't last more than three years? Wide receivers and quarterbacks careers traditionally last longer, so avoiding the running back early in these leagues can be beneficial, speaking from an investment standpoint.

Waiver Wire

Something that often goes unnoticed in fantasy football is the emergence of waiver wire free agents.

Every year there will be a volume of players who step up and become an every week performer. These guys are often claimed from waivers the week after they blow up for 20+ points. The only problem is trying to secure one of these under the radar studs before your buddy that never sleeps does.

Running Back Heavy

Looking at last season a majority of these players were running backs.

The likes of CJ Andersen, Jeremy Hill, Justin Forsett, Matt Asiata, Terrance West, Alfred Blue, Denard Robinson, and even Benny Cummingham. The wide receiver position was not full of so many surprises.

The WR position is pretty cut and dry, you know what tier guys will fall in the end-of-season rankings. So after the top WR's are off the board it becomes a race to get the sleepers and handcuffs to the top dogs.

Know Your League

Know Your League

One of the most important things to do is you need to know your league first and foremost. Look into the scoring system, check your waiver setup, know if it's a keeper or dynasty style league. Knowing your league inside and out will give you a tremendous advantage when drafting.

Chimpanz Ape

(CC BY 2.0)

Mock Drafts

Run through a few mock drafts with other people online a week or two before your draft so that you can get an idea of where guys will be taken.

You may be thinking that these aren't real and don't count for anything so people don't take them seriously. This is not true at all! Thousands of seasoned managers use mock drafts to determine when they will be able to draft certain guys. It is the most realistic way to predict what type of team you can draft. It also allows you to get an idea of the draft format and rankings of players.

Anything Can Happen

Once you have done a few drafts try to put together your ultimate team you want to draft, be realistic here.

Make sure you have a few guys penciled in at each pick, it's a draft with humans (sometimes drunk humans), you never know what will happen. This strategy will help you visualize when players are being taken and allow you to maximize the talent you can draft at each pick.

Completing mock drafts will assure that you don't reach too far for a player early in the draft. Patience often pays off, and if you miss out on a guy it's typically because another manager freaked out and reached too far too early.

Decisions

Decisions

It will also help you determine whether to go with a running back, wide receiver, or quarterback first. The mock draft will allow you to determine the value of a player and figure out where you can get bang for your buck.

Jay Thompson

(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Preparation

Now let’s put all of this information together and make the perfect drafting strategy.

First rule is to know and understand your league. Know how many people are drafting and what pick you have. Check to see if it is any sort of keeper or dynasty league, this will help you figure out what guy to keep or where to put your money. Be sure to complete a handful of mock drafts before you start your leagues draft.

Having an advantage on when players are being taken will give you an edge on selecting players later, getting more talent for a better price. Remember patience pays off and will lead to you drafting your ultimate team.

Best For Your Team

Taking all of this advice should allow you to have a better idea if you will be the guy drafting a running back first, or opting for the new age passing attack and drafting a receiver.

Either way you should be focused on maximizing the talent at each draft pick. This is not necessarily always the best available player, but the best available player for your team.