Friday, January 11, 2008

My Draft Strategy for the Last Fantasy Football Season

There are zillions of draft strategies (which I won’t address here) that Fantasy sports enthusiasts adhere to and normally I am no different, but year I did something different from every year past for my football league. See last year in the fantasy baseball drafts I participated I used the Position Scarcity Strategy, focusing exclusively in the early rounds on drafting the best players possible in a selection of positions I thought would have a scarcity of talent. Once I filed the scarcity positions, I then filled out my roster with the best players available. It worked okay (I got a second place and a third place out of 4 leagues last year), but I noticed that my narrow approach caused be to overlook drafting some great players in the early rounds who I knew would do well but were not in the key positions. If I had grabbed them when they were available, it might have been the difference I needed to win.

With this experience fresh in my mind, I decided to modify the Position Scarcity Strategy somewhat for the Fantasy Football draft. I was still planning on grabbing certain types of players in specific rounds (as I always do with fantasy football), but I also wanted to be free to take quality players when they were available as well as potential sleepers.

With that in mind, here was my selection list:

RD: 1 RB
RD: 2 RB
RD: 3 WR
RD: 4 WR
RD: 5 QB
RD: 6 TE
RD: 8 RB
RD: 9 K
RD: 11 QB
RD: 11-15 Best available and possible Slee

With that as a guide, here are the guys I pick up in the draft. You can also see what my draft priorities were from the list on the left .

Running backs are generally the most important position in fantasy football. They have the potential to put the most fantasy points, and they are usually the first players off the board. With that in mind, I tried to build around two solid RBs.

Now most people go after a QB next (as I always did in the past), but I set upon this idea that WRs could be treated the same way as RBs. If you have two solid position men who get lots of looks each game, then you are almost guaranteed high points from week to week.

The reason I skipped getting a QB in the early rounds is that I have found them to be consistently unreliable. No matter how great a QB was, I have never been able to count on them helping my scores (in fact, they often seem more detrimental than useful). There are just too many factors against them. Because of that fact, I wanted to have a solid base of dependability: 2 RBs & 2 WRs. Since I took a QB in what I felt were the late rounds, I was pleasantly surprised to find Philip Rivers still available (although his season production now warranted it).

After the QB, I was really just filling starting positions on my roster with the next two picks, which was a real mistake. I completely undervalued the point production of the TE and DEF, when in fact they became a huge dependable part of my solid base as the season played itself out. With hindsight being 20/20, I probably should have taken a TE and DEF before the QB (keeping in mind I just don’t trust them and my top pick sucked). I picked up another RB solely for an concern with injuries. I took a chance grabbing a sleeper like Norwood only because I expected other players would pop up as the season progressed.

When filling out the roster, I really think grabbing a good Kicker is important, as they can be some of the most reliable point producers out there (6-12 most games), but I would not grab one over a much better position player. While there are a few truly great Ks in the business, the difference between the greats and the average joes is never more than a few points (1-3) per week. While you may wish you had those points, there are much better positions where they can be pick up. There is often no way to tell how much work a kicker will get until the season gets going.

Once my roster was complete, I started looking for back ups. It is always pay attention to bye weeks when drafting your backups. It doesn’t make much sense to draft a backup quarterback who has the same bye week as your starter, now does it? In terms of who I picked and where, I basically followed the best player available approach without concern for position as long as I got one of each: RB, WR, TE, QB. I also saw these filler picks as the place to take chances with sleepers—although none of my sleeper picks actually worked out as well as I hoped: Norwood, McMichael, Curry.

As to the actual players I picked up in each position, I tried my best to balance between picking the best player available in the round in question while also trying to pay attention to the teams a player will face come playoff time. Since the object was to win my league, not just make the playoffs, I wanted to gain an edge on my opponents when the fantasy playoffs rolled around. In knew drafting a key position player who faced a notoriously weak defense during the fantasy playoff weeks would give me a huge advantage come playoff time.

That all having been said, here is what my draft looked like. I felt like I followed my new strategy well and had the top team in the league after the draft was over. In the end, I am not so sure. There were teams which did much better than I did through the season, and some of the pick who I had total confidence turned into complete shit :Philip Rivers, Tod Heap, Nate Kaeding.

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