By Harold Studer
Draft day for your fantasy league is fast approaching. You’ve spent all of your free time, since joining this work league, doing your homework and studying your league format. The sheer volume of information you didn’t know is mind boggling. It begins to seem like Jim was some sort of crazy super genius when he talked about ADP’s, player stats, and coach’s run/ pass ratios.
You’ve also done some mock drafts, practice to familiarize yourself with the process, but your worried it hasn’t been enough to make up for your lack of experience. With the endless amounts of information, you’ve been cramming, it becomes evident that an advanced degree in accounting might just be the secret weapon Jane used to win her league last year. On a positive note, the end of summer has flown by as you’ve engulfed yourself in multiple fantasy websites, spreadsheets, and podcasts, all with their own guidance and thoughts on the various ways to win this year. Labor Day is right around the corner, but first and foremost we need to focus on your fantasy draft.
What follows is a few suggestions and some advice for those new to the fantasy universe. A guide to help you join and compete in a game you’ve never played before.
So, there are a few things to consider when thinking about “draft strategy.” Considering your new to the world of fantasy football, I’d suggest you avoid any type of strategy. Typically, more advanced and experienced players “adopt” a strategy. You might hear things like Zero RB and Early RB being floated around this year, and terms like these denote an overall philosophy used to approach a draft.
The part about drafts that beginners aren’t told is that more experienced fantasy owners, although usually adopting a strategy, usually try to be as flexible to what the draft presents them as they can be. This means they may want to draft WR/WR in the first two rounds, but are willing to take other positions if a better value presents itself, say like a top five RB in the early second round.
This being said, I’d advise that a draft strategy naturally is useless beyond the first three or four rounds and therefore a pointless matter to concern yourself with. I’d prefer to advise beginners to take the best available player in the early rounds (1-4), and build WR and RB depth through the middle rounds (5-9).
Wait on QB and TE:
You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned anything about QB or TE up to this point. This is because these positions are not something I would suggest new fantasy owners worry themselves with, especially as they enter their first draft with more experienced owners. The biggest indicator of a newbie during a fantasy draft is the guy who drafts the big name QB too early, or a mediocre QB in the middle rounds.
Sure taking the best QB from the start sounds like a wise idea. He will score you the most points every week, right? This is the biggest hurdle to overcome for new owners in fantasy football, because it makes sense. The fact of the matter is, although QB’s score the most points in fantasy, the difference between the top QB, and the 15th best, typically isn’t that great of a margin on a weekly basis compared to the differences between the top WR or RB and the 15th best at those same positions also on a weekly basis.
This is also where understanding your league format and roster structure comes into play. Most leagues only start one player at QB and TE, and have multiple starting slots for positions like RB and WR. This means more scoring opportunities and also more need for high end players at the RB and WR positions. It also means that weekly point margin between top performing talent and mid- level talent gets potentially multiplied by the number of starters in these positions.
Some numbers to consider:
Top QB pts minus 15th Best QB pts. (391-273)= 118 divided by 16 wks (118/16)= 7.4 pts/ wk
WRs (250-159)= 91 divided by 16 wks (91/16)= 5.7 pts/ wk
RBs (243-153)= 90 divided by 16 wks (90/16)= 5.6 pts/ wk
Now those numbers would seem to imply the QBs are more important to your team, but they only occupy one starting slot on your roster. Once you multiply the WR and RB averages by the number of starting slots on your fantasy roster (5-6), you could possibly be looking at a 25- 30-point difference in point opportunity. These points would be lost each week by not focusing early on the RB and WR positions. That is definitely enough to make a big difference in your win/ loss columns during the season.
This logic treats TE’s the same as QB’s because normally there is only one starting slot for the position. Waiting on QB and TE will put you on par instantly with some of the more experienced fantasy team owners in your league.
With all the pre- draft homework you have done up to this point, a few players should stick out to you. These guys are players you would like to grab and have high expectations for during the upcoming season. The advice here becomes to not become too attached to these guys. Other owners are also doing their homework, and chances are they have noticed and are targeting some of the same players. Once again, let the draft come to you and take what you can when it gets to your pick. When targeting players to draft, I would also suggest being careful with picking hometown guys or players from your favorite team, unless they are the next best available player. Focus your efforts on sure starters and guys you know will see targets and opportunities based on depth charts and offensive structure of the team around them. This means you should stay away from drafting rookies or situations where a clear starter at the position isn’t clear.
Now that you’ve joined your first league, prepared for your first fantasy draft, and are about to knock it out of the park (sorry for the baseball reference) the next step is to guide you through the jungle that your fantasy season can become. Enjoy this moment, because once you have drafted, you have officially enacted the first traditional rite of a fantasy football newbie. You are well on your way to becoming a fantasy junkie.