When I began writing this four part series the first thing I wanted you to understand is that the construction of a team, in the draft room, is the most important part of playing fantasy football. If you mess up your draft, then you will have to be pretty lucky in the season by picking up the right guys at the right time on the waiver wire to be successful. Fantasy Football requires some luck but if it was all luck then why are the top players in the world at the top every year. If you want luck then go buy a lotto ticket.
Now for the destruction. I want to destroy the theories out there on how you have to draft your team. Whether its zero running back theory, valued based drafting, early RB heavy drafting, stud QB strategy, TE strategy, and WR heavy strategy. If you go into a draft with the plan to use a specific strategy then you have already lost. Before I go into why, let me explain the difference between a NFL team and a fantasy football team. Let’s start with the NFL.
The NFL has been around since 1920. Every coach, general manager, and everybody in the front office gets paid a boat load of money for being great at building a team. If you don’t excel in the NFL at your specialized field then you will be replaced. Each of these people have access to many tools to help them succeed. Now let’s talk about your fantasy football team. How long have you been playing fantasy football? Most people will say, just couple of years. People who play fantasy football work alone on their team and if they have a partner helping them, then it is still usually just one person doing most of the work. Plus you don’t have the resources that the NFL has. Yes, we have the Internet but there is so much misinformation out there. Okay what I’m basically saying is that you’re screwed if you had to do a fantasy football draft against an actual NFL owner. But you’re not playing against an NFL owner. You are playing against somebody who has the same issues as you. Or are you? I’m going to teach how to draft like a NFL owner and how to use the same type information and strategies that they use. I know some of you are thinking that some NFL owners are idiots and I agree. So let’s just use a team with a proven track record and see how they draft. The team I’m talking about is the Baltimore Ravens and the GM Ozzie Newsome.
This guy is not only the GM for the Ravens but also a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. Why this guy is better than almost everybody else is because of the way he drafts. The Ravens have not made a pick in the 1st rd between pick 1-9 since 1997. And unlike fantasy football if get the 20th pick in the 1st rd that is your spot in every round. Fantasy football is more forgiving. The person that picks last in the 1st rd gets the 1st pick in the 2nd rd. I bet that the Super Bowl Champs would love that rule. So as a GM in the NFL drafting to reload your team is much harder. Most people think that Ozzie uses best player available to make his picks. But if he did that then why not use a computer to make the pick. Ozzie does not create the team’s draft board rankings. He had a team doing that. A lot of fantasy owners out there are just like computers when they make their picks. They have their cheat sheets and when it is their turn they just selected the next guy on their sheet. This does not mean that this will not work. It just means it requires more luck. I have never been lucky and don’t expect to win anything based on luck. I worked hard to get where I am at today. I’m guessing the reason that you are reading this article is because you want to outsmart your opponent. It is such a great feeling to play in a competition and outsmart your opponent. After the Ravens create their rankings then they adjust them based on need and scarcity. If there is a position that they really need then they are more willing to target that guy in the 1st three rounds. If they need a RB but there are lots of RB’s they like and feel they can get one of them in a later round then they will wait. If you look at this year’s NFL draft the Tennessee Titans had the 2nd pick. The reason they had the second pick was because as a team they had a lot of holes that needed filling. Yes, QB was one of those holes and yes I do believe that Marcus Mariotta who they selected with that pick will have a long career in the NFL as a starter. The problem I have and I believe Ozzie Newsome would have done is traded that pick. Reports came out that the Titans received many trade offers but none of the offers was worth the #2 slot. I say BS. A NFL team has 53 man roster and I would have taken the best offer. To build a whole team you can’t just fill one roster spot. With all the picks they would have received they could have built a more complete team. But I have a feeling that the Titans will get a 2nd chance next year to make the same decision.
When building a fantasy football team you have to make the same kinds of decisions.
In FF you only have to build an 8 man roster (in most leagues). I’m not including kickers or defenses since they are one of your last picks. So let’s use the NFFC (National Fantasy Football Championship) roster as an example. Your starting roster consists of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, and 1 Flex (RB/WR/TE). That is 8 players for those of you who want to check my math. The ultimate goal is to draft 8 guys that start each every week. I don’t want a decision to make on a weekly basis. The NFL wants to do the same thing in their draft. They don’t draft a guy thinking that this guy might be good for a couple of weeks. They don’t draft guys who either hits a home-run or strikes out. (Sorry for the baseball analogy) A strikeout guy in the NFL is a player who had made questionable decisions thus far in their life or the guy with lots of injuries in college. Most NFL teams are avoiding these guys or moving them back on their draft board. You as a fantasy football player should do the same thing.
I still want you to have other lists but not just one cheat sheet. I want you to have an ADP (Average Draft Position) list based on your scoring settings along with your cheat sheet. In the NFFC that is easy since they offer one for you. The NFFC will not only show the players ADP but it will also show you the earliest and latest that player has gone. Why is this so important? Because you can now practice building your team before you even draft. So go ahead and mark off the guys that you see as every week starters no matter the match up. The first 4-5 rounds are easy but after round 5 things become more difficult. What I want you to understand is that after round 5 there are still a lot of TE/QBs still available but the RB/WRs are just players with the potential to spot start every week. They are not locks to start every week. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of guys to like in the later rounds who I think will be in my starting lineup every week. But don’t get this confused with players I think will start and players I know will start. There is a reason these guys are going later in the draft. ADP is Average Draft Position but what it should be called is Draft Ranking Based on trust level of producing every week.
I trust everybody in the 1st rd to produce every week except Odell Beckham Jr and Julio Jones. I don’t trust either one of them to stay healthy each and every week and that is why I have not drafted either one of them this year. (20 NFFC drafts so far) That does not mean I won’t draft them it means that I am gravitating to that steady player first. In the 2nd round I trust most these players to play every week and produce but at a lesser level. As you look at the ADP, the top guys on list are the most trust worthy and should produce the most points. The farther you go down the list the less trust worthy they are to produce. (To explain what I mean by produce – it means at least 10 points every week with upside to score more than that). Now that you have done this practice draft we can analyze your strategies in the next session. Yes, I said strategies with a (s) based on your draft and you have to be open to switching your strategy on the fly like the true champion that you are. Stay tuned!