Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

These are some Fantasy Football Tips and Strategies for 10 and 12 team leagues. 8 team league are too small while 14 team leagues may be too deep and the drafts are quite long.

In the Draft, use Picks 1 through at least pick 7 to draft RB's and WR's. These guys are the core of your team and will likely determine whether or not a team makes the playoffs or not. I encourage stacking up on RB's and WR's since some will experience injuries and poor seasons which are difficult to predict. It is also very difficult to pick up a reliable RB or WR in the middle of the season since fantasy owners immediately pick up impact player right after an impressive game.

The TE position is the difference between a playoff team and an elite contender. With an elite TE, you add an extra WR to your roster replacing what is an inconstitency. There is a large staticical gap between elite TE's such as Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, and Tony Gonzalez and their contemporaries. Some people will tell you to avoid a TE since you can draft 500 yard and 5 TD players late in the draft, or others suggest to just add a TE that has an impressive start. The hard part about TE's is Fantasy Football is that their production is inconsitient. It is true, an owner could have picked up Zach Miller or Visanthe Shiancoe last season, but it is unlikely that either was picked up until well into the season since it takes time before a TE could prove to be reliable on a fantasy roster. Even if you act quick and pick one of these guys going into Week 4 or Week 5, you are still at a great disadvantage for the first quarter of the season.

Given this I suggest drafting a TE in the late fourth, in the fifth, or if someone good slips in the early sixth. If you miss this window, then you should go with a sleeper later on in the Draft.

Next, unless you are drafting in the beginning of the third round when Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and on rare occasions Drew Brees are availabe you should avoid drafting a QB early since elite QB's are always available on waiver wire. In recent years all of the following QB's were pick up in just about every 15 round fantasy league.

2008: Matt Cassel, Jason Campbell, Joe Flacco, David Garrard, Eli Manning, Kyle Orton, Chad Pennington, Matt Ryan, Tyler Thigpen, and Kurt Warner
2007: Derek Anderson, Jason Campbell, Eli Manning, Jeff Garcia, David Garrard, and Kurt Warner
2006: Rex Grossman, Jon Kitna, J.P. Losman, Chad Pennington, Philip Rivers, and Tony Romo

The first critique of my argument should be that QB's put up the greatest fantasy numbers. The second would be that I suggested not to pick up TE's and that that same argument could be made for QB's. To address the first point, QB's do put up the highest numbers; however, there is a wide gap between an elite QB such as Peyton Manning or Drew Brees and the rest of the field. So unless you are drafting at the beginning of the third round, it is unlikely you will be able to snag one of these QB's that can bolster your team.

If you look at the next tier of QB's it is easy to find QB's that can compete in terms of fantasy output with players that are drafted from the fourth through the seventh round. You may even find yourself picking up a tier one QB, as many did in league where Aaron Rodgers wasn't drafted.

Next where in the TE position there is after the inital drop off between the elite ones and the second rate ones. There is another drop off between these second rates ones and the third rates ones. The second rate group is also quite limited. In terms of QB's that same drop off exists between first and second rates ones; however, there is a very gradual decline between second rate and third rate ones - practically to the extent where the two tiers are indistinguishable. Players that will be drafted in rough 4 through 7 are at not great advantage from those who will be drafted later and even some that will go undrafted.

My next suggestion is to hold off on Kickers and Defenses until thirteenth and fourteenth rounds. Top Kickers can be available at any time in the season while one can pickup a great Defense early and a moderate Defense at any point in the season. Sure Kickers and Defenses can have a significant impact, but there is no disagreement that these two positions are highly inconsistent in Fantasy Football. The only disadvantage of drafting a defense late is that their production is uncertain for the first Week or two which may cost your team points if the team is demolished. But the plan is to pick up one right after week one with a favorable schedule so liability is limited.

Also, do not draft multiple QB's, TE's, K's, or DEF's. Based on the bye weeks of the players that you selected, in the fifteenth select the position with the earliest bye. Then rotate that last spot to fill in bye-week voids. This adds the number of RB's and WR's that you can draft early on. Remember there is no real punishment for excessive talent. You will have great leverage in trades if most of your Flex Players do work out for you.

Finally, here are a couple of suggestions for players to draft depending on your position in the first round:

Early
1 - AP, Turner, Jones-Drew
2 - WR - Wayne, Jennings, Smith, Bolden, Owens, Colston
3 - QB: catch Brees, Manning, Brady
4 - Falling RB - Ronnie Brown, Ryan Grant, Larry Johnson, Pierre Thomas/Reggie Bush, Thomas Jones
5 - Gates, Gonzalez, Clark
Make sure to fill in WR slots before loading up on RB depth

Middle
Without two consecutive picks, it is difficult to build much of a strategy. Selecting the best player available from 1 through 7 without concern for position will load up your team with talent and will put you in excellent position to fill in voids and make trades. During the end of the draft, you have to pick wisely and try to snag reliable starters and possible sleepers for positions that you neglected.

Late
1 - Slipping RB - Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs - if no one falls
2 - Slipping 1st Round RB or Elite WR - Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson
3 - Best Player Available or address flex if first and second were the same position
4 - Jason Witten or Wide Receiver
5 - Slipping RB - Larry Johnson, Chris Wells, Knowshown Moreno - make sure RB's and WR's are balanced
6 - Dallas Clark if you missed Witten


High Upside-Low Price

Quarterbacks
Matt Ryan - With another option in Tony Gonzalez this eighth round stud will be an upper echelon fantasy QB
Matt Hasselbeck - Matt has returned from an injury plagued season to find a rejuvenated receiving core featuring T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Trent Edwards - Like Hasselbeck, Edwards now his a new option to throw to that most fans and media members are well acquainted with.
Matt Schuab - With Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, and Owen Daniels, Schuab isn't lacking any targets. Schuab is a QB that finds himself slipping in a lot of drafts so if you need a QB do not shy away from this steal.

Running Backs
Ronnie Brown - He has being drafted in the third and fourth rounds, but this back has shown the ability to be an elite fantasy Running Back when he lead Fantasy Running Backs with the most points two years back before he has injured for the remainder of the season.
Julius Jones/Jamal Lewis/Willie Parker - Age will be a factor for these guys, but there are still the starting backs on their respective teams. Of these Jones is the youngest which questions why so many are passing up on this guy. Don't expect to build your Running Back core around these guys, but one or two picks can provide great security for your team.

Wide Receievers
Anthony Gonzalez - There is a new number two for Peyton Manning and this is his name.
Mark Clayton - Due to Derrick Mason's retirement, Clayton is the new number one receiver. Any WR with first priority notation deserves a look.
Torry Holt - Like Clayton, Holt will the new primary receiver on his team.
Ted Ginn Jr. - He is another first resort receiver that is going late in fantasy drafts. Ginn is a deep ball threat, but with Chad Pennington as his quarterback, Ginn will be limited; however, with the innovative Wildcat Offense, Ginn may find himself wide open, mismatched, or in untraditional roles which give him an extra fantasy boost.

Tight Ends
Greg Olsen - The cats is out of the bag. The league knows that Olsen will be a stud. With the ability to go down field and a new quarterback at the helm of the Bears' offense, expect Olsen to join elite fantasy status.
Heath Miller - Miller has always been a consistent TE and if you find yourself without one let in the draft then he can be a reliable one late in the draft.
John Carlison - Expect a resurgent Seahawk offense.

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