CHAPTER 4 - HOW TO DRAFT A COMPETITIVE FANTASY FOOTBALL TEAM
There is no shortage of fantasy football draft strategies out there. We aren’t going to break down every single draft strategy in this basic guide, but we will get into some of the specifics a bit later (Zero RB, Zero WR, RB4, Salmon, etc.).
Before I share some pointers on how to draft a competitive fantasy football team, I first want to tell you a story about the first time I drafted a fantasy football team.
It was 2009 and I was a Junior in college at the University of Vermont. I was working at a small telecommunications company part-time to help pay for college and met some guys who were big into fantasy football. They had got into the game years ago, when you had to calculate each team score by looking at the newspaper the next day. I, on the other hand, knew the concept of fantasy football but had no idea how to play.
Do you know how veteran poker players like to invite newbs to games as an easy way to collect cash? Well, that’s the same concept of what happened with me. After talking about how much fun it was, they asked if I wanted to join their league this year. The only caveat was a $250 entry fee. The price was a bit steep for me, but since I just paid $200 for a textbook that I would use for one semester, I happily joined the league.
I had the second overall pick in a snake draft, and after Adrian Peterson went first overall, I picked Aaron Rodgers. In the second round, I picked another QB Drew Brees...
Man, I thought, this is too easy. I just grabbed the two best Quarterbacks who are projected to score the most points!
I proceeded to draft a few running backs including Pierre Thomas, Willis McGahee, and Joseph Addai and with two WR’s (Houshmandzadeh and Manningham). I then filled out the rest of my starting roster with a Defense and a Kicker. Once I had my starting roster, I looked to fill in my bench spots with backups.
I won’t tell you exactly how I finished the year... yet, but I learned a lot about what NOT to do (i.e. never drafted 2 QB’s in the first rounds, never draft Defense til the 12th, and a Kicker should ALWAYS be your last pick).
I learned a lot of different draft strategies since then, but for the sake of keeping things simple, we’re not going to get into that right now. Instead, here are a few pointers on how to draft a competitive team this year, and avoid some of the major mistakes I had made with my first draft.
Pointer 1, Know the League Settings
You should know if your league scoring settings differ from the “standard”. Although PPR (Point per Reception) is not standard on every platform, the rest of the scoring settings typically follow the same pattern. For example, PPR is standard on ESPN, while PPR is not standard on Yahoo. If you don't know your league settings, go look at them now. Seriously. If a WR / RB scores more or less than 6 points per TD, you need to do some homework. If a QB scores more than 4 points per TD thrown, you need to do some homework.
We will get into some advice for different leagues a bit later (PPR, 2 QB draft strategy, 3 RB draft strategy, Dynasty strategy and more on how to handle leagues that are not "Standard".
Pointer 2, Use FantasyPros
Use the FantasyPros.com player comparison. This is an amazing FREE tool that will help you compare two or more players. By aggregating player rankings from hundreds of fantasy experts, you can feel better about which player will help your team the most.
Pointer 3, Wait on Drafting a QB
Although it may be tough to pass on a QB given they are projected to score more points than WR’s and RB ’s, it’s generally a good idea to wait on this position. Since the point differential between a top QB and an average QB is not very high, it doesn’t make sense to draft a QB in the early rounds.
Pointer 4, Load up on RB's
Since the injury rate is higher at the RB position, it’s wise to overload yourself at this position. The point differential between a top RB and an average RB is also quite high, so you’ll want to target RB’s early and often in your draft.
Pointer 5 - Draft a Kicker in the Last Round
Don’t draft a Kicker until the last round. Period. There's really not much else to say about this, except that kickers are too unpredictable and you'll end up dropping them when they are on a Bye week.
Pointer 6 - Wait on Defense (usually)
Get an elite Defense first, or wait until late in the draft. There is typically a huge drop off between the top 2 or 3 defenses and the “rest of the pack”. Even a defense as Elite as Denver was in 2016 can struggle in 2017, so proceed with caution
Pointer 7 - Wait on a TE (usually)
Similar to Defense, grab an elite TE first or wait until much later in the draft. Gronk was a sure-fire 2nd round selection in fantasy football for years, given the scarcity at the position. Travis Kelce is a guy you may want to reach for, but he should go at least 2 rounds before the next TE off the board.
Pointer 8 - Bye Bye Bye
Be conscious of players bye weeks. There's nothing worse than finishing up a draft, only to find that half of your entire team is on a Bye in Week 7. Then again... Maybe that's not such a bad thing! You're essentially throwing one week for a more stacked lineup for the rest of the year (just something to consider).
Although these pointers on how to draft a fantasy football team may not help you win a championship your first time, it should help you stay competitive throughout the year! Make sure to pick up a 2021 fantasy football draft board to ensure your league draft is epic!