Fantasy Football Drafting 101: Wait on Wide Receivers

Unless you can grab a top five WR, don't burn an early draft pick

Unless you grab a Top-5 WR, don’t burn any early round draft picks on one

A starting fantasy RB obviously has the potential to rack up yards both on the ground and through the air on nearly every offensive play. However, when it comes to a fantasy WR, the window for scoring top fantasy points is much smaller. There’s no denying that there is an ELITE TIER of wide receivers that stands tall above the crowd, but after the top 5, there’s no reason BURN a pick when you should be concentrating on other players.

After the crème de la crème of wideouts, there is a massive logjam of wide receivers that can help you round out a fantasy team without wasting any high picks on average point producers. 21 wide receivers and two tight ends cracked the 1,000 yard mark last season while 13 WRs and 2 TEs scored at least ten touchdowns.

There’s no debate that every team needs wide receivers, but the list of elite players is very short.

  • Antonio Brown
  • Demaryius Thomas
  • Dez Bryant
  • Calvin Johnson
  • OBJ

This list of players all grabbed consistent points and lived up to the hype of their high ADPs. However, after this list of elite players, things begin to get interesting. Take Alshon Jeffery as an example. Last season Jeffery averaged only 10.4 points (in standard leagues) during the weeks he was active. He also hovered around the 25th pick in most leagues, as a late third round, early fourth round selection. That’s a bust for fantasy owners considering that 33 wide receivers averaged more than 7 points per week. Of these 33, 13 were available after the 100th pick.

Look at the numbers for the two rookie receiving phenoms that broke out last year: Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin. Evans performed slightly better than Jeffery, averaging 10.5 points with an ADP of 101; Benjamin had an average of 9 points per week and was selected around the 106th pick. In most leagues, these rookies were still available in the 12th round in eight-team leagues. For an upside of one fantasy point per week (comparing Jeffery and Benjamin), Jeffery owners sacrificed the prospect of drafting a premier player like Le’Veon Bell or Rob Gronkowski.

Fantasy numbers can be unpredictable; players may explode for dozens of points per week, or underwhelm and disappoint a majority of their owners. Injuries can strike unexpectedly and deliver a swift end of the season to an unfortunate player. But the consensus is this: after the elite tier, receivers and tight ends are just a dime a dozen; consider carefully before you waste high picks for little upside.

 

 

Fantasy Football Drafting 101: Deprioritizing the QB

From a fantasy standpoint, there's no reason to scramble for a quarterback

There’s no reason to scramble for a quarterback during this year’s draft

In looking at the FINAL fantasy quarterback point totals from last season, one thing jumps out at you very quickly, there is not a great deal of separation between fantasy QBs. After Aaron Rogers, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, there is a glut of approximately 14 quarterbacks who are separated by little more than 50 total fantasy points. 50 total fantasy points during the course of a season averages out to less than 3.5 points per week.

3.5 points per week is important, but you should be able to make that up by choosing an early round elite running back or wide receiver. Before your fantasy draft, you should break down your quarterbacks into tiers, so you don’t get caught up on individual names.

Top Tier:

As far as the Quarterback position goes, if you’re not snagging Andrew Luck or Aaron Rodgers in the first couple of rounds, forget about grabbing a QB. Luck and Rodgers consistently put up quality numbers and can also single-handedly win you the week matchup. These two players should be the only fantasy QBs you are considering before the 5th or 6th round.

Tier Two:

Tier two includes signal-callers who may not be as consistent but are more than capable fantasy starters on a weekly basis. Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Peyton Manning are tier two options. These quarterbacks will typically come off the board rounds 4 – 7. Instead of settling for middle of the pack quarterbacks, fortify the roster with more running backs and wide receivers.

Tier Three:

If you didn’t select either of the two quarterbacks in tier one, tier three is the time to make a fantasy QB pick. Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton reside in tier three. Less consistent than tier two but have a higher ceiling to return on their average draft position. These quarterbacks will be available in rounds 8 -10. By that time, a good chunk of the roster will be filled with solid starters.

Mr. Brady has not been forgotten. Tom Brady’s resume will claim that he is a borderline tier one quarterback. Currently, Brady’s ADP is 71 and most likely to keep rising pending the federal court hearing decision about deflategate.

Tier one or Tier three is the optimal time to choose your signal-caller. Fantasy is all about minimizing risk and maximizing reward and these two tiers is where all the reward lies.

Fantasy Football Drafting 101: Break Away From the Pack

Abandon the herd, be flexible and stick to your drafting strategy

Abandon the herd, be flexible and stick to your drafting strategy

If you ever want to witness the phenomenon of the herd mentality, all you have to do is participate in a fantasy football draft. Just like the stock market, fantasy drafting is undeniably one of the most poignant examples of human herding behavior.

We have all experienced it and every one of us has been caught up in it at one time or another. A run starts on a certain player position and the floodgates open wide.

For example, drafters start scooping up running backs and suddenly the whole league is swept away in the frenzy. Forget the fact that you are bypassing Dez Bryant or Rob Gronkowski, you MUST HAVE A RUNNING BACK!! The fear of never drafting a running back again grips you. These people are crazy, they are taking all the backs – I must have one before they steal them all.

OK, Stop – Deep Breaths – Breathe with me

You still have 60 seconds, the top five running backs are gone and that’s ok. You wanted Antonio Brown, you still want Antonio Brown and you don’t have to draft a running back this moment. There’s no reason to go off the rails. A draft is a living, breathing activity and no two drafts are the same. You have to be somewhat flexible, but your job is to take the best player off of the board when it’s your turn.

Not the best wide receiver

Not the best quarterback, but

The best player on the board

If you left Jordy Nelson on the board so you could take Justin Forsett during the running back frenzy, you just self-sabotaged your fantasy team and your draft.

Have a strategy going into your draft, but keep your eye on the ball and be ready to adapt and adjust. There are a variety of ways to win a fantasy football championship, but a good draft builds a foundation for future success. You have to stack your team with the best “fantasy point” players to carry your team when you are faced with suspensions, injuries and bad coaching decisions.

Remember to breathe – Have an amazing season and Good Luck!

 

Fantasy Football Drafting 101: Running Backs Still Rule

elite RB’s should be the staple of your team and should lead your team to a strong finish this upcoming year.

Top-Tier RB’s are the primary building blocks for carrying fantasy teams deep into the playoffs

Every fantasy football fanatic wants to know the secret strategy to rack up wins in order to acquire bragging rights, and, in some leagues, even a hefty sum of cash. Many people build fantasy teams that are designed to thrive in the fantasy regular season without considering the ramifications during the post season.

Historically, I’ve tried a bunch of multiple approaches in my quest to assemble the greatest fantasy team. Last year, my team boasted a miraculous implosion during the championship round, and I finished second with a very strong team featuring Andrew Luck, Jamaal Charles, and Calvin Johnson. The question that I am most often asked is what positional player to target first, and my answer has always been RBs.

Why? Wouldn’t you rather take an Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning who can get you a constant 25 points per week? Well, it depends. Of course if elite quarterbacks fall far enough, there is no choice but to pounce; however, your focus should be geared towards grabbing elite RBs with your first two picks. This strategy is just as sound in 2015 as it was in 2005. First, let’s examine the top six finishers last year in both the QB and RB positions, and then note their suggested ADP based on ESPN’s Top 300 rankings

Quarterback:                                                                             

  • Aaron Rodgers (ADP 12)                                        
  • Andrew Luck (ADP 45)
  • Russell Wilson (ADP 99)
  • Peyton Manning (ADP 8)
  • Ben Roethlisberger (ADP 123)
  • Drew Brees (ADP 17)

Running Back:

  • DeMarco Murray (ADP 13)
  • Le’Veon Bell (ADP 14)
  • Marshawn Lynch (ADP 5)
  • Matt Forte (ADP 4)
  • Arian Foster (ADP 9)
  • Eddie Lacy (ADP 7)

This list suggests that the top finishers at the QB position are wildly erratic, while all of the players in the elite RB tier all project to be taken by the end of the second round. A fantasy owner could have chosen Forte and Murray back-to-back and scooped up Roethlisberger in the eighth or ninth round, and would have boasted three of the top ten fantasy performers with those three picks alone. Thus, choosing to invest your first five or six draft picks in running backs and receivers is a sound strategy. Let us also note the marginal benefit in investing in backs and receivers first. Standard leagues have one slot for quarterback, while you play a total of five backs and receivers combined per week. What good is having Rodgers if half of your team is subpar? Numerically, picking up the biggest potential point-earners that you play the most often makes sense.

Some people are still concerned, stating that the only quarterbacks left by the sixth and seventh round are lower-tier and poor quality players in terms of consistent point production. I know that I was a bit hesitant when the best QB left in the draft two years ago was one Eli Manning. However, I got some inspiration from my similar Fantasy Premier League strategy, where I was forced to rotate two subpar goalkeepers based on matchup, which resulted in overwhelmingly positive results. So, after picking up a solid core of WRs and RBs, shift your focus to picking a one-two punch of historically solid quarterbacks to round out your team, and then rotate them based on who they’re up against in a specific week. The owner that bested me last year did particularly well with a combination of Nick Foles and Carson Palmer (until they both got injured).

Obviously, use common sense while drafting. If your league puts more weight on the QB position (say, six points per passing touchdown) then it would be in your best interest to invest heavily in that position; same with all other positions. Also, if a solid quarterback falls drastically past his ADP for no significant reason, then it would be wise to pick him up. However, elite RB’s should be the staple of your team and should lead your team to a strong finish this upcoming year. Good luck, happy drafting, and let the season begin.

PPR vs. Non-PPR – Know the Difference Before You Draft

designall_crop_650x440In a world full of acronyms, just what the heck does PPR actually stand for?

Do you know the difference between a Standard Fantasy League and a PPR league?

What in the world does PPR actually stand for?

If you answered “Point per Reception,” you probably have a leg up on more than half the people in your fantasy league.

What’s the purpose of a PPR league?

This is an attempt by the fantasy football gods to take some of the shine away from the quarterbacks and level the playing field increasing the value of other position players. In a PPR league, pass-catching running backs and wide receivers get a huge bump in the number of points they score over a Non-PPR league. Having a dominant QB never hurt any team, but a pass-catching running back is worth his weight in gold.

A PPR League also DEVALUES running backs who can’t catch the ball. A-P and Michael Turner take a huge hit in value in PPR leagues because the QB doesn’t want to throw to them. However, RBs like Reggie Bush or Ray Rice rack up the points because the quarterback is always using them in a dump off situation. Every catch they make brings more points your team.

In a standard fantasy format (Non-PPR), having Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers in last year’s fantasy line-up just about guaranteed you a spot in the league championship game. This was not the case in PPR formats.

In PPR Leagues, some fantasy players will wait until the 3rd round before drafting a QB – Try that in a Non-PPR league and I guarantee you a finish in the bottom three.

Strategies for PPR Draft

Don’t rush to draft QB

Find WRs and TEs who get the most targets

Find RB’s who love to catch and run

Find WRs and TEs who get the most receptions

Don’t fixate on yards after the catch – Points result with every reception.