Prepping for the fantasy draft
Posted Aug. 29 at 10:31 PM
I've got three drafts this week, fortunately on different nights. I've cleared my calendar and got my rankings ready to go, but now's the time to remind myself of my handful of annual rules. And here they are.
1. If you hate the pick when you make it, you probably won't like it more later. Just because a guy is a great value, or falls farther than he should, or is a favorite of Captain Fantasy or whoever, is not in and of itself enough reason to draft him. There are certain players I don't want to have to count on. I don't think they'll be good, and don't want them in my lineup even if my rankings suggest they should have gone a round earlier. There's nothing wrong with having a Do Not Draft list, because no one player is so uniquely amazing that you can't find someone else of similar value every time your pick comes up. So fall as far as you want, Devin Hester. You will not be on my team.
2. Don't wait too long on players you really want. A year ago I was drafting Ray Rice in the fifth or sixth round. Most sites put his ADP at a couple of rounds after that; at one I had to sort alphabetically just to find the guy, deep in their rankings. So when I took him in basically every league, I might have taken him earlier than I had to once or twice. But I thought the guy was going to win me a title, and I didn't want to wait too long. And I was right. So when a friend with the top pick in a PPR league said he really liked C.J. Spiller, and was wondering if he should take him at pick 24, I said, well, maybe he'll be there at 48. But if you really like him and think he's going to be huge, go ahead and take him. I wouldn't personally take him that early, but if you want a guy and don't think he'll last another round, just take him. It feels a lot better to actually get the player you want than hope he slips another round -- and miss out.
3. Draft a good backup quarterback. Quarterbacks get hurt and benched and flop. And while there will be good running backs and wide receivers and tight ends who emerge and are available and can be found or traded for over the course of the season, that's not always the case with quarterbacks. Even if I take Drew Brees early, I'm going to use an early enough pick on some functional starting quarterback who seems a decent bet to be a 16-game starter; Matthew Stafford or Vince Young. It's simply too important a position not to have a second option.
4. Draft sleepers, not handcuffs. There are three possibilities with handcuff running backs, let's use Rashad Jennings as an example. 1. Starter gets hurt and handcuff is a quality fantasy starter. 2. Starter gets hurt and handcuff is mediocre and either loses job to another player or shares it with one or two other players. 3. Starter doesn't get hurt. Although 1. is certainly possible, 2. and 3. happen a lot more often, giving you a dead roster spot for much of the year. And sometimes when 1. happens, you've already cut the player to pick up another sleeper or player to cover an early bye week. Which reminds me....
5. Make sure you have byes handy. I don't draft according to byes; it's just one week, and I don't want my rankings affected by something like that. But if I draft a defense with an early bye, say the Vikings or Cowboys, I'll probably use a last-round pick on a backup -- and don't want to draft another team with a week 4 bye. With kickers, I'm not going to draft two kickers, but I might be less inclined to select one that has an earlier bye. And needless to say, if I draft Tony Romo, with his week 4 bye, I won't back him up with Brett Favre, who has the same week off.
I have other rules; you probably do too. Sometimes I stick to them and they don't pay off. But if I don't stick to them, and get burned, I'm going to feel a whole lot worse. I'll be sitting there in week 3 saying, I KNEW I should have used an earlier pick on my No. 2 quarterback.
There are mistakes I can live with. Having a beer while I draft is worth making a small error here or there. (That's right Murillo, I'm talking to YOU.) Taking Brett Favre a round or two too early is usually worth it to me, because I like to root for the guy and would just as soon he be on my team, not my opponent's.
But ignoring my own rules and getting burned? That's a draft mistake I can't handle.
Good luck in your drafts.
Posted by robert alberti | Aug. 30 at 03:24 AM
In an auction format the opposite of rule 2 is often effective. By letting others spend themselves out, I was able to add Arian Foster as a flex for a low price and outbid everyone else for Vikings DST and Longwell
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Aug. 30 at 03:56 AM
You're right. I definitely prefer to nominate players I don't actually want in an auction.
Posted by Paul Owers | Aug. 30 at 05:52 AM
This is good stuff. Thanks, Andy. I really can relate to the first and second rules. In a draft I had this past weekend, I took J. Finley in the third round. Probably a tad early for a tight end, but I think the guy will have a monster year. So rather than sit there and wonder whether he'll slip another round, I took him. I won't care in December that I drafted him a round or two early if he ends up scoring 12 TDs with 1,100 receiving yards. And even if he doesn't pan out, using a third-round pick on him probably won't be what dooms my team.
Posted by ALAN CAMERON | Aug. 30 at 06:02 AM
As usual Andy, I'm thinking right along with you! In my rulebook, your rule #4 is my rule #1. "Handcuff" is NOT in my drafting vocabulary. Give me 4 or 5 backs that are the workload guy or on a good rushing committee team every time, and my opponents can have a bench full of Chris Johnson's, Adrian Peterson's and Steven Jackson's back-ups.
Posted by John Evans | Aug. 30 at 11:33 AM
I spend way too much time finding out where the players I want to draft are going to go. I do lots of research into ADP...then look at standard deviation. For those that I really want and can't afford to miss on...I draft them on early end of the standard deviation. But I also do lots of gambling in drafts. I try to get a starter with every one of my picks.
Posted by MICHAEL MURILLO | Aug. 31 at 06:34 AM
Good points except number 5. I happen to know that Andy WOULD draft Favre even if he had the same bye week. He would convince himself that Favre on the bye would be a better start than some scrub on the field. And if JaMarcus Russell was still in the league, he might be right.
Posted by Jeff Koll | Aug. 31 at 08:59 AM
I got to remember this for tuesday night
Posted by JERRY ENGER | Sep. 02 at 03:10 AM
#2 is huge! In an auction you can bid on that favorite player when he eventually comes up, but in a draft you're screwed. I got Arian Foster for $8 late in a $250/team auction (woot!) but lost out on him by two picks in the 6th round of a draft. I would have taken him in round 5 but Benson was still there. Anyway, after licking my wounds for a minute, I was determined not to let Finley go and pulled the trigger with that same pick, much to the gorans of my competitors. Get the players you want, even if you have to jump a touch early.
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