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Guillotine Leagues

Guillotine Draft Tips

Five tips to keep in mind at your Guillotine draft

Guillotine Leagues are different from redraft, dynasty and best-ball leagues because on any given week, you could be eliminated from the league. Even if you have the perfect draft, you could still be eliminated in Week 1. Sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles. However, I’ve got five draft tips to help optimize your team and assist you in surviving longer in your guillotine league.

The tips aren’t in order of importance, as you should be utilizing all of them in every guillotine league. They can also be used as tiebreakers in the event you’re stuck on picking between two players:

Strength of Schedule

The goal is to dominate early, so aim to find players who have easy schedules at the beginning of the year. Look carefully at who they play each week because oftentimes the overall SOS may seem easy, but that’s over the course of the entire season. That easiest SOS could play the toughest defense in Week 1. A couple of players facing tough defensive matchups in Week 1 could knock you out early. Here are a few players I’m targeting based on their early schedules:

QB: Derek Carr, Jared Goff
RB: David Montgomery, Samaje Perine, Aaron Jones
WR: Saints, Bucs, Drake London
TE: Gerald Everett, Dalton Schultz

Consistent Players vs. Upside Players

The goal of a guillotine league isn’t to win; it’s to survive. There’s no bonus for having the the highest-scoring team, especially early. All that’s necessary is not finishing in last. Having consistent players put up a solid floor of points won’t make you come in first each week, but it will boost your odds of not being the low man, and that's the goal. Players that come to mind in this regard are the Chargers’ Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. There receivers are being drafted just a round apart based on ADP. However, their playing styles couldn’t be more different. Allen steadily catches short passes, while Williams (pictured) is more of a feast-or-famine option, running primarily deep routes. In the Fantasy Index guillotine league last year, Williams caught only 2 passes for 10 yards in his first game, with his team being eliminated in Week 1.

Bye weeks/Stacking

Given that guillotine leagues start out with 18 teams, your roster is going to be very thin. That’s okay, because every team will be thin early on. Rounds 1-8 are likely all going to be starters early in the season, so it’s good to keep an eye on bye weeks. It’s okay if you have overlapping bye weeks later in the season, because your team will be completely different at time time as you make waiver claims each week. Just beware if 2-3 of your key starters have an early bye. This also applies for stacking a QB and WR/TE combo. It’s twofold: since they are on the same team, they’ll have the same bye week, but furthermore, if one of them has a good game, they’ll likely both be good, but it’s not worth the doubled-up bye weeks, and if the duo struggles on a given week, you’ve got two duds instead of one.

No Rookies

All rookies are different. Some start off strong, some get going later in the season, and some never start off at all. Having your eye on a rookie is okay if you’re nabbing them at the end of your bench, but as a starter, it’s best to avoid them altogether to minimize the risk of a slow start or them never actually being good. Feel free to target them if they fall to waivers midway through the season and they’ve started to break out.

Injured, Suspended and Free Agent Players

Drafting injured, suspended, or free agent players because of a lower ADP is almost always a bad gamble. While the injured players may end up being good, the likelihood of them starting off slow and the risk of re-injury in their first year back on the field are at their highest. Don’t gamble on suspended players or free agents; we need impactful players from the start. Let the other teams in your league draft these players and take on the risk. (You may wind up picking them up off waivers later on in the season).

Here are a few players I’m passing on at ADP in guillotine leagues:

Saquon Barkley: 10th (contract dispute)
Josh Jacobs: 23th (contract dispute)
Breece Hall: 30th (return from injury)
Dalvin Cook: 63rd (free agent)
Javonte Williams: 81st (return from injury)
Alvin Kamara: 90th (likely suspension)
Jameson Williams:113th (suspension)
Ezekiel Elliott: 150th (free agent)
Leonard Fournette: 160th (free agent)
Kareem Hunt: 168th (free agent)

—Colt Williams

Williams is working towards a degree in economics and statistics at Sonoma State. A United States Air Force veteran, he’s been playing fantasy football since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @_ColtWilliams

For an overview of this style of game, see his Introduction to Guillotine Leagues article.

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