Draft weekend is here and this is the most popular weekend all season for fantasy football. Are you ready? Are you prepared?
Let’s look at some rules for drafting in 2012:
Grab RBs Early
In fantasy football it was always understood that you HAVE to use your first 2 picks on RBs and then worry about the rest of your squad. In the 15 years I have been playing fantasy football, I have tried every method of drafting and depending on the season or crop of players, I have always come up with a plan. There used to be only a couple of great QBs, TEs and WRs, with a huge dropoff. Now, there is depth at those positions, but a lack of RBs that can be considered to be 3 down RBs. This season more than ever before, you need to grab RBs early.
If you are lucky enough to get a top 3 pick, then it will be an easy decision. As the first round winds down, I will be targeting guys like Darren McFadden, Chris Johnson, and DeMarco Murray. If you can land 2 very solid RBs early, you will still be able to grab good WRs and a good QB in the upcoming rounds.
The best thing going for this strategy is that people are taking the top 3 QBs and Megatron in the first round. This leaves more RBs for us to choose from as the first round winds down.
Don’t Follow The Run
If you are sitting there is the first round and 5 QBs come off the board, don’t go grabbing the 6th best QB just to follow the run. Wait and grab the best player available. Hell, if this does happen, more RBs or WRs will be falling you way. Don’t panic if a run happens, just follow your tiers and grab the best value on the board.
If Gates, Hernandez, and Vernon Davis go back to back to back, don’t go nuts and grab Finley a round or two before he should be picked. Let the draft come to you. There are plenty of high upside TEs in the later rounds: Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph, Jared Cook.
Don’t Wait Too Long For WRs
There are a very good group of WRs this season. You don’t want to wait till the 6th or 7th round to start thinking about them. I love guys like Julio Jones and AJ Green, but there are 10-15 other guys that could fall into my lap if I wait. Marques Colston, Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall, and Percy Harvin are just a few of the guys that are falling in drafts. There is depth, but don’t sell yourself short.
Know Your Scoring System
If you are in a 2 QB league, then you may as well throw the RB early idea out the window. You will need to get 2 QBs in the first 4 rounds to give yourself a big advantage.
If you are in a PPR league, you don’t want to over think the thing, but guys like Darren Sproles, Wes Welker, Roddy White, and Danny Amendola gain more value. I try to draft the same as a standard league, but bump so guys up a round or two if they stick out as pass catchers. I drafted in a 12 team PPR league at the 12 spot and took Graham with one of my first 2 picks. I didn’t follow the RB-RB, since we play a TE each week and I believed he was the best value on the board.
Do you have a RB/WR flex? Do you play 3 WRs? Knowing the lineup settings will help you put players into different tiers. If you play 2 RBs with 3 WRs and no flex, I might reach for a top WR a bit earlier to make sure I get 3 guys I can plug in each week.
Take Players YOU Like/Want
I’m here to help analyze and give you a different perspective on players and strategies. But, let’s be clear on something…this is YOUR team. If you like my rankings, then use them. You don’t have to live and die by any rankings. If you love Julio Jones this season you better grab him in the second round or he won’t be there when it comes back around. If you have “sleepers” that are there in the mid to late rounds and you think they will breakout this season, then take them, even if it’s a round early.
Don’t Take A Kicker or Defense Till The Last 2 Rounds
Just in case you are tempted to take the 49ers in 8th round or something not so smart, please don’t do it. Take young guys that could bust loose or RBs that could move into the starting lineup if the incumbent goes down to injury. These rounds are for guys like Kendall Wright, Randall Cobb, David Wilson, Kendall Hunter, or Ryan Williams. Don’t waste picks on potential stars to grab a very replaceable part of your team: DF/K.
Mock, Mock, And Mock Some More
Practice makes perfect. Now, there could be some douchers out there that purposely ruin mock drafts, but for the most part if you use Mock Draft Central of Fantasy Football Calculator you will avoid the douche of ESPN. I wouldn’t even look at the ADP at ESPN, it will just mess up your draft plans. If you want a QB in the first round, mock it that way and see how your team looks. It’s just a tool, but it can give you a pretty good idea of what you an expect for when you go live.
Don’t Overreact To The Preseason
I watch the preseason to see certain things. Let’s take the Falcons for an example. They have a new OC and new offense, so I wanted to see how they would gel early on. They have looked fantastic and the value of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Jacquizz Rodgers has gone up. Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez should not be forgotten. Michael Turner? The jury is still out, but I am avoiding him.
The Jaguars were another team with a new offense that jumped out to me. Blain Gabbert actually looks like a real QB and Justin Blackmon looks legit playing in the Roddy White position in the Mularkey offense.
The Ravens tried out a new ‘no huddle’ with Joe Flacco and were successful doing so. They want to give Flacco a bigger role and he may take it on. Like him more than ever before and Torrey Smith could break out.
If we look at the numbers of say Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers this preseason, they don’t look good. I don’t see anyone running out to drop them in their rankings. Too bad Phil Rivers doesn’t get that same respect. He hasn’t played well and everyone is all over him. I’m not worried about a couple of quarters for guys that are proven.
Watch the preseason for specific things, but to base your draft on the performance of a guy in a preseason game is a little ridiculous. Remember that Cam Newton was terrible last preseason and we now what happened next.
Find The Value
I have outlined that you should get at least one RB early, but let’s say you get a Cam Newton and AJ Green to go along with DMC. RBs are the one position where injuries can present instant value for a backup. This is the one plus this season, there will be opportunities for backups/handcuffs. So load up with them.
Here are some good value picks/handcuffs:
3rd-5th Rounds: F-Jax, Doug Martin, Willis McGahee
6th-8th Rounds: Peyton Hillis, Kevin Smith, Stevan Ridley, Ryan Williams, Rashad Jennings, Cedric Benson
9th Round Or Later: Toby Gerhart, David Wilson, Kendall Hunter, Ronnie Hillman, Isaiah Pead, and Mike Goodson
The Draft Isn’t Everything
Remember that there is a whole season to play and you will not win/lose it in the first 2 weeks of the season. This is why I like Ryan Mathew at the right spot. I will outline what to do so you can manage you team throughout the year. Managing your team properly with trades, pickups, and lineup decisions will be the most important part of your winning a championship.