Winning in Fantasy Football starts with the draft. A killer draft will set you up for success in the season. Quality depth will help when players inevitably go down from injury. It also helps when needing to make a trade. Some people might think that luck plays a factor. It does. But preparation and strategy are critical to your success.
When drafting I use a technique I call the tier system. Here is how it works. Once you’ve done your research and set up a basic draft board ranking players by position you are ready to begin. For this article I will use the example of a 10 team league with 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1Flex, 1K and 1D. In order to draft the best possible team there are some things to pay attention to. First you’ll notice that there are 10 players in this hypothetical league. Look at your rankings for the QB Position. Now set the players in to tiers or groupings of players with similar potential. I have already ranked the QB’s according to tiers in a previous article for reference. This season according to my rankings there are 9 acceptable QB’s available. The top 3, Brees, Brady, and Rodgers, are elite. Then you have a high risk high reward group in positions 3-6 of Vick, Newton and P. Manning. Finally we round them off with a solid but not spectacular group of E. Manning, Romo and Rivers.
The key to your draft strategy is understanding that the players in a particular tier are similar and should not be reached for. What do I mean? OK so if you draw the 8 position in a 10 person draft it means you will be drafting 8th as well as 12th. What should you do? Well the key is to take note of the teams that draft between your two slots to get some understanding of what they might do.
Here are some examples: You are sitting at 8 and Rodgers is already off the board. Going in to this season you decide that you want one of the elite 3 QB’s for your team. You know that the teams in positions 9 and 10 are picking twice before your next pick. The likely hood of one of the elite 3 getting past those teams is slim to none. In that situation you grab the QB and take the BAP with the next pick. Now lets adjust the scenario a touch. You are sitting at 8 and the top 3 QB’s are off the board. You are staring down the barrel of the three QB’s designated as tier two. Again you have two teams behind you that will both pick twice before your next pick. What to do? If you trust in your tiers you wait on the QB there and grab the BAP in another position of need. Why? You pick again 4 picks later, since the teams ahead of you will not grab 2 QB’s each you are assured that at pick #12 one of the 2nd tier QB’s will be available for your next pick.
The QB example is just one. This technique works for all positions and becomes more dramatic as the draft rolls on. Once you have your groupings for all of the positions you can practice the strategy in the Yahoo Fantasy Football mock draft room. I will be ranking all of the positions by tier as the summer rolls along.
In addition to the tiered system of drafting there are some key elements to keep in mind while drafting. Always keep an eye on your opponents positions of need. Doing so will allow you to at times wait on certain picks and acquire extreme draft values. Example: It is round 6 of your 10 team league draft. For the TE position you have ranked the tiers and found that outside of the 5-6 already drafted players at the position the next tier has 5 players you feel are similar. At that point the value proposition would be to wait on the TE spot and focus in on other positions where quality talent is more sparse (a flex RB might be in the cards). You know you can wait on the TE spot because the other teams have already grabbed the elite talents and the remaining tier is similar enough not to matter which player you choose.
Perhaps the most important tip for excelling at your draft is to mock, mock and mock again. By the time my drafts roll around i will have completed 100 or more mocks. I play in multiple leagues, many with different numbers for the total teams. I will run mock after mock to get a feel for where players are generally being picked and what positions are attacked early. In the 2011 season I found in my mocks that in 10 team leagues I was consistently able to get quality starting RB’s in the later rounds. Players like Lynch and Jackson were often still available after all the teams had grabbed two starters at the position. When my actual draft came around I was able to concentrate on the WR and QB position early knowing that I could likely get a quality starting RB in the later rounds. By contrast in the 12 team leagues the quality RB talent went faster requiring an entirely different drafting strategy. The mocks are the ultimate practice tool for the draft. If you are serious about winning you will mock early and often.
Over the coming weeks I will be ranking all of the positions according to tiers. If you follow the drafting by tiers technique the end result should be a team with more depth and better talent then your opponents. Follow me to stay informed on the latest draft rankings and tips!