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Monday, March 12, 2012

If you have two quarterbacks...

If you have two quarterbacks... you've really got none.

Have you ever heard that expression?  The point of that sentiment is that if a team can't decide on who their starter is at a crucial position then they probably don't have anyone there who has the ability to really stand out.  At a position like quarterback you want the decision to be clear.

It is similar in fantasy sports with the positions where you really want to focus on - if you are on the fence and can't decide on a clear path forward you will end up with multiple mediocre options which is a surefire way to lose a league.

Coutner-intuitive, isn't it?

Think of it like this...  In fantasy baseball you'll likely play your starting position players about 125 times per year, even if you are playing the matchups.  Your bench guys?  You're looking at about 30 games or so.  That is more than a 4:1 ratio, so you should be spending at least 80% of your money on your starting lineup.

In fantasy football it is a much more dramatic difference.  Barring injuries, your starters could very well play 100% of the time.  Sure, you might swap out your flex guy depending on matchups, but it is at least an 8:1 or 9:1 ratio.  So, spend 90% of your resources on starters.

I'm all for having a strong bench, but you don't win any points for the guys who aren't in the lineup.

I realize this is largely common sense, but I wanted to state it for the record and put some numbers to where your resources should be going so you can have some guidelines in your mind.

There are a few caveats.  In fantasy football there is an interesting phenomenon where typical players will spend their first five draft picks, in some order, on two running backs, two wide receivers, and one quarterback.  It happens with remarkable regularity and leads to the caveat:  the 6th round tight end.  It happens all of the time.  There is very often a run on tight ends in the 6th and 7th round, even if their value at that point in the draft means they should really be drafted later.  People are filling out their rosters.

And, piggybacking off of that thought...  You'll start to see defenses taken in rounds 7 and 8 for the same reason.  Dudes are filling out their roster.  Sometimes you'll even see someone draft the first 8 picks and then go on auto-draft and have a beer.  This represents extraordinary value for you.  It is a market inefficiency that can be exploited.

In an auction it is easier to monitor your resources and where they are going.  In football you are mostly going to be dealing with snake drafts, so please take the aforementioned caveat in mind when drafting.  Don't just fill out your roster.

It is a similar situation in fantasy baseball snake drafts, but the effect isn't as dramatic since there isn't a common belief on how to build a baseball roster.  I will say that people tend to get one outfielder and one starting pitcher to go along with catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, and third base.  So, that can be a general guideline for you.  A lot of folks will do that "one of each" method in their first 7 rounds.  This is why you start to see significant numbers of closers come off the board around round 8 or 9.  So, I guess there is sometimes an inefficiency there, too.

The idea in a baseball snake draft would be to get your second outfielder and second starting pitcher ahead of other positions, and certainly relief pitchers.  They should generally represent great value for you since many other people in your league are shifting their attention away from those positions because they already have one.  But remember, you're going to be starting 3 or 5 outfielders (depending on format) and at least 4 starting pitchers.  Get those guys while the competition is doing their "one of each" draft.  This may mean waiting on one or two positions entirely...  maybe you see catchers #3 through #12 as mostly the same so you'll wait on #11 or #12 instead of investing in #5.  Same with second basemen, maybe.

So, you can make those sorts of determinations and begin to build your strategy.  If you continue to read the theories and tips written in this space and listen to my forthcoming audio series, we can work on building that game plan together.

Which leads me to my last point - have a game plan.  Build a plan for your draft that has some flexibility in it with the names of players you are looking at and the positions where you will use your resources.  Have a plan.  One, please.  If you have multiple game plans, really you're going to end up feeling like you have none.