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Monday, July 2, 2012

Drafting, for Starters

Most fantasy football teams have nine starting positions - quarterback, tight end, defense, kicker, two running backs, two wide receivers, and some sort of flex.  That's pretty common, though there are a million variations.  What doesn't vary is the way about half of your competitors will approach their draft.  That approach?  They will systematically fill out all of their starting positions (except kicker, usually) before turning their attention to the bench.

This is a market inefficiency that you can exploit.  It's a buying opportunity for you.

Think about it, most fantasy football players will take their tight end and defense too early just because they are starting every week.  What's worse is that they will often ignore the flex spot until round 8 since it isn't a defined position.  Their draft will go something like this:
  • Round 1: RB
  • Round 2: WR
  • Round 3: QB
  • Round 4: RB
  • Round 5: WR
  • Round 6: TE
  • Round 7: D/ST
  • Round 8: WR

There are so many things wrong with this draft that I don't really know where to start, but I see it over and over again.  Heck, I even see a kicker going in round 9 more often than I'd like to discuss.  Folks like filling out that starting roster.

Okay, here we go...
  • Quarterback in round 3?  The super studs are gone by now and you should be waiting until several rounds later since QB's in the #5-#9 range are usually pretty similar.  Last year that would have looked something like Tony Romo versus Matthew Stafford.  The fact that you would have lucked out on Stafford is beside the point, though it certainly bolsters it.  The point here is that RB's and (to a lesser extent) WR's are a more scarce resource and you should be spending your early round currency on what is more difficult to obtain.
  • Tight end in round 6?  Filling out that lineup, are ya?  Listen, there might be a good one there for you in round 6 but you could get a very comparable one (or maybe the exact same one) in round 9.  Use those picks to build inventory where you need it - RB.
  • D/ST in round 7?  What are you doing, man?  C'mon, defenses are hard to predict and don't give you a discernible advantage week-to-week.  Plus, you're probably going to want to drop your defense when the bye weeks hit...  Can't do that with the one you take in round 7.
  • WR3 in round 8?  Of course you did.  But do you know why you did?  You took a WR there because those names seemed to sound better than what was available at RB.  You know what?  You're going to need a couple more RB's and the names are going to continue to get worse.  This could have been avoided if you had grabbed some inventory earlier instead of taking a defense and a tight end.
There is a semi-defensible rationale for drafting your starters first, that being that you aren't getting points from the players on your bench so in your draft you have to prioritize the players who will be scoring for you.  The problem with that is that the draft strategy outlined above doesn't give you the best chance to win.

You need to prioritize by the scarcity of the position and the potential point difference provided by quality options at the scarce positions.  Getting a stud defense will help on certain weeks, but overall it is a small difference.  Grabbing a second-tier tight end instead of a third-tier option will have almost no impact, even if you guess right.

And don't get me started on kickers.

Please be on the lookout for my upcoming audio series that I am calling: "The Program."  It is unlike anything else available in the market today...  It is a "masters class in fantasy football."  A reusable training program designed to turn you into an elite fantasy football player.  Coming soon!