Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Non-Poker Post

It's that time. Fantasy Football is in full affect, and once again this year, I'll be playing in my usual league. A co-worker organized a league about 5 or 6 years ago, and for the first couple of years, I owned the league, finishing first or second each year. The competition has gotten better, and with the stakes at $100\person this year, it should be pretty interesting.

Of course, the biggest key to Fantasy Football success is the draft. Sure, it's possible to pull out a victory through deft waiver-wire manipulation and some ole fashioned luck, but a good draft still makes the most impact. Unless you have my team from last year. I thought I was solid with Shaun Alexander, Lamont Jordan, Roy Williams & Larry Fitzgerald in my 1st four picks. Then I lose 3 of them to injuries a couple games into the season and I finish the season in last place.

Anyways, I know that a lot of you that read this blog are into Fantasy Football as well, so I wanted to take a step away from poker today and post some of my thoughts on my draft strategy and see what you all think.

1. Know your league. Before the draft, get to know the other owners. Learn their FF experience, know their favorite teams, and in the middle of the draft, pay attention to their draft strategy. In some leagues, I've been willing to let some players slide, knowing that I could get them in the next round because the player behind me A) like to draft a backup QB early or B) was partial to players from his team. Luckily, his team was the Raiders.

2. Pay attention to the schedule. As you're drafting, know when the bye weeks are. Try to draft backups that have different bye weeks than your studs. Or, if you want to try to win a game by plugging in Tavaris Jackson because Peyton & Trent Green are on byes, be my guest. Also, if the majority of your studs are from perennial playoff teams, understand the risk involved when the FF playoffs hit. If you're lucky enough to make it, you may have to win your league with backups because all your studs are sitting. The best move I ever made was sitting Tom Brady in Week 17 the year he broke out, and started some relative unknown named Matt Hasselbeck. All he did was throw for 3 TD & run for 1 more, with almost 400 yards passing and lead me to victory.

3. RB, RB, RB. This year is a little bit different as there aren't as many top-tier RBs as in year past, but still, unless you're in slot 10 and you see Peyton Manning staring you in the face, you have to be prepared to go RB-RB in the first two rounds, maybe even three. After Peyton, the dropoff between some like Palmer and Hasselbeck isn't significant enough to pass up a RB like Ronnie Brown or Edgerrin James. And as far as WRs go, the dropoff is even less. WRs aren't consistent from week to week. RBs are too valuable to pass up, whether it's as a replacement for when Shaun Alexander tears his ACL or as trade value to fill some holes.

4. Don't handcuff. I know that some say if you have LT you have to have Michael Turner. I disagree 100%. If you look at most RBs, the backup rarely performs to the level of the injured starter. I'd rather plug in a starter from another team, like Ahman Green or Kevin Jones then put in a backup that's hardly played. A proven scrub is better than an unproven backup in most cases.

5. Beware of platoons. I drafted Cedric Benson two years in a row incase he was going to be the breakout RB for Chicago. Of course, he was my 4th or 5th RB, but I could have taken a stab at a different running back that wasn't in a platoon situation. Situations like Minnesota (C. Taylor & A. Peterson) or Dallas (J. Jones, M. Barber III) should be viewed with caution there. There's some value in those players, but I'd never suggest using any of them as a permanent 2 starter.

6. Don't overvalue rookies. One, avoid rookie QBs. Name the last QB that had any significant value fantasy-wise in their rookie season. They may be good to plug in during a bye week, but there's no point keeping them on your roster beyond then. Rookie RBs have some decent value, but the only ones to see any decent playing time are Adrian Peterson & Marshawn Lynch, and I wouldn't suggest taking either of them to be a number 2 starter. WRs are already unpredictable enough, don't waste your time on any rookie WRs this year not named Calvin Johnson. As far as CJ is concerned, an argument could be made to draft him as a No. 2 WR. The Lions passing game is strong enough, and their running game weak enough, that he could easily go for 75\1200\8 in his rookie year.

7. Don't overvalue sleepers. As satisfying as it is to draft someone like Vernand Morency in the 4th round only to laugh as he explodes for 1400\12 this year, the odds are it's not going to happen. I've seen teams ruined because they've drafted sleepers too early and passing up on better & more established RBs. You should never plan on a starter being a sleeper.

8. Wait on drafting defenses. Last year, in our league, the Chicago D went in the 5th round, I think. I'd rather take Anquan Boldin & roll with the Steelers D in round 13 then go with Chicago in the 5th round and trying to rely on Donte' Stallworth again. Also, outside of Chicago's D, I can't really think of another D that's worth taking before round 8. I prefer to have a QB, 3-4 RB, 2-3 WR and\or my TE before I even start considering a defense.

9. Save the kicker until the end. There's obviously some kickers that are more valuable than others, but most kickers are so unpredictable from week to week, let alone season to season, and the value between the No.1 kicker and the No. 10 kicker isn't that different, that I will never understand someone who drafts a kicker like Vinatieri, Akers, or back in the day, Vanderjagt, over a backup at the top three positions. If your kicker goes down, you pick up another one and hardly notice the difference. Your QB goes down, and are you really going to feel better starting Byron Leftwich thinking "Hey, well at least I still have Neil Rackers!"

10. Don't draft backups at TE, D, or K. The difference between a backup TE and a waiver wire TE is little to none. Same with a defense or a kicker. Just keep one until a bye week happens, and then drop T.J. Duckett because he isn't going to do anything, again. Backup TEs, defenses, & kickers do nothing but use up a roster spot that can be used for holding RBs for trade value, or rolling with 6 WRs and playing the matchups. And if there's no one you want to drop, then don't. Just go the week with your kicker on the bye; it's entirely possible to win a week without a kicker or a defense. Trust me, there's weeks where I wish I would have just started my regular defense because the bye week replacement gave me negative points.

11. Last thought. If you have the chance, always draft Torry Holt. I can't tell you how many times that dude has saved my ass.

So there's my thoughts on drafting for Fantasy Football. My draft is this Sunday night, and I'll do another post on Monday recapping the draft and introducing you to my team this year.

P.S. Go Steelers!


At August 28, 2007 at 8:34 PM, Blogger Schaubs said...

Is this a head to head league?

I am in a keeper league (so some of your points don't really come into play for me) and I could use a bit of advice. I'll probably post something soon.

Thanks for this, every little bit helps as I am also in a blogger FF league and the draft is in a week!

At August 29, 2007 at 6:15 AM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

It depends as always. Waiver wire pickups are key too. Like MJD last year for me, propelled me to victory. Of course, we have a keeper league and being able to keep Willie Parker in Rd 16 helps.

Plus, Ahman Green and Kevin Jones over Michael Turner? Are you kidding? Handcuffing is key as long as you're not reaching for backups. I mean have you heard of Larry Johnson?

At August 29, 2007 at 7:36 AM, Blogger Matt said...


My league is a head to head. I've never done a keeper league, but that would definitely change your draft strategy immensely.


First of all, I don't know if K. Jones or T. Bell is starting this year. But either way, the only way handcuffing makes sense is if the backup is your 5th or 6th RB. I've seen people recommend that the handcuff be 3rd or 4th, and that doesn't jive with me. One, if the starter never goes down, it's a wasted roster spot that could have been used for someone with more trade value. Two, I will always prefer a starter who is getting the majority of playing time over a backup who may or may not see the light of day. Ahman Green may be washed up, but at least he's getting the majority of carries, and he's proven.

At August 29, 2007 at 10:46 AM, Blogger Schaubs said...

I'm pretty sure Green won't be getting the carries you are expecting this year.

Just a hunch.


Post a Comment

<< Home