By Jaboner Jackson 8 am | The number one goal of Fantasy Football (FFB) is to always make the playoffs. Year in and year out, playoffs is the only thing that matters. By making playoffs, a FFB manager gives himself or herself a true opportunity to win it all. In order to make the playoffs every year, we have begun our Fantasy Football School. Our first three lessons dealt with standard deviation and correlation, two key statistical concepts needed to construct a consistent, minimally risky team. Today, we review Drafting By Position, the stalwart in assembling a winner. Good news, Raiders fans…today’s lesson does not involve mathematics. (If you missed any lessons of FFB School thus far, click here, here, and here.)
The Running Back Is (Almost) Dead
The tried and true method of drafting a FFB winner was by stockpiling on stud running backs (RB). Over the past decade, drafting running backs early in the draft gave managers a heads up on other owners. But as the NFL has continued to evolve into a passing league, the RB position has been deemphasized as well. Whereas even four years ago, most teams had a single workhouse RB, nowadays most teams have a platoon RB situation. Gone are the days when RBs consistently got 30 carries a game. Instead, RBs are fortunate to get 20 carries a game.
Accordingly, the importance of drafting a running back with your first pick is much less important. This has been demonstrated in the FOOTBALLPHDS’ own Fantasy League, which uses standard non-PPR scoring. For the past three years, those teams that won the championship each had the top quarterback (QB) producer for that year, whereas none of them had the top RB producer for that year. So unless you are drafting in the first few positions, where stud RBs such as Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, and Jamaal Charles are available, do not overextend by reaching for an RB. In prior years, it may have been okay to reach for a player like LeSean McCoy in the bottom half of the first round. Nowadays, it is foolish.
Stud Quarterbacks Matter
It used to be that managers could wait several rounds before drafting their quarterback, filling up on RBs and WRs first. But those days are over. An elite, stud QB will enable to you to get consistent points week in and week out. Stud quarterbacks are few and include Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers. And that’s it. While Tom Brady and Drew Brees are excellent fantasy producers, they are not stud fantasy quarterbacks at this time due to the systems in which they play. Grabbing a stud quarterback makes sneaking into the playoffs a virtual certainty so long as you draft adequately in the later rounds.
Do Not Forget The Tight End
The tight end position is often overlooked since there are few stud prospects. But an excellent TE essentially gives the FFB manager an extra WR. Teams that have drafted Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark in their injury-free years, had huge advantages over other teams. Reaching for a stud TE is entirely permissible for this reason.
Ranking Your Positions
The FFB winner does not worry about whether Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson will have the better year. He or she knows that it is impossible to predict the future due to injuries and other factors beyond a person’s control. Rather, the FFB winner realizes that both Peterson and Johnson are #1 Running Backs.
#1 RBs are RBs that you want to fill your first RB position. #2 RBs are RBs that you want to fill your second RB position. Ditto for wide receivers: #1 WR, #2 WR, #3 WR. Rather than thinking of “the best” RB or WR, conceptualize your team as follows:
#1 RB, #2 RB
#1 WR, #2 WR, #3 WR
For example, if you are drafting at the end of the first round, it is likely that there will no longer find any #1 RBs . The #1 RBs, such as Peterson, Johnson, Charles, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Ray Rice will likely be taken. So rather than taking a lesser RB, such as Frank Gore, and shoehorning him into your #1 spot, it is better to take a true #1 WR, such as Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson. It is better to have at least a true #1 WR rather than a wobbly #1 RB and then a wobbly #1 WR.
When you have a #2 WR, such as Brandon Marshall or Mike Wallace, do not waste your time drafting another #2 WR. Resist the temptation to draft Mike Williams. Instead, find yourself a stud TE or a good value quarterback such as Matthew Stafford instead of overstocking on receivers. If you have a #1 and #2 WR, you will only need to add a #3 WR to make playoffs. You do not need to have a WR sausage fest on your team. Strengthen other positions of need rather than drafting redundancies.
Defense and Kickers Really Do Not Matter In The Draft
Do not waste your time picking a defense or kicker before the final two rounds of your draft. Defenses and kickers are extremely hard to forecast since they are so dependent on other aspects of the team on which they play. In fact, most defenses and kickers are incorrectly forecasted. Use the waiver wire to nail down your kicker and defense after the season starts rather than being emotionally tied to one through the draft.
Backup QBs Do Not Matter In The Draft Either
Let’s face it. #3 WRs are crapshoots. You draft them and hope they pan out. Rather than drafting a backup quarterback, draft another receivers. By the time your starting QB is on bye week, you should have a good sense of which WR is not going to succeed. Cut the crappy WR and pick up a QB on the waiver wire.
Good luck, Wonderful Readers. You are now ready to dominate your FFB draft. We will continue to bring you FFB School since the season is now.