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Fantasy Edge: Draft Day Strategy | Fantasy Football

Down To Business

Fantasy FootballAll right Fantasy Football fans it’s time to get down to the real nitty gritty!  Welcome back to The Fantasy Edge, this is Football (Fantasy?) Phil and get ready to take some notes.  I’ve written this in sections which should help you in whatever type of fantasy football league you are in, whether it be an annual league or a keeper league.  In the first section I will help you to determine what player position that you should be striving for with your early picks. Then I’ll give you some things to watch for before making your selection, including some specific players to consider.  Lastly, check out my insight on the dark horses.

So here we are going into Labor Day weekend and I know many leagues have already drafted.  If you’re in that situation, you can still take important information from this as you may want to make some personnel adjustments before the official start of the season.  I always encourage fantasy players to try to hold off until the last weekend to conduct their drafts because you never know who may get injured late in the preseason.  Plus, there’s also a lot of starting positions being determined.  But that’s just another part that makes this fun, isn’t it?

Part I:  So exactly what should you be gearing up for with your first pick, a QB, RB, maybe a K?  Okay, just getting your attention with that last one.  But seriously, you need to take stock of the scoring system in your league.

Fantasy Football

Take Stock In Your Scoring System

In the beginning days of fantasy football (ff), there really was a sort of standard set for most leagues.  RBs, WRs, and TEs would get the same points:  6 for a TD, 2 for a 2-point conversion, and then yardage points at given intervals, say 1 point for every 20 yards.  Many leagues are still on that system.  Back then, RBs were by far the thing to stock up on first, and that still applies with some exception (more later).  The reasoning for this is that RBs simply get more touches.  You know a starting RB is going to get a lot of carries, and then he’s got the bonus of catching passes out of the backfield.  The exception to this rule has developed over the last few years as some offenses have begun using specialist RBs.  For instance, the Raiders used Darrin McFadden to run up and down the field between the 10s, only to give it to Michael Bush for a 2 yard plunge.  McFadden may have scampered 60 yards to the 2 yard line, gaining you 3 points as a yardage bonus.  Then your opponent, who had Bush, gets 6 points on the TD run.  What’s an owner to do?

That’s the kind of predicament that this article is going to help you conquer by filling your head with the knowledge you need.  WRs in this type of league should be picked later.  Sure, they may amass 140 yards and 2 TDs, but it’s all subjective to if the QB is finding them open or not.  I’m not saying to wait too long, but you’ve got to weigh this fact against that of knowing that the RBs will get their touches for certain.  As for QBs, I place them generally right after the RBs.  They’re certainly going to get opportunities, but circumstance may leave you with lots of yards passing but nothing into the endzone.

Fantasy Football

Dropped pass. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

TEs, well I put them generally last in the skill positions for fantasy points.  Keep in mind that in all formats, there are key players at all positions that you absolutely have to consider a bit earlier just because of their superstar potential.  We’ll get into that later.

Another scoring system that could seriously change your draft philosophy is one where QBs are given more than 3 points for a TD pass.  This is further enhanced if the yardage points are given in intervals of less than 40 yards.  I’m in a league where QBs get 4 points for TD passes, and a bonus point for every 20 yards.  You can bet my first pick will be Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady if they are available!  A few years ago I used this philosophy in this league and picked Kurt Warner in the Cardinals Super Bowl year.  I won that league handily that year.  So always bear in mind that you should know the scoring system well before the draft begins.

Part II.  Here we’ll look into how to choose a specific player from a position type.  You’ve really got to divide the players into groups: elite, productive, backups, and dark horses.  So first determine what position you need to fill when your turn comes up, then go to the highest group level still available.  You should have this on your notes before you enter the draft, then you won’t be having to study so much while everyone’s waiting.  How do you make your divisions?  Take this into consideration:

Fantasy FootballQB:  Your elites play on teams that score big points and pass a lot (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady).  You’ve also got to consider if he happens to be a good runner (maybe R G III).  However, be very careful with this last part.  Defenses tend to let them roam a lot their first year, but they seem to catch on during their second year(remember Vince Young)  I’m not saying don’t pick Cam Newton, but have another solid QB if you go this route.  You’re next tier covers a large part of the other available QBs, so just try to stick with established starters.

Fantasy Football

Shonn Greene celebrates as he scores on 39-yard run. (Sullivan/Reuters )

RB:  At this position you need to try to find the RBs that DO NOT run by committee.  You want that player that is on the field whether it’s 2nd and short or 3rd and long.  Think MJD, Adrian Foster, Lesean McCoy.  These guys usually come off the field only for a rest.  There’s others, just do your homework.  Next is the RBs that are featured, but may be taken out more often that you’d wish.  Here’s where I’d put Chris Johnson, Shonn Green, Willis McGahee, etc.  Then there’s a long line of the next tier.  These can be bruisers that are brought in for goal line situations, or maybe passing down backs that get a lot of yards.

WR:  This is pretty easy.  You’ve got Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Greg Jennings, and a few others that could go here or in level 2.  Level 2 is huge by the way.  Sometimes it’s hard to predict which WR is going to gel with their QB, especially with so many rookie QBs this year.  So don’t panic at this position.  Try to get an elite, then take care of your other positions.  I guarantee that there will be someone worthy of a roster spot still left on the board after the draft.  We’ll find them in the coming weeks.

TE:  This is a bit easier.  Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates are your elites.  After that, just grab one that you know catches the occasional TD and maybe some yards.  Aaron Hernandez, Tony Gonzalez, and Owen Daniels are good examples.

K:  Okay, kickers can be your MVP in any given game.  But you could have the best kicker in the world but he never gets to kick anything because either the team never gets close enough to score, or they always get TDs so all you get is XPs.  So do try to go with a team that you think will score a lot of points, and give strong consideration to kickers on teams that play indoors.  You’ll thank me for that this winter.

Fantasy Football

St. Louis Rams place kicker Greg Zuerlein (4) kicks an extra point against the Baltimore Ravens at the Edward Jones Dome. Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE.

Def:  Really study your scoring system for this one.  Typically the pre-draft ranking you find in publications are safe to follow as is.  However, Detroit, San Francisco, and the Packers are ones to eye in 2012.

Part III.  Dark horses!  Here’s the place where at year’s end you’ll be asked: “How’d you know to pick that guy?”  I’ll just throw a few names out there for you.  Don’t pick them too early, because you may be able to get a very good player and still get this dark horse later.  Don’t wait too late either, other people may have read this as well!

QB:  RG III, remember what I said about a mobile QBs first year.  Peyton Manning.  Really? A dark horse?  People think he’s lost a bit so he will drop a few rounds.  Unless he gets hurt, he’ll get you points.  They’ve got to pass to succeed.

RB:  Doug Martin, some think Blount will start at TB but you know better.  Same goes for Alfred Morris of the Redskins.

WR:  Both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker of Denver, see above at QB.  Torrey Smith at Baltimore.  And watch for Pierre Garcon, defenses will be watching for R G III to break free, so Garcon is going to be his main target.

TE:  Hate to beat a dead horse (pun intended), but saddle up on Jacob Tamme if you see him late.  Remember Dallas Clark in Indy?  Tamme was brought here for a reason.

K:  You’ve read my philosophy on kickers.  You just can’t predict who’s going to be put in scoring situations.

Def:  Texans, they’re picked mid-pack by most, so maybe you can get them late.

Fantasy FootballSo keep checking here at The Fantasy Edge.  I’ll keep you up to speed on who you need to grab off the waiver wire, and who you may need to start reconsidering.  I’ll also give you expert insight on what to watch for in specific matchups each week.  ‘Til next time!



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