Build your OWN draft: Don’t be Sheeple

I look over the sea of articles listing their first round choices and I’ve come to a single conclusion… It really doesn’t matter. We, the FF hive-mind, have decided that we must follow the flow of ADP regardless of our preferences. However, what do you want your team to look like?

A team without the first two rounds.

“You can’t win your league in the first round, but you can lose it.” It’s a good saying, now let’s ignore it.

Let’s say you are picking 5th of 10 and you REALLY like Alfred Morris, Lamar Miller, and TY Hilton. If you follow ADP like the sheeple we are, you can’t get all of them. All three players are the definition of a 3rd round fantasy asset – Secure in their starting jobs, High Floors, Lower Ceilings compared to their counter parts.

What if you did something crazy and forgo your first picks so you can have all three?  Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You could completely be a contender in your league. Using Fantasy Football Calculator’s mock client (which is amazing), I drafted a team using two counterproductive rules:

  1. Draft only 3rd round players in the first 3 rounds.
  2. Afterwards, I will only draft players 15 spots above their current APD.

Essentially, I am forgoing any value that falls to me and reaching at least a round early for all players. This is how the team worked out (rounds taken in parentheses):

QB – Matt Ryan (7)

RB – Lamar Miller (1)

RB – Alfred Morris (3)

WR – TY Hilton (2)

WR – Julian Edelman (4)

Flex – Ameer Abdullah (5), Jeremy Maclin (6), or Roddy White (8)

TE – Jordan Cameron (9)

It’s not the best fantasy team in the world, but it looks solid. I am not even remotely suggesting that this is the optimum draft strategy, or even a good strategy (I would have gladly picked up Lynch instead of Miller, or Jordan Matthews instead of Edelman). However, the takeaway here is that rankings are relative, and you can (nay! should) make up your own rules.

Finding your own way:

Remember something when you draft… every player being drafted in Fantasy Football this year is AMAZING at what they do. The difference between what Dez and Eric Decker do on a football field is light-years apart. However, the difference between a 2nd round receiver like Julio Jones and 3rd rounder like Randall Cobb is a guessing game. If you think Cobb should be treated more like Jones, then by all means, draft him early.

When I am drafting, I tend to make mental list of players and how I feel about drafting them at their ADP:

  • Players I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pool. I try not to be too down on teams I don’t root for, but suck it, Romo. I don’t care where you fall in the draft.
  • Guys I will avoid, but there is always a value. I wouldn’t trust Jonathan Stewart to take out the trash without getting hurt, so why the hell would I feel comfortable grabbing him in the 5th round when I could take a flyer on Todd Gurley? Oh, but look… he’s still there in the 7th: Welcome to the Logan Square Gadflies, Mr. Stewart.
  • Now the bread and butter of my argument. Those players who are much better than their ADP: If there is a remote chance they will drafted before your next pick, grab them now. (I am not going to provide an example; this is what the damn article is about.)
  • OMG I NEED THIS GUY: Grab him 2 rounds early. More on this subject later…

If you study enough, there is a way to get the team you want. Let’s say you wanted team that was really SAFE (high floors, low injury chances)…

QB – Eli Manning (9)

RB – Eddy Lacy (1)

RB – Jeremy Hill (2) – handcuffed to Gio Bernard (7)

WR – Alshon Jeffery (3)

WR – Keenan Allen (6)

TE – Travis Kelce (5)

Flex – Charles Johnson (8)/ Carlos Hyde (4)

How about a super UPSIDE, swinging for the fences, TD driven team?

QB – Sam Bradford (10)

RB – CJ Anderson (1)

RB – Joseph Randle (3)

WR – Odell Beckham (2)

WR – Amari Cooper (5)

TE – Jimmy Graham (4)

Flex – Shane Vereen (8) / Brandon Marshall (7)

DEF – Seattle (9) [If you are high rolling, why not grab a defense early?]

No plan is fool proof, but that is what mock drafting is for! Like many of you, I have done a few (hundred) mock drafts to prepare for the real thing. I will go into a draft with a set plan (I want three elite receivers to start with), then I will see if it pans out (okay, McCoy was there in the 2nd, so I had to take him). Then I will adjust my plan and see if it works out better.

Strategies like Zero-RB and RB/RB/RB should not be used as actual draft day practices, but instead as practice tools you use during mocks to hone your skills as a drafter. You could very well end up with a strategy that is very interesting, and only you know how it works.

Drafting players early.

If you really want a player bad enough, reach for him a round early. Personally, I will be reaching for Maclin a bit early in most drafts. [Should I? Who the fuck knows. That is not important.] Lets talk about how to draft people you like early.

Image if you will

It’s the first round of your fantasy draft, and the first 3 picks come and go… All what you would expect (Bell, Charles, Lynch). Now it’s Dave’s turn, and whom does he pick? Cam Newton. Okay now everyone thinks Dave is an idiot, and he is. I don’t fault Dave for wanting Cam, but what REALLY did he do wrong? [Sorry to all the Daves out there]

Cam Newton can expect to go early in the 8th round (7th round for 12 team), so Dave’s biggest issue is wasting the chance to grab a universal 1st rounder when he should absolutely know that Cam will be available later. With an ADP of 73, we know there is a reasonable chance that Cam is going to be off the board in the middle of the 7th round. So maybe Dave should spend a 6th round pick to Cam, this would increase his chances significantly. However, since we know Dave is willing to spend his first pick to grab Cam over the likes of Lacy or Antonio Brown, here is my recommendation: Grab him in the 5th round, 29 spots earlier than his ADP.

Dave grabbing Cam in the 5th round with the likes of Brees and Russell Wilson is personal, but it makes sense. This is what truly separates truly boneheaded and the passionately devout. Taking Cam in the 5th is an investment worth taking if that move is what you really need to make your team the one you want.


Remember Murphy’s Law…

Remember that nothing is ever constant, and predictions are always wrong (hyperlink to Wikipedia: So before you go into your draft, ask yourself who you really want. Then see if there are ways to increase your chances of getting those players and maybe you will find a way to make it work. Maybe your draft mates will scold you when all of your WRs are Over-the-hill free agent signees (Marshall, Andre J, & Wallace). Maybe they will laugh when you only grab RBs on the cheap (Ellington, D Martin, Sankey).

Hey… Maybe you will hate me when you take my advice and it all comes crumbling down. Nevertheless, you know what makes winning better? Winning it, doing it your own damn way.


fantasyreaList Writer: P. Christian Swafford


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