Aaron Baker spacer
Draft Strategies 101


| More
More articles from Aaron Baker

I’ve been asked over-and-over again throughout the years about draft strategies. There are many strategies, all of which have strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been playing fantasy football since 2002 when I was 14 years old, so I’ve seen some pretty crazy strategies. I will explain three in particular that have intrigued me.

Points Drafting

There are plenty of fantasy owners who use permutation excel spreadsheets that tell them who the best possible players are to draft at specific rounds. The decisions on who to draft are based on the players’ projected total fantasy points for that season and the roster requirements. As players are drafted, the owner removes them from a list on the spreadsheet, which then removes the player from the computer’s choices on who to draft. When it’s the owners turn to draft they can simply pick the computer’s first choice or second or third, etc.

I personally, don’t believe a serious fantasy owner needs to use permutations because it’s easy to memorize or print out projections. Also, serious owners are capable of making their own projections and can consider variables that a computer can’t, such as; injuries, offensive line ranks, weekly matchups, etc. Permutations have always had a “secret algorithm” mantra attached to it. Who wouldn’t want to get answers from a computer on whom to draft?

Multiple QB Drafting

I recently saw this strategy play out on a mock draft website. The owner drafted a running back in the first round, and then in Rounds 2-4 drafted three of the top five quarterbacks. I found myself astounded as I had never seen someone do this. At first I thought the guy was only there to mess up our draft, but he continued to defend his draft strategy. His plan was to keep one of the quarterbacks and trade the two others away to fill positions as he needed them. It became intriguing and plausible at the same time, but there was a hiccup. His team could be dead in the water if everyone refused to trade with him. His entire strategy was based on trading.

I think this strategy could work in 12-team or larger leagues if done properly because there is an added value on great quarterbacks. Quarterbacks commonly taken 10th-12th this season in mocks are: Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Tony Romo. All three could be upgraded (Griffin III knee pending). If I were able to draft Cam Newton, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, it’s likely I could trade them away at the very least for a low RB1/high RB2 or any wide receiver.

So let’s assume these are my first four rounds: Ray Rice, Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Tom Brady. In rounds five and six I will draft RB2s who are starters, and, if possible, every down backs, which could plausibly be Montee Ball and Rashard Mendenhall. I would then draft a top five tight end in the seventh round and finish the draft regularly. After the draft I can use two of my quarterbacks (likely Newton and Brady) to trade for two of the top five wide receivers. My lineup then looks like: Drew Brees, Ray Rice, Montee Ball/Rashard Mendenhall, a quarterback for top five wide receiver, a quarterback for top five wide receiver, and a top five tight end.

This entire strategy is a long process and there are many variables involved. I would only recommend using it if the top 3 wide receivers aren’t available and only Aaron Rodgers has been selected when you select your second-round pick. This strategy is better left to veteran fantasy owners.

No QB/Free Agent QB Drafting

This is a strategy my cousin, Jody, has used with great success. We all know there are tiers among quarterbacks. Typically, all first-tier quarterbacks are drafted no later than the fourth round and after the first tier there is not a huge dropoff in projected fantasy points among the remaining quarterbacks. Therefore, don’t draft a quarterback unless he’s a first-tier member. This will allow you to draft slightly better running backs and wide receivers. Then, after the draft, you can make decisions on who to drop for a free agent quarterback. Normally these quarterbacks are free agents: Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Josh Freeman, Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco. Now instead of using a second-, third- or fourth-round pick on a quarterback, you instead play week-to-week matchups adding and dropping quarterbacks throughout the season. All you really need to do is squeeze out 15-20 fantasy points a week form your free agent quarterbacks. With those free agents I listed you could easily accomplish this.

There are many other draft strategies and variants of these strategies I have talked about. Sometimes the only way to decide which strategy you want to use is to complete multiple mock drafts. So go ahead … mock it up!