Welcome to the Brew Crew Corner, where I hope that my insights will help you prepare for a productive season. This week I was in Times Square at the NFL headquarters and had the opportunity to watch a live taping of the NFL network Fantasy Football Draft Weekend special. I was there on Day 2 of the show and got to meet John Lynch, Tim Brown and Fred Taylor. Commissioner Roger Goodell was also there, and he called out the first round of a live draft and answered questions during the show. It was a great experience.
We are just about a week away from the start of the 2012 football season, and, more importantly, the start of the 2012 fantasy football season! I’m getting real excited about it. Especially since my money drafts are coming up soon. If you were in drafts that took place in July or early August, you may find that the value of players has changed dramatically. People who took Ryan Mathews around the sixth spot in the first round are now holding their breath that he will be able to return for Week 1 from his broken clavicle.
We are entering the sixth year of analyzing draft slots and one thing hasn’t changed in all the years that I have been writing this article, having a Top 3 draft selection is always key in getting to the playoffs. You can never win or lose your league based on your draft slot, but the chances of finishing with the best record and securing a top seed are certainly tied into your draft position. We will look at draft slot results for 15,195 live drafts on myfantasyleague.com provided by Kevin Austin of MFL.
This year you can make a case that outside of the top three running backs, Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice, the next running backs in the Top 20 all have question marks and come with a lot of risk. That is why you are seeing Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham being taken in the first round. In some drafts you may see as many as three quarterbacks taken in the first round and maybe even two tight ends due to the risk at running back these days with injuries, committees and suspensions.
So, which is the best draft spot to have? There are owners that want one of the top three spots, and if they don’t have it then they prefer to slide towards the end of the first round. Some feel that having a draft pick in the Top 5 yields a poor, RB2 if they decided to go running back in back-to-back rounds. Whatever your approach is, the numbers always suggest that having certain draft spots will give you a better chance at making the playoffs.
For 2011, the percentages were a lot more even across the board than they have been in the past. This could be due to the high number of injuries to players that were drafted in the first round last season.
These five players were drafted in the first round last year and negatively affected the owners that drafted them due to injuries.
Let’s look at the results from live drafts in 2011 for 15,195 leagues on myfantasyleagues.com.
Picking 1st meant finishing first 8.42 percent of the time. The ninth-highest success rate (third in 2010), a -0.68 percent change.
Picking 2nd meant finishing first 8.75 percent of the time. The fourth-highest success rate (first in 2010), a -0.9 percent change.
Picking 3rd meant finishing first 8.73 percent of the time. The fifth-highest success rate (seventh in 2010), a +0.25 change.
Picking 4th meant finishing first 8.47 percent of the time. The seventh-highest success rate (fourth in 2010), a +0.3 change.
Picking 5th meant finishing first 8.77 percent of the time. The third-highest success rate (eighth in 2010), a +0.33 change.
Picking 6th meant finishing first 9.1 percent of the time. The highest success rate (fifth in 2010), a +0.4 change.
Picking 7th meant finishing first 8.45 percent of the time. The sixth-highest success rate (sixth in 2010), a -0.12 change.
Picking 8th meant finishing first 8.97 percent of the time. The second-highest success rate (second in 2010), a -0.17 change.
Picking 9th meant finishing first 7.81 percent of the time. The 10th-highest success rate (10th in 2010), a +0.42 change.
Picking 10th meant finishing first 8.44 percent of the time. The eighth-highest success rate (ninth in 2010), a +0.32 change.
Picking 11th meant finishing first 5.52 percent of the time. The 11th-highest success rate (12th in 2010), a +0.55 change.
Picking 12th meant finishing first 5.51 percent of the time. The 12th-highest success rate (11th in 2010), a -0.21 change.
As you can see, those who drafted No. 1 overall, on average, had a negatively dramatic change in rate of finishing first in leagues. The sixth and eighth spots seem to yield the best results. As I’ve witnessed in every season, the final two spots finish last in ratings every year, yet you see owners that want those spots thinking they have an advantage over owners who are in the middle or later in the first.