I’ve played fantasy football for nearly 25 years and can attest that I’ve tried most every draft strategy.
I’ve had the most success with a strategy I’ve developed over the years that I call the 10-Point Consistency Plan. It’s really pretty simple: draft starters (and as many reserves as you can) you believe will give you a consistent 10 points (or more) every week (18-20 for quarterbacks).
We’ve all had the experience of the stud who scores 26 fantasy points one week, six the next and eight the next. While that averages out to 10 points per week, the player only hit that average once, and there’s a good chance you lost the other two weeks.
I’d rather have a player who will give me 10 points every week and maybe 15 every once in a while. A player like Frank Gore, for instance.
Here’s the math: Eight positions at 10 points plus a quarterback at 20 points means you’re starting every week with a potential 100 points. One or two guys go off and you’re competing for the week’s high score. Plus there’s the likelihood you got a stud or two in the first couple of rounds who will deliver a consistent 12-15. Sure, some weeks one or more under-performs, but the odds are someone else will step up so you’re at least in the game. I’ve found I win far more than I lose and am almost always in the hunt.
Notice I say a consistent 10 points for eight positions. I want a defense/special teams and a kicker who will also get me 10 points most every week. I am not a fan of waiting until the last two rounds to get a defense/special teams and kicker. That virtually guarantees you’ll be streaming both positions, and that’s a crap-shoot.
My strategy is to grab the best defense/special teams available as soon as I have my position starters AND I’ve run out of players I think can deliver a consistent 10 points. That usually happens about Round 8, so I figure to grab a defense/special teams in Rounds 8-10. If there’s a run on defense/special teams and, say, the Top 5 are gone before I can jump in, I may wait for a later round and stream defense/special teams until someone drops one of the better ones or a free agent surprises. It always happens.
I don’t get in a rush to grab a kicker until I sense there’s going to be a run. Last year I nabbed Justin Tucker in the 14th round because everyone else waited. Other years a run started in the sixth or seventh round and I got locked out of the top guys, so I decided to go the streaming route. Not as big a deal with kickers.
Even with streaming I look for a free agent who will get me 10 points that particular week, but don’t always find one.
My overall draft strategy is to get two running backs and two wide receivers in the first four rounds (not necessarily in any particular order) but realizing there are fewer starting running backs than wide receivers. I’m flexible based on who is available. Fifth round is probably another wide receiver or a tight end, with the opposite in the sixth. This can change if there is a run on quarterbacks. If I don’t have a quarterback by Round 7, that’s my target, which also completes my position starters. From the eighth on it’s best player available, watching the defense/special teams situation for a pick in Rounds 8-10. I’ll look for a kicker around Round 11-14 depending on whether there’s been a run, then best available the rest of the way except for the last pick, where I take a flyer on someone. Last year it was Malcolm Mitchell, which paid off fairly well.
Should you draft a backup quarterback? If you’re in a 10-team league, I’d say no. Even if everyone else drafts two quarterbacks, the No. 20 quarterback is still available. Last year that could have been Marcus Mariota, Eli Manning or Carson Wentz. More likely one of those teams will drop their backup quarterback. Or you can arrange a trade for someone’s backup and only have to give up a reserve. If you’re in a 12-team league it’s a little tighter and you have to pay attention to how many teams are drafting backups. If most are, you should too. If they aren’t then wait a few weeks into the season and grab the overachiever. In 14-team or larger leagues, taking a second quarterback is a good strategy both for your bye week and as trade bait.
In order to make the 10-point consistency strategy work, it’s important to research player stats for the last three years. Don’t look at averages, look at per game results. You’re looking for consistency, not who scored the most points or had the best average.
And to optimize your strategy, there is one item you must bring to the draft – a simple grid sheet on which you keep track of other teams’ picks. Across the top list team names or draft position, and down the side make rows for quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, defense/special teams and kicker. No need to record the player names. What you want to do is keep track of how many players in each group have been taken by each team. Just make a mark in the corresponding grid box for each draft pick. This is invaluable in the later rounds when deciding between two picks or whether it’s time to strike on, say, a defense/special teams.