Commandment VI –
Thou shalt know your league’s scoring system and rules.
Every league plays by certain rules and with established scoring parameters. As a team owner, you need to be very familiar with the rules and scoring settings.
Let’s discuss some rules that are vital. The main thing you’ll need to consider is what roster positions you will need to fill each week. Following your draft, each week you select a starting lineup, usually something like one quarterback, two running backs, two or three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker, and one defense/special teams. Throw in a flex position, in many leagues, that allows you to start a wide receiver, running back or tight end, a wide receiver or running back, or just a wide receiver or tight end. Some leagues also start two quarterbacks, although that is much rarer.
You’ve got to keep all that in mind when you draft, and when you build your bench, quarterbacks generally score a lot of points, and having two stud quarterbacks on your roster will go a long way to building a winning team if you are required to start two quarterbacks each week. If not, grabbing one decent quarterback and a solid backup during the draft and focusing on your other roster spots is a better draft strategy since, by drafting two stud quarterbacks when you can only start one each week, you will be passing up another good potential running back, wide receiver or tight end starter.
You’ll find that, during the draft, several owners will each snap up a quarterback. Then, once the top few quarterbacks are off the board, the rest will sort of stick there like low-hanging fruit for several rounds. That gives you some flexibility, if you miss the top choices, to wait and draft a good quarterback in later rounds. You won’t get the marquee names, but a solid starter that produces respectable and steady points every game isn’t bad, either.
As for maintaining a bench, again you need to know your league’s settings. If you can start two running backs, you’ll need to keep at least one extra one on your bench, for injury replacement or bye week fill-in purposes. I’d prefer to keep more than one extra running back, if at all possible and your bench allows it, since that position is so vital to the success of your team and running backs tend to suffer debilitating injuries.
Another rule you’ll need to know is whether you are forced to start active players for every position, every week. Some leagues require owners to start a complete, valid team with no players or defense/special teams on bye weeks. That means you’ll have to either keep a spare kicker and defense/special teams on your bench (at least until after their bye weeks) or drop your original kicker and defense/special teams when their bye weeks come up.
One strategy I like to use when drafting is to grab a defense/special teams and kicker with late-in-the-season bye weeks. That gives you ample opportunity to find a replacement after their bye weeks have passed and before your own bye weeks come up. Just watch out for conflicting bye weeks between kickers and defense/special teams, if you only want to hold one extra bench slot open for a replacement. In other words, you might grab a replacement defense/special teams and hold it on your bench until your preferred defense/special teams has a bye, swap the replacement in, and drop it after that week’s game in favor of a replacement kicker. Then, after your own kicker’s bye week has passed, you can drop the replacement kicker and open that bench slot for other players.
Other leagues don’t care about forcing owners to start a complete and valid team each week, and you can hold onto your original kicker and defense/special teams. You will simply lose potential points during their bye weeks. Again, know your league rules.
Next, we will consider scoring. Before the draft you need to know how many points are awarded for each passing touchdown, so that you can correctly value quarterbacks. A system that awards four points per passing touchdown is fairly standard, as are systems that award six points for passing touchdowns. In a four-point per passing touchdown league, the value of a quarterbacks that slings touchdown passes is slightly diminished while the value of a quarterbacks that runs for a touchdown or two per game is slightly elevated, for example.
That doesn’t mean you’d pass on drafting a star quarterbacks just because the value of passing touchdowns is only four points. It’s just one factor. The same holds true for extra points awarded for passing, rushing and receiving milestones. Some leagues award extra points for a quarterbacks that throws for more than 300 yards in a game, and there are a few quarterbacks each season that accomplish that feat game after game. Certain running backs seem to steadily gain yardage until they pass the century mark, game after game. Similarly, some wide receivers seem to haul in a few long passes each game that push them to more than 100 yards in a game. Some leagues award bonus points for these performance benchmarks. Each of these players should be valued slightly higher in the draft than the rest of the field, by virtue of their potential for earning you a couple of free extra points each week. Take every point available to you.
Unscrupulous league managers will sometimes change the scoring system, or change the rules, midway through a season, or even during or after a game. I’ve heard of cases where a league manager will alter final point totals in order to change which teams won or lost, or manipulate which teams make the playoffs, or make it to the championship game, based on something other than the objective scores. This is unacceptable. Such league managers deserve to be in a league all by themselves.
There are two types of leagues in terms of how they treat passes caught – PPR (points per reception) and non-PPR. A PPR league awards a point (or fraction of a point) for each pass caught. It doesn’t matter whether the receiver gains any yardage after making the catch, or whether the catch results in a net gain at all. This inflates the value of slot wide receivers, tight ends and running backs that catch passes out of the backfield. All of the players occupying these positions earn you points by virtue of being targeted more by quarterbacks than pure, route-running wide receivers. In fact, the value of a wide receiver or tight end that catches a ton of short-yardage, dump-off passes can far exceed the value of a speedy, deep-route running wide receiver. Again, know your scoring and know your rules and draft accordingly.