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Don’t be a Square – Stay Fluid in Your Draft

I’ve been wanting to get another article on here for a while but have been sidetracked with the birth of my first child.

Originally when I wrote my first two articles: “Don’t be a square – Draft a Stud QB/TE Early” I had this article in mind, I just wish it would’ve come out a bit sooner so it tied in better. So if you haven’t read the articles I mentioned please go do so now. This will be the last installment of my “Don’t be a Square” series.

Drafting a quarterback or tight end early is a very divisive issue among fantasy footballers. There are definitely two schools of thought on it. Although I presented the view point of taking a quarterback and tight end early I am going to back off that now. Did I change my draft strategy? Not at all. I was asked to write an article for a fantasy football site, and I wanted to get you thinking of alternatives and why they might be a good idea rather than presenting you with the status quo.

So what is my draft strategy you ask? Simple – I don’t have one. You need to really take what I’m about to write seriously and not brush it off because it doesn’t include the term “quarterback, wide receiver or running back.” Without further ado, here is the best advice you’ll ever receive about drafting – be water. Wait, what? Think about it – you can’t stop water. If you put something in front of it, it finds a way around. If you put it in a cup it becomes the shape of that cup. That’s what you need to do sharks. If you’re planning on taking a wide receiver in Round 2 because you took your stud running back in Round 1,  but for some crazy reason Ray Rice finds his way to you in the second round you have to take him. Or conversely, if you’re planning on taking that wide receiver in Round 2 because you’re sure one of the Top 5 will be there for you, but they get taken before your pick, what do you do? Don’t just take a wide receiver because that was your plan. You would be reaching just to follow your draft strategy. Staying fluid is the single most important thing you can do in your draft. Don’t be a square and get boxed into a specific strategy. Be the water that takes the shape of the square when it presents itself.

Ok enough hippie talk, onto what this means to you.

Trends

One thing I’ve noticed, especially in drafts of more than 10 teams, is sometimes when that third- or fourth-round pick comes my way I’m not exactly thrilled with my options at the skill positions so going for that top quarterback or tight end seems like the best option. It’s been an opposite scenario in 10-team drafts – I’ve been having a hard time bringing myself to go for a top tight end or quarterback early, and when I have grabbed a quarterback or tight end early I’ve actually seen more value go by the wayside than taking one early in a 12-team league. I attribute this to the fact that the top quarterbacks or tight ends seem to be going in the same rounds whether it be a 10- or 12-team draft.

Obviously grabbing a Drew Brees or an Antonio Gates in Rounds 3 or 4 in a 12-team league gives you better value than in a 10-team league because the number of players drafted each round is greater, therefore if they are going in the same round it equals a better value. If you’re drafting Drew Brees in the third round in a 10-team draft you’re passing up on the likes of Dwayne Bowe, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Peyton Hillis and Steven Jackson. Whereas in a 12-team draft you’re looking past guys like Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston, Ahmad Bradshaw and LeGarette Blount. Although good options, they’re not of the caliber of the former. I can’t explain why quarterbacks and tight ends seem to be falling in 12-team drafts but it’s a trend I’m noticing.


Making the trends work for you

In 10-team drafts I’ve been grabbing the likes of Josh Freeman, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan in Rounds 7-9, pairing them with a Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford or Tim Tebow, and then loading up on talent at wide receiver and running back early on. Also the earliest I’m grabbing a tight end is around Round 6 with Vernon Davis. If I don’t grab him I’ve been getting Zach Miller, Jimmy Graham or Marcedes Lewis in 10 and later.

Conversely, in 12-team drafts I’ve been grabbing my quarterbacks and tight ends early as they present the best values where I’ve been finding them and then concentrating on high upside picks and value picks in the middle rounds. I’m a lot more happy going after studs early at each position in a 12-team league rather than depth at the skill positions because I feel with good drafting the rest of the way and good waiver wire work throughout the season my team will be stronger than the team that grabbed the middle-of-the-road third and fourth rounders. Also, while my leaguemates are making up ground and getting their quarterbacks and tight ends I’ll be snagging up my high upside and sleeper picks.

There’s obviously a huge talent/round difference between 10- and 12-team drafts. Therefore, I think it is very important to try and shore up your studs early the bigger your league. It’s logical really – the more picks between your last pick and next pick the more talent will be gone, so if a surefire stud is staring you in the face in the round he’s supposed to be in or a round later, you take him no matter the position. In 12 or more team drafts, if you pass by the studs to try and get depth I feel you’re doing yourself a disservice. In 10-team drafts, if you know what you’re doing you should be able to field a pretty good team in any draft.


Conclusion

Stay thirsty my friends.

This will be my final article as a guest writer. Hopefully I’ve impressed the staff at FantasySharks enough to bring me aboard. If so I plan a series of articles exploring each teams changes and how it effects the value of fantasy relevant players. I’ll get into offensive line strength, free agent pickups and losses, new coaching regimes and the impact they’ll have on your favorite players, amongst other factors that will impact your players chances of bringing you to the fantasy football promised land: League Champion.

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.