Most regular redraft leagues do not even think about having their drafts until well into the third of fourth week of the preseason. Some even wait until the last week before the regular season starts. The reason most give is because of injuries. No owner wants to draft a stud RB in June, only to see him blow out his knee in the second preseason game and be out for the year. Many owners also want to wait to get a good look at the new rookie crop coming into the league during those preseason games. I, on the other hand, love early redraft leagues. To me, that is when the Shark owner has the potential to get the most bang for his buck. Oh yea, there is some risk/luck involved. But, there is risk/luck involved no matter how late you draft. I will agree that there are advantages to waiting to draft as close to the regular season as possible. The camp battles will be over and you will know who the starters are most likely going to be. You will have a good idea on what influence that new coach is going to have, or if that rookie is going to be able to have an impact or not. You will also get a good idea where fantasy owners are drafting certain players, as average draft positions become more consistent. But guess what, so will all the other owners with whom you are drafting! In my mind, that is where the knowledgeable owner, or Shark, can lose some of their advantage over the other owners.
Look at it from this perspective. I think there are three types of fantasy football owners.
one – the knowledgeable or Shark owner. Hopefully you and I are in this category. We keep up on the NFL teams and players all-year round. We have an obsession with fantasy football that forces us to spend hours at a time on our favorite Web sites. We do so many mock drafts that we have it down to a science. We have our own educated rankings at each position, and have the players broken down into tiers. NFL Network is the first thing we turn on in the morning and the last thing we turn off at night.
Type two – the chum, bait, ATM owner. If you are reading this article, you are not in this category. He is the buddy who just plays in your league because he wants to spend some time drinking beer and having a good time with his friends at the draft. He likes getting on the league Web site and talking smack with everyone and being part of the crowd, and really doesn’t care if he wins or loses. He is probably a casual sports fan, but maybe never played any sports in school. He prepares for the draft by picking up a fantasy football magazine at the local grocery store the same time he is picking up his beer for the draft that night. Trust me, it doesn’t matter what time of year you draft with him, you will be at a huge advantage.
Type three – the competitive owner. This is probably the majority of fantasy football owners. This fella might be the guy at your office or work that played sports in school or was always an avid sports fan. He may still be participating in golf, basketball, softball or more. When he is not playing himself, he is coaching his young children at their activities. He likes competition and really likes winning. He loves watching all kinds of sports when he is not busy. This guy prepares for the draft by getting on the Internet a few days before the draft, and printing out all the latest rankings and ADP’s from one of his bookmarked sports sites. While on, let’s say ESPN, he will check out any late news, or injury reports. He is the guy you need to worry about and would potentially lose some advantage over.
Now, back on track for a moment. In general, right after the NFL draft or so, I feel like rookies are generally over-valued and veterans are usually under-valued. Then OTA’s start, and you start hearing about holdouts, trades, injuries and troubles off the field. During this time of year – June, July, and early August – the average draft positions, and opinions of fantasy experts are all over the map. This is the time for the Shark to start feeding! This is the best time to take advantage of your superior knowledge by taking some chances and finding some great value in drafts. Marvin Harrison is a prime example. In late June and early July, in a typical 12-team redraft league, I saw several drafts that he wasn’t drafted until the seventh round. I picked him up myself in the seventh round in one of my early redrafts. I think his average draft position was in the seventh round also. During that time he was all but washed up, his knee had not healed up right and he may have been headed to jail. The latest reports seem just the opposite, and the talk is the old Marvin is back. Who really knows, but the point is you will not be getting him in the seventh round now. Each time a piece of good news comes out about him, or any other player for that matter, his ADP will creep lower and lower. A month ago running backs like Parker, T. Jones and Rudi could have been drafted in the fifth, sixth, or even seventh round, while a lot of owners were jumping on the young rookies. The closer we get to the season, the less likely that is to happen. I am not going to push any particular player, and these are all hypothetical situations with which some risk is involved. You are going to hit on some of these and miss on some. But the misses will not hurt so bad because it is usually a late-round pick you used. Imagine if an owner would hit on DeAngelo Williams after the eighth round. Williams then ends up beating out the rookie for the starting RB job on opening day. He has a super start in the first few games, and then he becomes the teams’ workhorse all season long. What if some player everyone thought was hurt comes back early and starts the season on time? Or that late-round rookie (Ryan Torain) wins the starting job in
The bottom line is this: the knowledgeable owner just loses more and more of his advantage each day that goes by before he drafts. Yes, if I’m in a league full of Sharks, I want to wait until as late as possible to draft. However, that is usually not the case in most leagues. So go get in some early redraft leagues and use your advantage to its fullest potential. If you hit on your picks, the whole season will be a feeding frenzy!