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From the Misc File seen on CN8 – Looking Back at Draft Day Strategies

For those of you that missed last week’s show, here is another installment of the “Misc File”.  Last Thursday on Comcast CN8 New England’s Sports Pulse show, we took a trip into the time machine and went back to draft day, talking about some of this year’s draft strategies to review what worked and what didn’t.  Let’s get right into it…

With the NFL schedule heading into week fifteen, most fantasy owners are either happily in their playoffs, or unhappy having been eliminated from playoff consideration.  Some leagues have probably already had a playoff round or two.  Whatever the case of your team(s), now is the perfect time to look back at your draft and analyze what went right, and what went wrong.  Whether you are still giddy about being alive, or if you have the bitter taste of defeat, do it now while everything is still fresh.  Most on-line leagues save the exact draft, that’s a perfect place to start.  Take a look at what you did, take a look at what others did, most of all take a look at what your strategy was heading into the draft.  If your team didn’t do well, take a look at the draft that the team that is doing well in your league, what did they do differently?  Fantasy football can be just like the NFL, if there is a team in your league that is doing well, then make it a point next year to emulate them so that your team will do just as well. 

Strategies That Worked…

Stud RB Theory – This is always a good draft day strategy, getting a quality RB with at least two of your first three picks.  While many of the top RBs had some issues (injuries, missed time, underperformance), by and large the top guys heading into draft day did do well this year.  If you were smart enough to keep the RB train going and took guys like Curtis Martin and Tiki Barber, then your team ended up doing very well. 

Waiting on the QB – This is something that we’ve been preaching here at since our inception.  Every year, yes, EVERY year, there are a handful of quarterbacks that emerge as top 5 fantasy players at the position while on draft day they were barely in the top 10.  I mean, can you say Drew Brees?  It happens every year, and yet every year people are taking QBs in the first and second rounds of drafts that I see, forcing them to struggle to find a running back.  By my calcuations, there were a couple guys worthy of being a first rounder (Peyton Manning, even Daunte Culpepper), but for my money, those that waited and got the sleeper at QB are probably still alive in their chase for the championship. 

Quantity at WR – Many late round picks on less heralded starting WRs
 turned into great sleepers.  For example, Drew Bennett, what a stretch he is having.  Anyone that took him in the late to middle rounds and held onto him is surely making a strong surge into the playoffs.  This is also something that happens every year.  Guys that are #3 on their depth chart, rookies, or less heralded #2s on their team will all of a sudden become stud WRs.  Those owners that took Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and even Torry Holt are a case in point that this position is difficult to predict.  I’m not saying to avoid these guys, I’m just saying that instead of wasting late round picks, bulk up on some WRs with high potential for stardom.  

Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared – Up to date cheatsheets, injury reports, and curent depth charts are a must on draft day.  I’m sure the guy that took Anquan Boldin in the third round is not anywhere near the fantasy title in your league.  Yes, it’s common sense, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t follow this advice. 

Strategies That Did Not Work…

Anti-Stud RB Theory – Like in my league, I’m sure there is a guy in your league that every year he eschews the RB and loads up on WRs in the first three rounds.  Then he grabs a QB, then starts scrapping for an RB.  It’s a theory that it would seem like it should work, especially in those leagues where you only need to have a single RB in your starting lineup, but I have yet to see anyone doing this come close.  The only way this works is if you lose your first few games and are able to land the hot RB off the waiver wire. 

The ‘Handcuff’ – How about this one, eh?  For those that don’t know, the handcuff is a term used to describe either picking another fantasy owner’s backup running back to scorn them, or feeling like you have to pick up your own running back’s backup.  In other words, you need to handcuff them together.  This was a tremendously popular strategy heading into draft day. 

Quick story, as most of you know, Tony and I team up to share a few teams in some expert leagues that we’re fortunate enough to be invited to participate in.  One 12 team league had us picking at #11, where we knew we’d be staring Marshall Faulk in the face.  Mind you, we’d already discussed our thoughts at RB since in my pre-season rankings on the site I had Marshall well within the top 10 at the position and guys like Clinton Portis were not in my top 10.  In other words, I had no problem taking Faulk with the pick, and Tony mentioned we should ‘handcuff’ him by taking Steven Jackson.  I was adamant about not getting Jackson since my feeling was that someone would take him too early to justify the pick.  He agreed, and someone actually took him in the sixth round of that draft.  Mind you, Faulk ended up being a semi-bust, but that being the case, what would you consider Jackson?

The moral of the story is that there were a ton of handcuff opportunities out there (Faulk-Jackson, Stephen Davis-DeShaun Foster, Thomas Jones-Anthony Thomas, Quentin Griffin-Tatum Bell, Curtis Martin-Lamont Jordan, etc) but the only one that panned out was someone taking Willis McGahee.  So out of probably six or seven, one was worthwhile…and those that didn’t work out ended up being completely wasted picks.  Not good odds in my book. 

Reaching Instead of Going For Value – This is another thing I see a lot of on draft day, going out on a limb and not going off your cheatsheet.  Drafting on hunches rarely pans out, especially in the middle rounds, you have to be able to trust your cheat sheet and stick to it from beginning to end.  Save the reaches for the very late rounds. 

Early pick of TE/K/D – Let’s face it, every league has the guy that picks the top kicker in the eight round and is so proud about it that he gloats the rest of the draft.  Hmm, how’d David Akers work out this year?  Certainly not worthy of being the top kicker selected.  This is a position that every year, guys in the middle or even at the bottom of the kicker list end up being solid fantasy starters.  Never fails.  Wait on a kicker, take one with your last pick and then scan the waiver wire for an upgrade.  This was a season when kickers got hurt at an alarming pace, it’s one thing to lose a position player after a high selection, but losing a kicker, ugh. 

Defense is another position like that, hard to tell who is going to do well.  And what about TE, now THERE is a position that you could have picked up a stud in the late rounds or even off the waiver wire.  This has truly been the year of the tight end with probably 10 guys worthy of being a fantasy starter this year.  Even leagues that don’t require a TE have seen players like Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Alge Crumpler, etc become TEs worthy of a starting WR spot. 


So those are some of the things that did and didn’t work.  Most important is that right you you look back and analyze your situation.  Make notes, write down new things to try at next year’s draft so that you can put together an even better team than the one you assembled this season. 

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