I probably shouldn’t be publishing this article. If I want the best shot at winning my 3rd Site Championship, I should keep the Secrets of the Shark League to myself. But these leagues are about learning and having fun, not winning at all costs. So here I go, publishing five tips on the Shark League Draft.
Before we get to the juicy stuff, some quick notes about how I performed this analysis: First, I used the top five Shark Leagues on the ladder: Great White plus
Tip #1) You don’t have to take 2 RBs with your first 2 picks.
Everyone knows to start with 2 RBs, right? It’s like the First Commandment of Serious Fantasy Football, or haven’t you heard?
Here’s the problem: In Shark Leagues, starting with 2 RBs does
not translate into scoring more points.
Teams that took their 2nd RB right away scored an average of 1,357 points. Teams that waited until the 3rd Round or later to grab their 2nd RB scored 1,403 points. That means you could have earned, on average, 3.5 points per week just for passing on a RB in Round 2.
When your 2nd Round pick comes around, don’t be so quick to grab the best available RB. Your team will thank you later.
2) If taking 2 RBs with your first 2 picks is bad, taking 3 RBs with your first 3 picks is much worse.
I’ve never understood the “3 RBs in 3 Rounds” strategy. It’s like buying a new car, then taking out such an expensive insurance policy on it that you can’t afford gas. Sure, you’ll always
have your car…but you’ll never
Teams that started the draft with 3 RBs scored a whopping 92 points fewer than everyone else over the course of the season.
That’s 7 points per week!
The best finish by a 3x RB team in the top five Shark Leagues was 5th place out of 12, meaning none of them made it out of the first round of the playoffs. Those were the success stories; most of them missed the playoffs entirely. In order to succeed, you need to balance a strong stable of RBs with skilled players at the other positions as well.
3) Wide Receiver is where you’ll find the best value in the early rounds.
Now that you know to avoid grabbing all of the available RBs in sight early in the draft, it’s time to figure out who you should be taking instead.
How about locking up a big-name QB? No thanks, I’ll pass (no pun intended). Taking a QB in the first 4 rounds cost you 14 points over the course of the season in 2006. Even “sure thing” QBs like Peyton Manning can be unpredictable year-to-year, so let someone else reach for them.
Maybe TE is the way to go? Nope, -17 points for you. Picking up Antonio Gates is no clear road to success.
The correct answer is WR. Teams that filled both of their starting RB and WR positions by the end of Round 4 scored 78 more points over the course of the season than teams that waited. Yet all you ever hear about are those RBs…
The first three tips are highly correlated. When RBs are overdrafted in the early rounds, then WRs will be underdrafted and valuable. Also be on the lookout in Rounds 2-4 for top tier WRs that slip through the cracks for no other reason than…not being Running Backs!
4) Draft your 1st QB late, and your 2nd QB early.
This is a tricky concept, but stick with me. Ideally, you want to draft the #12 and #13 QBs on your list. Here’s why:
Fantasy players tend to jump the gun with QBs. It doesn’t feel right to draft backup RBs or WRs in the middle rounds before you’ve chosen your field general.
The bottom line is: Your QB is not particularly important to your team. He’s on par with your 2nd WR and your starting TE in terms of value. And since you only need one QB, you can afford to wait and take whoever drops to you. There will always be a decent QB available. Meanwhile, solidify the RB and WR positions where depth is more important and value becomes scarce.
The natural trade-off of waiting on a QB is that you’ll have one of the worst starters in the fantasy league. You can compensate by taking your backup QB early. If you can pull this off, you’ll have a QB committee instead of a clear starter and backup. Now you can swap them in and out to take advantage of favorable matchups. If your “starting” QB is playing against a tough pass defense, and your “backup” QB is facing a much less dangerous pass defense, you can swap them and reap the benefits of having two legitimate QB options.
5) Tight Ends, Defense, and Kickers just aren’t that important.
The average scoring of teams that took their first TE in the 7th round or sooner is identical (within 0.007 points!) of teams that took their first TE in the 8th round or later.
The effects of drafting a defense and kicker early are similarly negligible.
If you see an opportunity to grab a TE, K, or DEF that you really want, and there’s no other value on the board, then go ahead and take them. But you should never be reaching, or sacrificing value at another roster spot, to fill these positions. Don’t fall into a trap of thinking you have an advantage over the other teams because you spent your 8th and 9th round picks on the best defense and kicker available. Unless I see a golden opportunity, I’m fine drafting my TE, K, and DEF in the last three rounds.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments I look forward to reading them in the Article Discussion Forum.