If your draft is anything like mine, the first round looked a little something like this:
10 runningbacks taken; two quarterbacks taken. Runningbacks went picks 1-7, nine and 11-12. The quarterbacks went at picks eight and 10.
The strategy in this case is pretty simple, draft the best runningback on the board until the top 6-7 were gone, then take a quarterback. The second round wasn’t much different with maybe a wide receiver or two thrown in. If you didn’t have a runningback yet, you had to take one in Round 2. So by the end of the second round, about 16 runningbacks, six quarterbacks and two wide receivers had been drafted. If you had picks 1-4 you were the odds on favorite to win the league, barring any bad luck or stupid picks. If you were stuck with picks 9-12, it was pretty much better luck next year.
Another wonderful thing is the runningback by committee (RBBC) approach, which I am sure I don’t need to explain. There is nothing worse to see than your featured back get tackled at the one and the fullback comes strolling onto the field … goodbye six points. Hope you are not in a dog fight (bad choice of words; sorry Michael Vick).
Then there are those great positions of tight end, kicker and team defense. Basically the last picks of most drafts. Not much excitement there, unless of course the tight end in question belongs to Jessica Alba, but that is a whole different story for another day.
These are some of the pains of a fantasy football enthusiast. So what can you do about it? How about overhaul the system? Is it really worth the effort you ask? In one word, yes! Granted some folks use fantasy football as a revenue stream and this does not apply to you. But for those who play for the love of the game (bad movie by the way), breaking the previous paradigms can bring a whole new life to your league.
My league has developed some different approaches to the typical fantasy football format. It actually takes strategy to win and not the No. 1 overall draft pick. It is also more fun in my humble opinion, and my fellow league owners agree as we have only had one open slot over the last five years.
So what is so different about my league? I am glad you asked that question. Although, not completely unique, we do utilize the team concept for several positions. First is the team quarterback. Flashback to 2007. The No. 1 quarterback in most leagues, Tom Brady, drops back for a pass in the first game of the season. “Lookout for that rolling mass of bodies, Tommy!” Crunch, pop, goodbye ACL/MCL, your fantasy game this week and your TV remote that is now in pieces on the ground. You basically got minimal points out of your QB1 that week. The Patriots were able to send a backup quarterback, so why shouldn’t your fantasy team? That is the beauty of the team quarterback.
We also utilize a team kicker, but it’s a kicker so who really cares that much? The big one is the team runningback (gasp!). Am I out of my mind, a team runningback, aka RBBC? It requires a little getting used to, and a little manipulation of your software, but in the end, this concept has been successful in my league. No more worrying about who gets the touchdown, or who will do better when you have Pierre Thomas and your opponent has Reggie Bush. The draft also takes on a whole new light. In a typical first round in my league, we see 4-5 quarterbacks, 4-5 running backs and 2-3 wide receivers drafted. When you have the No. 1 pick you don’t have to take a running back. There is more flexibility and more strategy to it now.
Another simple transition that many leagues use is to combine wide receiver and tight end. Since there are only about five tight ends worth drafting in any fantasy league, why not just group them in with the wide receivers?
The other major overhaul to fantasy football that needs to be done is to abolish team defenses. Time to move into the new millennium people! Any real fantasy football league has to have individual defensive positions/players (IDP). How much strategy does it take to pick up a team defense for your bye week and drop them the following week when your main defense is back? In reality, the team defense is about as valuable as a kicker or a tight end.
I know, many of you are saying that IDP will make you draft a lot more players. This is true for the most part, but may I remind you that the draft is one of the best days of the fantasy football season – if it’s not, you are not doing it right. Also, since you are migrating to a team runningback and don’t need to draft five running backs and don’t have to draft a tight end anymore, you can use some of those spots to draft IDP.
Most IDP systems use defensive line (ends and tackles), linebackers and defensive backs (corners and safeties). Two of each position adds six additional draft spots less the four you will save from the running back/tight end situation. So, it only adds only two extra rounds to the draft. Now if you are hardcore, you will draft three of each and start two of each. This adds even more strategy to the draft without adding complexity. The only issue with this is the dreaded 3-4, 4-3 debate when a defensive end becomes an outside linebacker and vice versa. Aaron Kampman is a great example. In three years he went from a defensive lineman to a linebacker, back to a defensive lineman. We struggle with this a little and let the league software determine the position. But I highly recommend switching to an IDP format if you haven’t already.
The NFL experiences different trends and strategies as time progresses. Most would agree that the NFL of 2009 looked a lot different than the NFL of 1999. So why are we still playing fantasy football with the rules of the ’90s? It’s time for an overhaul …