Saturday, August 3, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football Draft Guide - How to Find Success in Fantasy Football Drafting

2013 Fantasy Football Draft Guide - How to Find Success in Fantasy Football

The annual fantasy football league is right around the corner and you are looking into developing a strategy to beat your fellow league mates into a freshly ground powder.  Well, do not worry I have you
covered.  Well, only partially covered, due to the fact that this league is more about luck than skill.  
For instance, last year in most drafts, Chris Johnson and Darren McFadden went in the first round, and now they are going in rounds after the primary. Players, such as Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, and 
Trent Richardson were drafted after round one, but now are being selected in the first.  This leaves us powerless, because our first round selection may play like a fourth rounder, and your fourth rounder can be the first one off the board.  The fantasy world is an undetermined variable, but we are still willing to put our money and pride on it.

If we cannot control the draft outcome, then how do we reduce the risk when we do participate?  This is solved by minimizing the unknown (risk). In result, we can get a higher return on our investment (player drafted).  Fantasy Football is nothing more than deciding what stock to buy in the market.
When a stock purchase is made, it is not done blindly.  The purchaser needs to have an understanding about the whole product, the history, what kind of numbers it brings, is it built to last?  We know NFL players are the same way.  We decide by knowing how they have performed over the last few years (history), what type of player (ppr) they excel at (numbers brought in), and do they get injured often (built to last).    

When maintaining a player’s performance, take a look at their average draft position (ADP).  The sooner you do this the better.  You can track, over the course of a few months, and see where are individual player has fluctuated from one month to previous months.  As your draft draws closer, start tracking it weekly to daily. The stock, or the ADP on an individual player, can go up and down, it may stay level, or just go completely bust in just a short time.  Enron proved this, and when a marquee player gets placed on the IR, it is the same result. 

To leverage this risk develop a strategy, and stay diversified.  Diversification arrives when you have multiple strategies, to counteract one that may fail. The benchmark to all strategies is to start knowing how your league functions.  Look for the number of position players started, league size, and point structure.

Number of Position Players Started

I am going to use a starting combination of 1-Qb, 2-Rb, 2-Wr, 1-TE, 1-Flex, Defense, and a Place Kicker.  This magic number of players started dictates how the draft is going to go.  One small change to this and it will change the entire draft.  For example, if you add just one extra quarterback to the above starting format, the league has maximized the weight value of quarterbacks. The quarterbacks will carry the same value as running backs, and wide receivers (depending on scarcity), and it becomes a rush to grab the two best quarterbacks available.  The positional needs are very much related to your league size.   

League Size

The next step is to review how many owners your league holds.  The more the owners in a given league, the less chance you will get to grab the talent you want.  For example, in a twelve team league the first back-up quarterback is rated thirteenth best overall quarterback, but in a ten team league that back-up is eleventh.  So, while other leagues are drafting their starter, the ten team league is grabbing their back-up.  

Also, league size dictates where you will be drafting.  This is vital in preparation for your draft.  When you know your draft position you can start preparing for those players who are going to be available.  Take a look at where you can make trades.  Sometimes, you may need a player that will be gone, and your strategy dictates a trade.  You should always look to trade, but we will go into that later.

Know your League Mates

More owners equal an increase of draft pick mistakes.  Not all of us have a high understanding of what it takes to be successful in this game. It just takes one owner to grab a certain player out of average draft position, and viola the whole draft now takes on different feel. Obviously, it would take a large difference in ADP, but you get the idea. When you have multiple owners making a mistake or compounding small mistakes, it wrecks havoc on your strategy.  To counteract this petulant problem you need to know who your fellow owners are.  
In poker there is a great saying "Don't play the cards, play the man."  This is just as true to fantasy football.  What you hold is important, but if you know what your fellow owners tend to do, then you can play off their tendencies.  If you know that Owner A is always going to draft the best quarterback available with his first pick, then plan for it.  We are all creatures of habit, we all stick to what helps us be successful, and if Owner A feels as though that is what helps him/her achieve that, then most likely he/she will be going in that direction.
Pre-Draft Prep
There are certain things that you should do prior to your draft.  First, thing is to take a sheet and begin to draw up tiers.  Tiers give you a bird eye view on all positions.  These tiers also hold you steady when making a pick.  For example this is what a tier sheet should resemble, and done for all starting positions:
Tier 1
Drew Brees
Aaron Rogers

Tier 2
Peyton Manning
Cam Newton
Matt Ryan

Tier 3
Matt Stafford
Andrew Luck

As you can see, as players are drafted you can begin to cross them off.  When it’s finally your turn to draft, then you can view who is the best available quarterback in your remaining tiers.  Tiers can be anyway you want them to be.  If you decide that you only want one player, 3 players, or even 7 players it is up to you.  The earlier you start the better.  I recommend you start one before the draft, after the draft, and once a month until you draft.  Then, a week before you draft put it all together.  Cross-reference for injuries, suspensions, demotions, legality issues.  Don’t be that owner who is in the fourth round and selects player x when he is out for the year.  After you have finished your tiers and you are on to the next viable option.  This option is the creation of bye weeks
Bye Weeks
One of the most overrated options that owners stick to is bye weeks.  An owner will go with a lesser player just to avoid a bye week collision with another player.  As an owner, my objective is to win, and if I think a certain player is going to help me do that, then it is the player I am going with.  
Think about this, if you pass on a player in every position because of bye weeks then you’re passing up an entire roster of players, by the end of the draft.  Congratulations, you just made it twice as hard to win.
There are only four positions I will avoid the bye week clash, and that is, Tight End, Defense, Special Teams, and Kicker.  The reason I consider bye weeks here, is that it just does not make good economical sense to spend money or waste your Free Agency marker on these positions, but if a player I covet is there, then I am still drafting the bye week clash.  I will sort the problem out later.  
If you’re an owner who still is concerned with bye weeks, make sure when you create your tiers, you put the player’s bye week next to it.  This will keep you from having to do a search and find.  Don’t rip out a bye week sheet or print one with all the teams on it.  When you are drafting the less work you have to do the better, put the little number by the player’s name.
Next on the list is the strength of schedule.  Here to you want to make sure you list it near the player’s name as well.
Strength of Schedule
One of the biggest draws is strength of schedule (SOS).  I find this as an important aspect when I am putting together my tier section.  I would not put a lot of emphasis on SOS, because not all teams are consistent with their defensive output.  One team may be horrible one year and the following be a top ten.  It wasn't too long ago that the 49ers, Texans, and Seahawks were defensive sieves.  
The key to the SOS is to make a tough decision between one player or the next easier to decide.  For instance, if I cannot decide between Danny Amendola and Hakeem Nicks, I will look at the SOS. You most likely will find that you are using the SOS as the draft goes on more and more.  This is because players become more of a speculation than a belief of expectations, and the SOS is relied on being the determining factor.  
Mock Draft
One of the easiest and most fun things to do, to get prepared for your draft, is to mock draft.  Get on any site such as ESPN,, Ant Sports, Yahoo, CBS Sports, My Fantasy League, and just have fun drafting.  
This requires a little bit of work.  You want to see where players are going in a live draft.  You also, want to see what players will be available in your selective spots.  Also, don’t forget to mix it up.  Instead of drafting the same player in seventh round, draft a different athlete.  By the time you’re done, you can start seeing what team fits best for your league.  Another hidden trick is to not draft any players you want, and see what kind of teams you develop.  Just keep in mind when doing this, not to stray away too much from ADP value.
The main things about mock drafting, is to vary your style, do as many as you can, and go to different web sites.  You want to hit the web, because you will find the same group of people at each one.  So, the more you vary your sample, the better sample you’re going to get.  
While you are developing your mock drafting skills you can practice putting together an owner’s worksheet.
Owner’s worksheet
During the draft you should have two sheets.  One is your tier sheet.  The other is the owner’s worksheet.  The owner’s worksheet is where you have all the owners picks in front of you.  This guide is perfect, because now you can see who needs what when they are drafting ahead of you.  
When owner X needs a wide receiver, and he picks right after you, then grab the best wide receiver.  Now, if you don’t need this player you can use him as trade bait later to help your team.  
Draft the best player available
One of the biggest traps is that owners feel the need to fill their starting roster before they can add depth.  Remember the one constant is that to win you must outscore your opponent.  If you are giving the difference maker to your enemy, because you have not drafted a tight end yet, guess what, you just lost.
Most owners may over think this process.  They get nervous that if they don't fill their rosters with worthy starters, at each position, others will grab him and it leaves you holding an empty bag.  What is forgotten is that talent is buried throughout the draft, even, if you have to wait on it.  Marshawn Lynch was a 7th round selection in my ten team league three years ago, and CJ Spiller was not even drafted on most boards that year, because they were busy selecting Chris Johnson and Darren McFadden in the first round.  
Another situation is the temptation not to look like a fool drafting a player outside their ADP.  Let me tell you, nobody remembers where you took a certain player the moment the next pick is made, and especially if that player has a great year.  You probably can’t even remember who you selected in the eighth round last year, and you expect others do?  It may seem funky doing it, but it just may make the difference in your league.
Consider trading
When you start seeing your fantasy team come together, you might want to consider trading.  A lot of owners will give up a competitive edge to get a player they desire.  Be open to that, even if you want the same player.  If you move up in the draft, or get a better opportunity then take it.  
There are four types of owners I scout when wanting to trade.  These owners names are drunk, talker, homer, and needy.  
The drunk may trade all he has because he is in a bromance with Steve Smith. Offer it up, tell him you will trade him Steve Smith for his 10th, 11th, and 12th rounds, if he goes for it, you can always thank him later down the road… if he ever sobers up.  
Secondly, look and listen for the talker.  Owners like to talk smack. During this bravado moment they may offer up what they need because they believe nobody is hearing or care what is being said.  They may talk about who is available, or which direction they may be going.  This is all information to that you can use for your advantage.
The third guy is the homer, and they are the worst.  They love to take that favorite team or player pick. With these guys you don’t need to watch for or listen to anything, because you already know what he is thinking. The homer will begin to regret by round 5 that they don’t have anyone representing their team.
Fourth in the family of trade is Mr. Needy. He needs everything because he didn’t draft anything.  He is the one when you look over at your owner sheet and see he has four defenses by the end of the seventh round. He is the one that says, “Why are you taking your back-up now!”  This guy may say to himself, “How did I do that?”  You can begin working on this guy immediately.
Finishing up
Well unfortunately all that effort of studying and reading and planning has come to an end, as the draft starts to wrap up.  There are a few draft rounds left and you begin to think what should I do?  At this point of the draft not only are you speculating, but you are guessing to who would make the best fit on your team.  
For me, I like to gamble on a few picks.  You may be surprised on who may be sitting there just waiting to be picked.  Look at injured players that have great talent, but were forgotten about because they got hurt early in pre season.  Also look for the young up and comer, who have the right tools to succeed but just haven’t proven it yet.
At the very least, make sure you have fun, and talk to others on how they feel about their team.  Everybody wants to talk about who they have, and before the season starts we are all winners.

By: Michael Valverde guest blogger for the +Fantasy Football Beasthouse