The Art of the Draft

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

At last, fantasy football season is on the immediate horizon. Right around the corner awaits the single most electric sports related hobby in the world. With bragging rights, significant amounts of money, and even more demonic tortures on the line for each competitor, the recipe for a successful season is without a doubt, the draft.

The art of the fantasy football draft is over thought, and excessively analyzed each year. With each competitor searching for any secret or technique that could give them some sort of edge. It’s hard to point out any one drafting strategy that is a sure fire way to develop a successful team, it mainly comes down to personal preference. Some of my colleagues swear by the quarterback position, and insist on drafting a top tier quarterback with their first overall pick. Others simply prefer the best player on the market at the time of their first selection. Either way, picking a draft strategy and sticking to it is the most definitive way to ensure a successful fantasy football season.

The strategy that I live by is starting with an early onslaught of running backs, drafting two of them within my first three picks. There is no more consistent producer than the running back position, and none more crucial. With most leagues consisting of three running backs in the starting lineup (2 RB, 1RB/WR), loading up on quality running backs is a good strategy when beginning your draft. There is a method to my madness, drafting running backs early is mainly due to the lack of depth at the position. There are many more "star" fantasy wide receivers than there are running backs. Case in point, my 35th ranked wide receiver for the upcoming season is T.Y. Hilton, the number one receiver for the Indianapolis Colts, while the 35th ranked running back is Darren Sproles, backup running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. T.Y. Hilton is poised for another tremendous fantasy year, and will be a definite starter in the majority of fantasy football league. While Sproles will have far less success as he is merely the backup for one of the premier rushers in the NFL in LeSean McCoy. Therefore, this strategy calls for top-tier running backs early, then a mix of wide receivers, a mid-level quarterback, and a consistent tight end to follow.

The strategy many of my colleagues employ, as stated above, is a quarterback featured draft. Their method is to pass on the top rushers, for the premier passers, in hopes for production such as Peyton Manning's from 2013. This strategy is effective when you have a very late pick in the first round, such as picks 8-10. Once your pick arrives, the main fantasy work horses will have already been selected. So many choose instead of taking a chance on a player such as an injury riddled Arian Foster, to take one of the top quarterbacks in the league (e.g. Manning, Brees, Rodgers, Brady, etc). My hesitation with this method lies within the following rounds. Once you select late in the first round, you will have an early second round pick where you can choose a highly skilled player, but your next pick will not come until late in the third round. By this time, the vast majority of the fantasy superstars will be off the board. You could be at the 30th pick with one RB and three WR positions left to fill, and very few desirable talents left on the board. But if you are lucky enough to have massive week to week production from your quarterback, it may not matter how deep of a supporting cast you end up with.

In the end, your personal draft strategy should be based on what your gut is advising you to do. Be comfortable with your picks, and select them with confidence. Go into your draft with a plan, stick to it, and give yourself multiple options. Do not hesitate on any player, because you will be stuck with them for the rest of the season. Look for reliability and consistency over everything when evaluating a player, also do not waste a top pick on an unproven, wild card player. And last but not least, have a wonderful season.

Happy Drafting!

Chris B.

July 2014.

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