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Trying out different fantasy football draft strategies

What kinds of team would you get if you didn’t draft running backs? What if you only drafted based on last year’s scoring?

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know why the fact that it’s rainy and gross out makes me want to do a much of mock drafts but it does. So I’m gonna do it! And I’m going to make it interesting.

Mock drafts are always a good way to see where players are falling and who’s likely to go where but a lot of the time it’s pretty predictable. There is some strategy when it comes to later picks but for the most part, you know who you’ll likely be taking in the first three rounds and who’ll become the face of your franchise.

I’ve decided to have some fun with this and try strategies that aren’t normal and very likely are completely stupid and will leave me with a useless team. But maybe, I’ll stumble upon the new great draft strategy that will change fantasy football forever.

Who knows.

Draft details: I’m using FantasyPros mock draft simulator with 12 teams and standard scoring. I’ll be randomly assigning myself a draft slot for each mock.

The Moneyball Draft

If you haven’t seen Moneyball—which for the record my girlfriend and I hadn’t seen till last week—here’s the basic idea of the movie: all Brad Pitt cared about was getting on-base. He didn’t care about which players he was getting as long as they got on-base. He didn’t care about intangibles, defense or off the field stuff, all he cared about was one stat.

I decided to take a similar approach and ignore all the off the field issues, the team building issues and changes in the offseason and draft a team purely based on one stat: 2016 snapcount. The idea being, the more times a player is on the field, the more opportunities they have to score me fantasy points.

Makes sense.

Here’s the team I got (had the 4th overall pick):

Moneyball results

1.04 Drew Brees QB 1151
2.09 Carson Wentz QB 1127
3.04 Larry Fitzgerald WR 1052
4.09 Brandon LaFell WR 1010
5.04 Sterling Shepard WR 1005
6.09 Kyle Rudolph TE 970
7.04 Dontrelle Inman WR 960
8.09 Jason Witten TE 955
9.04 Tyrell Williams WR 893
10.09 T.J. Yeldon HB 576
11.04 Jerick McKinnon HB 511
12.09 Darren Sproles HB 511
13.04 Chris Thompson HB 489
14.09 Panthers DEF
15.04 Dan Bailey K

This was rough.

I thought it was going to give me a much better team but I didn’t realize/forgot about two things: 1) quarterbacks play A TON of snaps and 2) running backs DO NOT play a lot of snaps. Had I truly built my team based on snapcount and not given myself a positional cap, my team would have been all QBs. I did a first pass at this capping just the number of QBs I could take and didn’t take a single running back because, well, they don’t get nearly as many snaps as receivers do and by the time I’d gotten to low enough snaps to take a back, they were all gone. So, I capped WRs to. Otherwise it would have been a real weird draft.

There were some picks, especially in the later rounds that were heartbreaking to make. Matt Forte was available at the start of the 10th round but he only had 488 snaps as compared to Yeldon’s 576, so had to go with Yeldon.

Giovani Bernard was just sitting atop FantasyPro’s “Here are the guys you should be taking” list from rounds 11 to 15 but he’s snapcount was way too low to take.

I would not recommend using this strategy.

The No Running back Draft

This was inspired by someone tweeting at me saying the right strat is the zeroRB strat. So, let’s see if they’re right.

No RB results

1.07 A.J. Green WR
2.06 Michael Thomas WR
3.07 Drew Brees QB
4.06 Travis Kelce TE
5.07 Corey Davis WR
6.06 Larry Fitzgerald WR
7.07 Kirk Cousins QB
8.06 O.J. Howard TE
9.07 Corey Coleman WR
10.06 Mike Williams WR
11.07 Texans DEF
12.06 Marvin Jones WR
13.07 Zay Jones WR
14.06 JuJu Smith-Schuster WR
15.07 Adam Vinatieri K

First three picks, love them. Obviously if this was a real draft I’d like to have gotten a back somewhere in those three, but I’m pretty happy with how those picks turned out. Also can’t say no to Travis Kelce in the 4th, Larry Fitzgerald in the 6th and Mike Wallace in the 10th.

However, there was still plenty of heartbreak in this draft. It took all of my power in the 14th round to not take Jamaal Williams. He popped up on my screen and I almost clicked him. In real drafts, I’m taking him there in a heartbeat.

There are some running backs on the free agent market that could be decent starts if things fall right for them. I like the Texans’ rookie back D'Onta Foreman and the Colts’ back Marlon Mack. Also, if you can make it past his four game suspension, Devontae Booker could fit in as a starter. Though I’m really not hot on him. I’m just trying to make this team work. At least I have WRs to package up and trade with people.

My grade: eh, could be worse.

FantasyPros grade:

The Vertically Challenged Draft

A team of all under 6-foot guys probably wouldn’t be that great in the NFL, but want about in fantasy football? Is a lack of height the secret to fantasy success? I don’t know. But let’s find out!

Vertically challenged results

1.10 Devonta Freeman RB
2.03 T.Y. Hilton WR
3.10 Christian McCaffrey RB
4.03 Russell Wilson QB
5.10 Emmanuel Sanders WR
6.03 Jamison Crowder WR
7.10 Bilal Powell HB
8.03 Willie Snead WR
9.10 Samaje Perine HB
10.03 Jamaal Charles HB
11.10 Tyler Lockett WR
12.03 Giovani Bernard HB
13.10 Texans DEF
14.03 Taylor Gabriel WR
15.10 Darren Sproles HB

I’m actually pretty please with how well this turned out. I had to reach for Russell Wilson as I was worried that if I missed him, I’d be quarterback-less. Also mid draft realized I had to go tight end-less because there’s no tight end in the league under 6-feet. The smallest would have been Delanie Walker at 6-foot but I missed him before I realized he was my only hope.

Very pleased with my Samaje Perine get in round 9 but that was immediately overshadowed by having to take Jamaal Charles in the 10th because there aren’t really that many small players.

And not to brag, but this strat did get me the best rating we’ve had yet in the article sooooo that seems like a win to me!

The Defensive Kicker Draft

Let’s see what we get:

DEF & K results

1.02 David Johnson HB
2.11 Amari Cooper WR
3.02 DeAndre Hopkins WR
4.11 C.J. Anderson HB
5.02 Broncos DEF
6.11 Justin Tucker K
7.02 Delanie Walker TE
8.11 Jamison Crowder WR
9.02 Derek Carr QB
10.11 Samaje Perine HB
11.02 C.J. Prosise HB
12.11 Marvin Jones WR
13.02 David Njoku TE
14.11 Breshard Perriman WR
15.02 Carson Wentz QB

Obviously I was bailed out because I landed the number two pick and David Johnson makes any random draft strategy a hell of a lot better. That being said, kinda love this draft. I went earlier on DEF and kicker than I probably should have, mainly because I wanted to snag Jameis Winston because—and stop me if you’ve heard this before—I really, really like him. But he was gone by the time I got both DEF and K, but Delanie Walker was nice.

What this draft really goes to show though is that, despite Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees and Tom Brady leading fantasy points most every season, you can draft a quarterback in the last like five rounds and be very happy. Carson Wentz with the last pick? Yea, I’ll take that.

Also, how nice is a starting line of Johnson, C.J. Anderson, Amari Cooper and DeAndre Hopkins? FantasyPros thinks it’s nice:

I’ll retire on a C+.

Until the next rainy day!