With the year entering its midpoint, it’s time to start thinking about your fantasy drafts…unless you’ve been thinking about them since January, in which case it’s time to continue. To try and help, here is a handy guide to how you should look at different positions in your upcoming drafts…which won’t take place until the end of August, right?
The NFL is a passing league, you may have heard. With this simple truth embedded in your mind, it might be tempting to make selecting a passer early a priority for you on draft night. Do no such thing. Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints has finished with the 2nd most pass attempts in four of the last five seasons, and he currently has an ADP (Average Draft Position) of the 6th round, as per FantasyPros.com. The odds of you getting a stud quarterback later in the draft is a lot higher than the odds of you stumbling upon an awesomely productive wide receiver. Hold your nerve.
Once the lifeblood of fantasy football, the position has slightly decreased in importance due to more and more teams passing the ball more and more. Many fantasy experts are now advocating the “Zero Running Back” strategy, which essentially means targeting tailbacks only after stocking your roster with wide receivers. Nonetheless, when you do pick a running back you want to make sure you get one who can offer you value. Running backs who are involved in the passing game are worth their weight in gold. Like all rounders in cricket, pass catching backs give your teams multiple ways of winning. As a rule, you should steer clear of running backs on bad teams who offer nothing as a receiver. Bad teams find themselves behind in games more, meaning they need to score quickly, and slow yard churning drives on the ground are not their best way of doing so. As a result, steady rushers like Alfred Morris (who couldn’t catch a cold if he hadn’t dried his hair and stood in a windy corridor) ride the pine.
For so long a complimentary part of your fantasy offense, the pass catcher has become the king of the mountain. You cannot have enough wide receivers on your roster, and only league rules regarding the number of players of one position type should stop you drafting them. A little bit of knowledge of the position is handy here, as you should try to have as many different types of WRs as possible. For example, Antonio Brown is an absolute target hog, and will rack up points by means of having lots of receptions and yards. DeSean Jackson is a home run hitter, who will have weeks in which he catches eight passes for 45 yards and others in which he’ll reel in just two balls but both will go for 50+ yard touchdowns. You should try to strike a happy balance between the two, as it is very hard to win week to week with boom or bust players.
There is no more volatile spot in fantasy sports across the world than the NFL tight end spot. With only a few genuine studs at the position (Rob Gronkowski stands apart from all others), if you don’t get the chance to draft a star you should seriously consider “streaming” the tight end spot in your league. By this, I mean that you should look at your league’s waiver wire on a weekly basis to find free agents, then examine their matchup for the week ahead. If you are lucky, you may fall upon a latent superstar. In past seasons, Julius Thomas Gary Barnidge and Tyler Eifert have all gone largely undrafted in most fantasy leagues, only to go on and enjoy solid (in Eifert’s case, spectacular) fantasy seasons.
This position should be taken with the final pick of your draft. Fact. Don’t argue with me. Despite leaving them to the end, it is still important to try and make a solid selection. Kickers on teams that score lots of points will, by nature, offer more appeal to your team. But don’t immediately rule out kickers on bad teams. Teams are bad because, basically, they don’t score a lot of touchdowns. As a result, when marching down the field on offense they frequently have to content themselves with attempting a field goal. The San Francisco 49ers in 2015 were such a team, a horrible side in virtually all facets of fantasy expect for old reliable Phil Dawson. But, as with tight end, if you are unable to secure Mason Crosby or Dan Bailey, you may be better suited streaming this spot weekly.
Remember the SPECIAL TEAMS part of the name. Teams with a star kick or punt returner (think Darren Sproles and the Philadelphia Eagles) can give you an edge on a weekly basis, with the points from a punt return touchdown maybe tipping the balance in your weekly game. You should also look for teams that get a lot of sacks and turnovers, and not focus too much if they give up points. It is on takedowns and turnovers that you make your money with DST in fantasy football. The age of the Shutdown Defense is over. While some hero will inevitably take the Seahawks often as early as round 8 (a plague upon your household if you do), you should wait until round 12 at the earliest to select your unit. Don’t feel pressured to keep trotting out a DST that is offering you nothing, and try and stream to isolate and identify good matchups. A DST playing against a QB who throws lots of interceptions is a situation you should try to identify as early in the your game week as possible.
So there you have it. If you ever want or need any fantasy tips, please hit me up on the twitter @ndutton13. I wish you the best of luck in your drafts…unless you’re in my league.