Over the past several years, we've seen running backs finish in the top 10 overall points over wide receivers by a factor of 2 to 1. Running backs are still a fundamental element in fantasy football. It's really no different than any of the countless fad diets. At the end of the day, take in less calories than you expend and you'll lose weight. Likewise, be prepared when you enter the draft room and amass the most fantasy points, and you'll not only have a great draft, but you'll win your league.
It would appear that fundamentals, whether in dieting or fantasy football, are here to stay.
The season is right around the corner and drafts are heavily underway. If your draft is coming up, here are some tips and news that you need to know before you start putting guys into your Player Queue.
1. Understand the difference between price and value
As Warren Buffett once said, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." Let me demonstrate how that applies to fantasy football. Patrick Mahomes will undoubtedly be the first QB off the boards. After tossing 50 touchdowns last year, the expectation is that he's going to put up similar numbers. While he's a phenomenal QB, it's statistically unlikely that he throws another 50 touchdowns. We have him projected for 36 but wouldn't be surprised to see him finish in the 40-42 range. Someone in your league is going to draft him, but how early will they do it?
Mahomes' draft ranking is 35th overall, but his ADP is 20th overall. That means that his value is 35, but the price you'll pay for him is 20. He's being drafted more than a full round from where he's being ranked - that's an expensive pick.
Now, notice the projected weekly point production for the middle-tier quarterbacks below. They are each being taken in different rounds, but if their weekly point differentials are just tenths of a point, why would you pay a higher round price for the same amount of points that you could get two or three rounds later?
Every player has value and every player has a price. Knowing the difference is key. Check out our fantasy football draft rankings to see the player's rank and ADP next to each other to highlight those differences.
2. Mix Safety With Sexy
The first few rounds of your draft should be all about safety. Barkely, Julio, Hopkins, and McCaffrey are all safe picks. They're the bedrock to build your team upon. Given their current holdout status, if you're not comfortable with guys like Ezekiel Elliott or Melvin Gordon, pass on them for a safer pick. You don't have to draft them if you don't want to. At their current ADP, there are plenty of safe options.
As your draft starts rolling into the later rounds, that's where we're looking for upside. That's when we want the sexy potential. Guys like Curtis Samuel, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, and Josh Gordon have the potential to be solid fantasy contributors for your team. When you see guys like LeSean McCoy sitting on the board in the same spot, take a moment to realize that guys like Shady are known quantities. We know what his situation is like in Buffalo, and we know what kind of production he's likely to put up. It's OK to take a flier on someone at that point in your draft. You took care of the safe picks in the earlier rounds.
Finally, use your last skill position pick on a lottery ticket pick. This is a guy who will be your 4th or 5th WR/RB. If you like the incredible preseason that Jakobi Myers has had and think that he'll be a good fantasy bet later in the season, take a chance. Think Tony Pollard will emerge with a greater role on the team even when Zeke returns? Take a chance. After all, that's what lottery tickets are for.
3. Know Your Scoring
I can't stress this one enough and I see it happen every year. If your league gives points for receptions (PPR or 1/2 pt PPR), certain players are going to be more valuable than others. If your league starts 2 quarterbacks or gives 6 points for a passing touchdown, those players will be more valuable.
Know your scoring before you enter the draft room.
4. Take the Best Available Player
Think you need to fill your roster right away? Think again. I haven't had the luxury of drafting Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, or George Kittle on any of my teams, so what's the point in rushing to get a tight end? The same can be said about Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson. I don't own either so why would I rush to get a TE or QB just to fill out my roster? Take the best available player on the board. If that's another running back or wide receiver and your QB spot is unfilled, so be it. I'm happy to wait for Jared Cook or Russell Wilson.
Trust me, reaching is only good for getting things on really high shelves. It's not for fantasy football drafts.
5. Ditch the Magazines
I just got back from a live, in-person draft and saw several folks with printed magazines. Listen, we've all used magazines in the past, but as time-honored as that tradition might be, it's like using AOL's 56K dial-up service to get connected to the Internet. If you use the rankings from Fantasy Football Nerd, we are updating those every single day. Trades...injuries...suspensions...those things all get factored into dynamic player values.
The moment a magazine goes to print, that's it folks, and keep in mind that most of those articles are written well before it goes to print.
When your magazine was printed, Zeke and Melvin Gordon weren't holdouts, A.J. Green was perfectly healthy, and Antonio Brown still had skin on his feet. If you're going to spend $8 or $9 on a magazine that's useless after your draft is over, why not spend $14.95 on a Premium Membership to FFN and get access to not just draft information, but an entire season's worth of tools, rankings, and advice?
6. Players on the same team
I've watched people pass over players because they feel like they have too many from the same team. The logic generally flows something like this: half my team will be on bye at the same time and if the team does poorly, they'll all do poorly.
When I hear that, I like to sit the person down and regale them with fantastic stories about the 2007 New England Patriots and the 2013 Denver Broncos. In both examples, I played in leagues where someone did have a roster full of those players including Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Ben Watson, Laurence Maroney, and Sammy Morris for the Pats and Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, and Knowshon Moreno for the Broncos.
Guess what? Each guy lost the week that those teams were on bye, but they completely dominated every...single...other...week. The playoffs were a breeze for them.
7. Sh!t on your neighbor
This is one of my personal favorites and it comes from a card game that I was taught as a young child. Regardless of the name (I've also heard it called Screw Your Neighbor), it's a fun game that any age group can play and it's all about making things difficult for the person on your left. In this case, it's about the person who is drafting immediately after you.
The tactic works like this: get your Player Queue lined up before it's your turn to pick. You should have two or three players ranked in the order that you'd like to take them. When it's your turn to pick, grab the top-ranked guy in your queue and draft right away. Don't wait. The person drafting after you generally assumes that he/she has 60-90 seconds to make any final decisions about his/her next pick. By picking quickly, you are forcing the clock on them. People have a general fear of running out of time and auto-picking. Play on that fear and watch as their heart rate increases. Hopefully this forces them to rush into their pick.
8. Be Flexible
No, you don't have to be a master in yoga, but you do have to be flexible when it comes to your draft. Every year I get questions from FFN members who want to know what I think about their draft strategy. Should I go RB/RB or WR/WR? The answer is that it depends. It's helpful to do a mock draft to get an idea of where guys will likely fall, but no mock draft will ever perfectly replicate your actual draft. You may have a RB/RB strategy going in, but if Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham, Jr, or DeAndre Hopkins are staring you in the face after all the elite running backs are off the board, you need to pivot and take an elite WR instead. The point differential between a Tier 1 WR and a Tier 2 RB can be significant.
Have a plan, but be prepared to take what the draft gives you.
9. Draft a kicker LAST
Seriously - if you draft a kicker before the final round not named Greg the Leg, you're in trouble. Given the point contributions, prediction difficulties, and relative variances, I have yet to hear a coherent, logical argument for drafting one before the final round.
Oh, and you only need 1. Seriously - drop the one you have and pick another one up on the waiver wire if you have to. That extra roster spot should be spent on your lottery ticket player.
10. Be Prepared
Yes, FFN is an awesome tool to have, but what if your Internet connection goes down? What if you drop your tablet or laptop as you're reaching for your favorite beverage? Who knows what's going to happen on draft day?!? Be prepared by printing out our fantasy football cheatsheet and taking that with you. Yeah, it's old school, but it's definitely more timely than a magazine, and just like that condom you kept in your wallet all throughout high school, it's best to be prepared for the moment.
Finally speaking of moment - enjoy yours! We talk about things like strategy and which guys to target and when, but rarely do we talk about the fun part of the game. After all, we're not all in it for the money, right? Right?
Have fun! Throw some smack talk. The social aspect of fantasy football is one of the best parts of the game! Trust me - it won't be long before December is here and fantasy season is over.
Good luck in your draft!