Easy Like Sunday Morning - Week 1
Of course, we’re here to get you prepped with all of our Week 1 content. For those looking for injury news, make sure you check out Dave Pratt’s Sunday morning Fantasy Injury Ward. Of course, if you want a heads up on Mother Nature, you can check out our friends over at NFLWeather.com. It’s not just forecasts either. They have a treasure trove of information, so I highly recommend surfing around a bit.
We’ve really beefed up our Daily Fantasy Sports offerings this year, so make sure you check it out. This week, Renee Miller gives some general strategies, Dan Schneier breaks down the week’s best QB/WR stack options, and Joey Cartolano tells you who to fade. You’ll also want to check out Pat Thorman’s DraftKings plays, and my action over at FanDuel.
Well be updating our rankings right up until kickoff, so check back early and often. If you have any start/sit questions, make sure you join us for our Week 1 War Room Hangout live on Google from 11:00 – noon EST. Last and certainly not least, those in IDP leagues will want to read my Week 1 Breakdown and all of the rest of our great IDP content.
But First, Let’s Look Back…
Before we get into the thick of things, we have one last chance to look back and reflect on the hectic draft season. Each year this game of ours evolves, and we certainly saw a number of changes in 2014.
It looked like the upside down wide receiver heavy draft strategy wave had crested, as the fantasy community reverted back to a running back-centric draft approach last season. Running backs comprised 11 of the first 12 picks in ADP in 2013.
Well, that trend has yet again shifted. Sure, running backs still dominated the top of drafts, with the first five picks in ADP going at the position. But from there, things get interesting. According to the ADP date from our friends over at FantasyPros, two quarterbacks (Manning and Brees), three wideouts (Johnson, Thomas, and Bryant), and one tight end (Graham) were among the top 12 players selected in fantasy drafts.
We know that last season many owners got burnt by their early selections. It will be interesting to see if the same fate awaits those who faded running back in the first round. I suspect it won’t. But those who did so need to have hit on some running backs in the middle and late rounds or it could be a long season.
Of course, I’d be remiss to not share with you one of my biggest takeaways from this past draft season. It’s rare to see any mistakes in fantasy industry mocks and league drafts, but mistakes in home leagues are often plentiful. In my observations from my own home leagues, I consistently observed a very simple mistake that ended up wrecking a lot of solid drafts.
Here’s the scenario. You’re prepped for draft day. You come equipped with the rankings and projections of your choice (hopefully from PFF Fantasy), and you’re ready to roll. The first seven rounds, you knock it out of the park. Your team is a rock, and your starters are set. You then draft your backups, snagging a sleeper or two along the way.
Leaving the draft, you’re stoked. Best. Draft. Ever. But then we get to Week 8 and you’ve managed to avoid the injury bug, yet you’re still sitting with a 3-5 record. What went wrong?
There’s obviously no singular answer to this question, but I noticed the same mistake happening over and over in my home leagues. I’d venture to say that it’s the likely culprit.
Looking back to the scenario, you drafted your starters and then your backups. That’s the mistake right there. “But, Jeff,” you say. “How else would I draft?”
This is more a matter of philosophical approach, but I’m suggesting the mistake is in how we think about our rosters. Most fantasy owners view their roster as starters and backups instead of a complete roster. Like I said, their starters are strong, but they lack the depth necessary to get them through the bye weeks unscathed.
Viewing our teams as complete rosters and not as starters and backups, results in a very different approached to drafts. You hear it all the time that you should draft for value, but what does that ultimately mean?
In this case, what I’m suggesting is you come into a draft with a list of your top players and draft you’ve exhausted the list. In terms of how many players, some do 50, others 75. It really depends on your league size and settings.
The key here is that you know you like these players the most, so they will offer the most value to your roster. So keep drafting them even after you’ve filled your starting spots. While they may be on your bench, these players aren’t backups. They’re all starting-caliber players, meaning you’re loaded with depth. Remember, the strength of a team is not based solely on their starters, but on the complete roster.
In a recent 10-team home draft, I deployed this strategy with a Top 50 list. Just like in our example, everyone was fairly solid until about the sixth-round when some owners starter to unravel. I stuck to my approach and continued to draft from my Top 50 until the eleventh-round. So that means I got 22 percent of my Top 50 with my opponents averaging just 8.6 percent of my Top 50. That’s a decidedly stacked roster in comparison to the rest of the league, and it was all possible due to how a majority of the league viewed their rosters.
I know it’s a long time until 2015 draft season, but file this one away. Viewing your team as a complete roster as opposed to starters and bench will help you dominate nearly every home draft your in.
Alright, I’ve rambled enough, so let’s do this. Good luck in Week 1!
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor and resident IDP maven of PFF Fantasy.