Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fantasy Football Strategy: I Want to Win it All or Come in Last Place

A recent conversation with a friend went something like this.
He started with, "I got a great 2nd QB in the 8th round"
"WHAT! Why" I asked.
"I got Peyton in the 2nd round and then Cam fell into my lap in the 8th. He is there in case Peyton gets hurt or as trade bait when some one else's QB gets hurt."

I hate this "strategy". It is the same as handcuffing a RB early. I do not do it. Here's why.

I want to either dominate everyone else because some of my sleepers hit or have all my sleepers fail and I lose every game. No in-between. I do not want to come close but end up in 4th place. 

I want first or last. I swing for the fences with lots of sleepers and high risk/high reward players in my middle to late draft picks so that when one or two hit I can win, win, win!

Taking a 2nd QB early (no matter how good) is a flawed strategy in my opinion. Your QB2 can only play in one game-your QB1's bye week game. Think about it, are you really going to ever start Can Newton over Peyton Manning? Or RG3 over Drew Brees? Brady over Aaron Rodgers? Nope. PM, Brees and Rodgers are the elite QBs in the league and as such are started week in and week out. They are your stud QBs. Start'em and forget about 
'em. If you draft one of those three QBs then forget about the QB position until late in the draft when everyone else has two QBs then maybe draft your QB2 or better yet punt on QB2 and just pick a filler up off the waiver wire if QBs are there due to a small roster size in your league. I did this recently in an expert league. I drafted Peyton Manning in the 4th round and then did not draft another QB the entire draft. I made sure there were a few QBs left that would be on the waiver wire before my last draft pick but then used my last pick on a sleeper WR. I figure I can pick up a QB in week 2 after the starting lineups are more settled. And I will drop one of my sleepers who has not panned out, but who had the entire preseason and week 1 and 2 to show me something worthy of staying on my roster.

I am drafting in a slow Draft Masters draft this year and saw the same thing happen. One of the owners drafted Peyton Manning and then followed it up with Aaron Rodgers in the next round. Why? A Rodgers is NOT going to get you much extra at the QB position. Why waste a 4th rounder on Rodgers when you could draft a Larry Fitz or starting RB there.

In yet another league an owner drafted a 2nd defense on his 16 team roster. Granted he got the top defense SEA but way too early for my taste (5th round-are you kidding... no defense is worth taking before my starters--RBs, WRs and TE at least) but then followed it up with another good Defense several rounds later. Why? Defenses do not get hurt. You can start SEA every week with confidence but their bye (week 4). Rather than waste a mid round pick on another DEF why not add a sleeper RB or WR and take a chance they will hit for big points. Your DEF2 is not going to go super star for you. At best they will surprise and be the best defense but how many more points will that be over SEA? You do not gain anything if they hit!

I say do not double up on kickers, defenses or elite QBs. You can always add a DEF as a filler from the waiver wire.

Bottom line-I want extra players who can flex. That is the positions I want to stockpile-NOT QB, K and DEF.

Back to the point of NOT drafting a QB2 early. By doing so you give up the option of drafting a good RB or WR with that pick who can be a flex player, bye week fill in or injury replacement. 

RBs miss on average 2 games a year, while WR and TEs miss 1 game a year. Add in the bye weeks for the 6 players other than QB (including a flex position) and you have 13 weeks a year to use a fill in player in most leagues (starting 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE and a flex).

The same applies for drafting a Handcuff for your RB too early. Handcuffing provides you insurance in case your RB is injured but by doing so the effective cost drags your team down because you do not have that good RB or WR who could propel your team to greatness. Don't get me wrong I am all for drafting a handcuff in the right situation. But for me it must meet all of these conditions:

-The RB is injury prone or has a history of injury (think Arian Foster well any year)
-The handcuff (HC) is clear and he will get the touches if the RB ahead of him goes down. (Ben Tate last year at HOU)
-The HC is a good RB who has proven he can produce if given the chance. (Tate again)
-The draft spot where you have to draft him is NOT before all of your RB/WR and TE starter positions are filled. For example in a start 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE and 2 Flex players league I would suggest that drafting a HC prior to drafting those 7 players (i.e must wait until the 8th or later) is a mistake. 

Summary: I want to win and do it decisively. To do that you cannot IMO draft handcuffs for QBs or RBs in the early or middle rounds. After your starting lineup, you need to stockpile RBs and WRs in the hopes that one or two hit and propel you to the Championship. If you draft a 2nd QB after getting an elite one or if you draft a RB HC too early you constrain your team to mediocrity by forfeiting the potential breakout player. Yes, you have insurance in case your star goes down but that just gives you a decent team not a dominant team. I say forgo the insurance in most cases and go "All In". Draft the RB or WR with potential. If your QB or RB1 gets hurt and is out for the year and your sleepers do not hit then you will most likely come in last place. But you gave yourself the best chance of winning it all. 

I want to swing for the fences or go back to the dugout after striking out. Walks or free passes do not cut it. I do not want to go back and take solace in at least making contact (I finished in 4th place so at least I did not finish last). I want to be the hero or the zero. Anything in-between is middle of the road, satisfactory mediocrity that might give solace to some but that is defeat in my eyes. 

Sorry for the mixed metaphors but it is baseball season don't ya know. 

Fantasy Football Tips (2nd Edition): 230 Ways to Win through Player Rankings, Cheat Sheets and Better Drafting ($12.95) www.amazon.com/dp/1936635151

Books from Extra Point Press:

Fantasy Football Guidebook (2nd Edition): Your Comprehensive Guide to Playing Fantasy Football ($19.95) http://www.amazon.com/dp/0982428650


Fantasy Football Basics: The Ultimate "How to" Guide for Beginners available ($10.95) at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/0982428634

Fantasy Hockey: The Ultimate "How-to" Guide for Fantasy Hockey Players ($14.95) www.amazon.com/dp/1936635100

Fantasy Basketball Handbook: The Ultimate "How-to" Guide for Beginners and Experienced Players ($12.95) www.amazon.com/dp/1936635097


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