In 2020 I did something drastic. I was fresh off a championship run behind touchdown catchin’ Doug Baldwin (his 2019 season was ridiculous) and knew I had to make some changes to my draft strategy to repeat and keep my fantasy reputation strong.
So, I spent the offseason studying trends, checking out stats, and building on my current strategy.
Throwing caution to the wind, I added some wrinkles and tried it out.
2 championships and $470 in winnings out of 3 leagues.
That $470 came at the perfect time too…I had just dropped out of college and moved to Nashville for a new job—and had bills piling up (including a payment for my fiance’s ring) before my first paycheck came through.
This strategy works.
It doesn’t guarantee you a championship by any means, but it’ll put you in position (barring everyone on your roster getting hurt) to compete for it every year.
And who doesn’t want to be consistently near the top?
So without further ado, here’s my 7-part strategy:
The “Fantasy Gods Ultimate Special Deluxe” Fantasy Football Draft Strategy
1. Draft Consistent Producers
Fantasy football and the stock market have a lot of common.
Ultimately, you can’t predict either.
Certain stocks start rising, and show incredible potential to keep rising, but suddenly tank and take investors down with it.
But the best investors know to put the majority of their money in stocks and funds that have proven themselves over the long-run.
Yeah, those investments will still have some bad years, but when you look at their long-term behavior, they’re trending upwards.
Same goes for fantasy football.
If you invest your top draft picks in proven players (and I mean players who have produced consistently for several years), you’ll put yourself in a great position.
But what do most people do?
They use their first round pick to draft a running back or wide receiver coming off an impressive rookie year. 30% of the time, they’re glad they did—70% of the time, they’re trying to climb out of their league’s basement all year.
2. Play it safe early—take risks late
I’ve seen it happen over and over again…
People have a sleeper they have a man crush on (I’m guilty of this) and they draft him really early.
If he doesn’t work out, they have to rely on getting lucky in free agency during the season.
It’s great to pick up gems off the waiver wire, but you never want to be in this situation…
The best way to get your sleepers without risking your draft, is to draft them late.
For instance, last year I thought LeGarrette Blount was undervalued. I waited and got him in several leagues with my 10th or 11th round pick.
If he didn’t turn out, it didn’t hurt me at all—if he did—my team would be significantly better. Luckily, he scored a ridiculous amount of TDs.
3. Wait for a quarterback
You’re better off drafting a top-10 quarterback halfway through your draft than you are drafting Aaron Rodgers with your first rounder.
It sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Over the past 5 years, quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Matthew Stafford have only averaged between 5-30 points less than Rodgers.
The gap between the elite quarterbacks and solid ones is significantly smaller than that of running backs and wide receivers.
You can get Russell Wilson in the 5th or 6th round who averaged only 10 points less than Rodgers since 2012—but a receiver or running back in the 5th or 6th round averages 80-100 points less than the elites.
You always want to keep value in mind when drafting.
4. Never draft a defense or kicker before the last two rounds (and only draft one of each)
Defenses, and especially kickers, are the least important pieces of your fantasy team—so draft them last.
Focus on filling out your bench with high potential prospects.
5. Pay attention to bye weeks
Don’t worry about bye weeks, just be aware of them.
Make sure you don’t draft players at any position where you only have a starter and a backup (QB and TE) with the same bye week.
6. Draft at least 4 running backs
Running back is a weird position in fantasy football.
Your RBs can carry your team to the finish line, but it’s really hard to get consistent producers unless you draft David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell.
That’s why I recommend drafting a stable of running backs.
You don’t necessarily have to go RB with your first rounder, but if you wait too long to get some, it can be dangerous.
You don’t have to wing it. You don’t have to go off your intuition (or those godforsaken Yahoo, ESPN, or NFL rankings) and beg the fantasy gods to give you a good team.
It’s okay to use a fantasy football cheat sheet.
Find some rankings that don’t suck, print ‘em out, and reference them during your draft. Everyone does it…you should too!