2015 Fantasy Football: 10 Things You Don’t Want to Repeat From Last Year’s Draft
Oh 2014…the year that could’ve been, should’ve been and simply wasn’t for some of us as fantasy football owners. So leading into your upcoming league draft, what have you learned from last year’s mistakes? What strategies are going to turn the tide from your team of duds becoming a team of studs? Or are you going to keep running into that brick wall called drafting a defense in the 8th Round?
Here are ten things you don’t want to repeat from last year’s draft:
1. Procrastinating – Chances are if you are reading this article and consistently on this website throughout the year, you aren’t that guy on draft day scrambling with your late round picks. You also wouldn’t be trying to justify them with, “Chris Johnson still has 4.2 speed,” or thinking T.J. Houshmandzadeh is still in the NFL. Mock Draft from a couple different positions with our Draft Wizard tool, try out a couple of different theories and don’t go ahead and pencil in Antonio Brown to your lineup before you’ve drafted. Find someone who can play the devil’s advocate to your fantasy fetishes so that you don’t end up drafting only guys from your list of potential “breakouts.” Listen to a weekly podcast to catch up on news, notes and loosen up before the draft. Personal recommendation: “The Fantasy Footballers” podcast with Andy Holloway, Mike Wright and Jason Moore.
2. Recycling a Popular Team Name – C’mon guys. We’ve all heard the “punny” players team names and the crude, sexual innuendos that you have to live with for the year. Get creative this year. Stop googling “Best Fantasy Football” names and reach back and find a team name that will set your team apart. This obviously won’t give your team points on the board. But when you’re drafting and you see your team in the on-deck circle, you can get excited about unleashing your next pick. Last year I was “Borgognonis Jabronis,” a play on the phrase Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson used to say. I loved calling my guys a bunch of Jabronis, especially during a rough week. Don’t be sitting inside the box this year people. Reach outside.
3. Reacting to the Previous Pick – You’ve been patiently waiting since the last turn to take Matt Ryan. You’ve scouted and highlighted him on your cheat sheet, and believe you’re getting great value in Round 6. The jerk right before takes the Falcons’ QB, and you look at your lineup and start to panic. Don’t get scared and pick a Cam Newton or Tony Romo. Ask yourself, who has the most value at this current position? Knee-jerk reactions in drafting cause us to play with our emotions rather than rely on than the months of practice you put it. Chances are the next RB/WR will provide more value in the long term than quickly gathering up the next available position, which leads to my next point…
4. Trusting in Middling Quarterbacks – Guys, I’m about to preach…but quarterback is the seemingly most polarizing position in fantasy. You have your guys who take Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning to lock down the position and gain a point differential. If you subscribe to that school of thought, disregard my next rebuke. Don’t take middling quarterbacks! Last year, Matthew Stafford ended up as the 15th best QB yet was being drafted as a sure-fire top seven gunslinger. At the end of last season, many of the middling guys (Jay Cutler, Newton, Stafford) were outperformed by forgotten draft-day QBs Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Philip Rivers, and my personal favorite, Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill finished as the eighth best QB after being drafted 157th overall. There is great value at the position without needing to fill out your roster too early in your draft. Wait on your QB if you don’t get “your guy.”
5. Reaching for a Tight End– Once Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham are off the board, it seems like a panic comes over the draft room. Each round you’ll check your roster and realize “I need a TE!” Don’t jump on a TE unless you are confident you are getting good value. There’s a significant drop-off once you get past Rounds 4 and 5, which is when the rest of your league cronies start walking off the mindless cliff that is the mid-round TE run. If you are fortunate enough to get Travis Kelce in Rounds 4 or 5, I say jump on it. I also like “Old Faithful” Jason Witten, who is currently being drafted as the ninth or 10th TE. However, Witten’s value is basically in line with the fifth or sixth TEs being drafted (Antonio Gates, Martellus Bennett). Many TEs are touchdown dependent, so be cautious.
6. Ignoring Positional Scarcity – Listen…scarcity isn’t a trend or some sabermetric concoction. It is easy to look at last year’s final point totals and see so many QBs who outscored RBs. But at the end of the day, unless you have special scoring rules or two-QB leagues, true RB1s and RB2s are unbelievably valuable. Stock up on RBs in Rounds 5, 6 and 7 while everyone else is trying to fill out their rosters. You can find WR3s in later rounds. Take flyers on rookies but if you are the guy who has loaded up your roster with RB2s and FLEXs, you will be ready when someone’s RB goes down. Which leads me to our next don’t do…
7. Believing Your RB1 is Invincible – Last year was another perfect example of how frail the NFL RB can be. Everyone who had Montee Ball projected as a RB1 was rewarded with a guy who ended the season third on his own depth chart. LeSean McCoy went No. 1 overall in many drafts and barely cracked RB1 status at the end of the year. Running backs are fantasy gold and fool’s gold if you do not draft expecting injuries and inconsistency to occur at some point. Drafting three or four starter caliber RBs is better than trying to fill out your roster with backup WRs and TEs who will never see your gamely roster. Players such as Latavius Murray, Joseph Randle and Chris Ivory may not be flashy names right now. But you will be thanking yourself for stocking up and inserting a starting RB in your lineup once your guy goes down. Based on the positional scarcity, there is no better position to hoard from the rest of your league than RB. You’ll also be able to drive up the price in trading. See… scarcity is simple supply and demand.
8. Not Drafting Your RB Handcuff – Raise your hand if you felt like a fantasy king last year for drafting RB Giovanni Bernard and lighting up your league at the beginning of the season? But as Bernard succumbed to a nagging hip injury, you felt like a chump not drafting rookie Jeremy Hill as he tore apart your league. So fill your bench with a couple capable RB backups, even those you didn’t draft, and drive your other league owners crazy. For a current list of NFL handcuffs, we have already done the homework for you.
9. Not Savoring the Draft – I get the same feeling every year after the draft…sudden depression. For all the preparation, all the mock drafts and all the explanations to my wife about the importance of positional scarcity, it’s done. Just like that. But remember to “see and savor” as one of my good friends often says to me. Your fantasy football draft is one of the most enjoyable times of the year. Bask in what you just did. And take note of picks made who can be bulletin board material for some serious trash talk against your league mates.
10. Overreacting after the Draft – It seems that in every draft, people think, “My team is gonna wipe the floor this year!” or “What was I thinking with Doug Martin!” Sadly the latter was the common catastrophe in 2014. But don’t overreact, don’t get too prideful and don’t beat yourself up. You’ve just started the journey. Remember, all that preparation is going somewhere. Real in-game numbers will take over the projections. The “potential” you see in your team will meet real stats. And then you’ll see if you learned anything from last year’s draft.