Fantasy Football: 4 Myths You Should Ignore On Draft Day
How do you build a successful fantasy football team? The process starts as early as you want it to, but the first affirmative step you take is drafting your team. Prior to your draft, you will likely read countless articles, posts, and tweets about strategy and what to do or not do when drafting. Out of everything you read or listen to, there is only one objectively correct strategy – that there is no objectively correct strategy.
There are many different ways to construct a team. Today, we will focus specifically on the draft. Here are four common myths that you should ignore on draft day.
Draft Players with Favorable Playoff Schedules
This one is first because the poor logic behind it is obvious. There are so many things wrong with this strategy. First and foremost, your goal when drafting your team is to make the playoffs. The playoffs are two or three weeks and almost certainly will require some luck to make and win a final. Worry about getting there in August and September. The time to concern yourself with playoff scheduling is during the season once your status as a playoff-bound team is relatively secure.
Secondly, we have no idea what a favorable playoff schedule even is. How can you draft for something with undefined parameters? The opposing defenses you want to target in September may be very different than the ones you want to target in December. Players get hurt, traded, and over/underperform. The NFL landscape in December is very different than it is in September. It’s hard enough to predict what favorable matchups will look like in September. Don’t even try to predict what things will look like in December.
Handcuff Your Running Backs
If you’ve been playing fantasy football long enough, you’ve suffered having to endure watching your stud running back go down and seeing that gaping hole in your lineup. Sure, you may have a competent backup, but nothing can replace that elite level of production. However, many fantasy owners think they can shield themselves from catastrophe by simply drafting that stud’s backup. Stop doing this.
On average, you will drop over half your drafted players during the course of a season. Players get hurt and more commonly, you just miss. We are playing a game based on a game that features an oblong-shaped ball and 22 moving parts every play. Predicting the future is difficult. Your draft will have 15 or 16 rounds. Every pick you make is a chance to add value to your roster. When you draft a player that is purely a backup to a player you already roster, there is exactly a 0% chance that player can add value to your roster. The only way that player is useful is if you lose a player of considerably greater value. And even if that backup can replicate the production of the starter, at best, you spent two picks on one player. Sure, it is frustrating when your star running back goes down and you see your league mates scrambling to pick up his backup, or, worse when they already roster him. Here’s the kicker, though: it goes both ways. Injury proneness aside, your running backs are no more likely to get hurt than anyone else’s. Just as your opponents can benefit from an injury to your running back, you can benefit from an injury to their running backs. Simple probability dictates that the odds of a running back getting hurt on a team that isn’t yours are greater than the odds your running back(s) get hurt. Instead of handcuffing your own running backs, go and handcuff someone else’s running back. If the starter goes down, maybe you end up with the guys you already have plus an additional useful running back. You now have added value to your team.
The most important reason you shouldn’t handcuff your own running backs, though, is because we are bad at predicting who the handcuffs actually are. Each season, there are only a handful of running backs with backups that are both good enough to replace most of the value of the starter and clearly and definitively the beneficiaries of an injury to the starter. For most of the league’s running backs, the next man up is either a committee, bad at football, or both, and we are far worse than we think at predicting who it will be.
Caring About Bye Weeks
There is exactly one scenario where you should care about bye weeks when drafting and that is if you are drafting a backup quarterback. And even then, if you’re waiting on quarterback and just trying to find a guy that can breakout late, I wouldn’t pass on a guy I believed in simply because he had the same bye as another guy I believed in. By the time the bye week rolls around, you should have your quarterback situation figured out.
In general, bye weeks don’t matter. As I stated above, we are going to miss on over half of our draft picks. The bye week problem you think you have after the draft may not exist by Week 3 because you’ve dropped a bust pick or four. Draft the best players on your board while taking into consideration position scarcity and need. If you like a player, don’t pass on him for someone you like a little less simply because of his bye week. If players having the same bye week ends up being a problem for you by the time bye weeks roll around, then you must have done pretty well in your draft. 90% of the time, the problem takes care of itself.
ADP Doesn’t Matter – Take Your Guy
Setting aside the fact that historically, ADP has been a reliable predictor of player performance, you are going to have your own set of rankings and your own set of targets. You want your guys and you should do everything you can to get your guys. You will hear plenty of fantasy analysts tell you to ignore ADP and make sure you get your guy. That’s not entirely untrue; it’s just incomplete advice.
You need to consider ADP when your target is someone with an ADP multiple rounds lower than where you have him ranked. If you have a player with a seventh-round ADP ranked as a fourth-round player, you shouldn’t take him in the fourth round just because he’s the highest player on your board. Use knowledge of his ADP to know that you can wait at least one, if not two more rounds to draft him with it still being ahead of his ADP and, instead, draft a player you have lower on your board with an ADP closer to where you actually pick. Draft your players in the order that maximizes your chances of getting as many of the players you want as possible.