How to Accumulate Extra Positional Value on Draft Day (Fantasy Football)
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Every summer when draft season gets underway, I remind myself of a personal mantra: Take the best player available and draft for need when it’s absolutely necessary.
In many cases, this strategy causes me to accumulate surplus value at a specific position. There have been years where I’ve taken three running backs with my first four picks and others where I’ve wound up with six or seven receivers to only four or five tailbacks.
Accumulating extra value at a specific position comes with pros and cons. Having depth at any position gives you an advantage, but sometimes adding too much value to one category leaves you vulnerable in another.
So how do we accumulate extra positional value without sacrificing the rest of our roster? Here are four tips that will help you add depth while maintaining a roster balance.
Keep tabs on how your league mates are drafting
Don’t have tunnel vision. Keeping track of what your league mates are doing will give you a stronger idea of when a positional run is coming. Your goal is to predict when that run will happen and use it to your advantage.
For example, say you’re in the fourth round of your draft and you’ve drafted two running backs and one wide receiver. You have a hunch that a run on tailbacks is coming as several teams went heavier at wide receiver early. In this situation, you would be wise to take another running back and add extra value to the position. Your pick will only make the teams light at running back more desperate, which will allow you to snag wide receivers while other teams are frantically taking running backs.
Let’s use the same example, except in this case you think there’s a run at wide receiver coming. With only one receiver on your roster, you’d be best to draft for need and add another receiver. Taking another tailback in this spot might give you a valuable strength, but it will likely leave you with a lack of exciting options at receiver with your next pick.
Stockpile RBs and WRs only
Only accumulate surplus-value at running back and wide receiver, as they’re the two most valuable and scarce positions. The scarcity is especially severe at running back. A whopping 116 fantasy points separated Aaron Jones, the No. 2 tailback in half-point PPR formats, and Marlon Mack, the No. 20 running back.
That enormous drop off in production tells you everything you need to know about the importance of accumulating value at running back. Try to get as many tailbacks with top-2o potential as you can without sacrificing roster balance.
And while wide receiver is much deeper than running back, it’s also more volatile and unpredictable than ever. Aside from the perennial stars, the wide receiver position is a mosh pit of talented pass catchers who have the chance to be a stud or a dud in any given week. Consider this: only 28 points separated Mike Evans and Davante Adams, the No. 12 and No. 24 receivers in half-point PPR leagues. Calvin Ridley, fantasy’s No. 25 receiver, scored only 31 more fantasy points than No. 40, Christian Kirk.
It’s crucial to take as many shots as possible at wide receiver. Last year, I ended up drafting Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, DJ Moore, Dante Pettis, and Courtland Sutton. Each of those receivers aside from Pettis played an enormous role in my championship season. That depth proved pivotal when studs like Jones, Allen, and Kupp were on bye or faced a bad matchup.
Wait to take quarterbacks and tight ends
Superflex and two QB/TE leagues aside, I rarely take a quarterback or tight end within the first eight rounds of a draft. Those rounds should be used to stockpile running backs and receivers instead.
Last season’s top four quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston, and Russell Wilson all had ADPs in the eighth round or later in 12-team leagues. In 2019, there were 19 passers who scored at least 250 fantasy points. You can find a reliable starting quarterback later in the draft, or you can play the weekly matchups and stream.
Tight end is more of a crapshoot than anything else. While Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz are tremendous players, they don’t present enough value to draft in the first three or four rounds. Last year, Darren Waller was barely being drafted and Mark Andrews had an ADP in Round 11. You’re better off taking a stab at finding the next Waller or Andrews. Never take more than one tight end, even if it’s a late-round flier. You’re better off using your lottery tickets on receivers and backs.
Use your surplus to address needs during the season
After a few weeks of the season have gone by, re-assess your roster to see if the depth you’ve assembled has panned out as planned. If it has, then it might be time to use your surplus to address other areas of the roster.
This isn’t to say that the depth you’ve accumulated should be taken for granted. But let’s face it, you can’t start everyone on your roster. That means good players are likely wasting away on your bench every week. While injuries can always turn a surplus into a shortage, you’re better off trading away extra assets in one position to bolster another.
If you have a surplus of running backs and a need at wide receiver, make offers to teams that need running backs and have plenty of quality wide receivers. Remember that quality matters most. Trading your good running back for only one good receiver is always better than getting three lousy receivers in return.
Deciding who to trade on your roster is often a conflicting decision. I always start by seeing who’s outperforming expectations and gauging whether they’ll continue on their upward trajectory or regress. Always try to sell high, even if it might feel painful trading away a player who got off to a great start.
Trading away your hard-earned depth might feel like a sacrifice. But when it’s done right, it’s the best thing you can do to balance out your roster.