Late-round WR strategy: Risky or Safe?

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What goes through your head when you draft your WR3?  Are you safely filling a roster spot or plotting to find a diamond in the rough?

A lively discussion at Fantasy Football Cafe asked this exact question.  It started out by getting feedback on late round WRs and by page 3 evolved into a philosophical debate. The thread did such a great job covering each side that it's worth quoting parts here:

Risk and Reward Strategy

In favor of a bold strategy was Kensat30, a longtime member of the Cafe:

"Derrick Mason and Donald Driver are the model of consistency. Do I want them as my WR3? Hell no.
...Devin Hester and Ted Ginn aren't bye week players, those guys are potentially the next Javon Walker or Steve Smith."

This strategy views every pick as an opportunity to draft an amazing, championship-winning player.  Taking a player with a low ceiling means missing a chance at a big winner.  In shallow leagues, waiver wire players can often fill in respectably if a risky player totally bombs.

Steady Freddy Strategy

In rebuttal, mattUTD20 replied:

"I think it is pretty foolish just to write off the older guys who have been around the block a few times because of whatever misconception you have of them. Too many people spend too much of their time looking for that pipe dream WR1 in the 10th round."

The cold-hard facts show that it's unlikely that a given player in the 10th round will turn into a star. That's why they're in the 10th round to begin with.  If you draft your WR3 trying to get a WR1, you may end up with a zero instead.

ADP Comparision

Here is a comparison of the ADP trends of some old guys (Mason and Driver) versus some young guys (Harvin and Ginn) that can all be had in the 8th/9th round of 12-team drafts:

Harvin is the only player moving, but he'll likely stop in the 8th round for now.  If he makes some big flashy plays this preseason, his value could climb even more.

It is a little odd to see players on such opposite ends of the risk spectrum so close together in ADP.  There is definitely more upside to the younger players, but it requires skill and luck to actually land a great wide receiver who pans out.

To Each His Own

Risk is a big factor in fantasy football, and it should be managed with care.  It's important to think about which strategy you think will work best for you, because drafts can be won and lost by late round picks.

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Categories: ADP