There are many strategies when it comes to drafting in fantasy football, and every year is different. That being said, there are plenty of tips and tricks that work every year that can lead you closer to a fantasy championship.
The 2020 season will be a bit strange, no doubt, with empty stadiums and new COVID IR rules making a bigger impact than we all hope. Regardless of what may happen, we still will have football as of now, so you better be prepared come draft day. Make sure you do some mock drafts, and if you know where you are drafting, practice from that spot. Here are some tips on how to build a winning team.
Go Running Back Heavy Early
The days of having a workhorse back are dwindling, and that makes these types of players even more valuable in fantasy. It used to be almost every team had a starting running back, but now only a handful truly run that type of offense. Christian McCaffery, Saquon Barkley, Zeke, Derrick Henry, the Chiefs RB (whoever it happens to be) are all examples of true workhorses. Now you’ll have to be in the first five picks in order to guarantee one of them, but if you happen to be drafting in a later spot, there are still some solid backs worth grabbing.
For instance, Josh Jacobs, Nick Chubb, and Joe Mixon are all 1000 yard rushers and are the main back for their team, even though they do cede more carries to backups/3rd down pass-catching backs than the guys I mentioned earlier. If you can, grab two of these guys in the first two rounds and I promise you’ll be happy.
Don’t be afraid to grab another RB in the 3rd or 4th round either. RB depth is very limited, and you will be able to find decent receivers throughout the entire draft. Starting RBs (including other backs in a rotation) tend to “run out” by the double-digit rounds.
Pick the Best Player Available
Sometimes we can be so set in our strategy that we will pass over good players because “we need another WR first!” The Best Player Available is a good strategy for a lot of fantasy players, as long as they get enough of each position early on. I would suggest starting with our first tip and then switching to the Best Player strategy after the first 4 rounds.
This trick allows you to be fluid, so if a TE or QB that normally is being drafted in the first 4 rounds suddenly falls into your lap, you don’t feel bad drafting them at a bargain. As the draft continues, you can try and pick the best available WR/RB to fill out your team. Just make sure you somehow are not picking the same position over and over.
Wait for the Later Rounds
Each fantasy player has their strategies when picking a QB, TE, DEF, and K (if you still use them), but I personally try to hold off as long as possible to pick these 4 positions. For QBs and TEs, both seem to have the top 3-5 guys that cost a lot of draft capital, followed by a big group of mid-tier guys. At the end of the year, these mid-tier guys are often very close in terms of stats and fantasy points, so you can feel at ease drafting them in rounds 8 or higher.
For instance, you can grab QB Matt Stafford in the 10th round. He’s coming off a hot start in 2019 that was derailed by injury, so he could easily put up huge numbers. TE Hunter Henry is going in the 9th round, and even with a new QB, he is talented enough to be a top 10 TE.
For defense, try to wait until rounds 13 or higher. Defenses are a huge dart throw year to year. See Chicago last year, or the Vikings before that. A lot of things change year to year, so you can’t rely on past defensive experience.
Lastly, please draft your kicker in the last round. There are 32 kickers, so there are tons of solid options. Don’t be the person who drafts Justin Tucker in the 10th round. There are so many available WRs (and some RBs) that are more fitting in those rounds. And if you hate your QB, TE, DEF, or K, it doesn’t hurt you at all to drop them and pick up someone off the waiver wire who may be performing better.
I’ve heard a lot of fantasy players lament how they have a team with a ton of players on bye on a given week. I too fell prey to that line of thought. I would often check Bye weeks before drafting any player. If my WR1 had the same Bye week as WR2, I’d skip drafting that player for the next best guy. However, that is a terrible strategy when picking your team. Yes, you might struggle on that particular week, but you should never sacrifice talent for that reason. In the end, who cares if you lose one week if two certain players can lead you to wins every other week?
Everyone always gets excited for the rookies that get drafted early in the NFL draft, but rookie WRs hardly ever make a huge impact that first year. Of course, there are always exceptions to that, but this year there are so many hyped-up rookies that it might be difficult to pick the one that will go off.
When it comes to rookie WRs, wait until the last 3-4 rounds before you take a shot on one. It’s not a horrible idea, if you feel good about your team, to use your last few picks on some rookie WRs to just see how they fare in the first few weeks. Worst case scenario they don’t perform and you can drop them without taking a huge hit in draft capital.
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