I received a number of questions last week relating to how I like to use the Draft Dashboard, as well as general draft strategy inquiries. We have a couple of users that are just getting into fantasy football and are curious as to how I would go about drafting if not employing an approach such as Zero-RB (which is how I draft for just about every redraft league I play in).
In order to kill two birds with one stone, I ran through a mock draft and documented my thought processes while doing so. I did my best to explain what I was looking at within the Dashboard as things moved along, while at the same time providing some general drafting thoughts for fantasy beginners.
Please note that some developments that would impact ADP and tiers have transpired since I started working on this article.
Pick Number: 3
Starters: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, FLEX, D, ST
Our round 1 pick is an easy one. With the exception of very unique leagues, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham should be the first three picks. In our draft, Brown went first and Jones second.
*click on the picks to see in full size*
Based on the above sentiment, our obvious choice is OBJ. However, if we take things a step further we’ll realize that WR is the scarcest position. This is mainly because of the number of WR starters that are required to be played. Further, there are more RBs in tiers 1 – 3 than WRs in tiers 1 – 3. WRs are easier to predict year over year, have lower injury rates and tend to ‘bust’ less. Remember, we won’t be picking for another 20 picks. All tier 1 and 2 WRs could potentially be gone before things come back around to us (top right corner). Easy call here with OBJ and a tier 1 WR.
So here’s the deal – we are higher on Alshon Jeffery than the rest of the league. As such, he’s available. Though the team needs are pointing toward RB, I’m inclined to go with a WR. It’s completely fine to deviate from the position included in team needs. The analysis is there to serve as a guide. But here’s why we are going WR. Jeffery is the only WR in tier 1 available. This means that if we don’t take him now he will more than likely be gone at our next pick. Based on ADP, he’s the next player off the board. Further, as there are only four picks between our next, I’m going to venture that there’s a good chance a tier 2 RB will still be available when we are up next. In general, PPR drafts conducted on this site see a high volume of receivers being selected in the next five picks. Also, the other algorithms indicate that WR is getting scarce. If our other league members are savvy, we should see some being taken. Which again, will leave us some tier 2 backs to choose from at our next pick. Let’s go with Jeffery.
It’s a good thing we took Alshon. Sure enough, all four picks that transpired between ours were spent on WRs. Here’s what we are working with for pick three.
This is going to be a harder decision. In many ways, we need to think through what we value more in the context of our team. A tier 2 WR or tier 2 RB. Keep in mind, we already have two excellent receivers. So it might make sense to start building our RB corps (that is if we ignore opportunity cost). However, we can see that 11 WRs are projected as selections in the next 20 picks. This would likely deplete all of tier 2 and tier 3. I prefer to build my teams around WRs. For starters, we need to play more than any other position, they generally score more points in PPR leagues and are easier to predict than RB and TE. During the season, I will play the waiver wire to pick up the RBs that find their way into significant roles in their offense. There are great examples from every season. Yes, some WRs will come off the waiver wire. But as many more will be drafted, the chances of these waiver wire WRs being league winners or usable in my roster seem less likely.
So let’s go with a WR yet again. As you may recall from before, I view all players in a single tier at a particular position as representing the same range of likely outcomes. As such, Randall Cobb and Jeremy Maclin are very similar options. In order to break this tie, I will first check out their ADPs and see if there is anyway one could fall to me in the next round. Not a chance in this scenario. Next, I will consider each player’s ceiling, floor and likely targets. This is tricky. The Chiefs will likely operate at a slower pace and record fewer passing attempts than Green Bay. However, Maclin will likely have a higher percentage of his team’s targets. At the end of the day, it’s hard to differentiate based on targets alone. Maclin comes with a solid weekly floor, however, based on historical production and his role as the primary WR in KC. Or at least, I assume he may have a better weekly floor than Cobb. Let’s use that to break our tie and go with Maclin. At this point in our draft, I don’t feel that we need a great deal of volatility; especially as we have OBJ anchoring the team. Again, both players are tier 2 WRs. If we’ve tiered correctly, they should be largely interchangeable.
I think it’s time that we pivot our attention toward RB. We could grab a tier 3 WR to add depth and play in the FLEX. However, we could alternatively grab two tier 3 RBs in our next two picks and balance out our team. If we don’t go RB with at least one of our next two, we might as well go all out Zero-RB. For this team and league, however, we are feeling good about our team and we do like the tier 4 WRs. So let’s go with a RB. Of all the players in the tier, I think that Gio Bernard may be the best balance of safety and upside. The majority of Cincinnati game scripts work in his favor, his pass catching ability keeps him on the field and if Jeremy Hill goes down, he could finish as an RB1. Based on ADP, if four RBs are selected between this pick and our next he’ll be gone. Bernard it is. Also, both Team 1 and Team 2 have yet to draft any RBs. For this reason, I doubt that both would forego selecting a RB and perhaps both might even go with two.
Important concept here. Drafters often have a tendency to consider the FLEX as less of a position. For this reason, they will fill it last. Wrong. 100 percent, unequivocally wrong. You can score just as many points, if not more from a player in your FLEX as any other position. In fact, the FLEX is so important. It can provide your team with so much utility. You have the ability to determine what position the player that will fill your FLEX is from. In my opinion the WRs in my tier 3 are much better selections for my team than the tier 3 RBs. I believe that my team would be better off, overall, by securing a tier 3 WR with my next pick and a tier 4 RB with the subsequent. I want a WR in my FLEX. Plus, if we study the projected breakdown of positions within the next 20 picks, it seems like we may even be able to wait a round and still grab a tier 3 RB. As a result, I’m going to deviate from my plan last round and go with a tier 3 WR. Honestly, I’m trying not to go so WR heavy for purposes of this walk-through, but with the way this draft is falling I can’t help it.
Anyway, let’s see if things work in our favor and we are able to continue building a stable of solid receivers and still be able to have two starting tier 3 RBs. For this pick, I will go with the player that I feel most confident will not put up a dud in 2016. That’s not to say that I think any will. I just see fewer scenarios where Eric Decker fails to live up to my expectations than Doug Baldwin or Jordan Matthews.
Things went our way. Only 2 RBs were selected between picks 51 and 69 in this particular draft. Rather, WRs flew off the board. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m actually inclined to grab one of the three remaining tier 4 WRs. This would give us more depth at the position and it’s impossible that no tier 3 RBs will be available at our next pick. Of course, as both Team 1 and Team 2 only have one back each, it does seem likely that they will be targeting RBs.
But I get that Zero-RB is not for everyone. If you’re going to be playing in only 1 or 2 leagues, maybe you want to have a couple of noteworthy backs to root for. Of the RBs available, I’m most inclined to add Jeremy Langford to this team. Though former Bears OC Adam Gase will no longer be with the team, I still expect Langford to receive a fair amount of targets in the passing game in addition to leading the team in carries. This gives him the potential for a lot of opportunity and some level of upside. Though you could argue that he might be riskier than some of our other options, with the way we our building our team I’m cool with it. Langford it is.
I’m currently working on completing a Beginner Draft Dashboard User/ Beginner Fantasy Football Player Guide that I will be publishing on the site soon. I’ll be finishing this draft in the guide so you’ll be able to read through the rest then if you’re interested. I also plan on including detailed directions and a lot more info on the tool within the document. It should assist prospective users in deciding if the Draft Dashboard is the tool they should use in 2016.