‘If you have a top three overall pick and you take a quarterback you are an idiot.’ I shook my head as the words hit my eardrums. This excellent analyst had a point, but it was overstated. Maybe that’s his job, to stir the pot without qualifiers, but I submit to you that if your own personal projections have Aaron Rodgers as a slam dunk to repeat last year’s performance (36 ppg NFFC/30 ppg FFPC) and you think that Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy all pose a serious risk, then you’re a fool not to take the Packer general. There’s nothing worse than plopping down $1500, only to follow the strategy of the pundits, ignore your gut, and then watch your team languish in the middle of the pack when you could have flourished if you’d just listened to your own voice.
When I draft ‘by the book’ I finish between fourth and seventh. In my mind, whether I finish in fourth or I finish last, I’m out of the money so there is no difference. When I play high stakes I’m aiming for the big carrot. I’m playing for the grand prize. That’s a very difficult goal to accomplish when you are going up against hundreds or even thousands of opponents, and it’s even more difficult using a conventional draft strategy. You have to zig when others zag. You have to think outside the box. I’m going to take it a step further this year and blow the box up. I’m done with it.
The big draft weekend for the NFFC and the FFPC is just two weeks away. That’s plenty of time to prepare for the two biggest high stakes events in the industry. We’ll look at both conventional and unconventional draft strategies that will help you leverage your draft position, but in the end there is no silver bullet. There is no magic elixir. There is only one strategy that has proven the test of time, that is preparation, scouting, and watching the preseason games. If you can, watch every single matchup. Get a good look at every single tight end, wide receiver, running back and quarterback. That may sound crazy, but so is dropping $1,500 to $10,000 to enter a fantasy football competition. My best advice would be to get the NFL network, a DVR, and watch as many preseason games as you can. NFL Network is still broadcasting Week three preseason games all week. Order NFL Network now or bribe a friend who has it! Otherwise, at best you’re on equal footing with everyone else in your league. Everyone knows ADP like the back of their hand. They’ve got their sheets printed up. The ‘sleepers’ have all been published and everyone knows about them. People argue about how much skill vs. luck there is in fantasy football. If everyone at the draft table has the exact same amount of knowledge and use similar draft strategies, then fantasy football becomes 100% luck. Think about it.
Learn ADP and the market as a starting point. The key is to spot market inefficiencies. The best way to do that is to watch as much film as you can with an eye towards discerning where everyone might be wrong. Leverage your draft position by selecting as many secure investments (players) as possible, then fill your quiver with as many upside arrows as you can to maximize your probability of outperforming your opponent, realizing that this process necessitates going out on a limb; making that pick you know is right but will likely result in a few pejorative jabs at the draft table. Just smile and let them have their fun in September with an eye towards having more fun cashing a check in December.
Box thinking says draft RB’s and WR’s the first six rounds because of scarcity. Wait until the 7th or later to draft a QB because you can always find a value pick to give you 20 points per week and starting TE’s can be had a plenty late. That thinking is fine and you can certainly cash with that strategy, and if I’m playing in a private league in which I’m just going up against 11 or 13 other teams I may do just that, but if you want the overall grand prize in a larger contest, if you’re playing inside the box you might as well play the lotto. So many people use that strategy with a similar knowledge base you’re going to need a great deal of luck to be the master of a 1,600 player pool (NFFC Online Championship) or king of a 3,000 player mountain (Football Guys Championship). Unless you hit most of your early picks out of the park you’re not going to win the 150k. On the other hand if you turn the box on its head you’ll either go down in flames or crush the competition. That’s what we’re going to do.