Don’t Forget Fantasy Football Rule No. 1
Perhaps some of you have tuned in and caught the Fantasy Football Power Hour podcast I do every Friday night with Jim Day (@Fantasytaz) and Dish Adams (@tequilability). If you have, you probably know that one of our rules for fantasy football owners in 2013 is “wait to draft your Quarterback”.
And to be fair, this isn’t our exclusive advice – listen to just about any and every analyst these days and you’re likely to hear about the depth at the QB position and the benefits to drafting one later than normal.
My own rule of thumb for this season, as I outlined in my article for the “Football Diehards” magazine, is to wait until at least 60% of your fellow-owners have taken their first QB. This way you don’t get caught on the wrong side of a run but you also don’t spend too early a pick to fill the position. Thus far in my 2013 drafts, this rule has served me well.
Earlier this week a new fantasy football app for smartphones called Fanium Fantasy Football was released.
Fanium (@FaniumFantasyFB) recruited a bunch of analysts and experts to help promote their launch by creating some special leagues, and I was honored to be invited to join one of them with some excellent competition including the man who is synonymous with the “wait-on-Quarterback” philosophy, JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB).
Let me run down a few early picks in this league, and see if you find anything interesting. Remember, this is an “experts’” league and remember what you’ve just finished reading:
1.03 – Drew Brees
1.07 – Aaron Rodgers
2.03 – Cam Newton
2.08 – Peyton Manning (drafted by JJ Zachariason. Yes, the Late Round QB himself took the fourth QB off the board, in Round 2)
3.02 – Matt Ryan
3.05 – Matthew Stafford (drafted by yours truly)
It looks like a draft from 2012 doesn’t it? Obviously, by now, you’ve figured out that “Wait to Draft Your Quarterback” is NOT Fantasy Football Rule #1.
Fantasy Football Rule #1 actually is – Know Your League’s Scoring System and Roster Requirements
I can’t over-emphasize how important this rule is. Every league is different, and even minor scoring variances can have a huge impact on players’ performance and draft position value.
Here’s a quick example.
Let’s say your league in 2012 awarded 4 points per passing TD, 1 point for every 25 passing yards and -1 point for each interception. In this league Cam Newton (340.9 points) would have outscored Peyton Manning (324.4 points) at season’s end, in large part due to Cam’s superior rushing ability.
However, if we slightly change the scoring system to make each passing TD worth 6 points (instead of 4) and 1 point for every 20 passing yards (instead of 25) the results are markedly different. Instead of trailing Cam by 16.5 points, Manning (445.1 points) outscores Newton (417.6) by nearly two points per game. You and I both know that on any given week, two points can mean the difference between a win and a loss.
And what if your league added in a bonus for 300-yard passing games? In 2012 Manning had nine of them. Cam? Only three.
So let’s revisit the Fanium league I mentioned earlier and see why knowing your league’s scoring system is so important.
First, this is an 8-person league. Right away I knew that there would be solid, viable fantasy starters available in the very late rounds of this 16-round draft since only the top 128 players will be drafted.
Second, here are the roster requirements – starting 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 4 WRs, 2 TEs. (Yep, no Kickers or Defenses.)
Being required to start two Quarterbacks and two Tight Ends every week means that those positions are emphasized quite a bit. This is why you saw six QBs go in the first 21 picks.
Having to start four Wide Receivers each week puts a huge premium on that position too. Even though we say WR is deep, in a league such as this one, having great WRs can be the advantage that tilts the title in your favor.
Finally, the scoring system Fanium uses is very unique.
All TDs are worth 7 points. Fumbles and interceptions, though pretty hard to predict, count for minus-3 points. Rushing and receiving yards are worth 1 point for every five yards (as opposed to your standard 10) and it is a PPR league.
I want to share how the specifics of this league changed my strategy in putting together my squad.
While I am ordinarily a huge proponent of grabbing running backs early and often, in this format I didn’t take my first RB until Alfred Morris in the 7th round.
Having to start only 2 running backs in an 8-team league (with no Flex position) meant that there was a pretty good chance some excellent players would be available in the middle rounds. Also, although the difference is slight, running backs tend to fumble more than wide receivers so I felt this devalued the running back position a bit as well. Given this info, I decided that waiting on RB was a risk I would be willing to take – getting Alf in Round 7 and Lamar Miller in Round 9 seems to validate my decision.
Another impact on my strategy in this league (besides the early-QB pick which I outlined above) was how I approached the Tight End. I drafted Jimmy Graham early, and while I have done this in some typical leagues as well, my normal plan of attack is to wait on TE until the late rounds. Here, having to start two every week, I saw Graham as a huge advantage at the position.
In fact, I took Rob Gronkowski with my 6th round pick. (Gronk was the 3rd TE off the board as someone selected Jason Witten at the start of the 6th round.) I would normally never advocate taking two TEs that early, but in a league where you have to start two every week, I arguably have the best pair in the league, assuming health of course, and can’t wait to roll out a Gronk/Graham combo later in the season.
1.05 – Calvin Johnson
2.04 – Jimmy Graham
3.05 – Matthew Stafford
4.04 – Randall Cobb
5.05 – Larry Fitzgerald
6.04 – Rob Gronkowski
7.05 – Alfred Morris
8.04 – Eric Decker
9.05 – Lamar Miller
10.04 – Jermichael Finley (who I have ranked as a top-10 TE for 2013)
Four wide receivers, two running backs and three tight ends through 10 rounds is definitely an unusual approach to a draft, BUT…it is what a league like this demands. I still need to firm up my second QB (and there are some really solid guys still available) and then add some RB/WR depth, but so far I like this team an awful lot.
The bottom line… Every league is different and you must understand your league’s scoring system and roster requirements in order to draft a team that will give you the best chance to bring home the championship.
What do you think about this approach? What are some of the unique rules of your leagues that really impact your draft day strategy? I’d love to hear your thoughts – leave a comment and let me know!