High tide of the fantasy season is here. The draft has come and gone, NFL mini camps are wrapping up and training camps will soon be here.
I wanted to take time to answer some Twitter and email submissions regarding a variety of fantasy football related topics. These were submitted and picked from a rookie to veteran fantasy level.
Thank you to all who submitted and with so many leftover, there just may be a part 2 coming.
“I am in a PPR redraft league and need a new strategy. I have heard about zero RB and a few other ways but what should I go with?” -Chris in Iowa
Zero RB came on pretty hard the other year back and I personally had some success with it. My draft started and I picked all WR through the 6th or 7th round before taking a running back. The idea is based on your receivers getting the majority of your points and with a stacked receiver group, you can lay waste to your opponents each week.
Then Zeke happened, the Gurley broke out. Then Melvin Gordon proved all Badger running backs don’t suck.
I still believe zero RB is a good method, you could also go zero WR too, but I feel a bit more confident in picking receivers who are likely to breakout rather than running backs. My main reason is the dreaded running back by committee (RBBC.) In my opinion, with so few bell-cow RB teams, your better off selecting a steady slot wide receiver or possible breakout reciever candidates.
I would recommend a balanced approach but focus on a WR/RB best available through round 8 or 9. I decided to stream a tight end last season and grab the best available QB no later than the 10th round. It worked out well and I had a nice roster that included A. Thielen, L. Bell, M. Thomas, M. Evans, J. Goff and E. Engram.
Try out some mock drafts on your favorite platform, I personally love FantasyPros and Sleeperbot. Run the strategy above and see how it plays out for you. Change it up and do a zero RB mock, then a zero WR mock draft, compare your teams and see what you think. Depending on the size of your league, you may want to bring your QB selection to an earlier round. One last thing, don’t forget to grab those value players (regardless of position) when available!
“It seems like I can never decide on each weeks roster, I go back and forth a million times before deciding and then I end up benching someone who I should have started. Any advice?” –Ronnie in KC
It took me forever to get out of that funk. I would go back and forth, read a million articles only to have one or two of those players score a ton of points while on the bench. We have all been there.
After some trial and error, I found the best strategy for me was to take in all the games that week, not to look at any advice columns and simply go with my gut in that moment. My roster would then be set every Tuesday night following the Monday night game. I set my lineup based on the action I saw from Thursday to Monday.
Set it and forget it.
After that, I nailed down three to five fantasy sites (or writers) that I personally liked and felt that they offered a great deal of insight. I read their columns and if anything sparked my curiosity, I would dig a little further on that game or a players specific matchup.
If there was anything screaming to me to change that specific matchup, I would. If not, then I would leave it as I had set it on Tuesday.
I can honestly say that this strategy immediately paid dividends for me. I learned that my gut tends to be more accurate than my brain. I understand everyone is different as to how dialed in they are on league-wide players, teams and matchups. If your gut has you leaning with what you are reading online, then go with it, if it is telling you to go the other way, then try it. Mark down your picks each week by labeling them as “gut” or “brain” picks. Keep a record for the entire season and see how it goes for you. Once you see the results on paper, it can really benefit what works best for you specifically.
One last note, don’t forget the “opposite” theory. Sometimes the fantasy Gods are cruel and you just have to go the other way. We call this the “Costanza” rule in my league based on the Seinfeld episode of George doing everything the opposite of what he would normally do.
“Our league will be changing to a Dynasty starting this year, I learned all about the format of a dynasty league but what is the best way to draft for year one?” -Katie in Orlando
Great question! Depending on your league set up, there are a number of ways to approach your first draft. I would make a choice on your preference of going all-in to win now, building for the long-term or a balanced blend of both.
The benefits of going all in are hopefully, a year one championship. The downfall is that you will have work to do in order to flip your roster towards the future. Hitting on rookies will be important, pertinent roster moves, along with trades will also have more emphasis. Not the end of the world but you will be working it!
A long-term build from year one requires a very patient owner. You will make up your roster with a lot of younger talent as well as rookies and second to third year guys. If you know the league, and are very familiar with all NFL teams and players, this will work for you. Your first few seasons may be an uphill battle but over the course a few seasons, your team should be paying dividends. Draft & develop!
A balanced approach is what has worked for me but I still lean a bit aggressive on the drafts because who doesn’t want to win now?
I started with making sure I had a few veteran players that would be consistent, produce numbers and that I would be able to let go in a season or two. Don’t ever be afraid to let the veteran players go and don’t hang on to them for too long. A balanced roster will keep you competitive but there will be some tough losses as in every league.
Will your league be incorporating a taxi squad? If so, the taxi squad is a great place to put your players with 2 years or less of experience. Think of it as the NFL’s practice squad. Players can develop there and you will be able to bring them up or use them as trade bait.
A rookie draft is also a great way to select some gems for your team. Be sure to draft on talent and potential versus team need. You can always address a few positions in need but overall, the rookie draft is a great way to build a solid foundation. If you watch a lot of college ball that’s great, if not, do some research on the top prospects and try to follow the NFL draft closely. I like to grab the Athlon college football annuals and read them front to back prior to our rookie draft.
“I commish a league with a few stragglers when it comes time to collecting league dues and prize money collection. I hate being the bad guy to bug them, but it is getting so aggravating!” -Chris in Portland
This is a very common situation and we all know how difficult it can be. My best advice? You have got to go to Leaguesafe.com and run all prize money and dues through it. It is super easy to use, they have outstanding customer service and it is very simple to set up.
That is the easy part, the hard part is determining fair consequences for the person who still cannot get with the program. In one of my leagues, I set the rule as this; If any team misses the deadline on submitting payment through leaguesafe, they will lose their draft spot for the upcoming draft and all other teams will move up one spot. If that team ends up winning the championship, they will not be eligible to collect the prize money. The money will then go to the second place team. This was the most fair scenario and was unanimously voted for approval by all teams in the league.
Since officially implemented, no team has missed yet.
Don’t forget that you are the commissioner. Be fair, make the rule, stand by it, and let the chips fall where they may.
“My league is switching to auction drafts this year. How should I approach it? How prepared should I be? Can I just wing it?” -Scott in Arizona
I love auction drafts. LOVE auction drafts. I hope yours is a live in-person one too. I guarantee you will truly have a great time.
I wouldn’t advise winging it though, however, I have seen results from winging it but if you can walk into that draft with any kind of advantage over other teams, you have the opportunity to walk away with a great team and strong start. The auction format is unlike a snake draft, it simulates a real auction style where you nominate players and then all league teams bid on them. You can nominate anyone, any position and in any order.
There are a lot of strategies and angles but to keep it simple, I would first highly recommend that you create your own player rankings cheat sheet. You can take any cheat sheet out there and re-order it to your liking. You may personally be higher or lower on players than others. If you find a sheet you like as is, then you can stick with that one too.
Second, know your assigned budget and set some basic caps on positions that you want to spend high on, spend moderate on, and spend low on. You will want some top-tier players and others will too, so be prepared to spend for them. Value is key so pay attention to players that others are overlooking or undervaluing. Be sure to check and set players AAV (average auction value) so that you know what the average amount spent on that player is.
Finally, I would definitely run some mock auction drafts to see how they flow. Practice makes perfect and once you find your groove, along with the flow of the draft, you can really shine. Each auction draft is always different from the last. Be sure to draft in a mock that has the same number of teams you will have in your league.
I also have some articles I wrote detailing different strategies for auction drafts. You can find them at www.thefantasyfootballwire.com
“Our league is getting kind of stale, how can I spice it up and keep it interesting?” -Alex in Cincy
The two easiest things to implement and that deliver instant results are rivalry weeks and league themes.
Take two teams in your league that genuinely have some sort of pre-existing rivalry and magnify it. Set up a specific name for this rivalry and implement it into the season. If you want to take it a step further, you can create some trophies for them to win each season. Encourage trash talking and even some side bets between them.
My brother and I are also gamers. We grew up on the Nintendo Game Boy. We used to KILL each other for that thing back in the day. So I took the GameBoy, got a gold shell for it, mounted it on a trophy base with plaque and instituted it as our rivalry trophy.
I named it “The Battle for the Golden GameBoy.”
Another way to make it interesting is to name a theme for your season. I was in an old school wrestling themed league that was a lot of fun. The theme for the league was old school wrestling characters and each team name was a former wrestler from any brand or era.
We had the Honky Tonk Man going up against Sting, Ultimate Warrior getting beat by Junkyard Dog, it was a lot of fun. All team profile pics were of the actual wrestler and a championship belt was the league prize.
You could also implement an idea that your league collectively has in common, or pick different themes such as a mafia league with movie characters or real life gangster names, Hollywood movie cars, or even a sport specific flip with MLB teams or players. Try to pick something that your league would enjoy and be into. Try it out and let me know how it goes!
That wraps up this Fantasy Talk Pick 6. I hope you enjoyed it, walked away with some fresh ideas and please let me know how it goes for you and your leagues! Post up on twitter and keep me updated!
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Follow on Twitter @FantasyWireHQ • Baltimore born & raised • Football writer/contributor • Fantasy Football fanatic • Ravens & Orioles fan