Conventional wisdom has it that the only way to draft a fantasy football team is to take a one-size-fits-all strategy of taking a running back in round one, a WR in round two, no TE until at least the 5-7 rounds, etc.
I have the chops as a winner of multiple of fantasy football leagues, including money leagues, to tell you that, as I like to say: “there is nothing conventional about wisdom.”
Under particular scrutiny has been my contention that taking a WR in rounds one or two is too soon, unless Andre Johnson is available late in the first. Even then I would hesitate.
You see, even the best WRs have a lot of games in which they don’t do a lot. For example: do you really want to start any WR, no matter how studly he is considered as a fantasy football player, if said player is matched against the Jets and Darrelle Revis? I don’t and if you have a tough fantasy matchup to win, neither should you.
I would rather have a “lesser” player with a better matchup. You see where I’m going with this? Receivers are the divas of the NFL with the most choreographed endzone dances and the most books with titles like “Just throw me the damn ball”, but as fantasy football players, I’m not hanging my hat on these prima donnas.
I say wait until the third round to take WRs, then hit them hard in the middle rounds. If you aren’t satisfied with the result, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. Know why?
The magical waiver wire. You see, every year, more than any other position in fantasy football, receivers emerge after the start of the season that only their mothers would have drafted on fantasy football draft day.
All those who drafted Miles Austin, Steve Smith (Giants) or Sidney Rice in their 2009 fantasy football draft raise your hands. Don’t lie now, I can tell. I didn’t draft any of those gentlemen last year either. All I did was use their help to win my league championship after picking them up on the waiver wire.
Drew Brees was my MVP. Frank Gore was helpful other than a stretch when he had a high ankle sprain. But I might not have won without Austin, Smith and Rice. So what if I didn’t draft them? It isn’t somehow unmanly to start waiver pickups over draft picks in my world. If it is in yours, that’s your problem…
Philosopher George Santayana said “those who don’t remember history tend to repeat it.” History tells me that just in the past few years WRs like Marques Colston, Brandon Marshall, Anquan Boldin, Donald Driver and Sidney Rice, along with Miles Austin and Steve Smith, either one, have come out of nowhere to star in spite of not being high on everyone’s fantasy football draft lists. Most likely they weren’t high on any fantasy draft lists in the year they exploded onto the fantasy scene.
None of these guys, with the exception of Smith and Boldin, who starred at USC and FSU respectively, came from high profile college programs. None was an All-American, none were drafted in the 1st round of the NFL draft.
They all emerged from obscurity early in their careers except Driver. Driver was behind more highly touted WRs on the Packers’ roster several years before making his mark. I guess someone forgot to tell them they weren’t supposed to put up big fantasy numbers since they weren’t taken in most fantasy drafts the year they hit the scene. They didn’t care and neither do I.
How do I know that such players are out there in 2010? History tells me so.
What I do is, if there is any spot on the roster that could be better, I scan the list of free agents at that position, and let’s face it, who has a fantasy draft in which every player is the best at his position? I’ve never seen such a roster and neither have you unless your league is made up of a bunch of nebbishes who think fantasy football is a Hooter girl popping out of an oblong cake with painted on stitches.
Early in the season, I look for players who were overlooked in the fantasy draft who have a good game. Do a little research to see if they may be a flash in the pan or the next Miles Austin. There is always a player on your roster who is expendable. Put in a claim for the next Austin and cut Mr. Expendable, unless someone beats you to your target with a lower numbered waiver priority.
If you don’t get the player because someone else is awarded the guy due to waiver priority, repeat the process on the next guy. Breakout players who were not drafted are always out there for the taking. Sometimes they don’t get their chance until an injury to another player occurs.
Fantasy football is not about getting input from every single player in the starting lineup every week. It’s not about egos and salaries and “locker room presence” as in the real NFL. It’s not about having the “best” draft. Who knows about that until the end of the season anyway?
It’s all about total points. That’s it and that’s all. Get more total points than your opponent often enough to make the playoffs and win the playoffs. Simple as that. It doesn’t matter if you do it through the draft, trades or waiver pickups or, my favored method, a combination of the draft and waiver wire.
I have won enough fantasy football championships to be secure about letting readers in on this method. If any wind up in a league I’m in, so be it. I am confident I will make better waiver pickups than you in most cases.
It takes more time and effort than just being a caretaker and sticking with your draft picks, but do you want to win games and championships or brag about an August draft no one in January cares about?
Next: Fantasy football : to trade or not to trade?