Fantasy pre-season: A different kind of preparation (Standard, mainly)
It is mock draft central as websites start running out of stuff to talk about. At Gridiron Manor we always have something else to talk about though I am allowed to go off and talk about Fantasy Football. Today I am going to look at a few strategies in picking players, first in the draft and then throughout the season. We share some of our strategies in our recent Play 60 special podcast. I will be talking about standard and touching on points per reception (PPR) leagues, as they are quite similar. Oh and this signals the launch of our new tinkered with Fantasy League(s) of Gridiron Gentlemen, which is discussed in this article.
Preparation is your best strategy. Look into all players, in whatever way you find most useful, such as reviews and rankings (especially our rankings). Looking at the numbers is important, fantasy is a very descriptive statistics game. In this way considering rookies is more how they look in the pre-season games and then considering reports as to where they may start. Use the last few seasons to assess which players are going to potentially work best for you. There are draft cheat sheets and these are pretty useful in compiling lists of preferred choices. Do not necessarily do what I did one year, go into so much detail that actually the list became unwieldy and in the end had limited impact on my choices.
What you are looking for is consistency. Yes look at the overall projected scores of players but at the same time look how they were scoring each week, were their scores over inflated by a few big scores? This is not necessarily true for the top 10 or 15 fantasy scoring players, but does need to be taken into consideration especially for your second receiver and running back.
The important thing is that you stick to whatever strategy you come up with during the draft and do not panic. I discovered last year that deviating from the plan is not the best thing (I ended up with Michael Vick one year because I did not stick to the plan). Also do not be afraid to let autopick do its thing if you are away. Tampering with the autopick rankings can really mess things up on occasion.
Who to pick when
In my last article I did briefly cover this. Picking the best player available at the time is key whilst taking into consideration the depth at each position. Let us consider this further.
For quite a few seasons the positions that are very shallow in top scoring talent have been running back and tight end. However your no.1 running back will score more points than most tight ends, including Gronkowksi. It does depend how deep your league is, but a top running back is essential. The drop in points is quite something, for Gronk the difference is over 30 points. For the running backs last season the top 8 would get you over 200 points. For wide receivers it was the top 7. The top running backs will generally get you more points than the top receivers but the drop off in the top 25 scoring running backs is greater than for wide receivers (129 for receivers compared to 175 for running backs).
So I would recommend in round 1 to take a running back. In a standard league with a snake auction there is nothing wrong taking a top wide receiver if you are towards the end of the draft (if you are last it doesn’t really matter) then picking up a still quite good running back next round. There is nothing wrong with just going with a running back or even taking Aaron Rogers or Gronk in the first round. These are both players that are the top of their position and could easily be the next best player available. It is down to your own preference and there is not necessarily a right answer.
The final generality is pick who you like to watch to play, your favourite player or even just one who plays for your team. I always like to try and get a Colt on my team (generally Vinatieri).
There is some variation here, for if you are playing a PPR league, then running backs like Matt Forte and La’Veon Bell become more valuable because of their catches out in the backfield count as points. Then it does pay sometimes to go for a wide receiver in the first round or even someone like Gronk.
The question now arises about rookies. Well we do not have any information on them and only a few of them will make an impact, this year it is unlikely we will get anyone like Odell Beckham, Mike Evans or Brandin Cooks this season. Best bets are Amari Cooper and Kevin White. Generally rookies should be picked for the bench only. Only one that all the Gents agreed on picking up possibly as a flex or RB2 is Melvin Gordon.
Usually for my suggestions of who to pick up week to week I try to go for the unusual. So my suggestions here are for no.2 position picks. For RB2 Frank Gore is probably my favourite but I think C.J Spiller or Mark Ingram are great choices. Chris Ivory and Andre Williams are also good shouts as is Joseph Randle (the Cowboys still have that O-line).
For WR2 I think Mike Evans or Brandin Cooks are good choices. The one I think I might go for if I can’t get Gore is Andre Johnson, who has dropped right down in the rankings. There is a chance T.Y. Hilton will be kicking around as a number 2 WR which would be awesome.
I think for your flex pick whichever is the best runningback or wide receiver available. Does not matter which just which of the two is the better.
The most important rule is to have fun and enjoy it. Try not to take it too seriously, though it is sad and surprising how my mood for the day was influenced by how my teams did.
And with that let us move on to the Gridiron Gentlemen Fantasy leagues. They are run on NFL.com and are standard leagues with a live online draft. The main tinkering has been a slight change to scoring: defense and special teams will now get points for punt return and kick-off yards. There are two 14 team leagues and I am hoping we will fill both of them. The overall winners of both leagues will then play in a Super Bowl, which will be run separately to NFL.com (because by then the season will be over). The teams will submit their roster and points will then be calculated accordingly. There will hopefully be a prize (we are working on it).
There are two other leagues in the making, but more on that later.
I will cover auction drafts in a separate article.
To take part, email your interest to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Gridiron Gentlemen Fantasy League.
Thank you for reading my ramblings.