Itís finally the time of year that weíve waited all summer for.
All the OTAís are over. The undrafted free agent who looked so good
without pads, has faded into the background, headed for the taxi
squad Ö at best. All the offseason analysis has been done and itís
time to draft. I have already completed three drafts and I have
three more over the next two weeks. Barring any Week 3 preseason
injuries, we should be ready to win leagues.
Iíll add just a few general thoughts for Draft Day.
1) Risk aversion
When you go to your favorite restaurant, do you order the same
thing every time even though the entire menu is excellent? Do
you vacation in the same location with the same friends every
year (Myrtle Beach golf vacations excluded)? You may be risk-averse.
You should probably stay away from the following; Andrew Luck
(injury), Cam Newton (health), Melvin Gordon (contract), Ezekiel Elliott (contract), Josh Gordon (propensity for the weed) and
Antonio Brown (just plain looney). Or at least donít pull
the trigger until they fall to a level you are comfortable selecting
2) Better a round early than missing out
A number of us learned this lesson in the FFToday.com
staff league draft. If the player fits your strategy or you
think is ready to blowup, then itís better to take him a round
earlier than his ADP would suggest rather than losing him to another
owner and wincing every time he produces as you predicted. Patrick
Mahomes was taken in the middle of the second round. Chris
Godwin was selected at the start of the third. There is nothing
wrong with that, as long as you are comfortable in your analysis
of their value.
3) Flex with QB allowed is really a 2-QB league in disguise
There is absolutely no circumstance in which you should play
a running back or wide receiver over a quarterback. Last season
24 quarterbacks averaged 20 points or more. Unless you are in
a league with 11 guys from the South Pacific who drafted players
from the Australian Rules Football League by mistake and let you
pick Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara, you arenít
going to have a back or wideout averaging 20 FPts/G as a flex.
The charts below show that no wide receiver averaged more than
17 points over the past five years and very few running backs
hit the mark. The more likely result is you will be using a player
who averages about nine points.
FFToday Standard Scoring
4) Don’t self-complicate
We have been studying for months, but donít bring more
than a couple of pages of information to the draft. Flipping through
multiple pages or magazines (god forbid as they were printed more
than three months ago) as your allotted time runs down isnít
good strategy. Having a simple list of players by position, with
notes on particular favorites, will greatly ease your decision-making
process and ability to spot mistakes by other owners.
5) Donít be fooled by preseason
I say this every year, but preseason is not an indication of
how the regular season will go. Starters are sitting, backups
are playing against backups or guys who wonít be in the
league by early September. Below is a list of the preseason league-leaders
over the past four years. None of these players were fantasy-worthy.
The best was Robby Anderson who posted 42-587-2 in 2016. Your
preseason attention should only be to the injury lists.
6) Overestimating rookies is a common mistake
Randy Moss (69 - 1,313 yards - 17 TDs), Odell Beckham (91 - 1,305
- 12), Barkley (252 touches Ė 2,028 combined yards Ė
15 TDs) and Eric Dickerson (390 rushes, 1,808 yards - 18) are
the exceptions, not the rule. Most times a rookie will be slowly
worked into the lineup as the head coach gains confidence in the
first-year player's abilities to run the right play, not fumble
and in the case of running backs - protect their quarterback from
blitzes. Kyler Murray is getting a lot of attention as are running
backs Josh Jacobs and David Montgomery, but donít be fooled
by media hype. Murray has a disaster of an OL in front of him
and I make it 50/50 he survives 16 games. Jacobs and Montgomery
will be first- and second-down backs, but each team has a good
receiving back thereby limiting production in 2019.
7) Suggest a split season
Try to convince your league to play two eight-week seasons. There
are a couple of nice benefits. First, if Draft Day is great, then
two is better. Second, it protects an early-season injury from
destroying your entire season. At worst, you are out of contention
for two months and then you get to compete again starting in Week
9. Season saved. In 2008 Tom Brady was hurt in the first quarter
of the first game and his season was over. In 1984, star running
back Curt Warner was a top-five pick whose season ended on his
10th carry of the season. I remember the Warner injury, because
I drafted him. How would you feel selecting Barkley with the first
overall pick and losing him for the year? Handcuffs only help
8) Remember the old ďRule of 370?Ē
It stated that running backs who carried the ball 370 times or
more suffered dramatic drops in production the following season.
These days, in the era of the pass, backs donít run the
ball that often, but they still touch the ball almost as frequently.
In 2016 three backs reached 360 touches; David Johnson (413),
Ezekiel Elliott (362) and DeMarco Murray (360). Johnson played
one game, Elliott and Murray averaged career-lows 4.1 ypc and
3.6 ypc, respectively. In 2017, four backs touched the ball 360
times or more; LeíVeon Bell (427), Todd Gurley (366), LeSean McCoy (364) and Melvin Gordon (363). None of the three who played
lived up to previous seasons. Gurley and Gordon were injured late
in the season and McCoy produced the worst average per carry of
his career (3.2).
In 2018, two backs touched the ball more than 360 times; Elliott
(399) and Barkley (382). I think Barkley is young enough, and
strong enough, to overcome the trend, Elliott, however, without
a training camp, takes a big hit on my draft board even if he
shows up to play in Week 1.