2017 Fantasy Season Review: Draft Process, Hits, and Misses
After falling short in any league, I always look into why. I scrutinize everything. Waiver wire pickups, start/sit decisions, and, most importantly, my roster post-draft. This series will be personal look at how I approach the game. Hopefully my hits, and misses, can help you for next season’s drafts…or make you laugh at my expense.
Before you start in on my roster from a 12-team PPR league where I drafted 12th, trust me, I know. I’ve ugly cried many nights over this roster. Despite this particular league tilting me into ‘The Upside Down’, I realized I could use it as a case study.
My leagues typically consist of casual players. They draft quarterbacks (QBs) and tight ends (TEs) early, stash multiple quarterbacks and tight ends regardless of bench size, and rarely trade. This makes the draft that much more important. I’ve broken the draft down into phases with objectives for each phase. While the picks didn’t work out, it’s important to understand how I got to that decision and see if any adjustments are needed.
Objectives: Opportunity + Talent + Situation
The early rounds should focus on players that meet all three metrics. Injury, bust potential, or tough schedule are all present risk, but the stated metrics should be at the forefront of a drafter’s mindset. In the early weeks of the season, the success of a fantasy team typically hinges on the early draft picks. They are relied on to produce the greatest amount of points and hold the most trade value. So it’s important to select players that return at least minimum draft value. You can’t win your league from your early picks, but you can lose it.
Using tiers instead of linear rankings allowed me to see what type of player I was drafting and set weekly expectations. Roster construction was the final part to decide. #ZeroRB or #ZeroWR strategies can be used, but from the 12th position I decided a modified approach was necessary.
|Odell Beckham Jr.|
With some surprises, the first round went as expected. I saw Jordy Nelson as a low end wide receiver (WR) 1, but his targets and touchdown equity would return value. Murray’s situation was positive, his opportunity was solid, but his talent was questionable. Despite this, I felt I had assets that would return value based on their ADP.
|Second Round||Third Round|
|Dez Bryant||Todd Gurley III|
|Melvin Gordon||Golden Tate|
|Jordan Howard||Joe Mixon|
|Michael Thomas||Lamar Miller|
|Ezekiel Elliot||Drew Brees|
|Marshawn Lynch||Tom Brady|
|Doug Baldwin||Alshon Jefferey|
|T.Y. Hilton||Rob Gronkowski|
|Brandin Cooks||Matt Ryan|
|DeAndre Hopkins||Isaiah Crowell|
|Amari Cooper||Demaryius Thomas|
Rounds 3 and 4 have the same objectives, but opportunity is expected to decrease. Stefon Diggs was sure to see less targets on the outside, but had weekly upside setting him apart. The same process applied to Mark Ingram who was in a three way committee, but had receiving utility proving more value.
Where I Went Wrong
My assessment of Jordy’s situation as compared to Michael Thomas’ was wrong. At their respective career stages, their talent is comparable, but Jordy had to compete with two other receivers and a running back for targets. Michael Thomas was the only logical choice for consistent targets in his offense at the start of the season.
Drafting DeMarco Murray was an accepted risk. Melvin Gordon was available, but his previous injuries moved him to the third tier. Murray was coming off of an almost 300 carry season and was still considered ‘the guy’. But his hamstring injury sustained during training camp should have been the clear red flag.
The Stefon Diggs’ pick satisfies my metrics, but I didn’t use the league format to my advantage. Keenan Allen’s role in the slot would generate a larger target share than Diggs boosting Allen’s PPR performance. Even if his situation is similar to Jordy’s, the targets should have been prioritized for the league scoring and will considered in the future.
Objective – Opportunity + Talent
Players with great situations in the middle rounds are hard to find. It’s here where I look for players that I can project for a consistent workload via targets and touches. It’s fine to begin to filling your bench with running backs (RBs) and receivers, but watch your leaguemates. Runs (multiple single position picks in a row) at the quarterback position can occur due to a perceived lack of replaceable talent. Runs can scare owners into ignoring opportunity cost creating value at other positions. Tiers can help identify this value as they’re position agnostic.
|Round 5||Round 6||Round 7||Round 8|
|Allen Robinson||DeVante Parker||Dak Prescott||Mohammed Sanu|
|Jordan Reed||Bilal Powell||Doug Martin||Frank Gore|
|Spencer Ware||Tyrell Williams||Kareem Hunt||Jordan Matthews|
|C.J. Anderson||Adrian Peterson||DeSean Jackson||Jameis Winston|
|Tyreek Hill||Jimmy Graham||Eddie Lacy||Brandon Marshall|
|Jamison Crowder||Ameer Abdullah||Adam Thielen||Zach Ertz|
|Russell Wilson||Willie Snead||Tevin Coleman||Rob Kelley|
|Jarvis Landry||Martellus Bennett||Mike Gillislee||LeGarrette Blount|
|Michael Crabtree||Tyler Eifert||Julius Thomas||Ben Roethlisberger|
|Larry Fitzgerald||Sammy Watkins||Kirk Cousins||Rishard Matthews|
|Jeremy Hill||Martavis Bryant||Delanie Walker||Paul Perkins|
With two ‘starting’ RBs, Danny Woodhead was a solid PPR running back at his cost. I wanted to buy into the Panthers offense and Kelvin Benjamin was the perceived number one target aside from Greg Olsen. Emmanuel Sanders presented great value based on where Demaryius Thomas was drafted (3.11). I typically wait for a QB, but Marcus Mariota was in my second tier and still available. Overall, each pick was consistent with my metrics for this phase. Steady targets, weekly upside, and a quarterback projected to outperform his ADP provided both roster depth and a value pick at the QB position.
Where I Went Wrong
Adjusting your tiers and constant evaluation of the player’s situation can greatly affect their value. Benjamin was coming off of a 118 target season, but had off-season weight issues diminishing what little speed he had and the team was shifting to a faster/athletic offensive philosophy. Thielen was coming off of a 92 target season, but was moving to the slot without additional competition from the previous year.
Mariota in the 8th was misguided for multiple reasons. Conceptually, drafting a QB and RB from the same team is counter-productive. One position succeeds at the other’s detriment unless the RB is heavily involved in the passing game (see: Kamara, Alvin). In addition, the Titans have averaged 18.7, 23.8, and 20.6 points per game since Mariota entered the league. This level of team output doesn’t support a weekly QB-RB combo. Finally, the Titans have historically been a ‘run-first’ team. While it boosts Murray’s volume, it limits Mariota’s passing yards and touchdown potential.
Objective – Talent
I use the late rounds for dart throws, sleepers, and rookies. Players with known talent and potential high workload should an injury or trade occur are strong targets (e.g. Rex Burkhead). Targets also includes players with limited opportunity, but have weekly touchdown upside (e.g. Chris Hogan). League scoring rules can help prioritize players and number of players per position can also help. I normally draft kickers and defense with my last two picks.
Self scouting is an important part of fantasy football year to year. The players and their situations may change, but your drafting process can be consistent to increase the chances of winning your league. There are many other aspects that come to navigating through the season, but the draft will set you up for success.