Fantasy football! Yay! I thought I’d take the time to share with you some of the things that have been on my mind this preseason. These three “Myths” (that’s what I’m calling them anyway) are concepts that seem to be accepted without question when they should be held to greater scrutiny.
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Myth #1: Value (as in, this player is a value in the 9th round, but in the 7th, no way!)
Where it’s right: Getting value out of your draft picks will certainly help your team, especially when you take a value based approach to every pick in the draft. It’s a cumulative effect, it adds up.
Where it’s wrong: We all get too hung up on value. Player performance is what really matters. Allen Robinson had a huge breakout year in 2015 when he scored 224 (!!!!) standard scoring fantasy points. So who the hell cares whether he was drafted in the 8th round or the 7th round at that point because he performed like a 1st rounder. It’s so common to hear a fantasy analyst say things like “I like the value where he’s going now but as his ADP starts to creep up I’m not sure I’ll be on board with him”. It turns out that the difference between moving up or down one mid-round pick really doesn’t matter as much as we like to think because it’s the performance of your players that will ultimately determine the success of your team. Not the round we drafted a player in.
What To Do: This year instead of kicking yourself for not taking a player you felt strongly about in the mid-rounds, strongly consider taking the player at least a couple rounds earlier than his ADP (average draft position) to insure you’ll get him. If you don’t feel strongly about any particular players you can do fine if you make value picks.
Myth #2: Any Strategy Can Work, If You Pick The Right Players
There are many different paths to FF glory, and anything will work if you pick the right players. But I refuse to get drunk on optimism.
— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) July 22, 2016
Where it’s right: Of course it’s right. Because player performance. See above.
Where it’s wrong: Even though player performance is what we’ll remember there is still room for one strategy to be better than another, or more importantly, for one to be better than all the rest. Usually the context in which I’ve heard the above sentiment that “Any strategy can work…” happens to be in regard to the Zero RB strategy. So hey Mr. Fantasy Analyst, how about you throw us a bone and give us a reasonable take on the subject (of Zero-RB)? Instead of writing it off by saying it’s all about the players. Because it’s only mostly about the players and people are looking for any edge they can get.
What To Do: Strategy is an important part of fantasy football, even though it’s mostly about player performance. Whether you want to go into your draft/auction with a specific strategy in mind will have a lot to do with knowing your league mates’ tendencies. Devise a strategy that will give you an advantage in your league or just keep it simple and pick players you believe in without a specific strategy.
My thoughts on Zero-RB, specifics aside, I’m highly in favor of going wide receiver heavy in leagues that favor WR scoring over RB scoring. So in 1.0 PPR I’d say try to go as WR heavy as possible. Don’t underestimate the impact WRs can make for your 0.5 PPR team as well. Standard leagues are a bit more tricky because in my opinion nothing can boost your chances of success more than owning a running back that goes off for a huge season. The problem is is they are just so hard to predict. In Standard I can see both RB heavy or WR heavy strategies working, though WR heavy strategies are probably a bit safer with less upside.
(Full disclosure regarding the above tweet, I don’t think Scott Pianowski meant it to be dismissive of any certain strategy, I think there was a different context for that Tweet. I have heard at least one other fellow be completely dismissive of the Zero-RB strategy, and that’s just not the right approach in my opinion. Also it’s somewhat uncommon for Shawn Siegele, the creator of the strategy, to get mentioned by name. That’s unfair, so I’m including his name here).
Myth #3: Positional Scarcity
Where it’s right: I mean, yeah, positional scarcity is a real thing. As an extreme example take the difference between a league that starts one QB and a league that starts two. It completely changes where you need to draft your QBs.
Where it’s wrong: Positional scarcity gets misunderstood. The important thing to note is that it’s mostly defined by environment, meaning it’s specific to your various leagues. More to the point, it’s defined by the analysts’ (aka “experts”) rankings which inform your various leagues. I’m going to illustrate this point by taking you way back to a time when running backs were drafted early and often. Back to 2015. No, I’m kidding. Seriously, from about 2000-2010-ish it was much more common to see running backs taken with each of your first three picks (in Standard anyway). Although it was true back then that running backs were often league winning difference makers, it was also true just as it is today that they had a really high bust rate. However, the need to take running backs early was real simply because that’s what everyone else was doing. Position scarcity is, often times, a manufactured concept.
What To Do: First of all, even if you dislike the default rankings from whatever site you are using, it is important that you become of aware of them because they will likely have a great impact on your league’s draft. Secondly, let’s consider what impact the recent wide receiver heavy trend will have. Now that we are taking WRs early, “good” RBs will fall until later. So when that happens, you scoop them up! No. That’s not necessarily what you do. Because WRs are the more dependable position _and_ because they score as much or more as RBs these days, you probably want to get some really good ones. And that means you have to take them earlier now than ever. Don’t necessarily be tempted if a particular running back falls, or if running backs fall in general, because, guess what.. they will continue to fall throughout the draft.
I can really hammer this point home with a related example from last year. In the 2015 RCL Writer’s League, QBs just kinda kept falling and I kept looking at Russell Wilson like “oooh shiny” but I waited a bit to pick him, until pick 66. Surely a great value because Jay had him ranked 36!* Again, no. Not so much. Because other QBs kept falling too. So it wasn’t quite a bad pick, but it wasn’t a good one because QB value/scarcity was defined by what was going on in that particular draft. (*36 in Standard, 48 in PPR for the ranks I checked and Razzball Commenter Leagues are .5 PPR so I’m misleading you here. Oh, and it turns out that the player I really wanted was drafted one pick before me, at 65 overall… Allen Robinson).
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