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What this picture presupposes is, maybe it should be?

Welcome to what could be called the “first installment” of our 2016 Draft Strategy. This journey will help prepare you for Draft day, and will likely also be filled with an assortment of snacks ranging from TWIX® candy bars and FUNYUNS®, basically what I like to call: breakfast. And don’t tell me why they’re written all in caps, that’s their official “name”, so I can only assume that we are meant to shout it out every time, which, now that I think of it, seems totally natural. Q: “What are you hungry for?” A: “TWIX MOTHER F*CKER!” See what I mean? Regardless, this opening salvo of strategic knowledge (everything sounds better when weaponized) is focused for those of you who have no idea what fantasy football is or what it does. And yes, to all the Razzball regulars, you’ve read this before, but I know there are some of you out there that are new to the site or new to the game. If so, this Beginner’s Guide to Fantasy Football is for you. And listen, don’t be afraid of being the “noob”, that’s not a derogatory title for me. It can be derogatory, but for those who do use it as a negative descriptor, just remember, they were noobs once too. We all have to start somewhere… Which is probably your mom’s basement. And if that’s the case, you’ve completed half the journey, some would say. (Me!)

So, you want to play Fantasy Football? Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!

One thing to remember, if you’ve played fantasy baseball, or if this is your first foray into fantasy gaming, fantasy football, on the surface, is not an intricate game to play. One can remain a casual NFL fan and still just be as informed as the die-hards, like these fine ambassadors of the human race:

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10-out-of-10 pooping face. Bravo.

Yeah, you’re right, the casual fan is probably more informed than these guys… but the truth is, there are just a lot less moving parts compared to it’s peers (sans custom leagues). Just know that when you are contemplating the deciding factors of whether or not you should play, the time-investment can be whatever you’d like it to be. Whether that’s an hour everyday or an hour for the entire week, you’ll be able to field a competitive roster for the entirety of the season. All you have to do to get started is follow these helpful bullet points I’ve prepared for you. (See, I’m telling you, weaponize everything bro. EVERYTHING. Even eggplant.)

  • Right now, this very instant…? This is your information gathering stage. While the methods used are generally driven by you, as a first-time player, that may be the one thing holding you back; “Where do I begin?”. The question can be a huge mountain to climb. What you’re doing near a huge mountain is anyone’s guess though. There really is no wrong way to do this, but I will say the first action that I take is to check out how the preseason rankings are looking. Razzball, of course, produces Rankings and a Draft Kit. But to get a true idea of how players are trending for the upcoming season, you’ll want to find a general consensus to lean on. And FantasyPros does a great job doing all the legwork for you. Their ECR™ (Expert Consensus Ranking) provides you a way to see what all the experts are thinking (including Razzball, which I’m proud to say that we finished in the top-25 percentile of all experts two years in a row, and in the top-20 last season). Or only what some of them are thinking, depending on how you want to set up your viewing options. Getting a general idea of who will make up the first-half of your draft is the first step of our mountain climb. Which at this point, could use more Sherpa.
  • Next up, you probably want to start bringing social media into this shindig. While I (@jaywrong) won’t tweet out breaking NFL news, mostly because I find bad jokes and pictures of food I cooked more valuable to my followers (they call me: philanthropist), there are accounts that will keep you caught up with the latest news that could be the difference every Sunday. Rotoworld Football is a good example. And if you’d rather not become a twitterer? Tweeter? Tweeties? Whatever you call it… if you don’t want to be one those, just find your own news sources that can help you keep tabs from this point on, and add it to your internet bookmarks.
  • Know your league format (number of teams, type of draft, scoring, etc.). This may seem like a job for Captain Obvious, but it has to be stated. The most common size for leagues can range anywhere from 8 to 16 teams. With an 8-team league considered “shallow” and a 16-team league considered “deep”, 12 is usually the general landing spot for the majority of leagues, and is what Razzball will mostly tailor to (the same size as our Razzball Commenter Leagues, which you can join here!). One term you’ll likely run into is “PPR”. PPR stands for Points Per Reception (not be confused with Pee-Pee ride, which sounds like a really not fun ride), and was probably created by a person who hated seeing the first five rounds of a draft be nothing but running backs. So probably a receiver. As is stated in the definition, in leagues that feature a PPR mechanism (either 0.5 or 1 full point), you’ll see more value be attributed to receivers, tight ends, and pass-catching running backs. And just like in fantasy baseball, there are keeper and dynasty formats, which implement a way for teams to keep a specific amount of your roster going into the next season. There are also IDP (Individual Defensive Player) leagues. The majority of leagues use the team’s defense as a whole, unlike the offensive side where you have individual players. IDP simply balances both sides of the ball out and allows you to draft individual defensive players. As for drafts, most leagues use a Standard or “Snake” format, where shortly before the draft, a randomized order will be determined as the teams will draft 1-10 for the first round, then 10-1 for the next round, rinse and repeat. Less common are Auction drafts, where any player can be drafted by any owner based on a budget (usually anywhere from $200-$260), until all of the roster spots are filled. Essentially, just know what you’re getting yourself into.
  • This will sound self-serving, because it is, but here at Razzball, we’ll offer many ways to get you prepared for the draft and the season as well. We’ll have our very own *free* draft kit (content will be added continuously), preseason and in-season rankings, analysis on sleepers, value players, etc. But one thing we don’t have is a mock draft system. If I were you, which seems impossible because of my amazing hair, but let’s just pretend for this example, I would try to do a few mocks before draft day. If your league is with ESPN, mock over there. If it’s with Yahoo (which is the home of our Razzball Commentator Leagues this season), be sure to mock there. Why? Most players will draft based on the rankings provided by those sites. A mock draft at ESPN will go completely different than Yahoo’s mock. On top of that, you’ll get comfortable with the draft room, it’s functions, and start seeing trends. Sure, there will be other drafters who might muck it up, if so, just leave and get into another one. Your goal here is just to get comfortable with the environment, while keeping an eye on where players are going based on whatever rankings you have chosen to use.
  • As alluded to previously, you could probably put little effort into your pre-draft routine and still be okay. While I wouldn’t recommend it, you have to remember that it’s a game. Whatever you put into to it, that’s what you’ll get out. Which makes it sound like a “Tooth Fairy” type of scenario. That being said, you don’t really want to be the one person who shows up to the draft and either holds up every draft pick, or selects an injured player, or drafts a defense in the second round. Try to come in as prepared as you can and don’t stress out. All the research you’ve done, all time you’ve spent has all culminated into this event. Have fun with it. Always keep in mind your roster building. Watch how the board is developing; is everyone drafting wide receivers this round? Maybe you should too? Or maybe you should grab another position while everyone’s focusing elsewhere. Stick to your plan. What’s that? You don’t have a plan? That’s okay, stick with us, as we’ll be providing different draft strategies for different formats throughout the preseason.

Remember, if you feel lost, confused, or sad, alcohol usually helps. But so do we! Razzball is one of the few sites out there that takes interaction with our readership very seriously. And we’re proud of that. You guys got questions, we got answers. We won’t always be right, we won’t always be wrong, but we’ll always try to help. So if you’re a beginner, we’re here for you!

 

 

  1. Brett says:
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    Jay

    I have a keeper strategy question. I have Alshon Jeffrey under contract for $19 this year (last year of contract and then I lose him. I also have Keenan Allen for 14, he can only be kept this year. However I can only keep Allen if I trade Jeffrey. My question would you give away Jeffrey to keep Allen or would you not give anyone Jeffrey at that value and just throw Allen back to the draft? 12 team .5 ppr 220 budget. My other keepers are Nelson for $1 and Benjamin for $2.

    Thanks

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Brett: Well, I always want to get something back instead of having nothing, so I like the idea. Start putting out feelers for now and see what happens.

  2. JeF WiTh 1 F says:
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    What up Jay.
    Looking for an owner to take over a Dynasty team in a 10 team H2H free league…email me for more info if interested thanks. [email protected]

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @JeF WiTh 1 F: hey, be sure to also post this in the RCL article too!

  3. Rondo says:
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    Please bare (bear?) with me here. I’m in a 12-team .5PPR 2 keeper league. I see that you have .5PPR rankings so that helps but I’m struggling to understand who would be best to keep. Since we lose the round the player was drafted in the year prior it feels like we are starting the draft in round 2-3. As you can see from our format below, we can start 4 WR each week. Below you also see the many options on my team to keep and the round I would lose. I have the 8th pick so I also included the top 24 players that will be available to draft in case that matters.

    2 Questions:
    1) Who would be your top 3 keepers from the team I have here?
    2) Based on who you selected as keepers, the format and players available to draft, who would be your top 3-4 targets drafting from the 8th spot?

    Format
    QB
    RB
    WR
    WR
    WR-RB
    WR-TE
    K
    DST

    Player – Round
    C. Hyde – 11
    A. Robinson – 4
    K. Allen – 3
    B. Cooks – 6
    K. White – 14
    K. Benjamin – 10

    Top 24 Available (including the guys I may/may not keep)
    Antonio Brown
    Julio Jones
    A.J. Green
    Ezekiel Elliott
    Adrian Peterson
    Dez Bryant
    Allen Robinson
    Jamaal Charles
    Keenan Allen
    Le’Veon Bell
    Amari Cooper
    LeSean McCoy
    Brandin cooks
    Eddie Lacy
    Demaryius Thomas
    Golden Tate
    Jeremy Maclin
    Randall Cobb
    Sammy Watkins
    Matt Forte
    Doug Baldwin
    Carlos Hyde
    Dion Lewis
    Jordan Reed

    Thanks!

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      Who you calling bear?

      1) Brown, Bell, Elliott… or maybe Jones. This is a crazy-stacked team.

      2) Honestly, I’d just draft in the 8th whomever you had to release or best available. With the low amount of keepers, you’ll have a lot of holes to fill.

  4. Rondo says:
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    Whoa I think I might have thrown you off with my terribly long post. Sorry bout that. My potential keepers and the round I would lose are from this list below. I can only keep 2 but who would be your top 3 keepers from this list ?

    Player – Round
    C. Hyde – 11
    A. Robinson – 4
    K. Allen – 3
    B. Cooks – 6
    K. White – 14
    K. Benjamin – 10

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Rondo: You might have! Haha. I would say Hyde, and… him, I think Benjamin offers the biggest value there. I’d probably do Hyde and Benjamin and bask in keeping all your high round picks. Cooks would be right there with Hyde though… I’d weigh it on what you’d think would be available come draft day. If there’s a lot of RB depth, go with Cooks.

      • Rondo says:
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        @Jay: Great feedback! So this is where the next part of the equation comes in. The 24 players below are not being kept. I have no shot at Brown, Jones, Green, Dez, AP or even Robinson cause I have the #8 pick. Assuming I keep Cooks and Benjamin, knowing only 1 RB needs to be started and 4 WR can be started, which 2-3 players would you want to target in the first and second round picking from the 8th spot?

        Top 24 on the draft board
        Antonio Brown
        Julio Jones
        A.J. Green
        Ezekiel Elliott
        Adrian Peterson
        Dez Bryant
        Allen Robinson
        Jamaal Charles
        Keenan Allen
        Le’Veon Bell
        Amari Cooper
        LeSean McCoy
        Eddie Lacy
        Demaryius Thomas
        Golden Tate
        Jeremy Maclin
        Randall Cobb
        Sammy Watkins
        Matt Forte
        Doug Baldwin
        Carlos Hyde
        Dion Lewis
        Jordan Reed
        Jarvis Landry

        • Jay

          Jay says:
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          @Rondo: I think it’s still okay to go for that RB position… Elliot could be there. Charles too. If not, WR is the next choice. I’d consider Bryant, maybe even Cooper in this type of format.

  5. Jordan says:
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    (Warning, this is going to be a long comment)

    Hello,

    I have draft coming up, I am 5th overall in a 8 man league, serpentine draft. It is PPR 2WRs 2RBs 1 Flex. Please let me know what you think about my following draft strategy (the players in each round are not in a specific order, mainly just first come, first serve)

    Round 1-
    Antonio Brown
    Julio Jones
    Todd Gurley
    Ezekiel Elliot
    OBj

    Round 2-
    Brandon Marshall
    D-Hop
    AP
    Keenan Allen
    Lamaar Miller

    Round 3-
    Matt Forte
    Dion Lewis
    Allen Robertson
    Jordy Nelson
    Dez Bryant
    Jamaal Charles

    Round 4-
    Le’Veon Bell
    Alshon Jeffrey
    Jarvis Landry
    Eddie Lacy
    David Johnson
    Carlos Hyde

    Round 5-
    Amari Cooper
    Julian Edelman
    Kelvin Benjamin
    Arian Foster
    Devonta Freeman
    Brandon Cooks
    Larry Fitzgerald
    D. Thomas

    Round 6-
    Allen Hurns
    Josh Gordon
    E. Sanders
    DeSean Jackson
    Latavious Murray
    Arian Foster
    Jonathan Stewart

    Round 7-
    Rob Gronkowski
    Jordan Reed
    Travis Kelce
    Greg Olsen
    Gary Barnidge
    Delanie Walker
    Coby Fleener

    Round 8-9-
    Best available players as needed

    Round 10-
    Stephan Gostkowski (if available)

    Round 11-
    -Kirk Cousins
    -Best available QB

    Round 12-
    Best available TE

    Round 13-
    AZ Def
    Den Def
    Car Def
    Sea Def
    NE Def

    Round 14-15
    Best available players as needed

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Jordan: I think it’s sound. The Dion Lewis consideration there stood out, I love the idea of that. It looks like you are keeping TE’s late? I think that’s wise. And I think right at this moment, you really prioritized Gurley over Elliot correctly.

  6. Sasquatch sluggers says:
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    Just sayin awesome work. The idea of having fun always shines thru! I’m thinking (just for the heck of it) breaking the mold with a different kind of draft attack for a couple of extra rcls etc. One draft could start with Gronk RB. Next could be RB QB or WR WR QB with hopes of snagging top RB sleepers later.
    ( Reason) In my couple of years of fantasy football I’ve found that usually the team I thought would do the worst outshone them all. (Had two 5th place teams out of them and I thought for certain “those” ones had no chance at all.)

    • Sasquatch sluggers says:
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      @Sasquatch sluggers:i just want to add that I know waiver pickups and trades can make a difference. However the players that carried both teams were draft day picks.

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Sasquatch sluggers: Thanks man! Yeah, interstingly enough, I actually went Gronk into WR in the Razzball Writer’s Mock. But yes, I’ll be hosting 10 leagues this season, and I hope to try different strats while I’m at it. One things for sure, my teams with the least amount of Chargers always seem to do better… eesh.

  7. Will says:
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    You forgot the advice: Don’t listen to anything ESPN has to say

    They currently are sporting an article with the headline: Ezekiel Elliott worth No. 1 pick in fantasy

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Will: Haha, yeah, I don’t want to be *that* blunt, but it’s no secret that their rankings are a bit… off most of the time.

  8. OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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    Jay,

    I’d like you opinion on a keeper situation. 12 teams, H2H, full point PPR, keep forever if you so choose. Here is my group of player:

    Evans, Cooks, Jordy, Edelman, Kelvin, Dion Lewis, Langford, Ajayi

    I’m leaning towards Evans, Cooks, Jordy but am also a little weary of Jordy’s injury situation. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks!

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @OldMilwaukeePounders: I think it’s okay to be worried, but out of this group, I still think he holds the most value. Especially in a PPR format. Dion Lewis was close though, I’ll say that.

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