Fantasy Football draft season is upon us, and many people are starting their research and rounding up their friends and family to get ready for their 2021 fantasy draft. Gone are the days of going to the newsstand and picking up an outdated Fantasy Football magazine and using those rankings like it was scripture. Projections are very helpful when doing your draft preparation and, lucky for you, we have some great ones here at Razzball with Rudy Gamble’s Pigskinator. But once you have your projections, what do you do come draft day? This article will help you think a bit outside the box and give you an advantage over your friends, family, and coworkers in your upcoming drafts.
We’ve all seen it and there’s usually one in every league. There is that person in live drafts who has their printed rankings and goes right down that list to make their picks. There are also many players who draft based on the rankings or ADP (Average Draft Position) list that is set up on whatever platform you use to host your league draft online. This is a fine starting point, and a good general overview of where players will likely be selected in your draft, but to really have an edge over your competition, you must differentiate. Let’s examine a few ways you can set your self up to be different and win your league.
The first strategy to make your draft successful is to set up tiers. Using projections that you trust, set yourself up tiers at each position. For example, if you look at Wide Receiver projections that have Adams, Diggs, Hill, Hopkins, Ridley, Robinson, Brown, Jefferson, Metcalf and McLaurin ranked 1-10, do you look at them all in the same grouping? Separating the players into tiers allow you to stay fluid in your draft and not go on tilt if you have a specific guy on your radar and he gets picked before your turn. If I take that group and separate Adams, Diggs, Hill and Hopkins into my top tier, I now have 4 players that I’m comfortable taking when I am targeting a high end WR1 and I would be happy with any one of them that make it to my pick.
The other part of this strategy that helps differentiate you from your opponents is that there is an element of preference involved as well. Even when talking with other analysts, we have different opinions of certain players. A perfect example of this is the top tier of running backs, where most would agree their top tier would be McCaffrey, Cook, Kamara and Henry. I personally have a larger top tier that includes Elliot and Taylor and others may have guys like Barkley and Ekeler in that tier instead. By setting up my tiers, I allow myself to have a broader draft strategy where I can happily draft a guy like Elliot with the 7th pick if he falls to me, but it also allows me to pivot if there is an opportunity to do so. Let’s say you are at the end of round 2 and are targeting a wide receiver, but your whole top tier has been picked, if you have a list of 5 or 6 players in your second tier, it allows you to draft another need and come back around in the 3rd to get one of the guys in your second tier that make it back to you. Being able to stay fluid like that and not make a panic pick will help you be a better drafter and make smarter picks.
Rage Against the ADP:
For me, this is the most important thing when drafting. ADP information is a nice tool to have as a general idea of where players have been picked on average in drafts, but if you rely too heavily on that, you’re going to miss out on good players. You must be able to read your draft room and play the hand that is dealt to you. I had a perfect example of this happen to a league mate just last week. I was drafting in an industry league and was up for my pick at the 5.09 spot. At that point, 20 RBs had already come off the board. I knew I wanted to secure a solid RB3 and the last tier I was comfortable taking there consisted of Carson, Sanders, Davis, and Gaskin. When Carson and Sanders came off the board earlier in the round, I pounced on Davis and was met with a comment in the chat saying “I was hoping Davis would make it all the way around to me. 6.11 was right around his ADP”. Sometimes you have to draft players ahead of ADP or else you are going to lose them to other sharp drafters. I saw the value at running back dwindling and made a pick ahead of ADP to secure the guy I wanted. Now, I am not advising you to go completely off the reservation and take Antonio Brown in the 4th round because you like him, but if he is a guy you’re targeting, you may want to reach a round to get him ahead of ADP before someone else does. According to current NFFC ADP, his current ADP is 110.89 which would make him a 9th round pick in a 12-team league. If you want to get your guy, be confident in taking him in the 8th if you want to be sure you get him.
Hopefully reading this article has helped you to plan for your upcoming drafts. By looking at reliable projections and breaking players into tiers you allow yourself to be more fluid and flexible in your draft. By allowing yourself to read your draft room, and not getting stuck on ADP, you minimize the likelihood of getting “sniped” and missing out on drafting players that you have high expectations for. Draft smart, draft aggressively, and draft confidently, and you will come out of your draft happy with the team you’ve built for your championship run. You are always welcome to follow me on Twitter @FantasyCoachJB and ask me any questions you may have on these draft strategies, or anything else for that matter. Good luck to you all and happy draft season!